Five Ways to Live More Mindfully in 2017
As we pass from one year into the next with celebration, it can be a terrific time to reset, reframe and evaluate how we’ve been living. Do you feel run down on a regular basis? Do you feel unsatisfied with your career or personal relationships? Is there something that is weighing on your confidence? If enough dissonance exists between how we wish to live and how we’re currently going about our daily lives, the gap can begin to weigh on our happiness, health and sense of identity. It’s important to realize that to struggle with this dissonance from time-to-time is to be human, but there are a few simple tips you can take on to gradually reposition thoughts and make progress toward living a more satisfying, mindful life in the new year.
- Prioritize connecting with family and friends. While it’s easy to get consumed with shopping for just the right gift, making the house “just-so” and achieving an Instagram-worthy holiday or party scene, try to steal a few minutes in your day to press the pause button. Savor your coffee, close your eyes and think about the valued relationships in your life. Make time for a quality visit, phone call, or send a card, text message or social media message to someone you fell out of touch with – just to wish them well and ask how they are. Knock on an elderly neighbor’s door, or look up and notice someone in your path that may be in need of a connection, and offer a friendly conversation.
- Evaluate your self-care routine. When we think of healthy habits we aspire to adopt, we often look at the physical habits we can improve on – regular exercise, balanced diet, more water and sleep. Every year, many people begin with a resolution to finally tackle the mystical formula of being able to incorporate these habits into their daily life. While the holidays can be a great time to schedule that annual physical to check-up on your physical self, make sure you’re also scheduling in time to identify why it’s been difficult to achieve your goals and what you specifically need in order to feel strong and resilient. How do you feel about yourself? What are some negative influences in your life? Being honest about these questions can help you pinpoint how to move forward and incorporate ways to take care of your mental and emotional needs along with the physical. Your self-care routine will be unique to you, whether it’s recognizing that you need more quiet time in your day, or that your current situation leaves you feeling socially-isolated. Discovering what’s truly bothering you can feel very freeing, and offer a clearer picture of how to move forward.
- Talk to someone proactively. Whether it’s a friend, family member, or a professional therapist or coach, exploring your feelings and the way you react to life stressors with an objective third party can help you step back and observe your needs in a different light. We often limit ourselves unconsciously with thinking patterns, views and behaviors that we’ve built on through the unique experiences in our lives. Recognizing the ability to look at things from a different perspective before we find ourselves in a serious state helps us to build that mindfulness muscle – helping us to cope better with challenges, react in constructive ways and practice resiliency. If you’re hoping to speak with a professional, there are now more options than ever to access them. Employers often offer a series of free and confidential coaching or counseling sessions as part of an Employee Assistance Program. If you struggle with transportation or have a packed schedule, or would like to experiment with different types of support, there are also a growing number of online options that can be sought out at any time of day – from online cognitive behavioral therapy programs (CBT), to text or video therapy or coaching, and many mobile apps that can help you track and practice positive daily habits (search for “meditation” or “mindfulness” in your app store, for example.)
- Think about how you handle change. Change is constant and often feels disruptive to our lives. Whether it’s broader, societal change that we observe, or more personal life events – changing jobs, moving to a new location, or having a new child, change affects us all differently. It may interrupt our ability to fall asleep at night. It may even induce feelings of fear and anxiety. It may force us to evaluate how to think about ourselves and our relationships. Stepping back and taking a look at how we react to change helps us to be more mindful of the constructive steps we can take to alleviate worries and rise above negativity. Practice reframing what you hear and be open to looking at a situation from all perspectives. Think about different options you have in your reactions, and try to be empathetic to those that may have a different reaction to the same situation. Acknowledge others’ feelings as valid – even if they are different from yours. Lastly, it’s important to focus on aspects of a situation that you can control and impact positively, and to lessen time worrying about things you cannot. There are situations where you’ll have to take things as they come and allow things to happen.
- Practice failing well. Chances are, you’ll be making some important life choices this year. Maybe you’re helping your child choose which major to take in school. Maybe you’re evaluating your own education and career options. Maybe you’re looking to deepen existing relationships, or find a fulfilling new one. Self-doubt inevitably can creep in and interfere with your ability to achieve these goals and make helpful decisions. Failing well is a skill, and learning to cope with and navigate failures will do wonders for your confidence and knowledge about yourself. Many successful people have shared that they’ve succeeded because of their failures and ability to find their strengths through them.
In the words of all-star NBA player, Michael Jordan:
“If you’re trying to achieve, there will be roadblocks. I’ve had them; everybody has had them. But obstacles don’t have to stop you. If you run into a wall, don’t turn around and give up. Figure out how to climb it, go through it, or work around it. I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
We at Magellan wish you a happy, healthy and more mindful 2017!