7 mindfulness exercises to power you through the new decade
2020’s new trend? Having these quiet moments for yourself
Jan 7, 2020
No one ever told me how being an adult can make you feel so mindless most of the time. Adulting used to appeal to me as being able to do whatever I want, but with all the pressures of landing a fulfilling job, attaining financial stability, and maintaining relationships, I find that what I’m mostly looking forward to are times when I could just breathe and be with my thoughts.
Let’s face it, even with the new decade, things aren’t getting easier (I mean, the possibility of World War 3 approaching?). And so, we put forward these bite-sized mindful activities that can help keep our heads above everything this era may throw at us.
Focus on your breathing
This one’s a no-brainer and you might even be tired of being told to ”just breathe” but when did it not help in one way or another? Before you scroll past this one, just know that most people breathe the wrong way—that is, through their mouths and only with their chests expanding. What’s more is that this shallow kind of breathing is known to add more stress to people.
The proper and most efficient way of breathing, however, is through the nose all the way to our stomachs. With this, focusing on our breathing is known to help us anchor ourselves and hold things down despite everything that may be happening.
Pay attention to what you’re eating
Every once in a while, just delve into and ruminate on what you are eating. Take the time to chew your food. No talking or being on your phone whatsoever but fully giving your undivided attention to it by giving thought to the layers of flavor, technique, and effort that have been put into it.
You’ll probably find a better appreciation of the food you’re eating or maybe not—at least, you’re not in blind faith about some overrated dish anymore and would know better to look for other choices.
Digest the lyrics of a song you’re listening to
The fact that music is now something we preoccupy ourselves with on a daily basis, gives it some power over us just because we can easily get swept away with whatever tune we’re blasting or even singing. Music sells something with its rhythm—this is why most commercials use jingles.
Whenever you’re listening to music, stop to contemplate on what this form of art is implying or where it may be coming from. You’ll be surprised at how many pop songs are actually quite empty and even problematic. Then again, pondering over songs with complex rhythms and perplexing lyrics (ever listened to “Breezeblocks” by Alt-J?) is good food for thought.
Ask yourself what you’re resisting this moment
This is something I got from taking a 10-session course on Headspace that centers around the theme of acceptance. Stopping to ask yourself the very question of “who or what are you resisting in life right now?” (yes, in the second person point of view) compels you to confront and eventually let go of what it is that might be causing you tension.
You may notice yourself unconsciously creasing your forehead out of stress, dreading a situation or even disliking the presence of a certain person. The more you acknowledge your resistance towards these things, the more you can accept and move forward.
Write on a journal
With the start of the new decade, it’s time we bring back journaling but doing it consistently this time. Thinking about it now, I can’t help but pinpoint writing in my diary in my childhood up to my teenage years as what sparked my passion for writing.
Journaling is essentially a healthy way of expressing yourself but in case you didn’t know, numerous studies have approved of its positive effects to mental health especially with relieving stress and anxiety. This is because writing about your day or whatever that comes to your mind on paper (yes, not just on your phone) helps you coherently work through unresolved thoughts and feelings.
Notice how anger makes your body feel
When you find yourself feeling angry or irritable, notice how it makes you feel not only emotionally but physically. Observe the physical sensations that may be rising within you: a pulsating chest or a headache may be building up.
Recognizing how anger transforms the body into this ball of rage and tension is an effective warning sign that can immediately help us step back from all the emotions of anger. It’s scary to be aware of this emotion and what it can make us do and so, this acknowledging this can make us snap out of it and remind us to be kinder.
Remind ourselves of what really matters
I don’t mean to sound cheesy with this one but this is because it’s easy to get caught up in the situation and even intentions of other people to the point where we lose sight of what we’re really there for. Being a socially awkward introvert, I tend to get overwhelmed with all the socialization that my job requires, especially at events.
Nevertheless, I persist by constantly reminding myself that at the end of the day, it’s all part of my bigger purpose, which is to write for a living. Awareness of what truly matters in a given moment will help us power through whatever feelings of anxiety that may be upon us.
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