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Last Updated on January 14, 2021

20 Simple Things You Can Do Daily To Become a Mindful Person

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20 Simple Things You Can Do Daily To Become a Mindful Person

The world we are living in today has taken away our ability to truly appreciate the little things that we should be thankful for. Mindfulness helps us see the little things that we have unconsciously neglected due to the hectic daily routines and busy schedule in our lives. Being mindful not only helps us become a calmer individual, but also saves us from a lot of trouble. It helps us be more productive without making the unnecessary errors. Often, we make bad decisions or mistakes because we weren’t mindful enough to notice the subtle things that are happening around us. However, if we practice mindfulness, we will gradually become more aware of the things that are happening around us. We also better understand our own emotions and our physical state, which lead us to a healthier and happier life.

Here are 20 simple things you can do every day to become a more mindful person:

1. Observe your breathing.

Take a few second of your day to observe your breathing. Take a longer inhale than you usually do, and then take a longer exhale than you usually do. We often act based on our emotions, where it gets us into unwanted outcome. This practice will help you to calm yourself down during those situations, while observing your physical and emotional state.

2. Look at yourself in the mirror.

Looking yourself in the mirror helps you observe your own facial expression. You can see how you look when you smile or when you frown, even when you are feeling angry. This will help you better adjust to your reaction towards others when you are dealing with them.

3. Savor every bite while you eat.

Focus on chewing while eating. Put your devices aside, and turn off the television. Enjoy every bite of your meal. This will not only help with your digestive system, but also help you practice focusing on your current action and appreciating the food you are eating.

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4. Listen to soothing music.

Turn on relaxing and soothing melody and really listen to it. Lay down or sit in the most comfortable position, close your eyes and feel the music in your soul. Soothing melody will help you clear your mind and thoughts after a busy or stressful day.

5. Read a book.

Reading takes a lot of your focus. Reading not only gives you useful knowledge, but also helps you form a focused meditation. While you are going through every word, you are practicing mindfulness at the same time.

6. Go for a walk.

Our legs are our unsung heroes that take us to and fro, day in and day out, throughout our lives. Going for a walk gives you the opportunity to show gratitude to your legs as well as your entire body, while appreciating the things around you. You also get a clearer mind after a good long walk.

7. Organize something at work or home.

Having your home or workplace in disarray can cause anxiety and stress. Getting organized is a simple way to reduce your stress and improve the quality of your life. While you are picking up bits and pieces of objects during the process, you are also practicing mindfulness when you consciously observe each placement of the object while organizing them.

8. Write a journal.

Research shows that people who practice writing in a journal reap physical and emotional benefits. They also raise their potential to increase their longevity. Sharing your thoughts in your journal helps you reduce the amount of worry and depressive symptoms. You clarify your thoughts and emotions when you express them in writing, and that helps you better understand yourself at a deeper level.

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9. Cook yourself a meal.

The aromatic scents of cooking have beneficial effects to your mood. The process of cooking, like chopping vegetables; for example, can actually take the edge off a stressful day. Cooking gives you a sense of calmness while also providing an important health measure.

10. Set small daily goals.

Breaking down your goals into smaller ones helps you be more specific to what you aim to achieve on a daily basis. It can be as simple as taking your dog for a walk or cleaning up your house. Take the time to acknowledge yourself for each goal that has been accomplished, and for doing something meaningful for yourself.

11. Observe the people around you.

Taking the time to observe the people around you helps you notice things that seemed oblivious before. You get an idea of the variety of perspectives, raising your awareness by releasing the norms and values from different people. This also gives you an eye-opening experience, helping you better learn the quality of mindfulness.

12. Help someone.

Research suggests that human beings who live for others lead incredibly successful lives, and show lower rates of depression and stress. A simple gesture like helping your family with chores or helping an elderly cross the road can do wonders. By doing someone a small favor, you increase positive feelings toward yourself while making their life a little better. This gives you a mindful awareness of a purposeful life.

13. Let loose and laugh.

Laughing releases endorphins and brings more oxygen and energy into your body while also improving your immune system. Some of us may need the assistance of entertainment to laugh, but really you can find humor in every little thing in life. Just try laughing for the sake of laughing and you will realize that you are actually very present during the process. Being present is the key to mindfulness.

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14. Create art.

Engaging in creative work helps you get into a flow state of heightened awareness and consciousness. Creative activities like baking, doodling, or singing help you quiet down your mind and help you focus on the moment, thus improving your practice of mindfulness.

15. Turn off your devices.

Every once in a while, turn off your devices and engage with the natural world around you. Have a proper conversation with the people around you. This helps you put yourself under the right condition while you freshen up before proceeding with the endless task on your to-do list. You will find yourself much more productive after the simple break and refreshing yourself with this tip.

16. Meditate.

Enjoy the silence after the endless distraction from the people and things around you. Take the time to put down all the things that you are working on, sit down in a comfortable position, and observe your entire body. Focus on feeling each part of your body functioning while clearing away the stress that you obtain throughout the day.

17. Exercise.

When you exercise, you focus your attention on your sensations, breathing, and the movements of your body. This helps you let go of distractions and your endless thoughts while developing a healthy loving relationship with your body. You learn to listen to the needs of your body and to focus on current events.

18. Write sticky notes.

Jotting down your thoughts in a few words is an incredible way to train mindfulness. Simply write down things that you want to remind yourself to remember and stick them around your house or your desk at work. You can jot down “smile” or “be mindful” to remind yourself to do the simple gesture you normally get distracted from.

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19. Take a long bath.

A soothing hot bath relaxes your tired muscles and provides you with a relaxing atmosphere, allowing you the temporary feeling of escape from your daily activities. It helps your breathing become slower and deeper, allowing you to stay in the present moment.

20. Give a genuine compliment.

Give someone you know a genuine compliment at lease once a day, and be specific with it. For example, you could tell them something like, “I appreciate the way you smiled generously at that stranger earlier today”. This practice of noticing what people around you do well and giving genuine compliments adds new warmth, intimacy, and responsiveness to your relationship with them. It helps you realize the beauty of the people you love. You show  them appreciation when you take the time to truly observe them mindfully.

Featured photo credit: Aperture Vintage via unsplash.com

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Crystie Lim

Life Coach

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Published on August 23, 2021

Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

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Why Am I Depressed If My Life Is Fine?

If you suffer from depression or suddenly experience bouts of sadness that seem to come out of nowhere, you probably wonder why this is happening. The truth is that there are several possibilities, and you aren’t alone. According to the World Health Organization, in January of 2020, more than 264 million people were diagnosed with depression and is the leading cause of disability worldwide.[1] In this article, I will answer the question: why am I depressed if my life is fine?” I will discuss what depression is and what the possible causes of depression are. Additionally, I will offer some solutions to consider as you navigate the depression you are experiencing.

The question of why you are depressed if your life is fine is one that I can personally identify with, as I can remember a time when I went through an intense depression even though, in many ways, my life couldn’t have been much better. I was financially secure, had a good family, lived in a beautiful place, had a pretty adventurous and exciting life, but none of that could have prevented a serious and prolonged battle with depression.

Given that you are here reading this article now, you will hopefully be able to identify the problem early and get the support you need to fend off any significant depressive episodes, as this can make a huge difference in your battle with depression.

Furthermore, you don’t have to live with depression! Despite the debilitating effects of depression, with the right treatment and support, it is also one of the more “curable” mental health disorders and you can overcome it.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by feelings of sadness, guilt, worthlessness, hopelessness, irritability, and in the worst cases, despair and suicidality.

Depression from a clinical perspective is classified into a few distinctive categories, two of the more common categories are; major depression and dysthymia. According to the DSM 5, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual—which governs the diagnosis of psychiatric and mental health disorders—major depression is classified as experiencing five or more symptoms in the same two-week period and must include a loss in pleasure as well as a depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.[2]

The criteria are:

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  • Loss of pleasure or joy
  • Intense feelings of sadness and depressed mood most of the day, almost every day
  • Difficulty sleeping or disturbed sleep
  • Change in appetite (increased or decreased appetite) and a 5% change in body weight
  • Difficulty focusing, poor concentration
  • Psychomotor agitation or slowing down
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Persistent thoughts of death, dying, and suicide

Dysthymia is an ongoing or persistent depressed mood for a period of two years where you feel sadness more days than not. It will include at least two of the following symptoms when depressed:

  • Poor appetite or overeating
  • Insomnia or hypersomnia (having more sleep than usual)
  • Low energy or fatigue
  • Low self-esteem
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling of hopelessness

The above symptoms of dysthymia can coincide with the symptoms of major depression.

Causes of Depression

Depression happens for several reasons that I categorize into three: biology, environment, and situation. Depression also tends to occur in more sensitive people, tend to overthink, and get stuck in their thoughts, which—more times than not—are negative.

Biological causes of depression are related to how your body produces neurotransmitters that impact your moods, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. Some people might have a biological predisposition for depression and never experience any significant symptoms but when confronted with a challenging life situation, such as a loss or disappointment, it can send them into a tailspin of despondency and intense feelings of low and sad mood.

Depression caused by one’s environment is more about those you might have grown up with, your family, and your home environment, which could also be connected to heredity. Regardless of your biological predisposition, you learn how to handle challenges in life by observing those around you.

Adults, in particular, are role models for children and will likely deal with life in similar ways as to what they observed. For example, a child who grows up witnessing partner abuse between their parents is at increased risk of either being a victim or perpetrator of violence in an intimate relationship as an adult.[3]

Situational depression, as I mentioned above, can be seen as more of a cause-and-effect relationship. When you are confronted with a particular life challenge or change, such as job loss, geographic relocation, or family and financial stress, these situations can cause you to fall into a temporary or prolonged depression.

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In some cases, depression can be a combination of all of the above.

Examples of Causes of Depression

Below are some examples of situations that might lead you to experience a prolonged period of depression.

Grief

The loss of a loved one, especially when sudden and traumatic, can bring about intense feelings of loss and sadness, which can lead to clinical depression. This includes the death of pets.

Medical Issue or Diagnosis

Being diagnosed with a medical issue, especially if chronic and progressive, is much like any other loss you might experience. It represents the loss of a life you had. Very often, there will need to be changes made in one’s life that will not allow for a lifestyle previously enjoyed.

A Feeling of Failure or Perceived Shortcomings

As I mentioned, people who experience depression tend to be sensitive and self-critical. You might be struggling with not getting a job promotion or failing to progress in the way you imagined for yourself, but this doesn’t mean that you are not progressing in some other way.

Sudden Life Change

Changes—even good changes and welcomed changes—are hard. Sometimes, these changes can have an impact on your role and status in society like marriage or parenthood, which are both wonderful changes yet fraught with many challenges and new social roles.

Feeling Trapped or With Limited Options

Having options is both a blessing and a curse. We know that the more options we have, the less happy we are and the more anxious we might tend to feel, wanting and needing to make the right decision. However, on the flip side, the idea that you don’t have any options can also lead to feeling trapped and feeling that your life circumstances are already written in stone.

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Burnout

Job stress, being overworked and underpaid, or the lack of fulfillment in your profession can lead to depression, which might also coincide with the feeling of being trapped and feeling as though you don’t have many options in your life and career.

What Can You Do If You Experience Depression?

It may sometimes feel as though, out of nowhere, that you are hit with depression, and this is true for many people who have a biologically based depression. However, I would argue that whenever there is something like depression or anxiety—which are defense mechanisms—there is something in your life that is not 100% congruent with who you are and where your life is at or going.

This essentially means that it’s time to take a step back and reassess a few things in life. It doesn’t mean that you will be able to wright the ship entirely. However, you might be able to make some small changes that will help you feel more in control of your life and the direction that you are going in.

1. Consider Therapy

Therapy will help you take stock and think about what is happening in your life and where you might be able to make some changes. Needless to say, you will also have the support you need to embark on making those changes. It could also be a chance to identify what it is in your life that is causing the depression. A therapist can also help you connect to other supports that might help you as you work through this period in your life.

2. Group Support Network

Processing hurt and pain through the group experience is a powerful method of connecting with yourself and others who might be experiencing similar challenges. Part of the value of group experience is knowing that you are not alone and that you have support not just from professionals but also from other people just like you.

3. Self Assessment

Self-assessment involves assessing where you are in your life in relation to your life goals, your relationships, and the direction that you are headed. Maybe it is time to make a pivot and change course, which could be a very scary thing. Bringing this kind of information to therapy will be very valuable and will assist you in the therapeutic process.

4. Take Some Time Off

Taking some time off will be and can be helpful in many ways. If you are experiencing burnout, this will give you more time for self-care and help you give yourself a break. Moreover, taking a time off gives you more time to do some of the things I described above in therapy, group work, and self-assessment.

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5. Are You Bored?

Sometimes, when we lack stimulation or work in a job for which we are overqualified, we might find ourselves feeling underutilized and as if we are not meeting our potential. This would, hopefully, come out in a self-assessment and could indicate the need to make a change in your work life.

Depression and Suicide

Depression is a serious mental health disorder. Thirty to seventy percent of deaths by suicide are attributed to major depression or bipolar disorder.[4] If you or someone you love is experiencing depression and expresses thoughts or statements about death and suicide, consult with your medical professional or mental health counselor. People who receive treatment for depression have an 80 to 90% rate of success from therapy and/or medication.

Suffice to say, if you get the treatment you need for depression, your chances of recovering skyrocket. Again, as I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to live with depression. Get the right treatment,[5] and you can have a whole new lease on life.

Final Thoughts

Depression is a mood disorder that is characterized by feelings of sadness for a long period of time. Many people throughout their lives will experience some depression in varying degrees. If you notice that what you are experiencing resembles any of what I have described above, please know that you can make changes and you can live a life free of depression. Getting help, support, and treatment is essential to addressing the depression or changes in your life that might need to be considered.

More Tips on Coping With Depression

Featured photo credit: Paola Chaaya via unsplash.com

Reference

[1] The World Health Organization: Depression
[2] NCBI: The DSM-5: Classification and Criteria Changes
[3] OASH: Office on women’s Health: Effects of domestic violence on children
[4] Mental Health America: Suicide
[5] Upside Down Flan: The Best Treatment for Depression

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