5 practical tips for staying mindful when you’re busy.
Truth be told, I can find this time of year a tad unbalancing; all the activity, all the must-be-dones, all the busyness, all the crowds (all the Mariah Carey!). The volume of the world is turned up and the sensory overload is like nothing else.
Not a great time for the adrenals either.
As the end of the year comes hurtling towards us, it’s easy to get lost in the overwhelm; you know the feeling… there's so much to love about this time of year but we’re often just too busy to notice it.
The idea of being mindful seems unimaginable. When the busyness takes over, the moments get lost, some that are actually pretty special. Staying present and more conscious of life as it’s happening around you helps you live with more joy, it allows you to appreciate the small stuff and in turn fosters happiness – and it’s great for your energy reserves.
Here are a few practical tips I use to stay mindful and connected at this time of year:
1. First thing: set your intention
In the first few moments that you wake, check in with yourself. How are you feeling? How is your body feeling? Now take some time to set your intention for the day. How do you want to feel? Nurtured, calm, mindful, vibrant, energised?
This is about embodying your intentions. As you go through this ‘list’, you will know when you’ve hit on the right intention as it will resonate through your body. Now hold it in your mind (and body) and breath slowly and deeply a few times. This sets the tone for the day. It’s deliberate and creates a conscious goal that you can measure any action against.
You also might like to add some morning rituals to this.
2. Do less and choose good stuff
This is a powerful technique. List (on paper) what you have to do in a day or week. What are the things that bring you joy and nourish you? What are things that deplete your energy? This helps you see what you need in your life… and what you don’t. Choose (or prioritise) the good stuff - the things that nourish you.
“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” - Thich Nhat Hanh
3. Create space
Stacking your schedule up like a Jenga tower is not the best way of living a happy life – it takes a lot of energy to keep it balanced. One of the best things I have ever read is to “put space between things”. You can try to do it all and maybe feel happy or satisfied when it’s all done but how did you feel while getting it done. Rushed? Simply thinking of the next thing to be ticked off the list?
Relax your day a bit – try not to schedule things too close together (create space!) and give yourself ample time.
For example, to feel at my best I know that I need space in the morning after waking. I need to ease into my working day; to exercise, eat mindfully and then get prepared without a sense of rushing. I know too that I operate best if I have space between appointments so that there is never a sense of 'rushing' to get from one to the next. This seems far fairer on my clients too, given it's essential that my energy is at it's best for them.
4. Pause sometimes
Take some time to pause as things are happening during the day. As the Zen proverb goes, “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
When you pour a glass of water, stop and just drink it. Tune in to that experience – how cold is the water, how does your body feel after a few sips. Try it with some of the small moments you unconsciously just do throughout the day. Stop and tune in every now and then and see how more connected you are to what’s going on around you.
(Love this one – it’s so easy and yet so powerful).
4. Move into your body
Bringing your mind into your body is one of best ways of staying present. Nobody explains this better than Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.
Mindfulness is when you are truly there, mind and body together. You breathe in and out mindfully, you bring your mind back to your body, and you are there. When your mind is there with your body, you are established in the present moment - Thich Nhat Hanh
Being mindful isn’t about staying present and fully conscious all the time, it’s about catching yourself when you’re not. This quick tip is great if you can feel yourself disconnected: bring your mind awareness into your body, experience what is and just allow it to be. Breathe. That’s enough.
Remember, you are far more productive when you are mindful. Staying present – focusing on less, rather than doing more, increases your effectiveness and saves you a tonne of energy.
So tell me, do you find this time of year a challenge? What are some of the things you do to bring some balance back into your life? We'd all love to hear your tips I'm sure.