This past year was marked by change, hardship, and growth. Much of life — as we knew it — was upended. Seemingly overnight, our homes became more than just our homes; they became our place of work, worship, education, and exercise. We were propelled into a new era of living, one that includes social distancing, mask-wearing, and spending significant time with our immediate households. We tucked away our suitcases and passports, which now have a thin layer of dust — a reminder of the events and adventures we safely postponed. Our new normal is different, and some days feel heavier than others.
But with challenge, comes opportunity. And as we enter 2021, it’s an opportune moment to reflect — to acknowledge where we’ve been and where we’re going. To know that despite increased rates of loneliness, financial hardship, housing insecurity, and more, we are resilient. Our collective experience has brought us closer to the important things in life, the things we were likely taking for granted. It’s been a year of turning inward — of becoming stewards and advocates for our health. And in the pursuit of turning inward, we’ve created space for transformation. The way we take care of ourselves is evolving. Against all odds, these tumultuous times have brought silver linings. They’ve encouraged us to pay attention to our mental health, giving mindfulness an opportunity to shine.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present and engaged in the moment, aware of our thoughts and feelings. It’s about paying more attention to what's happening in our bodies, without distraction or judgment. In essence, it’s about having self-awareness. Thus, mindfulness requires taking the time to reflect — to tap into our well-being. And contrary to popular opinion, being mindful isn’t expensive or complicated. Rather, it’s simple: it’s stepping aside from the hustle and bustle and asking ourselves, ‘What do I need in this moment?’
How Can Mindfulness Support Your Overall Well-being?
Study after study shows that mindfulness (i.e. in the form of meditation) is a powerful healer. It has the ability to help us manage thoughts and feelings, inspire good habits, and discover what makes us tick. In other words, practicing mindfulness allows us to find more happiness and meaning in our lives. But like strengthening any muscle, mindful living is a habit. It takes focus and consistency to reap its rewards. Concerted effort leads to a variety of positive outcomes: reduced stress and anxiety, enhanced memory, improved emotional regulation, and more.
Three Mindfulness Habits to Practice Every Day
When it comes to establishing mindfulness habits, start small. Think: progress over perfection. Building up your mental wellness is an ongoing pursuit.
- Create a morning ritual. The peace and quiet of the morning offers an ideal opportunity to practice mindfulness. To be proactive, set your alarm 10 minutes earlier. If lighting a candle and journaling calls to you, spend a few minutes to jot down your gratitudes and goals for the day ahead. If meditating while your coffee brews sounds relaxing, go for that. A morning ritual is about being present and setting a positive tone for the day.
- Choose nourishing foods. Eating real food — made from wholesome ingredients — is one of the best forms of self-care. After all, what we eat can boost our overall well-being. It provides satisfaction and energy, and thus, can make us happier and more productive. Oftentimes, though, we’re too rushed to be mindful about our food choices. Enter: RXBARs. Conveniently packed with intentional ingredients, like egg whites for protein and nuts for texture, RXBARs are as nutritious as they are delicious. They’re perfect for quick, mindful fuel. Honoring hunger cues is a form of practicing mindfulness, and it’s also building trust with your body.
- Pursue creativity. Whether it’s drawing, learning graphic design, planting a winter garden, etc., a creative hobby is a fun way to practice mindfulness. After all, tapping into your creative side requires focus and awareness. In turn, when you’re engaging in creativity, you’re living a life in alignment with what makes you happy. You’re spending your energy well.
Ultimately, mindfulness is all about inviting intentional space — space to breathe, think, and be aware of our feelings.