16 ways to practice mindfulness in 2016

What are your goals this year? My first goal is not to set so many goals. I’ve realized I need to be more aware of what is realistic from the very beginning; learning to practice mindfulness is at the top of my list this year.  And contrary to past experience, it’s the only goal I wrote on my list this year.  Sure, I have some things that I want to accomplish, but I’ve realized that delusions of grandeur in January lead to exhaustion in the later months.  

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Here is what I learned last year about practicing mindfulness this year:

  1. Spend time outside (or looking outside). The more time you spend outside, the more relaxed you become.  If you can’t be outside, make sure part of your day includes looking outside.  It still helps.
  2. Plan time to do what you love. My husband and I scheduled Tuesday nights to be our “focused work night” and we’ve made plans to make it happen.  This is the night we can order takeout, we’ve planned to get home from work early and focus on things we need/want to do.  It could be reading, writing or anything that is important to us.  But it’s not mindless wasting time in front of the TV.  And tonight is Tuesday night, I’m writing and excited that I’ve mentally prepared for this time.
  3. Buy groceries weekly. I’ve seen people run to the store daily – what a time waster! I’ve been at the other end of the spectrum – only going twice a month and even that takes too long. Plan a weekly grocery trip and try to buy only items that you’ll use within that week.  It makes fresh food a better option and isn’t too much to think about when you’re planning meals.
  4. Plan your meals in advance.  Each weekend, I plan out what we’re going to eat for the week.  I look at the ingredients we have on-hand and what I’d like to eat that week – I plan for one dinner of takeout, a few easy options, a few slow cooker options and a few new recipes.  Then I make a list of the items I need from the recipes I’ve selected. Shopping is so much easier when I know what I need (now, to learn to stick to the list).
  5. Get enough sleep. Seriously.
  6. Move more throughout the day. I’m trying to get 5 miles in each day.  If I can’t do it in normal daily activity, then I’m running at night to make up the deficit.  I’m trying much harder to get up and move for everything – to decrease my running time.  It’s working.
  7. Take time to relax. After more than 15 years in full-time jobs, I just learned last year how to take a relaxing lunch hour.  It’s my time and I love it.  I make lunch, watch a TV show or do something I like for an hour – find the time in your schedule that can be just yours.
  8. Eat more natural foods, especially fruits and veggies. Making more meals at home has improved our nutritious options.  And we’ve made a focus this year to not buy the junky foods, drinks that become a crutch.
  9. Get enough sleep. It’s not a mistake that I listed this twice; it’s really that important.
  10. Spend less time with electronics. I check my phone once in the morning and once after work.  That is about it, I may not be posting everything I see, but I feel more relaxed and don’t miss what I’m not seeing.
  11. Don’t multi-task; focus. Doing one thing at a time and doing it well is valuable.  You don’t have to be a multi-tasking maniac.
  12. Track what you eat. Even if you’re not trying to lose weight, if you realistically track what you eat – you’ll make better choices.
  13. If your list/life isn’t what you thought, don’t stress it (like how this list isn’t going to get to 16 tips – hey, this isn’t the year of  perfection).  Focus on the end result and don’t worry about the small things.

Practice living your life in the moment and being fully present.  It’s worth your time and investment to have the days and the life you want.  

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