“Smile, breathe and go slowly.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Hej! Happy you found your way to my blog.
In this time of disruption and fear it is not easy to stay calm. You might feel worried and stressed. The frequency and amount of information and news can feel overwhelming on you as individual. Leaving you with insecurities and a feeling of numbness or helplessness. However, since we stayed home for a long time I hope by now you have created a welcoming and protecting shelter. These days, when you stay home, it’s important to have some practices or routines to slow down, come back to yourself and refresh your body and mind.
Do you struggle these days to stay inside? Does your mind play crazy and you feel restless? Is it hard to keep a routine and a certain sense of normality? Or does your home just not feel like a welcoming warm and safe cocoon?
In this blogpost I want to outline what helps me to calm my mind and body and what helps me to create a space where I feel good and safe. I’ll share some tips and I hope you find them useful too. Since I am all by myself these days and sometimes struggle with feelings of loneliness too. Therefore, it’s important to be more mindful and take extra time for selfcare and -reflection. Thanks to IKEA I’ve been able to add some extra cozy items to my flat. (all plants, textiles and tableware is from ikea)
Create a daily routine
Make sure that you go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time. Even if you are isolated at home, try to keep to a regular schedule as much as possible. While loneliness can feel like it will never end, trying to make these days feel as “normal” as possible will help you to get through. Even if I am working my usual hours (just in the home office setting), I try to get up the same time every day and do my daily yoga practice. This gives me an anchor or reason to get up every day and from there I start with a positive and calm outlook to the day.
Write in a journal and cultivate gratitude
The easiest and most effective solution I’ve found to helping shift my mindset is to create a morning gratitude practice. It is a great way to start the day by thinking of at least three things I am grateful for and what I am looking forward to today. One important thing we often forget about in our everyday life is to know how to be grateful. But there are so many things to be grateful for. Being grateful helps you attract more good things in your life. It reduces stress and it can improve the image you have about your own person, life and environment. It can help you see all these in much brighter colors and filled with positive vibes.
Many people find it also very helpful to write down their thoughts and gratitude list in a journal. I find it hard to keep that practice over a longer period of time, so instead of forcing myself to something that does not feel right I adapted it so it suits my natural flow.
Practice yoga or some movement
Speaking of flow… a daily or at least regular yoga practice can also do wonders and improve your overall well-being. Yoga helps to calm the mind and foster a sense of connection with the emotions and body. Alongside this are the physical benefits of yoga, including improving flexibility, strength and stamina through a series of increasingly challenging movements. Whether you choose to try a few new asanas (yoga poses) or really work on your own flow during a session, it’s essential to set time aside just for you and your movement. It might be hard to get out of bed sometimes in the morning. Recalling the benefit and especially the feeling of joy and energy afterwards makes me always want to get out of bed 🙂
Practice some meditation
Would you then consider 10 minutes when you just stop everything you do and allow yourself to meditate? It might sound inappropriate and disruptive from your chain of busy life, right? But if you give it a try, you will see that this is indeed its purpose: to bring you back to the Now and make you take a break from the crazy routine. By applying this meditation technique, you would actually be able to continue the rest of the day, or at least a few hours, with a clearer mind. Not feeling that affected by the things around as you would if you didn’t have had your little moment of stillness. There are many great guided meditations out there in the web if you are a complete beginner. Don’t hesitate and give it a try 🙂
Breathe deeply into your belly
Breathe deeply into the belly. This is one to start with, no matter where you are or what you’re doing. We get caught up in our heads, stuck in a cycle of thoughts that are rarely very helpful. So to get out of our heads and into our bodies, we can do deep breathes, into the deepest part of our bellies. Do several breaths like this, maybe for 30-60 seconds if you have time. This not only calms you down, but helps you to be more present with your body and surroundings.
Create a tea or coffee ritual
This might sound just too mundane or simple. But establishing a little ritual around having a cup of tea or coffee can bring joy and bring your restless mind back to the Now. There’s something ancient about the tea ceremony — and when you drink tea as a mindfulness ritual, you’re connecting with millions of others who have done so over the centuries. Make your own tea ceremony — prepare the tea carefully and mindfully, pour it slowly, sip it with thoughtfulness. The same goes with coffee – the brewing of coffee and the smell that fills your home will make you smile and probably bring back some memories. See if you can set aside one time each day to do this, and it will transform your day and bring you joy.
Make Your Bed
This is a truly simple practice that has afforded me an abundance of peace of mind. Before starting your morning routine, try and take a few moments to make your bed. Pull the sheets tight, tuck them in with care, and fluff up your pillows. As you leave your bed tidy and in order, the same goes also with your mind. This tiny act of tidying can help the day ahead feel less overwhelming. Simple right? So don’t leave it for later or don’t do it at all.
Tip: If you have the time, you can also try creating a space for a mini-meditation in bed – just straight and even if you only have a minute (literally), spending it in quiet reflection can help you feel relaxed and refreshed for the day ahead.
Practice mindful eating. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are tired, sad, anxious or bored. Take a minute to appreciate your food: Where did it come from? How did it make its way to you? What people might have been involved in getting the food to your plate? How will this food nourish you? (Studies show that when we practice mindful eating, we take in only what is necessary.). Turn off the TV, put away the computer and mobile devices, even put away the book or newspaper. And yet, unless you do this, you are not truly appreciating your food.
Smile in the mirror & dance to music
Many see smiling simply as an involuntary response to things that bring you joy or laughter. While this observation is certainly true, what most people overlook is that smiling can be just as much a voluntary response as a conscious and powerful choice. Just simply by the act of smiling we can lift our mood. Did you know that smiling can also reduce stress? Not only this, but smiling or also dancing elevate our mood since the physical act actually activates neural messaging in our brains (like dopamine and serotonin). Coming with that, it does not only lift our mood but also relaxes the body and mind.
Switch off your phone & digitally detox
Most people feel busy and distracted throughout the day — calm and focus and a feeling of purpose are fairly rare for most of us. We’re jumping from messages to social media to email to quick work tasks to a search for something we’re curious about and so on… All day long, we seem to rush from one thing to the next, putting off anything that requires much more focus than that. To get out of this hamster wheel switching off your phone for a couple of hours or do a longer digital detox can work wonders. What brought me enormous relief to my restless mind is switching off all notifications. Consequently, I am using my phone much more consciously and intentionally.
Declutter/ organise your space
A lot of people find it difficult to concentrate when surrounded by clutter, such as trying to work at a messy, disorganised desk. Excess things surrounding you can have a negative impact on your ability to focus. All the things around you will be competing for your attention, decreasing your productivity and increasing stress levels.
Without all that clutter, you should find your concentration levels increase. Not to mention, you’re certain to get a boost of creativity now that your head is cleared and you’re free to think about what you’re doing without being distracted by the things around you.
These little practices of mindfulness and gratitude can not only be a game changer in times of lockdown, restrictions and (social) physical distancing rules. The new accustomed routines can bring you a huge benefit regarding your overall well-being and inner joy.
There is to say, that not everything listed above might work for everybody. Probably you want to adapt or add other practices that bring you peace and calm your restless mind.
I’d be very curious how you created a space to calm down your restless mind during these times? Have you created any sort of mindfulness habit?