Work, school, a social life, a second job, midterms, internships, sports teams… We all find ourselves accustomed to today’s fast-paced lifestyle. We consume coffee and energy drinks, because naturally, we weren’t built to be constantly on the move or to fill our days with an endless list of things to do. With constant opportunities to take advantage of, however, it has now become a necessity to work hard simply to keep up. One thing I cannot stress enough is that, in order to maintain productivity, you need to balance a hectic lifestyle with relaxation. No, I’m not expecting you to meditate for two hours a day, but the following tips you can implement daily will help you experience less chaos, enjoy more zen, and release your inner Buddha.
Set Your Intentions
You should always try to start your day off on the “right side of the bed”. To achieve this, set your daily intentions the moment you wake up. For example, you can make it your intention to feel loved today, by yourself and those around you;—today you will feed off that love. Maybe you want to feel nourished, so seek to feed your body and mind with good food and radiant energy. The point is, you can choose how you want to feel, and setting your intentions from the moment you open your eyes can set the tone for a good day ahead.
This may seem like an unnecessary reminder, but the simple act of deep breathing is so important. If you can take five deep breaths when you wake up in the morning, you immediately provide your body and brain with oxygen for healthy functioning, and you’ll feel more awake and alive as a result. Deep breathing also helps to reduce stress and anxiety.
Change Your Outlook
Think of your “tedious” morning routine as a means to take care of your body and increase its longevity: when you moisturize your skin it’s to help keep its elasticity, when you eat a hearty breakfast it’s so you have enough energy to tackle your day. This nurturing and self-care can even help you build character. When you make mistakes, choose to learn from them and experience growth as a result. Whether you’re in school or online, pay attention, learn one new thing, and use it as a conversation starter later on. You will soon find that this positive outlook breeds productivity, so once you start, you will want to keep the momentum going. By changing your attitude from having to do something to wanting to do something, your life will soon feel more fulfilled.
Get In Tune With Your True Self
Many times we say, “I’m so stressed,” but we forget that we are not our feelings. The proper way to express stress would be to say that “I feel stressed.” You, yourself, are not stressed. That simple change will help you acknowledge that this is a feeling you can get past. Saying you are stressed, leads to negative associations with your being, which is what we are trying to steer clear of. Keep in mind that stress is your body’s way of getting ready for a challenge. So, by disassociating our feelings from our being we will soon be able to relax and say, “Well, if my body is ready, I can get my mind ready.”
At breakfast, do not scroll through Instagram as you mindlessly shove heaping spoonfuls of cereal into your mouth. Not only can this lead to overeating, but you’ll waste the experience of eating your food. Look down at what’s in front of you, express gratitude for it, savour each bite and taste every flavour. Be mindful of the true importance of meals. Play a good album in the background, dance around while you’re prepping your meal, and then sit down and eat like you mean it. Same thing goes for coffee dates, family dinners, any sort of outing—live in the moment and make the mundane passionate. Turn everything into a memorable experience and enjoy feelings you have never felt before.
Too often in conversations, we listen simply to find the slightest break when we can jump in with our opinion, or a story about ourselves and our day, or worse, so we can totally change the topic. Try to listen with the purpose of understanding, and then reply genuinely and with meaning. Likeable listeners are the ones who show they care and are interested in what is being said, instead of looking to boost their own ego. As the listener, you get to hear someone else’s perspective, and your genuine interest in the speaker will probably make that person more curious about you. You’ll see that you will get your turn to speak, and you’ll find your conversations are more engaging and that they flow much more fluidly.
Keep An Agenda
You are not a walking to-do list. You will often forget things, especially with increasing amounts of stress headed your way, so write everything down. It will create less havoc in your brain when you know you can refer to something tangible when your memory fails. Write down names, phone numbers, appointments, errands, grocery lists: an agenda will go such a long way toward reducing chaos.
Keep A Journal
I got the idea of journalling from a TV show where the main character keeps a diary. Ever since seeing that, I have sworn by journaling. Not only was I able to find my passion for writing and allow it to flourish, but there is something so soothing in pouring your thoughts out on a blank sheet of paper. Express your gratitude for someone or something, express a recurring thought, keep hold of your memories, go out on a limb… your options are endless. Filter out the bad, and enjoy the sense of release because it will prove to be nothing short of therapeutic.
Make Some Time For Yourself
I know I promised at the start that I wouldn’t ask you to meditate for two hours a day. However, I will recommend that you put at least 10 to 15 minutes a day aside to just sit. If you prefer to lay down, you can do that instead. Simply close your eyes, and allow your thoughts to pass. Clear your mind and lose all concept of time and its limitations. Once you make this a habit, you will be able to allow your thoughts to pass more quickly—to a point where you find that your mind is completely clear. There is no better feeling than finally being rid of that sense of drowning in your thoughts. If you find it difficult to sit in complete silence, you can play soft music in the background to give you that feeling of peace and relaxation. Instrumentals work best for most as song lyrics may actually impede the act of clearing the mind.
…for absolutely no reason! The simple contraction of the muscles that allow you to smile releases good hormones throughout your body making you feel instantly happier as a result. However, if smiling to yourself seems too forced, go ahead and smile at strangers; allow good energy to be shared. Talking to yourself serves the same purpose as smiling. Give yourself pep talks; it reinforces the feeling that you are comfortable with yourself. Laughing at yourself will also instill a zen-like feeling that everything is okay.
Feed Yourself As Well As Your Soul
Live simply but fully. Have a big breakfast and a hot cup of tea. Remember to get your full servings of fruits and vegetables, and to keep hydrated. Eat good, wholesome meals, and engage in good, wholesome activities, like reading or writing. Do things that can add meaning to your life and to your actions, like volunteering at a soup kitchen. Go out to concerts of bands that haven’t made it yet, but are talented nonetheless. Find your muse and run with it; create, and encourage others to do the same, because helping others is good for the soul!
The awesome featured image of the girl in the hammock is by Travis Burke Photography.