Does this sound like you? Life is too busy; I'm constantly pushing myself to get everything done; I need to work a few extra hours to get ahead; my weekends are jammed with social events and kids activities; I barely have time to binge-watch my favourite Netflix show. Well, it's time to address this before your entire life passes you by in the blink of an eye.
One of the symptoms of trying to do too much is that we are always racing from one thing to another, often over-committing ourselves in the process. One of the most dangerous side-effects of this behaviour is that our perception of time speeds up, causing us to wonder where the days/months/years have gone.
The fact is, today's world makes it difficult to slow down and enjoy life. If and when we finally get the chance to do so, we get a shot of nostalgia to the gut when we realize that life is moving too fast and we regret not enjoying it more while it lasted.
I’m here to tell you that it’s time to slow down and start living in the moment! Mindfulness is a trendy topic but it's also a powerful tool to help you live in the moment and to live your best life.
For most people, it's not realistic to cut all of your commitments from your life. What is realistic, however, is to make a few small improvements. Here are five simple ways to incorporate mindfulness into your everyday routine so that you can slow down the perception of time by living more in the moment.
1. Yoga And Meditation
These are probably the two most common activities for adding mindfulness to your day because they are so easy to practice. If you don't have the time or money to join a yoga class, it's super easy to follow any number of YouTube instructors. (I recommend Yoga by Candace.) The benefits of attending a class, however, are that you feel committed to going and you completely avoid distractions from around your home. In addition, I recommend daily meditation. It takes as little as five minutes and helps slow down your mind and to think more clearly. Check out some channels on YouTube (like Meditation Vacation) or download a meditation app on your phone (like Headspace).
People, in general, tend to follow daily routines to stay organized. This isn’t a bad thing; it helps us manage our time more effectively to avoid the stress of last minute chaos. But when our routines become too regimented, it can feel like our lives are on autopilot and we stop thinking about what we're doing because the tasks at hand are so automatic. This is why reflecting on your day is so important. Even though each day might be filled with a similar routine, there are plenty of things that happen right in front of you that are overlooked. Taking the time to reflect on them forces you to think, in detail, about your day and acknowledge your feelings in those moments. If you have a hard time just sitting around and reflecting, use a journal to write down a couple of observations from your day. Start with one thing that made you smile today and one thing that made you laugh. This will bring forward observations and feelings that might otherwise go unnoticed by the conscious part of your mind.
3. Take Joy In The Little Things
Life has become such a rat race and we are always reaching for "the next big thing", such as a promotion or concert or vacation. The result is that we tend to ignore all the little things in life that are happening now, all around us, that can bring us joy. A big part of mindfulness is living in the moment and being more aware. Recognizing these little things is very rewarding and easy to do, once you get the hang of it. For me, I love the sounds of the birds when I take my dog for a walk each morning. And when I'm typing on my computer, I laugh when I hear my cat snoring. When I appreciate the little things, I find that I'm not always wishing my time away by looking forward to "the next big thing".
4. Do One Thing At A Time
These days, everyone is forced to become a multi-tasker. People love to say they are multi-taskers and are proud of how many things I can juggle at the same time. The reality is, it's draining you! You might be dong a dozen things at once but you aren't doing all of them particularly well. It also adds a considerable amount of stress and anxiety to your life. Bring some mindfulness into your tasks by focusing on one thing at a time and putting your full attention into the task at hand. This is especially important when the task involves interacting with another person, such as a spouse or child. This will help you both mentally and physically and will enable you to be more present with what you are doing.
5. Slow Down
Finally, slow down! We are always rushing from one thing to another because in today’s society we have become accustomed to cramming in as many activities as we have time for. Science has proven this is to be unhealthy yet most people aren't taking the science seriously. Sure, being involved in activities is good for you but only in moderation. Instead of feeling stressed and frustrated as you zoom from one event to the next, take on a little less and slow yourself down. You'll get more enjoyment from each activity and you'll allow yourself some space to contemplate your life. (Contemplation is actually very important, as it allows you to evaluate important life decisions.) Add more down time to your life, even if it means signing yourself or your kids up for fewer activities. Give it a try for a few months see if you feel more relaxed. Do you mind a favour: give it what it needs and slow down.
Let me know what you do to be more mindful each day - tell me in the comments below. I'm constantly looking for new ways to improve my daily practices and would love to hear from you!
Thank you for reading.
Who What Zen