How many times a day do you find yourself flying from one task or responsibility to the next? Are there more days than you care to think where from the time you wake up you are on a sprint for what’s next and next and next? How many times do you end your day feeling exhausted and like you really didn’t even find joy in your day? Too many times?
If you are like most people these days, you may be feeling like you are on a conveyer belt of life with someone else pushing the button.
While many of us have said yes to a lot of roles and responsibilities, like being a partner, a parent and /or a worker or business owner, we don’t have to live our entire life on someone else’s schedule to the point where we don’t stop to take in the small wonders and joys of our day.
If you are only aware of the times you wake up and go to sleep, and not really present and aware of much of the time in between, that may be a sign you are doing too much, and you are doing too much on autopilot.
So stop. Easy for me to say you might be thinking, but it’s actually easier than you think.
Here’s some ideas to add more presence, mindfulness and joy to your busy life and responsibilities.
1. Stop and breathe deeply at the top of each hour. Just set your watch or an alarm to use that as an opportunity to slow down, inhale deeply and remember that your wellbeing is as important (or more important) than anything you need to do at that moment. Just pause, and breathe deeply inhaling through your nose, and exhaling in a slow and steady way out your mouth. If you are with kiddos, teach this to them and you can all breathe together. At the office? Great, invite a coworker or two to engage in this with you which is a benefit to all of you.
2. Schedule a mindfulness moment. This can be as simple as pausing before you eat your lunch and having a thought of gratitude for the food you are about to eat. You might decide to take your mindfulness minute in the morning as you consider three things you are grateful for. The idea is to slow down and choose a minute where you are completely present and intentional about your thoughts.
3. Carve out a few minutes in nature daily. There is something cathartic about being outside in nature. It can whisk us away temporarily from all of our busy thoughts and feelings of rushing through to get to the next thing. Being out in nature naturally just slows us down. Embrace the pause and take your kiddo, partner or coworker outside. Smell some flowers or take a walk. You will likely feel energized and ready to take on the next task.
4. Stop and look intently at an everyday object. You might have a painting or other beautiful piece of art that you walk by daily but hardly notice as it has become “part of the woodwork.” Stop and pause and look at it. Notice the size, color, texture and see what you can see that perhaps you have not noticed before. Take a few minutes to act as if you are seeing the painting or piece for the first time. How would you explain what you are seeing to someone who is not there? Notice the details and take it all in.
5. Schedule some white space, i.e., time for relaxation, rejuvenation, or recreation. We cannot just continue to give and do without replenishing. There is no machine or tool out there that can just work endlessly without some form of maintenance. Consider what you need to slow down and become more aware of what you need in the moment (short run) as well as what you would benefit from in the long run. Stay attuned to the signs your body and brain give you that it’s time for restoration. Then add regular small amounts of time to your day to accomplish this.
Listen to the clues your body and brain provide that indicate that it’s time to tend to you. Stop, or at least slow down so you can be more present in the moment with whatever you are doing. Learn to tend to tasks with a different mindset that can help you to remember to breathe and enjoy the time you’ve been given.
Every day is precious and not to be taken for granted. Slow down, consider priorities and be mindful with each step along the way.