If you’re having one of those days where your inbox is overflowing, you miss the bus, and according to your newsfeed everyone you know is on holiday, you might feel like the best thing to do is to retreat to bed-land as soon as you can. But all is not lost, says Vedic Meditation teacher, Jacqui Lewis co-founder of The Broad Place. She suggests that with four easy steps you can turn your day around pronto.
Close your eyes
Feels better right? Just kidding, we know it takes more than that. In a perfect world, we’d all take half an hour to meditate when things get too hectic, but Lewis suggests even if you can take just five minutes to reconnect with your body, it’ll make a difference. And it doesn’t have to be in a whisper quiet place either, you can be on the train, in your parked car, in a coffeeshop – anywhere that you won’t be interrupted. Close your eyes and bring your thoughts to your breath. Breathe in deeply through your nose and out through your mouth. Focus on your body, how do your eyes and eyelids feel? How does your neck feel? Do a mental checklist throughout your body, and if your mind wanders (it happens to the best of us) just gently bring it back to a part of your body, and refocus. Finish off with another deep breath through the nose. Work your way up to 10 and 15 minutes over time.
Treat yourself every day
We don’t mean with that Nutella donut thickshake you’ve been eying off, but as Lewis puts it, “Be joyful”. She recommends doing something that brings you joy at least once a day, in order to stimulate serotonin, the happy hormone, which counteracts the stress hormone, cortisol. This might be something as simple as walking your dog, reading a book, enjoying a coffee in peace. While you do these acts of joy, switch your mobile off and be present in the moment. Like with meditation, if your thoughts get away from you, bring them back to whatever it is that brings you joy.
Use social media mindfully
We all love social media, and for some of us, it’s even part of our job, but it’s a very addictive medium. One that keeps tempting you to keep swiping, keep searching, keep posting. Now, we’re not suggesting you give up your Instagram account, but according to Lewis, there is a better way to be interacting with it. Using social media mindfully means being aware of how addictive it is, and how it can play into our insecurities. Really enjoy the act of being on social media, but don’t let it become something you do without thinking. It doesn’t have to be a ‘time waster’ when you’re waiting for someone to arrive or when you’re on the bus. There are other ‘single-minded’ activities which will invoke a feeling of calm instead – reading a book, listening to a podcast or calling a friend. Social media can become ‘chatter’ in our already overly exercised minds, so it’s best to only use it when you can be mindful of its vices.
Switch off for an hour
Lastly, Lewis believes in screen-free time during the day, and recommends it be for at least one hour. This could be the last hour before you go to sleep, or the first hour you wake up, or perhaps lunchtime. Any time during the day where you switch off all screens (including TV and kindles) and give your eyes and mind a break. One easy way to do that is to not leave your phone next to your bed. That way it won’t be the last thing you see at night, and you won’t spend your first few minutes every morning connected to your newsfeed. It will help you go to bed and wake up less tired and less stressed. Where you can during the day, in addition to your screen-free hour, Lewis suggests putting your phone on silent or leaving it in another room or drawer for a short period of time. We get used to having it almost be a part of us that it can become an unhealthy relationship. By having time without your phone, you can relax more easily.