2020 was a year full of surprises, stress, and strange twists, and this new year will be no different. With all that's going on, it's more essential than ever to remain mindful: be more present, celebrate the little victories, and relax whenever possible. But why is being mindful so important?
- It helps us better deal with distractions and negative thoughts. Mindfulness allows us to remain grounded in the present and better focus on what's right in front of us instead of worrying about future problems or regretting past mistakes.
- Mindfulness brings clarity of thought. By focusing on the now, we stop overcomplicating situations, which allows us to better think through solutions to current roadblocks.
These are just a few of my reasons for valuing mindfulness. But how do we stay mindful?
- Slow down: being mindful goes hand-in-hand with slowing down your thoughts. Often, we fret over future issues that stop us from thinking clearly about the present. When faced with a problem or uncertainty about a worrying situation, slowing down for a few minutes may be a good idea. Take a few deep breaths to re-center yourself and clear your racing thoughts. I've found this to be helpful in situations of panic by first recognizing the emotions I'm feeling.
- Set goals: set goals in the short and long-term to stay focused. By taking the time to plan out your daily tasks or jotting down what milestones you want to achieve in your life, you are taking the uncertainty out of the equation. This has helped me move away from questions like 'What if I don't achieve anything?' or 'Why am I doing all this?'. I find myself taking more intentional actions, which allows more headspace to be present.
- Reduce mindless tasks: In between meetings or in transport, we might find ourselves mindlessly staring at a screen (often our phones). Scrolling through social media or emails has been a source of anxiety for me and distracts me from where I actually am. To reduce doomscrolling, I turn off notifications for certain apps, and turn on Do Not Disturb mode during times when I need to be fully present.
To figure out how to best stay mindful, reflect on your biggest distractors. What actions and objects cause overthinking and anxiety for you? Setting intentions may help reduce these distractions for a more mindful year. You can write these intentions down in a journal or use Opal to log the intention behind each time you get distracted.