This topic is near and dear to my heart. I was never an anxious person for most of my teens and childhood but as I get older, I notice that if I don’t ground myself and practice these practices regularly, I do get super anxious and find it hard to feel like I’m present in my body. I’m not perfect but these are some things I practice for my mental health and keep trying to improve. If you have any others, I’d love to hear them!
- Count your blessings. Time after time, I’m reminded how much PERSPECTIVE has to do with EVERYTHING. I believe that there is always a downside and an upside in every situation. There is always someone wishing for the things you take for granted, for the things you think you just “have”. I know personally, I’ve had goals where when I reached them, I was like meh, and still not happy. That constant strive for the next best thing is like a hamster wheel. You will NEVER reach that destination. The one you think you need in order to be happy. All we have is now friends… Tomorrow is not guaranteed. I went through a few months of a rut, really just hating some situations and being all “poor me” and then I remembered gratitude, I remembered all of what I’m saying to you now and I decided to make the best of my situation. I changed what needed to be changed and I changed my perspective on the things that I couldn’t change but had to adjust instead. One of my favourite quotes is “Change the things you cannot accept and accept the things you cannot change”. WISDOM – am I right?? No way am I perfect, far from it. But I can tell you that I feel 90% happier lately by just changing how I view certain aspects of my life. One of my favourite mantras has been “I am exactly where I need to be. Everything I am experiencing is pushing me to live my highest potential.” If you’re more of a hands on person and want to physically count your blessings, you can start a gratitude journal where you write anywhere between 1 – 5 things you’re grateful for each day. It can be super easy or totally deep and meaningful. An example of this could be “I’m grateful for my home”, “I’m grateful to be able to provide for my family”. Practicing gratitude even if your life isn’t perfect, which really NO ONE’S is, will help to train your mind to focus on the good and not the lack or what you don’t have. Ps. if anyone is telling you their life is perfect or portraying otherwise, there are some deep demons in there… ones they may or may not even know of!
- Start a bullet journal and include a habit tracker. I use this one by Leuchtturm. I love this journal because it already has page numbers and an index (which you need to bullet journal) and I like that it’s not lined. Instead it has dots so you can create tables or whatever without that visual block of lines in a regular journal. Sometimes I even draw in it or doodle if I feel like it! If you don’t want to invest in a specific bullet journal, you can just use a regular notebook. There are lots of ways to set it up and there are amazing Youtube videos on this. I like to set up my habit tracker monthly so I create a calendar and then on top I list the things I want to do that month and give each activity a symbol. A few common ones I include are: in bed by 10:30, reading, yoga, gym, meditation – 5 minutes. So everyday that I do let’s say yoga, I give myself a star, or a heart or whatever your symbol is. I hope that made sense 🙂 . It’s so rewarding at the end of the month to see all the times I did the things I wanted to and totally motivates me to do them if I’ve been slacking on them too!
- Write monthly intentions. Going off of my journal in post 2, I also use it to do monthly intentions. I originally saw one of my favourite bloggers, Lee from America, post her intentions and I absolutely adored reading them so eventually I decided to give it a try! I love writing intentions each month because it brings me back to the things that matter each month. I give myself some quiet time to reflect and think about how I can make the best of the coming month. I also reflect on what I maybe didn’t do the best the month prior and go from there. Here’s an example of my March, 2018 intentions.
- Come back to your breath and your body. I can only speak for myself but I know that when I have a million deadlines or whatever and my anxiety is at its peak, I stop breathing. Not literally because – duh I’d be dead, but I start breathing so shallow. Yoga has taught me push past the obstacle and to come back to my body with breath. So obviously since you can’t break out into a downward facing dog or child’s pose each time you feel stressed, overwhelmed or anxious, but you can come back to your breath no matter where you are. I like to inhale for 4 seconds, hold for 2 seconds and then exhale for 6 seconds. I do this a couple times and I feel SO much better almost instantly, my shoulders relax, my body relaxes from the physical tension and it’s really changed my day to day (some days more than others 😉 ).
- Practice mindful eating. A lot of us, myself included have become out of touch of what mindful eating is. I personally think technology, stress and “lack of time” are all factors that have made the average person disconnected from their food to some degree if not completely. The next time you’re eating, I want you to actually feel. How do you feel while you are eating it? What does it smell like? How do you feel after? I’ve been trying to practice this for a few years and it really just gets easier with time because you can pick up your body’s cues. This is actually a huge reason why I’m 99.9% dairy free. The 2 second decision of eating that cake (just an example) full of buttercream frosting when I was starving at the office followed by feeling terrible after for hours just wasn’t worth it to me. I would get sleepy, mucous would sometimes form in my throat and my tummy would be upset. When I knew how I was being affected, I knew I didn’t want to feel like that most of the time. I still allow myself that cake if I really want it, like at a wedding or a Christmas party but I try to consciously make that decision rather than from starvation. As long as you have 0 regrets, I think it’s totally fine to have treats, daily, weekly or monthly and don’t feel bad about them either! We have this idea of perfection and 1 “slip up” is going to throw off our entire life but it doesn’t. The world keeps spinning and you do the best you can with what you have that day!
I hope this post was helpful to you in how I practice being mindful on the regular. As always, I love your feedback and thoughts so please comment below or reach out via social media to @balancingandie!