Have you tried any of these?
These are the following "mindfulness exercises" I implemented before I began this column. As I said, I didn’t realise how much they impacted my mental well being until I started writing about them. If you are doing any of the following, think back to before you tried it and see if you can recognise a change in your mental well being, even if it’s as minor as a brief thought.
Log out of your (one/all)* social media(s) account for a day:
I did this a few months ago when I was writing my final assessments for my Spring semester modules. I was writing posts on my blog, trying to maintain social media posts - I even had two Instagram accounts! One day I made the executive decision to:
Disable my private Instagram account.
Deactivate (and thus lose) my Snapchat account.
The intention was to have less distraction (and social media pressure) from my phone so I could focus on other things like uni work and writing. And I have hardly tweaked those settings now. It's been so good for my anxiety surrounding social media posts and keeping up etc.
The notifications are still off but I have reactivated Facebook because that’s how I contact family who lives in other parts of the world and how I maintain contact with some old friends. Although, I do stay logged out for the majority of the time.
Have a vegan or vegetarian meal (day/week)*:
I have been vegetarian for a few years now. I admit: I have had the odd slip - especially during lockdown but there were two main reasons why I transitioned to a vegetarian diet:
Ethics surrounding animal welfare and environment
I’ve always loved animals and find the concept of eating meat disgusting but, I have health issues if I eat too many meat/dairy products. The physical changes to my health drastically impact my mental health too.
If I do have a slip, I used to get really stressed and feel tremendous grief but if it happens now it sometimes helps to class it as an “unhealthy treat” like chocolate, a strong drink or some fast food.
Saying that it’s very rare that I slip up and I do have separate meals from those I am dining with and, sometimes, make fully vegan meals without realising!
Switch to a reusable water bottle:
I switched to a reusable water bottle a good few years ago. First, it started with a reusable plastic bottle and then I became more health-conscious and have had a glass/metal bottle for a long while now.
On the rare occasions, I forget my water bottle at home, the stress and guilt can be so great, that if a recycled plastic water bottle isn't available instead of purchasing an unrecyclable bottle, I'll opt for a sparkling bottle of Perrier because it's in a glass bottle.
For me, using a reusable water bottle makes me feel settled because it's one of the contributions I make towards a more environmental/sustainable lifestyle.
My current water bottle is a Zojirushi, which I bought whilst visiting my aunt in Taiwan last year. Not only does it keep water cold for 24 hours, but it also keeps hot drinks hot for 12 hours. However, it cools down really slowly so you have to be careful when you are about to go gulp a mouthful of coffee that's been in there for two hours.
Sort out your stuff and donate what you don't want
A few years ago I got into the habit of doing this regularly and used to be too hasty with things that, in hindsight, I know were timeless and have had to be replaced which defeats the purpose in some ways. However, now I've begun to put more thought into it and be more careful. The main things that bring me joy out of this are:
Donating to people who need it the most whether, mostly the homeless for me.
De-cluttering my space which also de-clutters my mind.
Each of these exercises has seamlessly fit into my life and I wouldn’t do anything differently now. My next step from these is to log out of all social media accounts for a week from time to time...
*the options in the brackets count as separate exercises as I think the idea is that you build-up to the next challenge