I think the mindfulness movement gets a bad rap sometimes for being ‘crunchy’ or being too ‘hippy’. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. As the definition of mindfulness above states, it simply means being aware.
How often do we just float through life going, going, going and doing, doing, doing? How often do we answer the question ‘how are things’, or ‘how are you’ with ‘busy’ or ‘tired – we have so much going on!’, respectively? If you found yourself nodding to those questions, you are certainly not alone. Our society seems to praise the busy lifestyle. I too am guilty of doing these things. It wasn’t until I had my son that I really stopped to take a look at my life and the things that were happening in it, and started to reevaluate my priorities.
Between juggling work schedules and other commitments, our family time was limited. ‘Me’ time was almost non-existent. I hadn’t done anything with my hobbies for over a year. Time spent with friends was scarce. I was tired, and often I felt like I was barely getting by. I kept thinking to myself, ‘why am I spending my precious time and remaining energy doing things that don’t add value to my life?’
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***Many of the follow things I will expand on in further blog posts, but I want to give you a couple of examples of the small changes we started implementing in our lives once we became more mindful of what was going on.***
Protect your time: Once I started reevaluating, things started to fall into place at once. I started becoming very protective of my time and of our family time. We have been very careful not to over schedule, over commit, or over do it. Does that always work? No. But by having it as a goal, it forces us to think about what we say ‘yes’ to, and what we can say ‘no’ to.
Declutter: Around that same time, I discovered the minimalism/decluttering movement and started learning more about what that entailed. I mentioned it to my husband (who is considerably less of a ‘things’ person than I am), and he was all for it. You may be imagining we live in a tiny house with nothing in it, surrounded by white walls. I’ll be honest, that is what I envisioned when I first starting looking into it. But that’s not the case at all. The great thing about minimalism, like the great thing about mindfulness, is that it looks different for every person. To date, we have donated over 40 boxes of ‘stuff’, sold a lot of items, and really evaluated everything that we bring into our house.
Some of the benefits we have already experienced include:
- Being able to find things quickly and easily
- Being able to really focus on the items we LOVE instead of being distracted by those we don’t
- Clean up is considerably faster.
Does that mean our house is never a mess? Absolutely not. I live with a toddler, dog and two cats after all.
You can check out the start of my series called ‘decluttering our ways towards minimalism’ here. Additionally, if you want more information on Minimalism, there are some great books out there. Here are three of my favorites:
So. This post is about ways YOU can start to incorporate mindfulness into your life. The way I began was to make a few lists because I Rory-Gilmore my way through life and love making lists (for those who don’t watch Gilmore Girls, Rory Gilmore is a HUGE list maker). I invite you to take some time to think about the following topics. Make a list if that is your thing, draw a picture, act it out, whatever it is that helps you process. If you are someone who likes worksheets, you are in luck. I created a handy-dandy FREE printable worksheet that you can use to start your brainstorming. You can find that worksheet here.
- What do you value? What do you want more time for? I started by making a list of things I wanted more time for. This made me aware of the things I value in life, and also helps put into perspective what is NOT on this list that I could potentially back away from completely or partially:
- Spending time for family and friends
- Spending time outside
- Paying it forward
- Spending time relaxing at home
- Me time
- What do you wish you could cut back on? Next, I brainstormed and wrote down things that didn’t add as much value to my life, or that I wished I could cut back on. This paved the groundwork for finding ways/methods/processes/etc I could implement to actually cut back on them instead of just wishing that I could.
- Cleaning/Organizing – by reducing the number of things we have in our home and that we bring into our home
- Worrying about money – budgeting, using local resources (library) instead of buying books, second-hand stores (I love thred up), local garage sales for kids clothes or swapping clothes with friends, etc.
- Social media – this is a whole other post, and let me be right up front in saying that I do still struggle with this one and in my opinion, I think I spend way too much time on social media. But I try to be aware of how much time I spend on it, and then move forward accordingly.
- Commitments that I was too afraid to say no to – as I mentioned above, our family became very protective of our time. We actively decide things we want to commit to, and things we think are OK to pass on.
- What steps can you take to start cutting back on the items listed above? Now that you have identified what you would like to cut back on, what can you do RIGHT NOW to start being able to actually do so? Maybe you are interested in decluttering and limiting what you have in the house. Decluttering might be something to look into as a start. Maybe you are looking for more ‘Me’ time. Make a weekly ‘date’ with yourself and immerse yourself in your favorite hobby. Go to the library or a coffee shop and read. Start saying ‘no’ to one activity a week. I would recommend picking one or two of the items that would be easiest to start implementing into your life. If you pick something that is going to be too challenging right off the bat, you may get discouraged and not stick with it.
- Where else can you apply the mindfulness mindset into your life? After I got on a roll of being mindful in certain areas of my life, I started looking on how else I would implement this new mindfulness mindset. I decided to start with how I handle stressful or anxiety-filled situations. I’m not always the best at handling stressful or anxious situations. I needed to come up with ways that helped me calm down when I was feeling stressed, anxious, burnt out, or frustrated. I created a list (yep, another one), of techniques I can do in a situation where I need to reset or recharge:
- Spending time in nature
- A walk
- Some time alone to decompress
- Practicing gratitude to put things in perspective
- 2-minute guided mindfulness meditations
Having a mindfulness mindset is an ongoing process, and it is not something that can happen overnight. And please don’t think my life is only filled with peace, love, and harmony. Because it most certainly is not. This summer has actually been one of the more stressful ones in many years (more on that later). But I am thankful that I have started this process and look forward to further applying what I have learned to my life.
Start by going through and answering the questions. Maybe you go one question at a time. Maybe you write all the questions down and fill in responses as you think of them. Maybe you come up with 50 and narrow them down to 5. Or maybe you keep all 50. Whatever you do, make it your own. And I hope that this helps to jump-start implementing the mindfulness mindset into your life.