6 Powerful Steps To Take On The Path Towards Better Mindfulness
We’re currently living in unfamiliar times. The emergence of Covid-19 has put considerable strain on the wellness of people all around the world, and it’s never been more important to focus on our mental wellbeing as we head towards a new year that’s likely to be punctuated with some uncertainty.
As lockdowns and social distancing measures swept across the world in a bid to contain the pandemic, our daily routines and patterns became more erratic. Remote work played a heavy role in providing us with an empty canvas of a schedule that many have struggled to fill with meaningful activities.
The chart above shows that the past year has seen heavy increases in cases of anxiety and depression among adults in the US. Although the announcement of vaccines offers us new hope that a return to normality could be just around the corner, may be important to embrace the power of mindfulness to help overcome negative emotions and thoughts between now and the arrival of the ‘new normal.’
With this in mind, here are six powerful steps that we can all take on the path towards better mindfulness:
1) Begin each day with a purpose
This step may seem like a difficult one when many people across the world are housebound. Creating an intention for each day that can bring on feelings of motivation helps us to begin each day feeling purposeful. When we act in unintended ways, a disconnect occurs between faster unconscious impulses of the lower brain centers and the slower, conscious, wiser abilities of the higher centers in the pre-frontal cortex.
Put simply, waking up with a purpose for each day helps you to feel more in control of your destiny, and it motivates you to push towards achieving something new each day. In terms of what your purpose can be, it could refer to just about anything. You may wake up determined to read a further 50 pages of a book, or catch up with a family member, or beat a deadline at work. You could simply aim to make yourself a new meal for lunch or dinner.
By aiming to do something new each day, you can feel much more purposeful and ambitious, even if you’re unable to go out and meet with friends or colleagues.
2) Identify your thoughts and feelings
During the winter months especially, many of us can suffer from negative thoughts. However, by identifying them, it’s possible to control them better.
According to the NHS, if you name your thoughts and feelings, it can help you to become better aware of them. For example, if your mind is telling you that you’re going to fail an exam, by identifying it as anxiety you can better come to terms with how your mind’s insecurities present themselves.
3) Stimulate your mind by exercising
It can be more difficult during the winter months, but it remains true that exercise is good for us, both in a physical and mental sense. By undertaking a workout, it’s possible to boost your mood and reduce both stress and anxiety. Furthermore, the threat of Covid is less dangerous for physically healthy patients.
You don’t need to go to a gym to exercise, and it’s possible to utilize many approaches, from walking to watching YouTube workout classes and practicing yoga (which we’ll explore shortly). It’s vital that you find a form of exercise that suits you and doesn’t throw you too far out of your comfort zone. The best thing about exercising is that it’s easy to find a routine that suits your expectations.
4) Embrace Mindful apps
Our phones can be a great means of getting help when it comes to trying out mindfulness activities, and as long as you own a smartphone, you have access to a huge library of apps that are designed to provide users with the best experience possible when it comes to practices like meditation and yoga. Again, here it can be important to try out a few apps and see which ones suit you the best.
5) But remember to digital detox
However, it’s also vital that you undergo a digital detox where possible. Smartphone screen time usage is linked to depression in adult women. During periods of lockdown and self-isolation, it can be mentally draining logging on to social media and viewing the images of your friends and family who may be reposting old holiday photos or sharing upbeat pictures of isolation.
Try to consciously avoid relying on your smartphone and fill your free time with more analogue activities instead. It could also be worth banning the likes of smartphones and tablets from the bedroom to avoid over-exposure to screens before going to sleep.
6) Enjoy being imperfect
One of the key steps on your path to lockdown mindfulness can be found in lowering the bar for expectation and avoiding the temptation of demanding perfection in everything we do.
The pursuit of perfection can be a distracting endeavor that will always leave us unsatisfied. Our imperfections are what makes us different, and what keeps us working hard in life. By accepting your imperfections it can be an important step in giving ourselves a chance to stop and breathe.
Of course, this is a very difficult time, and the winter months can lead to many of us feeling even more isolated than usual. With this in mind, it’s also important to know when to get some help, and when to talk to friends and family if you’re still feeling unhappy. Sometimes the best first steps on the path to mindfulness involve talking about your negative emotions.
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