The 5-Step Guide For 20-Somethings To Find Zen
It’s been a year or two (or maybe three or four) since you finished a university, college, or traveling. You may be broke af from student loans and stressed about it, or maybe you’re doing well financially, but work is taking its toll. This mad world expects you to have it all together. It can make anyone feel down. And then down some more. Hell, you expected to have it all together by now! How do you find peace?
1. Mindful dishes
This one might not endear you to me, but if you’re like any of the ex-students I know, dishes have been multiplying for a week. Well, fasten your seatbelts and put on your rubber gloves, because I’m about to tell you how to do it mindfully. The trick is to focus on nothing but your breathing and what’s in front of you. Smell the washing-up liquid. No, I mean it. Pick it up and put it to your nose. It’s lemon, usually, isn’t it? Let yourself breathe in the scent, and squirt it into the empty bowl. Run the tap on hot, and start washing your plates one by one, really concentrating on your task. Notice as your chest rises and falls, and make sure to exhale more than you inhale. Whenever you do this, it decreases your anxiety.
2. Find your nearest bit of nature
If you live in the sprawling suburbs with greenery in all its glory, you won’t need to go far. If you’re like me and live close to a train-line, don’t choose the train-line as your bit of nature; they get quite busy, noisy, and, well, have large pieces of steel hurtling around dangerously. So, what you want to do is get out of your (now sparkling clean) place before or after work, and go for a short walk. It doesn’t matter if you have to walk through congested areas to get there – for me, the nearest park involves walking to the bottom of my street, where I find last night’s Stella Artois sitting in their correct glasses in the middle of the path, rowdy children, and, inexplicably, a solitary potato. Yeah, a potato sitting on the pavement. I don’t know if its owner threw it out of the window, or let it roll out of their shopping bag, but it definitely didn’t sprout out of the pavement. Getting some exercise and walking to the nearest bit of nature, to do some deep breathing (this post is a lot about breathing) is worth it. Being around nature has been scientifically proven to calm you down, and of course, it’s free.
3. Cook a meal from scratch with no animal products in it
I’m going to take a wild guess and assume you have tried vegan or vegetarian food, even if you’re a meat-eater. So you’re probably aware of the health benefits of this way of life, and you probably know that it’s going to fuel you energetically in a way meat does not. No toxicities, no bad odors. But even the veggies are guilty of sticking mac n cheese in the microwave and forgetting to cook from scratch. You can easily make spaghetti: gluten-free spaghetti mix, peeled tomatoes, Quorn mince, and pasta. As you’re stirring it, make sure to really concentrate on your task, focusing on nothing else. Maybe listen to the sound of the oven’s fan or the slight snapping noise in the pan. When you’re eating it, take small mouthfuls and really pay attention. Be grateful for your food. Take a moment of silence at the table before you eat.
4. Be aware of what you’re consuming, reading-wise
With all the greatness that comes with the age of information, you probably don’t have filters on your social media accounts that can sufficiently block out everything you consume. The real art of mindfulness comes from structuring your thoughts so that you can release all that you don’t need. Be aware of your negative thoughts – notice them. Don’t suppress them. Then, like a cloud crossing the sky, let them go. All thoughts eventually pass; bad experiences eventually pass. Be aware when you’re reading if something is really hurting you, or winding you up: it’s important to know what triggers bad moods. Let them go. It’s an act of self-care to log out or stop reading. Your thoughts are the most precious gift you can give yourself, and you’ll do yourself a favor by structuring them in a way that protects your brain from negativity, which is so often unnecessary and caused by our own brains. With that being said, it leads me nicely onto my next point about reading…
5. Research mindfulness, meditation, and peaceful ways of life
You might not have time to read the history of Hinduism or Buddhism but you could easily slip a book of quotes into your bag before work. I have chosen The Art of Simplicity, which is written by a writer living in Japan, who practices Buddhism. The book is clean, sparse, minimalist, and a joy to delve into. If you need a break from serious novels, go to your nearest library and check out books on clearing your mind. The exercises might feel a little weird at first, but decluttering your mind in your fast-paced, stressful twenties might help you focus on what’s most important in life.
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