If someone were to ask “how are you?” today, chances are you’d reply “busy!” Life sweeps us up in a bundle of chaos, throws us long to-do lists, and keeps us on what feels like a never ending treadmill. It’s no surprise the hashtag ‘mindfulness’ has 17.2 million posts on Instagram, and mindfulness retreats are becoming everyone’s dream destination.
But what if we told you that although they’re great, mindfulness retreats are not the answer to establishing a life free of busyness and exhaustion?
You don’t need to spend all your money on a mindfulness retreat to restore your hauora (wellbeing) and find stillness. Here are four things you can start doing today that will help you get there instead.
Let it out
While we don’t want to add to your to-do list, the act of letting go of your feelings, accomplishments, and goals, can settle your mind and consolidate your priorities. If you do this productively, you’ll be able to take things off your to-do list!
For many, this looks like journaling. Find 5 minutes in your day to jot down what you’ve achieved, what you’d like to achieve, and anything on your mind that flows through your hand and onto the paper. The feeling of ‘busyness’ comes from a busy mind, so getting things out of your mind and into the world can relieve this feeling. Journalling can also assist you in reassessing your to-do list to make sure you’re prioritising what really needs to be done.
If you’re less inclined to write down words, grab a paintbrush, sculpt clay, or get crafty and create something that pushes you to let it all out.
No one in history has ever walked out of a forest and felt more stressed or busy than when they went in. It’s just not possible! Being outside, moving your body, and getting fresh air is one of the best things you can do to ground yourself. Plus, it’s usually free!
Depending on your location, find a park to wander, join a yoga class, pick a personal trainer, or discover local walks that suit your fitness levels. Whatever you do, don’t treat this type of exercise like another activity to add to your busyness and tick off your to-do list. Make it count.
While you’re moving, take time to do a body scan. Check in on how you’re feeling, focus on your breath, and let anything that isn’t in your immediate surroundings, float away. If strenuous exercise isn’t your cup of tea, try a gratitude walk. Walk slowly, think of the things you are grateful for, stay acutely aware of your surroundings, and politely swat away other thoughts that pop into your mind.
You don’t need to work up a sweat or join the gym to move. Discover a type of movement that is in line with what makes you personally feel alive and present.
It’s easy to put mindfulness retreats on a pedestal, but there are tasks we can do on a daily basis that provide the same results. Tasks as basic as eating!
Begin your mindful eating practice by finding out where your food comes from. Consider the ingredients, how they will nourish your body, and where the food is produced (local is best). Next, cook mindfully. Rather than flicking through social media while you stir the beans, or making plans for the next day while you flip your patties, focus only on making your food. Take time to inhale deeply and smell the food cooking. We know screaming kids and jam packed schedules may interrupt this, but do your best to think consciously about what you’re doing. Don’t cook on autopilot.
When you sit down to eat; breathe first. Don’t gobble down each mouthful like you’ve never eaten before; chew slowly and carefully. The process of mindful eating isn’t only beneficial for reducing busyness; mindful eating assists with healthy digestion too. Maybe consider doing a round of gratitude sharing at the table before everyone eats dinner. Such as – name three things you are each grateful for today. This allows everyone at the table to pause and reflect on their day in a positive way while also pausing before eating.
This may sound silly, but breathing is the one thing we all have to do, so we should focus on doing it properly.
If you haven’t had a chance to journal, slowly make dinner that night, or venture out to the park… breathe. Taking just 10 conscious breaths each day can be the recipe for a less chaotic mind and thriving hauora. You don’t need to sit on a yoga mat or become a meditation expert to do this. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, make deep and thoughtful breaths your everyday habit.
Mindfulness retreats are a brilliant way to treat yourself, but sustained mindfulness doesn’t have to cost you anything; it comes from the simple activities you do every day. Let all your thoughts fall out of your bustling mind through journaling or art, move however you can, eat consciously, and above all: remember to breathe.