You arrive home from a long, stressful day at work and change into your PJ’s. After grabbing a snack, you kick back in your favorite chair to check Instagram. You turn on Netflix too, just for background noise. Three hours and 42 minutes later, you realize you’ve accomplished nothing — not even dinner. You feel a knot starting in the pit of your stomach and instead of feeling relaxed, you actually feel like you’ve lost time you’ll never get back. You start wondering if there is a way to achieve balance in a busy life.
Mindless distractions such as social media, television, and games can steal your time, rest, and enjoyment. Researchers have even found a link between social media and anxiety, and warn against the risks of social media addiction. Too much screen time can take you away from the things in life you cherish the most, such as your job, relationships, and school.
All of this connectedness has experts talking about the importance of mindfulness.
The Basics of Mindfulness
You might think that mindfulness is some fancy way to get control of your life. While it does help you regain a sense of control, there isn’t anything fancy about it. Mindfulness simply means that you are fully aware of what’s going on around you without judgment. It’s a state of being connected to the present moment that’s been proven to create feelings of calm and reduce stress. This might sound too simple. However, there is a science behind mindfulness.
There isn’t just one method of achieving a high level of mindfulness. Some people practice meditation, take regular vacations, or spend time doing nothing. Here are a few of the best strategies you can use to be fully present in your life.
Don’t Become Addicted to Mindless Work
Could you be struggling with work addiction? About 26 percent of all employees in the United States work between 45-59 hour each week, and 12 percent work over 60 hours per week. Too much work can create problems in your personal relationships, make it difficult to fall asleep, and even harm your health.
The current state of workplace cultures might be telling you that you must be connected at all times, but if you want to live a healthy and happy life, you need to disconnect. It’s essential that you set healthy workplace boundaries, take your vacation time, and even try to get out for a walk or break a few times each day.
Unplug From Technology
When was the last time you were sitting with family or friends, and everyone was more involved in the conversations on their phones than with the people around them? It happens. However, it’s no secret that some of the most successful people unplug from technology on set intervals and when they’re in the company of their favorite people.
Set an hour or two each day to leave the phone in another room so that you can connect with those around you. If you have a family, choose one day on the weekend where everyone is tech-free for the entire day. If a whole day will have your children, teens, or partner twitching, set a rule that phones or other tech devices aren’t allowed at the dinner table. When we intentionally unplug, our connections to ourselves and others can flourish.
Learn to Meditate
You don’t have to assume a Buddha-like position to get the benefits of meditation. This ancient practice is a routine exercise that trains your mind to focus on the present. Meditation helps you increase awareness of your thoughts, body, and surroundings. It’s proven to reduce stress levels, minimize anxiety symptoms, and decrease your blood pressure.
If you want to practice meditation, you don’t have to do it alone. Find a local class or a meditative yoga lesson. You can also try an app with guided meditations that will walk you through sessions that increase focus, target happiness, or guide you into a restful sleep.
If you want to try out meditation by yourself, find a quiet spot, close your eyes and take a few deep cleansing breaths. Then, just sit still for three to five minutes and pay attention to the sounds and smells around you. If your mind starts to wander, gently redirect your thoughts back to your breath and surroundings. One of the integral parts of meditation is self-acceptance and understanding, so be gentle and loving to yourself during your meditative practices.
Call in the Experts
Sometimes life becomes too overwhelming for us to handle on our own. These times call for us to understand that therapy is an awesome way to transform our lives and ask for the help we need. Talk therapy can lessen the symptoms of anxiety and depression, improve sleep, and boost your level of wellness. Finding a counselor who can assist you to work through your current struggles won’t only benefit you today — it’s been proven that the skills you learn in talk therapy are long-lasting.
Another specialized treatment that can help is called neurocounseling, and it can actually teach you how to train your mind to function differently to external stimulation. As humans, we react to the world around us. Neurocounseling aims to bridge the gap between your brain and your behaviors. One technique often used is biofeedback, which helps you control bodily functions such as your heart rate. During biofeedback, you’re attached to electrical sensors that give information about your body so that you can learn how to control your reactions. This technique provides control over your body to improve your overall health.
Our society has become so advanced that, at times, we just miss basic human needs. It’s critical you remember that your mental and physical health is one of the greatest gifts you possess. So, the next time you start feeling off-balance, practice a few of these mindfulness techniques to regain your time and reconnect to the essence of who you are as a person.