There are many small ways in which we can ground ourselves, which is of utmost importance during this time. I imagine a great many of us feel untethered and less than at ease. As my grandmother has been telling me, nobody living today has experienced such a crisis, so all we can do is remain steadfast in our belief that the situation will improve- and take steps for our own betterment along the way.
Mindfulness is more than yoga and deep breathing. It’s present, embodied awareness- the establishing of a connection with ourselves, our routines and the world around us. It’s a conscious state and takes genuine practice to develop ability in.
The good news is that your starting point doesn’t have to be one of difficulty- here are fifty simple ways in which you can add mindfulness to your day.
1. As you first wake up, do a body scan. Wiggle your toes, clench and unclench your fists. Stretch your arms over your head, lick your lips.
2. Make your bed and mist it with an essential oil or linen spray of your choice. Lavender, jasmine and sweet orange are a few of my favourites.
3. Step outside and take deep breaths of fresh air. If it’s cold outside, cup your hands over your mouth, then release them. Notice the way your warm breath is visible.
4. Make your morning cup of coffee with a French press for a tactile experience. If you’re a tea lover, brew loose leaf in a teapot you save for special occasions.
5. Do small favours for your later in the day, tired self. Load the dishwasher, clear and do a light clean of your space, then light a candle or turn on a diffuser.
6. Write out sweet, gentle words of affirmation or quotes that your particularly like on post it notes, then transfer them to your work space or mirrors. Mirrors work especially well as you are reminded of the beautiful things that make who you are whilst looking at yourself. It’s a simple practice that promotes love for oneself. You could also write out little love notes on food containers or products you use often, like moisturiser.
7. If you take daily medicines or vitamins, slow down and do so one by one. Don’t attempt to take them all at once. Pour yourself extra water or juice to help with any bad taste, then proceed.
8. Skip your usual morning social media check and pick up something tangible. Take fifteen minutes to read the newspaper or an article from a quality magazine. I like to read a few pages of Frankie, a lifestyle, creativity and wellness magazine.
9. The next time you cook, wash produce thoroughly. Take the time to feel it, like you would washing rice grains. Practice gratitude for the nourishment it provides you with. When the time comes, eat slowly and chew each bit.
10. Pay attention to the way all your senses engage when you eat. Notice smells, texture, taste, the way food feels in your mouth. Eat without media distractions. It may be tempting, but you’ll feel much less satisfied afterwards. Eating while distracted also contributes to overeating.
11. The next time you have clothes to put away, fold then neatly or roll them using Marie Kondo’s method. When done right, either way will save you space. Your drawers will start to look nicer and you’ll be able to pick out your outfits easily.
12. Water your plants and then wipe down their leaves individually.
13. Set a budget and note down any and every expense, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. Analyse this at the end of the week. Costs add up!
14. As you move about your home in the changing seasons, make small rearrangements. Pack away clothes and items that don’t fit the season, like winter jackets and heaters. Set yourself up for follow by having a place for everything and everything in its place. Leave your daily essentials in easy to reach spots.
15. Visit your local library or bookstore. Breathe in the new book smell, run your finger over the spine. Read a few pages. If you’re at the library, considering checking out a few books.
16. Ground yourself and do a little cleaning while you’re at it. Wipe down bench tops, clean your bath. These are simple tasks but we often overlook them!
17. Hand wash a beautiful garment. Treat it gently and wash in cool water. Feel the fabric between your fingers, then hang it gently on a drying rack. Think back to a time you wore that article of clothing and how you felt.
18. As you turn on the lights in a room, invite one positive thought into your mind, then speak it out loud. As you leave the room, turn the lights off and remind yourself of that positive thought. Release any negative energy.
19. Pick out an outfit for tomorrow and make sure it’s cleaned, nicely ironed and pressed as necessary. Hang it up on a fancy coat hanger. There are some lovely velvety hangers perfect for soft items that need the cushioning.
20. Before bed, set aside ten minutes to sip on a herbal tea and reflect on the day you’ve had. I enjoy green tea and peppermint.
21. Read a favourite poem, passage of a book or religious text aloud. Really take in the words and notice how you are affected by them. Do you get goosebumps?
22. As you do a mundane everyday task like brushing your teeth, identify a way in which you were successful today.
23. Whilst planning out your day, allow yourself to doodle or make little drawings in the columns of your journals and to do list.
24. When at work, be hyper aware of your posture. Sit up that little bit straighter, flex and roll your wrists. Tilt your neck to the left, then to the right slowly. Give yourself a brief, healing massage.
25. Stretch your vision for a moment and focus on the furthest thing away from you. Block out all other distractions. Is it trees swaying in the distance? The moving of a vehicle? Notice this.
26. Don’t let yourself get stuck in the trap of viewing and replying to emails and social media comments whenever. Set aside a half hour to an hour block each day instead. Don’t feel as if you need to jet off a reply when you’re in your down time or have passed working hours.
27. Close extra browser tabs on your device to remind yourself of the task at hand. Don’t let distractions take over. At the end of the day, wipe down your devices- phone case, screens, keyboard, mouse.
28. When in a place you frequent, like a coffee shop or good friend’s house, challenge yourself to find something you haven’t seen before.
29. Go on a walk without distractions. Leave your phone at home. Notice the empty space usually filled in your pocket or bag. Stop and smell a patch of flowers. Reach out and touch a leaf or run your hand down the bark of a tree. Practice being one with nature and remove your shoes. Sit or lay down on the grass, really indulging yourself in nature and how immersive it can be.
30. As you go through your everyday routine, give yourself things to look for. Loose change on the ground, a song bird in the trees, cars of a certain colour, shape and make.
31. Set checkpoints throughout the day to name and acknowledge how you feel in the present moment. Is there worry present? Excitement, restlessness? Don’t feel the need to implement solutions- simply recognise them.
32. Hug your partner, friend or pet for thirty seconds. Longer hugs are proven to have health benefits and can significantly improve your mental health. Speak kind words to them.
33. Tell your family members or partner what you most want from them today, then say it to yourself as well.
34. If you’re wearing or using something you particularly love, email or tag the brand to thank them for their work. Do this especially for small makers or independent labels.
35. Say a guiltless ‘no’ when you are feeling over scheduled and close to burnout, or simply because you don’t want to do something. Don’t let yourself be guilted into commitments you aren’t in the mood for. Respect your time as well as the work and effort you already have put in.
36. Thank your mail carrier for delivering parcels, saving you a trip to the post office. Thank the barista who makes your coffee perfectly on the mornings you are time poor.
37. When you are feeling judgemental in conversation and want to pass this on to somebody else, consider more helpful ways in which you could express yourself. Is there another perspective to consider? Take the higher, mature route.
38. Inform yourself of common slurs as well as ableist or racially offensive language. Find alternatives for those phrases and educate others where possible. See it as an opportunity to grow as a person and do better.
39. Make eye contact with people you are speaking with. This is a part of good manners and listening to take in information, not just to respond. Ask questions such as “what was the best part of your day?” or “what did you learn today?” and aim to continue the conversation. Resist the automatic.
40. Embrace a lighthearted, silly moment. Play with a younger sibling, share something funny with a friend or family member.. just be playful. Let down your guard. Do something that makes you feel childlike. This could be drawing and colouring or sifting through pretty objects like shells.
41. Aim to always act from a place of love, especially when you feel yourself going into a state of overwhelm. Ask yourself how best you can respond to the situation. Take in consideration all relevant and impacting factors.
42. Be direct about your needs and invite others to do the same. There is mindfulness in clarity and direction. This is a way to ensure your needs are met, as long as you are realistic and remain respectful.
43. Schedule in your media consumption. Do you have a favourite show you’re currently watching? For me, that’s Dexter. I like to set aside time for an episode each evening before bed. This is helpful because I don’t wile away my time during the day, nor do I get sucked into the trap of watching episode after episode! Pace yourself.
44. Before posting to social media, consider your intentions behind sharing a photo or video. Is it to inform or showcase? Could it be because you seek external validation? If the latter is most likely true, reconsider the post. Hold off and validate yourself instead. This is where real feelings of success and worth are from!
45. Listen to your favourite song and think deeply about what you like so much. What is the story behind the lyrics? What tone is the song sung in? How does it make you feel?
46. Create playlist for each significant part of your day to ensure you always have something that fits the mood. Create playlist also for key emotions. This could look like music for commuting, working, cooking, leisure time, bathing. Music for peace and tranquility, for when you are feeling more somber, for when you need something energetic.
47. Soften and relax your muscles, your jaw. Don’t frown or tense up. Release the wrinkles formed on your face when you frown or are upset. Lower your shoulders, breathe deeply. Allow room to be and don’t hold emotion, particularly that of which is negative, inside.
48. Apply a sweet scented moisturiser or hand lotion and massage it into the spaces between your fingers and palms. Take deep breaths and enjoy the fragrance.
49. Curl inward for a moment. Invert your head and let it hang down to your chest. You could also bend forward and let your fingertips touch the topside of your feet. Embrace a playful posture, enjoying the stretch and flow it brings with it.
50. Make a list of your best assets, the ways you bring value to yourself, others and projects, compliments you have received and times in which you’ve felt the happiest. Add to this list over time, reflect on it and celebrate all that you are and are yet to be.