Courtesy of Paul Filitchkin
We all know how tough these times can be. Personally, we may feel that we have lost control over our lives, unable to partake in the many activities that we hold dearly to us.
Here's the good news: there are mental techniques like mindfulness and gratitude backed up by robust scientific research that can help us tide us through these tough times just a little better. If you haven't started building these simple positive habits in your life, this might be just the time to do so.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state where we are fully engaged with whatever we're doing at the moment, without any distraction or judgment, and being aware of our feelings and thoughts at the same time.
If you have ever found yourself absolutely focused on a single activity, perhaps when you are playing an instrument, doing sports or otherwise being "in the zone", you have experienced mindfulness.
It has been proven to lead to a greater sense of well-being and decrease anxiety. With just a little bit of practice, it is easy to be mindful, be more present, and ultimately be happier.
What is gratitude?
A simple, but life-changing question: what are you grateful for? Everyone has their answers, no matter how small or big they are, but one thing is true: multiple studies have shown that expressing gratitude can lead to greater positivity, including helping you deal with difficult situations, build longer-lasting relationships and remembering good experiences.
Furthermore, expressing gratitude to others encourages them to do the same. It's an amazing positive feedback loop - the more we do it, the better we all feel.
1. Pick a trigger for mindfulness or gratitude
Courtesy of Frank Busch
How many times have you sat down today? Most people wouldn't know the exact answer, nor would they even realise that they were in the process of sitting down! This, among other activities like walking, passing through a door and drinking water, can become powerful opportunities along the day to practice just a few moments of mindfulness or gratitude. Over time, mindfulness and gratitude may just become ingrained in you, and become a part of your life.
This is the easiest and most powerful way to learn these techniques. To begin:
Choose an activity that you perform regularly throughout the day
These could be:
Taking a sip of water or any beverage
Passing through a door
Seeing yourself in the mirror
Checking social media
Ideally, this activity should occur at least 7 times a day.
Practice mindfulness or gratitude when this activity occurs
For instance, when you sit, focus on all the sensations you feel: the smell in the air, the pace of your breathing, the texture of the chair. Or think of something you feel grateful for.
It's really that simple! All you need to do is to stick to this for the next week and make it a habit.