Written by Sally Kellett
One thing we all have in common is that we are increasingly becoming more and more busy with less and less time. We only have so many hours in a day, but seem to spend them all working and doing things for others.
When I mention mindfulness to people, a common response is ‘Oh, I don’t have time.’ The problem is that most people associate mindfulness with sitting barefoot while burning incense and chanting in a circle.
Mindfulness can however be practiced while on the run, even when doing some of those mundane daily chores, like the dishes, vacuuming, or grocery shopping.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply becoming aware of your mind, body and speech, and staying present in the current moment. It’s not thinking about what on earth you’re going to cook for tomorrow night’s dinner, or beating yourself up for not making it to the gym, but remaining in the current moment. It might mean taking a moment to become aware of your thoughts, actions and speech in the here and now.
But with only so many hours in the day, how exactly can we find more time for mindfulness?
Creating more hours in your day
Before Covid-19, we were all so caught up in running around trying to be all things to everyone, every second of the day. The silver lining has been the chance to revalue how we go about things and how we make the most of our time.
As we slowly return to what we once called ‘normal, here are some simple ways that we can create more time for ourselves:
- Limit your social activities
Whilst we are all keen to see friends and family after this enforced ‘isolation period’, many are relishing the newfound freedom of not having a crazy social diary booked up weeks in advance. Maybe now is the time to let some air breathe between multiple calendar dates and enjoy a new sense of time and motion. Remember, that it is ok to say no to invitations, and allow yourself plenty of ‘me time’ as we start to move back into every day life. Take time out for walks in nature, and do activities that restore you, rather than deplete you.
- Practice Mindfulness on the Run
It’s a complete myth that you need to be surrounded by fluffy cushions and sparkling crystals in order to practice mindfulness. In fact, some of the best times to practice mindfulness are when you’re doing everyday tasks like the dishes or ironing. When doing a chore like this, single your focus on simply doing it. By holding a single point of focus, other thoughts melt away, giving the mind a relaxing, refreshing break.
- Drop the guilt.
There is a new sense of freedom and we all need to hang on to this! Not getting up at 5.30am to go to the gym or racing to get a train to work has shown us that life will still go on without the hustle and bustle. We’ve all been stuck in autopilot, living the crazy life that we did prior to the restrictions coming into effect, but now we can take a new direction with slower, more mindful actions.
- Simplify Life
Limiting the number of people we’ve been able to see during this period has, for some of us, also lessened the negativity and drama that comes from others. Moving forward, simplify your life by spending less time with people that create drama and engage in negative conversations, and surround yourself with positivity instead.
Using quality over quantity in a great way to simplify our lives, and not being forced to see everyone all of the time is a great way to create more time for ourselves.
- Live in the moment:
Pressing pause has allowed us to take in some of the little moments in life. A sunset. A walk on the beach. Time spent at home with loved ones. Taking lunch breaks and mini breaks during the day.
Even when we return to the 9-5, it’s important that some of these new habits, and little moments, are adopted to create lasting changed, and a more balanced way of life.
- Marie Kondo your friends
It’s easy to maintain friendships and connections with those that you see every day at work, or when doing the school drop-off, but during isolation, we’ve had to make that extra effort to keep in touch with our friends. This period of time has not only allowed us time to reflect on what connections we value, but also on which connections truly value you.
‘Phasing out’ a friend does not mean getting rid of them forever and never speaking to them again. It simply means making a decision to move on and not invest in the friendship right now, allowing more time for ourselves in the present moment, and more time to nurture new, richer friendships.
- Use chores as ‘me time’
Spending more time at home has meant extra cleaning and many of us are without a housecleaner, so think of ‘cleaning the house as cleaning the mind’. Use cleaning time as an opportunity to create extra focus time for yourself and your own thoughts, rather than treating it as a chore.
Before you go back to the routine that you had before social restrictions were put into place, ask yourself what is really important in your life, and use this as a guide to carve out the sort of life you’d like to create for yourself and your family moving forward.