I have been working on my physical health for at least two to three years now. The acid reflux, the joint/muscle pain, the irregular periods, the hair loss, the cystic acne, etc. I’ve made dietary and supplement changes. I have changed up my workout routine. I have been sleeping more. But I have also come to realize that so many of these issues have a strong mental connection, as well.
The short story: I need to work on relaxing more, being less stressed, and being more mindful. Let’s talk a bit about how I’m approaching these new goals.
The following six bullet points focus on the things I have been working on in the mindfulness realm over the last month. I’d love to hear more about what has/hasn’t worked for you in your journey toward increased mindfulness in the comments below!
1. Beginning my mornings with meditation.
Let me preface this paragraph by saying that getting out of bed 10 to 20 minutes earlier than normal to meditate it not easy. There are days when I snooze through my alarm a bit too long and meditation time turns into “how quickly can I shower and do my hair?” time (AKA the complete opposite of relaxation). But on the days when I make the conscious effort to start my day with meditation and breathing exercises, I find that my entire day just goes a whole lot more smoothly. I have a more positive attitude, and I take the time to appreciate more of the little moments.
I personally like using apps on my phone for guided meditation and breathing since while it may look easy, meditation truly is far from that. I have a wandering, over-thinking mind, so bringing myself back into each moment is challenging, but fulfilling.
2. Putting away my phone and computer by 8:00 p.m.
This has been a game-changer for me. Though this does not happen every night (especially when blogging deadlines are nearing), whenever possible I make the effort to be off of my phone and computer for at least an hour or two before I get into bed. I set my alarm, browse through Instagram one last time, and walk my phone upstairs to our bedroom to charge overnight.
Taking the initiative to eliminate these two huge distractions truly helps me to be more mindful. I am able to fully dedicate my attention towards time with Jeremy. I can read a book or watch a TV show and be fully attentive to what is happening in the plot. I have also found that doing so enables me to be more mindful of the way my body is feeling each night. I have been spending more time stretching, doing self massage on my back and neck, and going to bed when I feel tired (even if that is before 9:00 p.m.). An added bonus: being off of technology has made getting to sleep a whole lot easier, too!
3. Recognizing when I am tense, focused, or calm.
Spire recently sent me their Mindfulness + Activity Tracker to try out. Like most activity trackers, it calculates the numbers of steps taken each day (though often more accurately since it is worn on the waist), and activity goals can be set by each individual user. But unlike other activity trackers, this beaut stands out because it also tracks breathing patterns to determine when I am feeling tense, focused, or calm.
Whenever Spire notices a breathing pattern, it notifies me by vibrating on my waist and sending a notification to my phone. I changed my settings to have Spire notify me whenever I have been tense for a three-minute span. Spire also helps me to be more mindful about remembering to take deep breaths throughout my day, which is something I often need to be more cognizant of.
Though it is important for me to be mindful of my tense moments, what I really love seeing are my calm streaks. Whenever I am having a tense moment or am feeling stressed, I will challenge myself to get into a calm streak by taking deep breaths. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty sure that having any excuse to breathe deeply is a great thing.
4. Going on walks without my phone.
Walking technology-free is amazing. Seriously. Try it. Don’t get me wrong. I love listening to podcasts during many of my walks. But lately I have been venturing out on walks without my phone, podcasts, or music. Talk about being forced to be more mindful! Without some of these distractions, I find I pay a lot more attention to my surroundings, nature, the air, breathing, and the way my body is feeling. If my joints or muscles are sore, I turn for home earlier than I might normally when I am sidetracked with a podcast.
And if you absolutely feel like you must have your phone with you (for safety reasons, etc.), try using it in a positive way by listening to mindfulness podcasts or using it to practice breathing exercises.
P.S. With Spire, you can be away from your phone for six hours while it continues to track your activity and breathing patterns. Once you are back near your phone, the app fetches the data.
5. Exercising when and how I “feel like it.” AKA quick tabatas, walks, and yoga!
I used to always think that exercising meant three to five mile runs, thirty minutes of strength training, or an hour-long group exercise class. But when I started listening to what my body was telling me, it was saying, “please stop doing that!” Now through mindfulness practice, I have been able to more easily recognize which types of exercise my body prefers and which ones leave me feeling like crap.
These days I am filling my days with four-minute tabatas a few times per week, walks that average anywhere from 20 to 50 minutes depending on how I feel, and yoga when I need some “mental exercise” as opposed to physical exercise (restorative and yin yoga are my favorites). I have also come to realize that being “active” doesn’t have to mean running a marathon. So many days, the only “exercise” that occurs in my day is walking to and from the bus stop, taking the stairs, and getting up out of my work chair more frequently. On those particular days, that is what my body is telling me that it needs, and I have been enjoying listening to it!
6. Prepping my body and mind for each meal and snack.
A major thing that I have been working on recently is the practice of being a more mindful eater. I have always been a notoriously speedy eater, and as you likely already know, deal with quite a few digestive issues (acid reflux, bloating, etc.). It probably does not come as much of a surprise that I would like to slow down my eating for two main reasons: being in a more relaxed state while eating will help me to digest my food more efficiently; and slow, mindful eating will help me to better recognize when I am full.
In an effort to get both my body and mind prepared for each meal, I have been taking a couple of minutes before each eating experience to get my body into a calm state. This generally involves taking slow, deep breaths for a period of one to two minutes. I like to look at the Spire app on my phone to see when my body has entered into that calm state. I will often also incorporate one of the Spire boosts into this practice in order to assist me in getting into my calm mode.
I love that they specifically have boosts centered around the practice of eating, too! One particular boost encouraged me to set my fork down in between each bite. I have been really enjoying this challenge because it is definitely forcing me to slow down instead of shoveling the food into my mouth.
Clearly mindfulness is not easy, but practice makes progress!
What practices help you to be more mindful in your daily life?Six Ways to Incorporate Mindfulness into Each Day with @Spire_Inc #ad #CG #inSpire #mindfulness Click To Tweet
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.