As our pace of life becomes faster each day, the usage of buzzwords such as “mindfulness” and “self-care” becomes an omnipresent phenomenon most people either merely glance over, or disregard entirely.
What most people see is a pile of seemingly superficial suggestions that rarely deliver on their promise. So they decide that there’s nothing life-changing about meditation after a week, or that there’s nothing spectacular about pampering yourself with a facial.
In all fairness, these cannot change your life unless you wholeheartedly want your life to be changed. However, certain self-care tips are based on the premise that you truly and genuinely want to care for yourself. This desire is what lacks in most of our lives, as we tend to perceive many of those suggestions as frivolous.
Adding mindfulness to the equation helps you understand the very essence of self-care: you cannot serve others or achieve your goals unless you nurture the inner energy you need to do that.
If you’re eager to make sense of self-care, here’s how becoming more mindful of yourself and your needs will help.
1. Anchoring yourself in the here and now
Being mere humans that we are means that we are filled with past resentments, future hopes, and present trepidations. While it’s a normal part of the human experience, this chaos of thoughts and emotions often makes us step outside of where we are in any given moment, and miss the message our body and mind are sending us. Mindfulness, on the other hand, teaches us to recognize and let go of the chaos and immerse ourselves in the moment, judgment-free.
Whether you’re trying desperately to wrap up a proposal, have a conversation with a loved one, or sightsee in a new location, maybe it’s time to let multitasking go and devote all of your undivided attention to that single event.
The challenge never ends, but that is the purpose of mindfulness, to reduce the number of times you need to pull yourself out of the chaos. Slowly build the mindset that will show you when a situation is causing you to feel overwhelmed.
2. Becoming more attuned to your needs
Being mindful is not merely about being present. It’s also about what you do with everything you learn about yourself as you grow more mindful every day.
When you take a moment to listen to your emotions, thoughts, and needs, you will slowly become to discern your true needs. Too often do we ignore the early signs of burnout, the slight pain in the lower back, or the persistent headache we attribute to overworking.
Mindfulness helps us take notice and take action. By talking to a professional such as Dr. Timothy Steel when you’re in pain, you can prevent a severe health issue or treat an existing condition that you’ve ignored for too long. The same applies to your regular checkups with your dentist, optometrist, dermatologist and all other medical professionals whose primary purpose is to promote ways we should care for ourselves.
3. Recognizing what you can and cannot do
Much like you know you cannot perform heart surgery on yourself, you’re also likely unaware that certain issues are outside of your reach.
As the old Serenity Prayer goes, we need the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference. The only way to slowly build that wisdom is through mindfulness. It teaches us to change statements such as “I hate my job” into proactive encouragement such as “I’m looking for a new job.”
You cannot lose weight with sheer willpower, but you can change your dietary habits. Perhaps you cannot change your boss, but you can change your job.
Embracing a more mindful approach to your existence allows you to find opportunities where you’d normally only see setbacks, and it helps you recognize a chance for growth instead of a pain point. On the other hand, when you do come across something that cannot be changed, mindfulness helps you make the most of your existence by filling it with joy wherever and however you can.
4. Focusing on the long-term
Another way in which mindfulness grants you perspective is by helping you understand the long-term effects of your momentary decisions. Yes, maybe that one facial cannot really help you with anything. But if you consistently practice healthy skin-care decisions, such as cleansing, proper eating, regular sleep, and regular workouts, your skin’s glow will be restored.
Maybe meditation seems pointless when you’re still stressed after a week, but if you let those moments of solitude and silence accumulate, you’ll give your mind and body a chance to recuperate from everyday stress.
Too many people confuse mindful meditation as the practice of being present with the notion of immediate results when the truth is far from it. Mindfulness is not strictly about meditation. Our goal should be to be mindful of everything we do, whether it’s washing dishes, talking to your child, walking your dog, or writing a poem.
Mindfulness is not about being present only during those rare moments when you practice those breathing exercises, but translating that very same mindset into every moment of our life.
5. The ultimate goal – building health
Finally, accepting a more mindful approach means saying no to the noise that surrounds us. Take back a portion of control by shutting off notifications that are constantly interrupting our every thought. Make time to apply that facial. Choose to have a conversation without staring at the phone.
Mindfulness is not a goal, but a state of mind that we should constantly build, rebuild, repair, and improve. In turn, it will give us the tools we need to do the very same with our existence.