As we enter 2018, New Year’s resolutions are fresh on everyone’s mind. We want to make more friends, have a more fulfilling social life, eat healthier, exercise more, drink less alcohol, call family more, eat less sugar, read more, stop binge watching Netflix…. the list could go on forever!
New Year’s resolutions focus on the future with hopes of enhancing the next year. If we master the resolution, the year to come will be better. However, more times than not, we lose the momentum of our resolution as the months progress. We find ourselves looking back in regret or disappointment with aims to do better next New Year.
This year we offer an alternative! Instead of looking back on failed resolutions or planning for the future, take a look at the present moment. Presence is the most important gift to ourselves and others. The benefits of mindfulness are plentiful including:
- an increase in happiness and being content
- a decrease in worrying and over analyzing
- appreciating those around you more
- a decrease in stress, depression and anxiety
- an improvement in social skills
- an increase in focus, clarity and creativity
So, take a little time in January to establish some daily mindfulness habits that could drastically change your 2018! Need some help getting started? Try these small moments:
Take Small Moments:
Daily tasks/chores are a great built in time to be mindful. Pick a few small habits below that are easy to implement. Pay attention to your body posture and mind activity when you do these small exercises. Be engaged, relaxed, and most importantly, don't forget to breathe.
Breath: If your mind is very active during any of these moments, begin to count your slow deep breaths. Inhale: 1, Exhale: 1, Inhale: 2, Exhale, 2... Continue up to 10 and start back over at 1.
• When washing the dishes feel the warm water and soap on your hands. Think of positive words to describe this cozy and safe feeling. Let your mind float to positive memories or images you attach to that feeling. Stand in Mountain Pose between dishes (engage your core, feet shoulder width apart, pelvis tilted back, heart open, shoulders plugged down). As you put each dish away, imagine releasing your stressful or anxious thoughts out and away.
• While winding down your day (reading a book, listening to a podcast, knitting, etc.) be mindful of your posture. Get into a comfortable position in which your back is supported and your neck is at a comfortable angle. Don't multi-task, totally engage in what you are doing. You owe your full attention to yourself. Evaluate your current emotional and physical self. When your brain drifts to work or anxieties, softly and gently turn back to your task at hand or bring your attention to your breath.
• Take mini mediation breaks at work. Sit back in your chair, align your posture, support your back and place both feet on the ground. Softly place your hands on your lap and if you feel comfortable, close your eyes. Take a few deep breaths and scan your physical and emotional self. Schedule this time as if it were an important meeting or a lunch break.
• While lying in bed, before getting up in the morning and before going to sleep at night, scan from head to toe, taking brief moments at each body part to sense your body and relax the local muscles. Feel the difference in your body between the night and morning. Think positively about the day to come or the sleep you will soon enjoy.
• While commuting, which can be stressful, take a moment to get comfortable in your seat. Open your chest, plug your shoulders down, and softly engage your core to keep good posture. As you drive, let thoughts enter and exit your mind. As stressful or frustrating situations arrive, passively let them float out of your brain and into the air.
As you practice integrating these mindful moments into your daily life, being present will come easier. Start off small by adding one of the mindful moments into your day. Practice for a week or so before adding another. Then establish a regular practice of the mindful moments that work for you, letting go of ones that don’t.
And always remember, be kind to yourself. You deserve it.