What does having a more positive mindset mean to you? A few weeks into the year and I feel like a word that keeps circling around in my head is mindfulness. It was something that I thought about a lot in the second half of last year and I feel like it will continue to be a focus this year, especially when it comes to having a more positive outlook and inner sense of peace and calm.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing your attention to what is happening in the present moment. Not worrying about the past or the future, but being fully present in the now. The idea being that focusing on the present will bring you inner peace and calm rather than worrying about things that can’t be changed in the past, or the ‘what ifs’ of the future. This inner calm and focus takes practice and is developed through practices such as meditation and other actions/ activities, such as breathing exercises.
For me, mindfulness has come to be a daily focus, working towards healthy mental habits. On a good day, it’s a lot simpler, more of an enjoyable habit. On my bad days it’s a constructive, challenging exercise to help manage anxiety and stress. Like honing any habit it takes time and effort, but it’s something I’m making an effort to work on a little bit every day and slowly but surely these efforts are paying off and I am developing new tools to manage my anxiety and counter it in a positive way by redirecting the way I think about things (ie the ‘what ifs’ and the ‘should bes’, etc).
Mindfulness is a word I heard a lot last year, but it wasn’t something I pursued until towards the end of the year. To be honest, I sometimes had a hard time focusing and this is where a lot of my effort comes in. In order to be more positive, more mindful, I needed to turn inwards and focus, not fall into old mental patterns simply because they were my old internal go-tos.
In other words, focus on the present.
Don’t focus on things in the past you can’t change and don’t worry about the future. Easier said than done, but not impossible. By living in the moment, by being present, you can free your mind from things that are weighing you down and infuse more positivity. There are many simple things you can do each day to help create a more positive, calm mindset, and the best part is you don’t need much else outside of yourself to do so.
From chatting with others, I think mindfulness is something a lot of us are thinking about. We’re becoming more self- aware and reflective; we’re looking for ways to bring peace and calm into our lives, and for all the external things we can do, there are just as many internal things we can do as well. Enjoying a happier, calmer, more fulfilling life doesn’t depend on anyone else or our circumstances- though those things can certainly have a big influence- it depends on our outlook and how we travel through each day.
I’m no expert. I don’t have a degree in psychology and I navigate this mindful path anew every day- because what two days are the same, right?- but I can speak from my own experience and share about it here, hoping some of the simple actions and rituals I try to include in each day will be helpful to others trying to focus on the positive, seeking peace, and a more fulfilled, content life not chained by anxiety, worry and stress.
I still have bad days, bad moments, I still stumble and fall. But what I notice is that I can pick myself up a little better, combat anxiety a little easier, and focus on the positive a little faster to pull myself out of a negative thought spiral than I could before. And this is because I’ve made it a personal goal to be more mindful of where my mind is in this present moment, working to keep my mind traveling down a positive path, redirecting it when negative thoughts jump into the mix and try to take the driver’s seat.
So if being more mindful is something you’re also working towards, for whatever reason(s) you’re seeking it out- a sense of calm, better sleep, feeling more content, having a more positive outlook- etc, I hope some of the simple tools that I’ve turned to will also be helpful for you. I try to use methods that can easily be incorporated into my daily routine, but I’m also trying to put aside 5- 10 minutes each day to help focus on a more calm, positive mind space. Nothing over-the-top or fancy, just simple things that add up over time to create positive, mindful habits.
None of these ideas are necessarily groundbreaking, you’re probably familiar with some if not all of them, but the reason I’m sharing them with you is that they have been helpful for me and I have found that over time they’ve become positive triggers for me, working a little quicker, becoming more of a go-to response than that of unease and anxiety. Finding inner calm is unique for everyone, but these ideas will hopefully give you some ideas or have you reconsidering ones you’ve heard of when you hear it from someone who has herself felt overcome and trapped by anxiety and has found ways to combat it through mindful practices.
I would love to hear what you think and what methods you use to create a more positive, mindful mental space for yourself. Have you tried any of these methods? Liked or disliked them? Sharing ideas around this can be so helpful, especially when you realize you’re not alone. So here they are, my 5 favourite mindful habits.
5 Ideas to be More Mindful Every Day
Think: the smell of something baking in the oven, the scent of a loved- ones perfume/cologne, etc- smells can be comforting. Find a scent you enjoy, one that is calming and encourages you to breathe deeply. Essential oils and diffusers are a popular choice, but scented candles, room sprays, and fresh flowers are other options. Take long, slow, deep breaths, calming your mind and body from the inside out
Put aside a few minutes to quiet your mind. Even 5 minutes at the beginning or the end of the day. Think about goals, things you’re grateful for, etc. My mind tends to wander. A lot. So this is a positive, challenging exercise for me and one that I find very helpful. Ideally find a quiet spot to sit or lie down and put on some relaxing music, light a candle, and create a calming space. You can even meditate while going about your day- while making breakfast, sipping your coffee, etc, activities like this are great opportunities to focus on the moment you are in and focus/ quiet your mind without stopping what you’re doing (I find this especially helpful since my anxiety will often creep up during the day when I’ve got things to do and have to find ways to quiet my mind while carrying out my to-do list).
Find Little Rituals
Light a candle, play calming music, water plants, dig in the dirt, or find some other little ritual to help you recenter/ refocus on positive, calming thoughts. Whether you sit and really focus on the activity itself or the action of creating a more calming space helps you subconsciously calm down, seek out visual cues and actions that trigger inner warmth and joy. Really focus on the simple task at hand, noticing little details, redirecting your mind from negative thoughts to become fully present with what is right in front of you. Pay attention to your five senses and try to allow yourself to be fully present in what you’re doing.
Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
It’s a pretty safe bet there will be ups and downs with every day. Some days those highs and lows are more pronounced and others the day seems to coast along nicely. But regardless, a helpful way to bring your mind into a positive space and create a positive mental habit is to think about what you’re grateful for each day. If you prefer to start your day with this practice, great, it’s a solid way to kick off your day. But it’s also something you can do throughout the day when you need a pick-me-up or notice yourself slipping down a negative rabbit hole. I like to think about what I’m grateful for at night before bed, it helps me wind down and sends me off to sleep in a positive mind frame. I have a gratitude journal that I jot bullet- points in, thinking back over the day and pulling out all the positives. Some days I make a few simple, general notes; maybe it wasn’t such a great day, but I find something to remind me of the positives. On others I fill the page, recounting everything from the biggest to the smallest moments that filled my heart that day. A simple little ritual that has had a big impact on my overall mental state and if you haven’t tried this method I hope you do. Even if a day feels hopeless/ lost, something as basic as fresh air, a cup of hot coffee, or hearing a favourite song can be a cue for other things that happened throughout the day that made it a little better. Let the positive flood gates open!
Focus on Breathing
Probably one of the simplest, most self- contained of any mindful practices I’ve come across and found helpful. But in moments of angst and panic this can feel like a much tougher task. Try and take long, slow, cleansing breaths. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Repeat. Feel your lungs and body fill with oxygen, spreading the calm throughout. Sometimes this can help almost instantly and others it takes a longer period, but slowing and concentrating on your breathing can help create an overall feeling of calm.
As I said before, I’m no expert. Just someone looking for methods to help enjoy a more peaceful, content, joy-filled life. Through these mindful practices I am learning how to address my anxiety and stress in a much more constructive way, and breaking it down rather than having it build up and become overwhelming. There are days that are more challenging than others, but the more I work on these mindfulness techniques, the better I feel that I can bounce back.
I hope you find this post helpful. Sometimes simple is better and I am finding that these simple techniques add up to create a big difference. If you’ve tried these methods I’d love to hear if you find them helpful, or if not, what you have found that is.
The cookie settings on this website are set to "allow cookies" to give you the best browsing experience possible. If you continue to use this website without changing your cookie settings or you click "Accept" below then you are consenting to this.