Since I was a teenager, I’ve noticed a tendency to let me thoughts get the better of me. The tendency to bumble along through life missing out on so much good, because I’m too busy worrying about something. I spend far too much time in my head and not enough time appreciating whatever goes on around me. The real life stuff.
When I returned home, I created a bucket list to hold myself accountable for my actions and thoughts. To make sure I am always appreciative and don’t take people, or life for granted. And even though I’ve barely even started, it’s already taught me so much about mindfulness, meditation and dealing with the negative self talk that has plagued me for as long as I can remember.
The past couple of months have seen my attitudes towards my day change. I rarely become fixated on an unknowable future or, if I do, I recognize it and address it. Sure, life isn’t always smooth (can any day be perfect when your commute involves the Central Line?). but my attitude towards various mishaps is the best it’s ever been. My improved mood and energy is down to these 5 happiness tools and I use at least one of them everyday.
Although I started meditating using the Headspace app (which I absolutely love and Andy’s blog is a dream), I eventually moved onto Calm and did their free seven days, subscribing once the free trial was over. The subscription costs £7.99 a month and in my opinion, is completely worth it. For those of you thinking it’s too expensive, remember, it’s cheaper than therapy. And it probably works just as well.
Every evening before I go to bed I do a 10 – 20 minute Calm meditation, and I’ve started to do the same on my train journeys into London. Although I like to think of myself as generally a ‘happy’ person, I have always put a huge amount of pressure on myself in almost everything I do. Calm helps me to take a moment to just be still, and not think about the marathon I’m yet to run, the three course dinner I’m yet to cook or the 200 impoverished children I still haven’t saved.
Putting pressure on yourself is, at best, a healthy road to productivity. At worst, it is a fast track to anxiety and feeling unable to do get out of bed in the morning because you aren’t perfect yet. Calm has helped me manage unhealthy thoughts, and using it everyday has made me so much more positive, without anything in my day-to-day life actually changing.
The meditations vary in length from 2 minutes to 60 minutes. They include meditation for concentration, anxiety, kindness and gratitude, commuting and emergency calm. Whether you suffer from anxiety, find it hard to concentrate or simply need to switch off on the train to work each morning, Calm will have a meditation to suit you.
As it gets towards 5pm in a normal working day I start to get a niggling feeling that I should exercise when I get home. After a two hour commute I occasionally find the energy to drag myself into the garden to do a circuit workout, but it’s probably more likely that I’ll end up on the sofa eating bread and watching Coronation Street.
In trying to restore balance and stability in my life, I am trying to do something productive when I get home from London at 7.30pm, without doing a workout so intense I can’t make it up the stairs the next day.
The Yoga Studio app is an amazing tool for when I don’t want to do any proper exercise but I want to feel like I’m actually doing something beneficial for my mind and body. There’s only so much enjoyment that can be had from sitting on the sofa eating, before thoughts such as, ‘is this all my life amounts to?’ start to pop into your mind like an unwanted period (sorry).
For people who don’t know where to start with yoga, or even those who have been practising for years, this app is a lifesaver. You can download classes for beginners, intermediates or advanced, choosing between balance, stability or strength. There’s also quick yoga fixes like sun salutations, or a yoga for runners section. Classes are between 10 and 60 minutes long and the app costs around £3. But as it’s essentially an easy to follow, private yoga class, it is worth it.
The only thing I will say is that the instructor’s voice is mildly (extremely) irritating, but just take a deep breath and let it go.
I can’t express how perfect this podcast is for anyone who wants to start living more mindfully and not spend 2 hours silently questioning whether they turned their straighteners off that morning. The host, Rachael Kable (see her amazing blog here) has a lovely relaxing voice and it could actually could be your best friend chatting to you.
I listen to The Mindful Kind when walking the half an hour from Waterloo station to work every morning. Rachael talks about just about everything, including mindfulness in the workplace, how to stay calm in stressful situations, appreciating your family and friends, and using mealtimes to stay present. If you’ve ever had an incredible experience but spent the whole time worrying that soon it’ll be over then The Mindful Kind podcast is for you.
It’s the best way to begin my day and motivates me to do the best I can, while not worrying if I don’t manage it. If anything can calm you down in a time of need, it’s an episode of The Mindful Kind. Even just hearing the theme tune helps me tune out any negative thoughts and deepen my breathing,
I bought myself a Moleskine journal a few weeks ago because I’m a loser and get really excited by stuff like this. Please don’t judge. I also bought coloured pens to go with it and have rediscovered mind maps. Ok and while we’re at it, I love going to bed early and sometimes I listen to Radio 4 podcasts. I’m glad that’s all off my chest.
This journal is where I just write down all my thoughts, plans and goals.
I write down everything from the food I’ve eaten and the exercise I’ve done, to to-do lists and things to do if I feel stressed. I also write down my goals, which generally include drinking 5+ cups of green tea a day, daily meditations and attempting to cook something that isn’t fried vegetables with soy sauce. Exciting stuff.
To be used alongside the app, this book is not only an absolute dream to read, it’s also beautiful to look at. Even just holding the book makes me feel calm (is that lame?) and I take it everywhere with me. Like actually everywhere.
It includes sections on creativity, relationships, food and nature and is perfect for when you’re finally bored of Instagram and don’t want to see snapchat videos of someone’s night out. It has motivational quotes, advice about how to stay calm during the day and beautiful pictures. It also contains exercises like colouring in, writing down lists of what makes you happy and leaf pressing. It’s happiness in a book and something everyone should own. I read it on the train whilst trying to ignore the man forcing me against the window with his ‘man spread’ and the lady opposite me eating tuna.