Happy New Year everyone! And we simply cannot welcome you back without a thorough discussion around New Year’s resolutions and goals! So what are yours?
This one by Huffington Post* has a great focus on health and wellness, and we are surprised (well, not really actually) at how many of them can be better achieved with a bit of mindfulness. Last time we counted, there were 33 that mindfulness can help. We have also included our tips and useful resources below.
If the list is too long or you simply can’t decide which ones to do, just do one – mindfulness! It will set you up well for so many of the others. So get started and we are here to help with all our free Resources and those provided by others (we also provide a link in our Resources section), soundtracks, apps, online and physical courses etc.
So here they are:
1. Sleep more.
Try a minimum of 7-8 hours. We all know stress and poor routines just before bedtime can severely impact your sleep quality and duration. Why not build a mindfulness meditation routine just before sleep to achieve relaxation, come to the present (of ready to sleep) and not worry about a horrible moment that just happened today or the long to do list for tomorrow? Mindfulness improves mental health and so does a good night sleep. It’s a win-win!
2. Cut back on sugar and 3. Limit sodium intake. *mindful eating using urge surfing (mindfulness.org.au/urge-surfing).
This is hard because we love food and there has not been any other time in our history where more delicious, diverse and better quality food had been made available to us. So how can we help us better stick to the dietary guidelines of low sodium (2,300 milligrams per day) and sugar intake?
You can read the packing, record your intake or use an app. You can also add in mindful eating, where you actually try to taste the food. Break the taste down! This way you can enjoy it more and be more aware of how sweet or salty that meal really is.
3. Start meditating. Practicing mindfulness
Need we say more? If in doubt, check out our section on the benefits of mindfulness or our news publications in our Blog section. Additionally, get started with Mindfulness Basics (mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-basics for) and our free soundtracks (mindfulness.org.au/multimedia-resources for soundtracks
4. Pick up crafting.
Direct quote from the article: "Experts say activities like knitting can ease anxiety and put you in a meditative state. And you get a scarf in the process? Score." And winter will be here sooner than we think.
5. Spend time alone.
Spend some time by yourself, observe your own feelings and emotions, be aware of your own thoughts, recharge, build some more brain cell connections and be mindful.
Get started with our free Sitting With Emotions article or our free soundtracks of the same title.
6. Plan a trip.
Direct quote again, "You’ll boost your mood instantly. Research suggests planning a vacation can increase happiness ― and just think, you’ll have an adventurous city or a white sand beach to look forward to after you book it." Don’t forget your mindfulness routine while you are on holidays!
7. Keep a journal.
Direct quote, "This could be a book that gives you prompts or just an empty place to scribble out your frustrations. Studies show journaling can be cathartic for your mental health." But please DO NOT just MINDLESSLY write a journal entry! Be mindful about it and as you write it, have a think about how those words makes you feel and how you are reacting to them.
8. Go for strolls more often.
Hit the road everyone. If you are a busy individual (which is almost everyone today) and often complain that you don’t have time to meditate AND exercise, bring mindfulness to your strolls or walks. Check out our blog about Mindful Walking and listen to our soundtrack by the same title under our Multimedia resources section.
9. Cut back on complaining.
Negative thought patterns can increase stress levels. Try a mindful experiment where when you catch yourself complaining ― or thinking negatively. You counteract it with something positive. Here’s a little inspiration to get started.
10. Give up diet soda.
Take a moment, even just 30 seconds to drink a cup of green tea instead.
11. Compliment someone once a day.
Pay it forward and try to be more aware of those around you. Train your mind to be in the present of someone and what they do, how they look or feel. This will help you with your friendship, relationships and even work.
12. Practice gratitude.
Start with the compliments, practice mindfulness and you will start becoming more empathetic.
Direct quote: "Studies suggest that gratitude can improve overall well-being and may even boost physical health. Try keeping score of what you appreciate every day. Need some ideas to get started? Here are 100."
13. Go to therapy.
Seek help from professionals when you need it. But start by taking breaks to reassess if you need some assistance. And if you want to find a practitioner that is not a McMindfulness teacher, see our article on How to Assess A Mindfulness Teacher (mindfulness.org.au/assessing-mindfulness-teacher).
14. Volunteer regularly.
Direct quote: "Donating your time to people or an organization in need can do a world of good. And if you needed more reason: Research shows volunteering can improve your health. It may also increase your happiness levels thanks to a circular effect. Kindness makes you happy, and happiness makes you kind."
Also if you know someone who is sacrificing themselves as a carer for another person, please forward this to them – Caring for Carers (mindfulness.org.au/caring-for-the-carers).
15. Drink more water.
We all know water is good for you (see above about diet soft drinks). But have you ever really tried to taste it? I love the taste of Melbourne and I’m not afraid to say it. New York local government did with their tap work in a huge campaign by in 2010, which was just as good if not better than the ones ran by soft drink companies.
16. Cook at home more frequently.
Direct quote: "You’ll end up getting healthier in the process. Research says homemade meals can help you skip out on excess calories."
If you are too busy and tempted to give up meditation time to cook, then practice Mindfulness In Action when you cook. Learn how here (mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-in-action).
17. Commit to a strength-training routine.
Direct quote: "Building muscle can help protect you against injury and even sharpen your cognitive skills. Start small ― even just using your body weight ― and increase as you get stronger."
Also start strengthening your mental muscles, aka neuronal connections with mindfulness.
18. Talk to more strangers.
Also see comment above on Compliments. Direct quote: "It pays to make a little eye contact. Research shows smiling at someone you don’t know could help increase feelings of social connection."
19. Say "no" more often.
Direct quote: "Burnout is real and it can happen in a blink of an eye. Make sure you’re prioritizing yourself and not saying "yes" to everything because it feels like an obligation. Self care isn’t selfish."
20. Handwrite letters instead of emailing people.
Direct quote: "Make an effort to communicate via snail mail this year. Handwritten correspondence is a lost art form ― but there are real benefits to putting pen to paper, from better creativity to a smaller risk of multitasking." Mutlitasking! It is the death of productivity. Be in the present and do one thing at a time please.
21. Schedule walking meetings once a week.
Direct quote: "You’ll get far more out of it than if you were holed up in the office. And that added physical activity may just get your creativity flowing." Or simply just go for a Mindful Walking if you can (soundtrack here).
22. Use all of your vacation days.
Use it well for any of the above or below activities, from planning a trip to going on a trip, exercise more, be with yourself and of course, take a moment to meditate.
Some disappointing data: "A recent survey found that 32 percent of people used zero of their allocated days last year. But taking a break is super important for your well-being. Don’t feel like taking a vacation? Try a mental health day, instead."
23. Call your family more often.
Direct quote: "Chances are they’d love to hear from you and you can benefit from it, too. Research shows calling loved ones like your mom can ease stress." Please take the time to talk and listen to them. Don’t multitask and talk to them, it’s not really talking.
24. Cut back on material spending.
Exercise the mind and your body, not your ability to swipe your plastic and then regretting it afterwards.
25. Try team sports.
Good for your physical and mental health. You can also join a mindfulness or yoga class.
26. Learn a language.
Direct quote: Say "hola" [,你好] or "bonjour" to a new life skill. Research even supports the theory that it’ll boost your brain.
27. Forgive someone.
Anger and resentment is like holding onto internal poison and can even harm your physical health. Life’s too short to not move on.
28. Make regular doctors’ appointments.
Direct quote: "Research shows that ― for the most part ― it’s okay to forgo annual physicals if you’re generally healthy individual. But that doesn’t mean throw caution to the wind and ignore your body. If you’re sick or something is off, see a doctor. That includes specialists like dermatologists and dentists."
Don’t forget to make it for those who need it but don’t admit it yet, e.g. our male friends. See our an example of how to convince one to do mindfulness here (mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-for-men).
30. Donate to an important cause.
Direct quote: "That same kindness feedback loop that happens when you volunteer may also apply in this case as well. Here’s a list of organizations that may need your help right now, in particular." #kindness
31. Read one book a month.
Direct quote: "Research shows reading can boost empathy and emotional intelligence. If you’re committed to diving into multiple novels this year, check out this list of tips and benefits that will help keep you motivated."
We have a recommendation coming your way too!
32. Bring your lunch to work every day.
Direct quote: "Trust us, your wallet will thank you. Take a look at this breakdown to see just how much you’ll save." It will also save you the trip the store too. May be bank that time for a short meditation session?
33. Practice self-acceptance.
It’s actually a key to a happier life but it’s a habit people rarely practice. Make your internal dialogue as kind as it would be if you were talking to your best friend.
34. Say a mantra every day.
Direct quote: "Mantras can keep you grounded in the moment, allowing you to reap the rewards of mindfulness, and they could help you actually believe what you’re saying after a while. (Yes, you are beautiful. And yes, you should repeat that to yourself every day if that’s what you need.)"
We have a free tool to help you get started, see our Pleasant Moments Calendar (mindfulness.org.au/pleasant-moments-calendar), which is covered in Level 1 of our course.
35. Wear sunscreen.
Slip, slop and slap! But if you do get burnt and the pain is ongoing, mindfulness can also help with pain.
36. Eat more (good!) carbohydrates.
Direct quote: "Psst, the healthiest people in the world actually consume a lot of carbs. (Yep, you read that correctly.) Check out how to incorporate more of these important nutrients into your diet."
37. Cut back on alcohol.
Appreciate the drink and really tasted by being in the present and being mindful about it all (this is covered in our Level 1 course if you are not sure how to approach it). You will drink less and enjoy it much more!
38. Go outside more often.
This may be a repeat...
39. Give up the snooze button.
We can always try ... Dr. Walsh’s strategy is making mindfulness meditation the first thing in the morning. Because he loves it, he’s looking forward to it and bypassing the snooze button.
40. Floss regularly.
Direct quote: "There’s a reason your dentist nags you about that tiny string. Clearing your gums of bacteria is necessary for oral health, so do what you can to make sure they’re in good condition."
Add a bit of Mindfulness In Action (mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-in-action) to make it even healthier for the mind, not just your teeth.
41. Make your bed every day.
Direct quote: "No act of organization is too small. And it may make you happier."
42. Don’t use your smartphone before bed.
See point 1 and direct quote: "The type of light that’s emitted from screens can disrupt your sleep and keep you awake longer. Try ditching your device at least
30 minutes before you shut your eyes."
43. Do an activity outside of your comfort zone.
Direct quote: "There’s a whole life to discover on the other side of your routine. Not to mention the fact that doing something different may boost creativity."
Try Mindful Walking if you haven't (soundtrack here).
44. Pick a theme for the year.
Direct quote: "If you’re starting to feel like this whole "resolution" thing isn’t for you, try sticking to a theme instead. Instead of picking a goal, pick a word you want to abide by for 2017. It could be "brave" or "confident" or "compassionate." Whatever you want to start doing ― or being ― more of."
Our theme is to continue promoting the understanding of mindfulness, and use evidence based and structured mindfulness resources and training to help people to become more resilient, aware, positive and happier. What is yours?
45. Fix your posture.
Once in a while during your work day, do a Mindful Check-In. Follow the directions here mindfulness.org.au/mindfulness-check-in to feel your posture and adjust accordingly – it takes no time!
46. Sign up for a race.
Direct quote: "There’s something satisfying about crossing a real finish line. Running comes with a lot of physical and mental health perks, from lower risk of disease to improved mood. Why not celebrate a running routine with a tangible medal of your accomplishments?"
47. Marie Kondo your space.
Direct quote: "Marie Kondo, author of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, is the champion of the tidying method where you only keep items that bring you joy. Since then, the trend has gained traction and for a good reason. Not only does it keep your home clutter-free, there’s also a psychological health component to focusing on the materials that make you happy."
48. Cut back on social media.
Direct quote: "Research shows that constant scrolling through a newsfeed can lead to social comparison, or the need to stack your life up against someone else’s. This can then lead to depressive symptoms. Take a step back from all of it and live your life based on how you feel ― not on how cool it’s supposed to look with a filter."
Also see point number 1, no social media on tablets before bed.
49. Spend time with people who think differently than you do.
Direct quote: "Empathy, or the ability to walk in another’s shoes, is the foundation for a lot of positive perks. The more you expand yourself and open your eyes to different perspectives, the more open minded you become."
Use mindfulness to build you empathy, awareness and acceptance of others. Be inclusive and you feel the happiness.
50. Love yourself.
Be aware of yourself first and love yourself, “Because you’re all you’ve got ― no matter what.”
*Original article can be found here.