Everyday Mindfulness

4 Ways to Manage a Restless Mind

4 Ways to Manage a Restless Mind

When life gets really busy it can feel like you’re always catching up on your to-do list. Even when there isn’t much going on, your mind may default to a pattern of restlessness.

For greater mental clarity, it’s important to develop your practice. Here are 4 strategies to help you manage a restless mind:

Feel, Move, Breathe: Staying Balanced During the Holidays

Feel, Move, Breathe: Staying Balanced During the Holidays

The holiday season is heralded as the most wonderful time of the year, and certainly there is a whimsical and romantic quality to it all. However, along with the celebration comes the inevitable stresses of family, travel, the closing down a year, and the anticipation of another one. If you wake up a little less merry and a little more Grinch, you are not alone. More than that, you have the capacity to support yourself through the mindfulness practice. Taking a moment to reset through breath, movement, and awareness.

Happiness and Joy Multiplied Through Loving-Kindness

Happiness and Joy Multiplied Through Loving-Kindness

The simple practice of Loving-Kindness has come to be one of the easiest and most powerful ways to bring happiness to others, thereby multiplying my own. The brief act of sending out well wishes to all by silently communicating a sentiment such as, “May I be happy and free. May he/she be happy and free. May all beings be happy and free” is a practice I can do anytime, anywhere.

3 Ways To Stop Negative Self-Talk

3 Ways To Stop Negative Self-Talk

Often, we find ourselves holding back from saying certain things to people, but when it comes to our own inner dialogue -- we have no filter. Think back to a time where you were feeling down even though you knew you were being too hard on yourself. Fortunately, by paying attention to our inner dialogue, we can free ourselves from self-doubt and become more comfortable with who we are. Here are 3 ways to stop negative self-talk:

How To Be More Mindful Of Your Communication

How To Be More Mindful Of Your Communication

Think back to the last time you had a conversation with someone and it truly felt like the other person was giving you 100% of their attention. It feels good, right? You probably opened up more and felt a better connection with the person. For some people, this comes more naturally, while others have to be intentional about mastering the art of mindful communication.

How to Clear Your Mind and Fuel Your Creativity

Have you ever had an “aha!” moment when you least expected it? Maybe you were in the shower, on a run, or simply drinking your morning coffee when suddenly... the answer became clear. There’s a reason why these breakthrough ideas strike at strange times and it’s most often when you have a clear mind.

In order to do your most creative work, you have to silence any anxious and stressful thoughts, especially if you have external pressure like pending deadlines. The good news is you can learn to distance these negative thoughts, while your creative mind goes to work.

To find out how others stay creative under stress, we reached out to:

  • Kevin Huynh, Partner at People & Company

  • Ramon Mortiz, Senior Associate at iProspect

  • David Li, Technician and Fulfillment Specialist at KeyMe

Here’s what they had to say about distancing anxious thoughts and letting your mind be creative:

Identify Anxious Thoughts

“What’s the first thing you do when you find your mind racing from anxiety and stress?”

Once you notice your mind start to race take a moment to pause and breathe. Try to assess the situation. Ramon suggests considering your “current situation, emotions, [and] thoughts,” by asking questions like:

  • How did I get to this point?

  • Why am I thinking this?

  • Where did this feeling come from?

You can also try writing down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Kevin finds “that putting [his] thoughts into words helps [him] reflect on what [he’s] feeling and why [he] feels that way.”

Put Things Into Perspective

“How do you silence these anxious and stressful thoughts?”

A common thread among the contributing influencers is to always put everything into perspective. For some, this means introspective reflection, while for others it means talking things out with a close friend.

Kevin says, “nothing silences stressful thoughts like talking them out with someone I trust. Often those discussions with my partner or business partner don't change the circumstances but they put seemingly overwhelming things into perspective.”

Priority Over Pressure

“When you have other tasks to complete, how do you focus on the task at hand rather than the building pressure?”

For Kevin, his “good days start with lists”. Especially when times get busy, Kevin proactively makes lists for each day of the week. However, we all know how easy a to-do list can quickly get out of hand.

This is why it’s important to focus on the present moment says David. He highlights the importance of tackling each task one-by-one even though it can feel “almost paralyzing to focus on whatever you may have on your plate at the moment.

Here are some best practices for writing your to-do list:

  • Include work-related and personal items

It’s important to make sure you complete all of your work. It’s even more important that you maintain good physical and mental health. Make time for yourself.

  • Identify urgent versus important items

This helps you determine which items need to be prioritized first, while others can wait until a more appropriate time. Focus on the urgent problems first.

You can read more about writing sensible to-do lists here.

Enjoy the Moment

“Do you have any exercises or habits or hobbies that help you clear your mind and prevent stress from wearing you down?”

Everyone has an activity, hobby, or something you enjoy doing. It’s important that you make time for yourself and these types of activities. For Kevin it’s cooking; he says, “cooking is rejuvenating. There's something about preparing, creating, and consuming food that makes me feel more like me.”


5 Questions to Help You Make Any Major Life Decision

Have you ever felt like the answer was right in front of you all along? When making a major life decision, it’s easy to overthink your options. All the “what-ifs” and “buts” can make it seem like there is no right decision -- it happens to the best of us.

Sometimes the best path forward is clearly defined, while other times it’s not. Fortunately, a proactive, mindful approach can help you see your options clearly to make the best choice moving forward.

A Process for Mindful Problem Solving

Before you make any major life decision, it’s important that you take a moment to slow things down. Breathe. It’s natural to feel emotionally charged when there is some sort of stake on the line. Don’t get caught up trying to uncover the “right” and “wrong” answers. You will naturally identify the best solution as you ask yourself these 5 questions:

1. What is your challenge?

The first step is to define the problem you are trying to solve. This is typically the major life decision you are trying to make. From choosing a field of study, career path, life partner, and more. You want to be crystal clear about what it is you are trying to solve.

Try asking yourself questions like:

  • What’s the challenge you are facing?

  • Why is this a challenge that must be addressed now?

  • What important details am I dealing with?

  • What do I want the outcome to be?

  • What bothers you about the problem?

  • What doesn’t bother you?

  • Who is involved?

  • Where does the problem occur?

  • When does it happen?

  • Why is it happening?

  • How does it happen?

  • How does it make you feel?

  • How do you react/respond?

Sometimes the problem you are facing will be very clear and already pre-defined. Other times the problem may be vague or require more effort to put it into words.

2. What are your possible outcomes?

Now it’s time to brainstorm all of the possible solutions to your challenge. It’s natural for our minds to focus on one “ideal solution”, but it’s important to let your mind search for multiple solutions. Think of this as an opportunity to brainstorm possible outcomes you may not have previously thought of.

To help you get started try thinking about solutions in terms of what it looks like you doing, feeling, and seeing. Focus both on what you do want to happen, as well as what you do not want to happen. Decide on your top 3 possible outcomes and keep these in mind.

3. What are your strategies to achieve these outcomes?

This is where you develop your ideas to craft a truly workable solution -- a plan you can implement to overcome your challenge. Try to think of as many strategies as you can for each of your 3 possible solutions from the previous step. These are actions you can take that will help you achieve a particular outcome. Remember, any idea is fair game at this point. Don’t criticize the merits of your ideas at this stage... we will get to that!

4. What are the consequences of your strategies?

In order to determine the best plan of action moving forward, consider the likelihood of success for each of your strategies from the previous step. Once you’ve done that, consider which of your outcomes from Question #2, has the most strategies that are likely to succeed. Of course, you’ll need to implement a specific strategy, but this is where you’ll have the best chances of success.

5. How can you implement this plan of action?

Now that you’ve arrived at a specific strategy to achieve a particular outcome, the final piece of the puzzle is to put it into action. Break your strategy down into a series of steps that take you from your current situation to your chosen outcome. By this point, you’ll have made a very intentional, mindful decision about the best course of action to overcome any challenge.


Why Peak Performance Requires a Strong Mind Body Connection

There are two types of exercise critical to reaching your peak performance in life: mental and physical. Physical exercise is organized, premeditated, focused physical movement that is intended to achieve a set of fitness goals. Common physical exercises include running, weight lifting, swimming, and yoga. With repetition, you get better over time.

Mental exercise is a bit more complicated. Your brain is active 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The brain is a super-powered processing machines constantly analyzing your external environment, while commanding your bodily functions. Your brain also regulates emotions, stores memories, and processes information both consciously and subconsciously. Just like physical activity, there is a distinction between brain activity and mental exercise.

Mental exercises are challenging. They require more cognitive power and eat up more energy. They are also the activities that make you smarter. Some examples include learning a new instrument, studying for a test, strategizing a new business model, and even reading for long periods of time.

Mutually Exclusive or Complementary?

What you may have noticed is that these examples of physical and mental exercise are not mutually exclusive. To play piano, you need to think about which notes to play and move your fingers and feet accordingly. To swim a proper breaststroke, you have to apply a learned technique to move efficiently and get better.

It is important to understand the difference between mental and physical exercise to understand an even more powerful type of exercise - the mind body connection.

The Mind Body Connection

Going as far back as ancient Greece, people believed that the mind and body were deeply intertwined. Medicine and sports were predicated on the idea that our bodies and minds depend on each other for peak performance. This notion was almost lost at the beginning of the seventeenth century, but has come back to popularity. Scientists in modern times have found again and again that the body and mind are a synchronized unit. For example, what separates Olympic athletes from recreational athletes is not their superior bodies; it’s actually their ability to make decisions on the fly, and command their muscles accordingly. Vice versa.

Here’s another example. Think back to the last time you were very hungry and trying to work. Not easy right? A body that’s properly fed, hydrated, and has stable glucose levels feeds a sharper, more focused, and calmer mind.

Though we do not yet fully understand the connectivity between the mind and body, it is a growing topic in a variety of fields from meditation to physiology to fitness. Peak performers, doctors and scientists all want to know how this relationship works. One thing is for sure. If you want to reach your peak performance in life, it’s critical to find a happy balance between mental and physical exercise.

Tune Into Your Body For A Better Workout

Ever notice how you seem to find workout tips at every turn? Magazine articles at the checkout counter promise “5 ab exercises to get shredded”. Or the guy on the YouTube ad before your video has “the secret to weight loss in 30 days or less”. While each of these likely contain effective exercises, a good workout always starts with listening to your body.

How do you define a good workout?

For some it means burning lots of calories, while for others it’s all about lifting heavier weights, or running for a long time on the treadmill. At times, it can be hard to measure what counts as a good workout. Despite personal metrics there is one thing that’s the same for everyone. When you have a good workout, you feel great afterwards. To feel great after every workout and avoid getting lost in all the workout “information overload”, try listening to your body.

Tune Into Your Physical Self

Before you begin your workout take some time to sit or stand still. You can even do this laying down, which is a great option. Do a full body scan starting from the bottoms of your feet and make your way to the top of your head. Take your time, as the entire scan can take anywhere from one to three minutes.

Plan Your Workout Accordingly

After you’ve done your scan, you can choose which types of exercise would complement your body today. Maybe your shoulders are sore right now, but your core feels rested. In that case, you can make the workout about stretching your shoulders, loosening them up with some cardio, and focusing the hard exercises on your abs.

The Difference Between Good And Bad Pain

While you’re performing the hard exercises, you’ll likely experience a certain amount of pain. If you plan your workout by listening to your body, it’s probably good pain. Your heart will pound and your muscles will burn, but you’ll feel alive, strong, and vital while you workout. Bad pain is different. If you’re working out and feel sharp discomfort, or you’re finding it difficult to muster the energy to continue, then consider giving that muscle a break.

The key is to notice the difference and honor what your body is telling you. Although a good workout starts with the right mindset, it begins with awareness of your body. By choosing to listen, you are allowing yourself to become more self aware, cultivating a practice that will give you true lifelong fitness.

Shifting Gears From Work To Leisure

We are connected to our jobs more than ever before. Technology and smartphones have made us reachable 24/7. While this may be convenient for business, it’s important that our minds have a chance to relax and recharge. Here are some strategies people are using:

Protect Your Personal Time

How do you keep “work thoughts” from invading your personal time?

Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Meditation has been the biggest help when it comes to finding peace of mind. It taught me how to not fight the thoughts that are coming into my mind, but rather focus on breathing and let them go.

Judith, Program Coordinator: This is difficult at times, especially when there’s an intense period at work or when something gets under my skin. I find that I must be vigilant in observing my mind. When work thoughts occur during personal time, I have to make a conscious effort to create a boundary and refrain from engaging with the thinking. I compartmentalize the whole “folder” called work and I put it away.

Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: It’s honestly the toughest thing to do, especially for those of us who don't work normal 9 to 5 jobs. You are responsible for so much that it’s almost always on my mind. Especially in today’s world where we are so connected with phones that a simple email or ad on Instagram can spark your mind to think work thoughts.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: “Work thoughts” typically arise after work hours when you have not prioritized and are unaware of what items you have left pending. At the end of each workday, I dedicate thirty minutes to weighing in on my priorities. Knowing exactly where I am on matters of importance allows me to set a plan of execution of the following day. This alleviates me of any anxiety that could arise over items I was unable to complete that day.

Keep Your Mind Off Work

What do you do when you find your mind wandering back to work? How do you silence these thoughts? Or do you give them attention?

Judith, Program Coordinator: First, I have be aware enough to catch it. Then, strong enough to be willing to reject it. Once that decision is made and the boundary is set, it takes some affirmative thought to put it away. Sometimes, I even have to breathe through the more pervasive “breakouts”. It’s not so much that I silence these thoughts per se, it’s that I refuse to put my attention on them and then they recede. Sometimes, if they are relentless, I do give them attention. At times, I have been able to assess my work issues with the most clarity during my personal time.

Adam, Partner at Engage Media Group: Most times it’s tossing the phone to the side and not picking it up. Another way is to spend time with some friends. Being social helps keep your mind off work since you are vibing and enjoying the moment.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: In basketball, the 5-second rule helps to promote a continuous play. How can this help stop your mind from wandering back to work? Easy, as soon as I find my mind being sucked back into work mode, I ask myself will this matter cause you to lose your job? Now is time to pass, dribble, or shoot. If I cannot make the call within 5 seconds, it’s a penalty; I must stop everything I am doing and attend to whatever matter has come to mind.

Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: I just take a deep breath and try to stay focused in the moment. I don't give the thoughts much attention, especially if I can't do anything about them at that time.

Unwind To Switch Gears

Is there a specific activity, routine, habit, or ritual you do after work to switch gears into leisure mode?

Victoria, Fashion Stylist: Working out tremendously helps with switching gears! I also recommend working on a passion project that brings you joy.

Judith, Program Coordinator: When I am super stressed at work, a hot bath will help me to transition into my down time. It became a ritual of releasing any work-related stress.

Korpo, Writer & Brand Strategist: Classical conditioning is a learning process that occurs when two stimuli are paired habitually. While some habits are debilitating, others can be lifesaving. I have a set playlist that I listen to everyday for an hour before the end of my work day. My mind has been conditioned to leave work at the end of my playlist. Since adopting this habit, I now leave work more pumped and eager to head home than ever before.


Christian, Direct-Response Copywriter: After work I get changed into comfortable clothing, help out with dinner, and eat some food. I'd then either read my Kindle, watch YouTube or watch Dragon's Den. This happens naturally as I’m often exhausted and ready to relax.

How to Live in Balance with Technology

There’s no denying that screens have become an integral part of life, whether it’s working from a laptop, scrolling on phones, or relaxing in front of the TV. A recent Nielsen audience report revealed the average person spends 10 hours a day looking at screens... almost two thirds of the time we’re awake!

Since technology is deeply rooted in our daily habits, it’s important to find time away from screens. Being intentional about your screen-free time will help you reconnect with physical experiences for a more mindful, healthy, and fulfilling life.

Practice Mind-Body Connection

Technology allows us to experience things without even having to be present. For instance, if you’re watching a comedy where there is a group of friends talking, you’re experiencing social engagement without actually being there. This is a vicarious experience that only occurs in the mind. If you were really out with a group of friends, the richness of the experience becomes much more fulfilling because your body and mind work best together.

Enjoy The Little Things In Life


It may sound cliche, but enjoying the small things in life is a great way to find inner peace. The smells, sounds, tastes, textures, and gestures enriches every experience. Standing, laughing, looking people in the eye, and really living in that moment are incredibly valuable. In the real world, your senses are given a necessary feast of stimuli that can’t be found through technology.

Manage Screen Time

Most electronic screens have significantly high levels of blue light. Blue light is high energy with a short wavelength, which means it scatters more easily than other colours of the spectrum. Why should you care? Overexposure to blue light makes it difficult for our eyes to focus and can leave the retina vulnerable to damage.

Tip: If you find yourself experiencing these symptoms, you can order blue light filtering glasses and download blue light reduction apps that make your screen appear more yellow.

Get A Good Night’s Rest


Blue light also increases alertness by suppressing the body’s production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. This is great early in the day, but that’s not the case when you’re trying to fall asleep. To fall asleep quicker, try swapping your dose of late night Netflix with a book, drawing, or another peaceful activity you enjoy.

Technology has its place in our lives, but like anything, it’s about finding a balance that works for you. If you feel like something is missing in your life, try swapping screen time for more real life experiences.

 

How Emotions Inspire Our Perspectives of the World

Our emotions affect how we perceive the world around us. How someone feels emotionally will influence the meaning we pull from different sensations, as well as past experiences and knowledge. This provides the power to reshape our perspectives by understanding the emotions within us.

To see how people are working to understand their emotions, we reached out to:

  • Dre, Customer Experience Ninja

  • Dadry, Creative Freelancer

  • Corri, Filmmaker

Here’s what they had to say about understanding your emotions. It all begins with emotional balance.

Understanding Emotional Balance

When we asked, what does being “emotionally balanced” mean to you, a common thread is to allow yourself to feel your emotions as they come and go, while “dealing with them in real time”. Dre highlights the importance of not letting yourself “become overly consumed with what may come and not judge yourself for feeling how you do.”

For Corri it means, “making a choice to take time for yourself and not allowing the fast pace of life to control your inner peace. Try creating a routine to keep this balance intact, such as making the bed, stretching, and taking a few moments to meditate. Find moments in the day to be grateful for your path and the world around you” - even the parts of life you can’t control.

Search For Perspective

The next question we asked is: How do you regulate your emotions when you’re feeling down or life feels out-of-control?

Taking a step back can help you put things into perspective. Dadry suggests, “slowing down and taking in the world around you. Cleaning is one way to physically fix the chaos around you. It’s about finding something new and calming to take your mind off the stress of it all.”

After taking a moment to breath deeply, Corri says, “I consider the consequences of my reactions. Do I spiral out of control or remain calm and think logically about the situation? I usually choose the latter. If I feel extremely emotionally charged and feel the need to express myself I try to do so as honestly and calmly as possible.”

Accept Your Emotions

Our final question is: What advice do you have for people who have trouble controlling their emotions, both in their own minds and when expressing emotions to others?

Dre suggests, “My advice to people who have trouble controlling their emotions would be to accept what comes. Don't avoid or try to suppress anything that might come up because it will come back to the surface eventually. Take a moment to positively respond to what you are going through instead of reacting immediately. Many times we react without thinking and it tends to not be the best plan of action.”

Dadry encourages you to “find a way to filter the mess. Music, art, exercise; any activity that is expressive - even something as simple as talking it out. Usually a stressful situation is one where there isn’t a firm sight of clarity. Talking to someone who is on the outside looking in might be exactly what you need.”

Corri often asks, “Who are your emotions affecting? When we become irrational we are not lucid. So you can not clearly convey your emotions and express your truest desires. In one’s own mind I would think about what is creating any distress? What’s the source? Can you control it or is it out of your control? You cannot allow things that are out of your control to disturb your peace. Take a few moments to breath and think about how much power you want to allow others or a situation to have over you. What outcome will expressing your emotions have?”

Taste Each Bite: The Benefits of Slow Eating

In recent years, food has become less about community and artsmanship, and more about convenience. However, slowing down the fast pace of modern life is essential to wellbeing - especially when it comes to meals. Many studies have shown that eating slowly is tremendously beneficial for the body and mind. Although it can be instinctual to scarf down a quick bite between meetings or after work, taking the time to chew slowly and take breaks between bites can improve the entire eating experience.

The Health Benefits: Improves Digestion

Eating has everything to do with the mind-body connection. As you chew, your brain is sending signals to multiple parts of your body to prepare for digestion. When you eat slowly, you’re giving your body more time to realize what’s happening. In fact, it takes twenty minutes on average for your mind to signal to your body that you are full. Chewing quickly can override this mind-to-body dialogue because it all happens too fast. Often this leads to stomach cramps, bloating, poor digestion, or even acid reflux. Chewing slowly, on the other hand, allows your mind and body to be in sync. Together your mind and body can work more effectively by giving your mouth and stomach time to get the message.

The Experiential Benefits: Appreciate The Food

Food is good, so good. In fact it might be one of life’s greatest joys, so why not make the most of it? Rather than rushing through that piece of pizza, burger, granola bar or fresh apple, slowing down to savor it helps you get more than calories out of your food. When chewing slowly, you may notice flavors, smells, and textures you might have missed before. Eating slowly doesn’t just stop you from being hungry, it makes for a much richer experience.

The Social Benefits: Enjoy Your Company


Some of the healthiest nations in the world don’t actually eat what we might consider “healthy” food. Countries like France, Italy, and Greece eat a diet based primarily in breads and cheeses, and have some of the healthiest people in the world. What’s the difference? There are two main reasons. For one, these European countries eat socially. You’d be hard pressed to find someone eating alone. In eating socially, people also naturally slow down - this is the second reason. If you have trouble eating slowly, try eating with another person. The conversations you have make it easier to take breaks between bites, and think about the whole experience of eating, not just the food itself.

How to Protect Your Mind From Social Media Envy

Social media is positive in a lot of ways. It makes us laugh, fills free time, and can help us keep in touch with friends and family. Unfortunately, social media may also skew the idea of what a happy life looks like. In fact, Instagram and Facebook have been ranked as the top two worst social media sites for mental health. To stay positive as you surf social media, try some of these tips to strengthen your inner happiness.

The Highlight Reel

Scrolling through the newsfeed, we see one friend traveling the world, and another who just got married. We see someone who just landed an awesome job, and another person posing on the beach looking amazing. The best thing to do is feel happy for the success of your friends, but it’s not always that simple. If you’ve had a bad day or are feeling particularly vulnerable, seeing other people’s highlight reels can make you feel envious. However, that’s all they are - highlight reels. This is just what’s being shown to the public and doesn’t always represent the full story. It’s important to keep this perspective in mind when you’re browsing social media.

Unfollow Triggering People

Typically, there are a handful of people who make glamorous posts more often, or may have something that you want. Facebook makes unfollowing really easy. All you have to do is go to their profile and click “unfollow”. It’s completely anonymous so the person will not be notified. Plus they remain on your friends list. When you unfollow someone on Instagram, the person won’t get a notification either. If seeing someone’s posts are getting you down, don’t be afraid to do what’s best for your wellbeing.

Take A Break

If you’re still feeling envious after unfollowing triggering people, it could be time to take a break from social media. To take a break from instagram, it’s as simple as deleting the app off your phone. If you’ve saved your password or linked the app to another account like Google or Facebook, logging back in when you’re ready is easy. To take a break from Facebook, you can try changing your password to something more difficult to remember. Save that password somewhere, and don’t use it until you feel you’re ready to go back on the site.

Oh, the peace and quiet. Wait, is that an urge to scroll? For some of us, opening a social media app becomes second nature and can be a hard habit to kick. According to social psychologists, setting a benchmark of 21 days to remain scroll-free is the necessary amount of time to break a habit. The first week off an app is usually the hardest, but it becomes a lot easier after that. All the time you free up is great for removing jealousy triggers from your life, while also providing time to reflect.

Is Social Media Worth It?

What does social media provide for us? It’s a bit of a catch 22. You get amazing inspirational stories, and the latest news tailored to your interests. You get to see your baby cousin growing up and cute animal pictures. Mixed in with all that good stuff is a lot of content based in narcissism and envy, so what’s a person to do?


This time away from social media presents the perfect opportunity to gain some perspective. What do you want these sites to provide for you? By making that choice clear in your mind and acting accordingly, you are building a web experience that serves your happiness - not your dissatisfaction.

Using Past Lessons to Inform Big Life Choices

Making choices in life isn’t always easy. For some of us, the simple task of choosing a restaurant for dinner can be stressful. When it comes to even bigger life decisions like moving or taking on a new job, choices become increasingly complex. How do you simplify a decision when there are so many variables at play? Thanks to past life experience, you can tap into knowledge you’ve already acquired to make a clear, calm, and informed decision.

Mistakes Are Okay

The first (and arguably most important) thing to realize is that mistakes are okay. Really, they are. When making a big life choice, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the details of a situation. Overthinking a decision often leads us to worry about making the wrong one. When we make a mistake, it can be embarrassing and painful, but it’s this very discomfort that makes the experience so memorable.

When considering a big life decision, you might find your mind referring back to a time when you made the wrong choice. We’re here to tell you that it’s okay. We’re all human and we all make mistakes - a lot of them. That’s how we grow.

Tapping Into Your Experiences

If you find yourself thinking about a time when things went wrong, try reframing it in a way that is useful to you. What is it about the memory that reminds you of your current decision? Write down all the parts of the experience that feel relevant to the present. The list could be as long or as short as you want.

When you’re finished, break down each point. For example, if you’re moving, the list could include a point “I don’t want to go through the stress of moving again, last time we were so unorganized,” Inside the mind, it can be easy to condemn yourself to being a “disorganized person”. Instead, try thinking back to the specifics of that belief to understand where it’s coming from. Ask questions like:

  • What made it disorganized?

  • Based on that experience, what can you do to be more organized this time?

Mistakes Aren’t Final

A mistake is only a mistake when you don’t learn from it. Making the wrong decision doesn’t mean you’re going to do it again. Don’t let self-limiting beliefs tell you otherwise. By going through an uncomfortable experience, you’ve had the opportunity to feel it and learn the ups and downs. The next time you foresee something similar, you can be compassionate with yourself to make a better choice this time around.

Why Plants Are Good For Your Mind

It’s been proven time and time again that being in nature makes you happier. The fresh air, a cool breeze, sunlight on your face, and an array of greenery rejuvenates and calms the mind. Unfortunately, most of us can’t be outside all the time. Instead, you can bring the benefits of nature indoors with the help of some houseplants.

Houseplants are some of the most underrated additions you can have around the house. Keeping a few plants in your living space can be very beneficial to your mental wellbeing. Here are three ways houseplants are good for your mind.

The Color Green

Did you know the human eye can see more shades of green than any other color? There are many theories to explain this, but the most well-accepted is due to evolution. Our ancestors lived in green spaces and needed to determine subtle differences in green colors. They did this in order to evaluate their environment and decide which plants were safe to eat, as well as which ones were not. This connection to the color green still holds true today. Physiologically, seeing the color green reduces stress levels by signaling to our brain that we are in a natural, healthy environment. This calming effect also makes it easier to think more clearly.

Improves Air Quality

Houseplants have a remarkable ability to clean toxins from indoor air. A few years back, NASA released a study that determined which houseplants are best at improving indoor air quality. They looked at five main indoor air pollutants including formaldehyde, as well as other neurotoxic chemicals like trichloroethylene and ammonia. Each plant was then tested accordingly. Some of the top air-cleaners included peace lilies, english ivy, chrysanthemums, and snake plants. These plants literally suck the toxins from the air into their leaves and roots. A reduction of common neurotoxic chemicals in the indoor air improves mood, increases energy levels, and improves memory and cognition.

Something To Care For

All science aside, there is something very emotionally satisfying about caring for plants. It’s no wonder that the process of purchasing, learning about, and caring for houseplants is a popular hobby. If you’re new to plants, try starting off with something easy to take care of like a spider plant or umbrella plant. Do a bit of research on how much light they need and how often to water as you watch your plant grow. Tending to a plant is a low-stakes activity that reaps great rewards. Yes your air be cleaner and your house will look more lively, but you’ll also have a nice activity during your down time. Not to mention the tremendous joy you’ll experience when the first new leaf sprouts up.

Bringing the outdoors inside is a great way to promote a happier, healthier living space.

 

 

 

How Mindfulness Attributed to Human Evolution

According to Darwinism, humans evolved from apes. Even after years of research, there is still no way to pinpoint the exact moment apes evolved into humans. Instead, it is likely that a series of micro-factors like environment, diet, and genetic mutation led to the development of our species. What was it that set us on a trajectory away from apes? Our minds.

Human beings don’t have the largest brains on Earth. In fact, we don’t even have the largest brain-to-body ratio. What makes the human brain so special is its highly evolved prefrontal cortex. This area of the brain is responsible for problem solving, language, personality expression, and of course, self awareness. This highly developed ability to orient and consider oneself in relation to the past, current, and future world is arguably what makes us the most human. Because we have such well-developed frontal lobes, we have the capacity to be aware of our thoughts.

Many scientists believe that the prefrontal cortex began to evolve due to a gene mutation that gave us weaker jaws. At first, this may sound like a bad thing, but it’s really one of the best things that could have happened to us as a species. As we became more self aware with this bigger brain, humans began to realize that by cooking food, we could get way more nutritional value from the calories we consumed (not to mention it tasted way better!) Since the brain is an energy eating machine, cooking food to more condensed, less fibrous meals allowed us to get way more nutrition than apes. As this fueled our brains to grow, more complex modes of thought evolved.  

Though we didn’t know it all those years ago, thinking introspectively about ourselves was actually allowing our brains to grow even larger. For example, this could have started with simple caveman thinking. “I am strong caveman, and can defend my family. I am stronger with tree branch when defending my family.” To an ancient Egyptian like Cleopatra thinking “I will marry Julius Caesar not because I love him, but because it is the right strategic move to protect Egypt from Rome.[1]” Overtime, we have become better and better at considering ourselves, our position, and how to strategically accomplish our goals. Cleopatra is a great example of the modern human being’s ability to override the emotional parts of our brains with logical thinking.

Science has shown us that by focusing our awareness on different things, our brain physically changes. This is what scientists today call neuroplasticity. Cleopatra, along with countless other people have chosen year after year to move their attention away from the fear/emotional response occurring in the amygdala, and to the frontal lobe. By doing this, we have strengthened the parts of our brains that are more logical and self aware, while shrinking the more primitive areas of the brain.

What’s really cool is that regular mindfulness practice and meditation actually reduces the size of the amygdala (the fear center of the brain), and strengthens the connections within the prefrontal lobe. This trains your brain to think more calmly, clearly, and logically. By strengthening these neural pathways, we are literally changing our genes. Next time you’re meditating, you can feel good about building a better brain for today and tomorrow.

3 Signs It’s Time To Take A Break From Social Media

Who better to ask about social media breaks than a couple of Instagram influencers? Meet Brendan (@BrendanLowry) and Nicole (@NicoleLoher).

Brendan runs a creative agency based in Philadelphia. He helps brands tell their stories on social media with influencer marketing. Nicole is the Global Digital Editor at Christian Louboutin, Adjunct Professor at New York University, and a triathlete.

Here’s what the two influencers have to say about knowing when it’s time to take a break from social media:

Know When the Negatives Outweigh the Positives

Brendan’s first experience with pausing social media occurred shortly after Trump was elected. With all the negativity being spread online, he thought maybe it would be “best to just turn things off for a little while.” During those few weeks, Brendan says his mood improved dramatically.

“Whether it’s feeling jealous of others’ accomplishments, over-analyzing the content that I’m planning on posting and worrying about what people will think, or building stories around why certain people did or didn’t like my content, it’s happening constantly.” But, he says when he’s in a good place mentally, Brenden is able to put things into perspective and take a break.

When we talked to Nicole, she gave us a tip on how to make the social media experience more positive. “Post with the intention to lift people higher and expect others to do the same.” This way, you can contribute to a healthier social media experience for yourself and for others. Overall, it’s a great way to stay positive on social media.

Seek Deeper Connection

On a trip to Sri Lanka to meet her fiancé’s family, Nicole decided to turn her phone off completely for the first time. She recalls how “incredibly freeing [it felt] to not care what anyone else was doing on the Internet. My fiancé, his family, and I were able to connect on another level.” Now Nicole makes a point to disconnect from social media every weekend.

Recognize When Scrolling Becomes A Habit

Brendan takes matters into his own hands to keep scrolling from becoming a habit. “I don’t have Facebook or Twitter installed on my phone to avoid using it constantly, but I was still logged into the browser and I would find myself mindlessly refreshing/scrolling. These apps are designed to make it super easy to stay logged in and very hard to log out. So I logged out, deleted my browsing, search, and password history, and then deleted and redownloaded chrome.”

Those habits were hard to kick, but he’d put the right barriers in place. “For the first few days, I’d go to the browser and type in Twitter.com or Facebook.com without even remembering I was on a break.” Since he was no longer logged in, it was more difficult to access the platform, which reminded him to stay on a break.

Even social media influencers need to limit their time on social media. Going offline can be a challenge, but it’s one worth taking to feel happier, healthier, and more connected to the people around you. If you’re feeling anything less than inspired by what you see online, unfollow people or simply signout. When social media starts to feel like a negative distraction in life, try taking a break. You might be amazed by how much better you feel, and how much power you have over your social media experience.

30 Minutes Outdoors To Clear Your Mind

Do you ever get brain fog? You know, that fuzzy-headed feeling where it’s hard to remember where you left your keys? When you’re feeling foggy, it can be hard to focus and make logical decisions. The good news is you can clear your mind by spending as little as 30 minutes outdoors. Why do you think it’s called “the great outdoors?” When you go outside, your body and mind undergo a physiological shift that provides a whole host of mind-clearing benefits.

Soak Up Some Sun

Going outside exposes you to the sun. If you were to take a 30 minute walk, or even sit outside in the sun, you may notice your mood improve. There’s a reason you feel so good. It turns out, the sun encourages your brain to release a healthy dose of your body’s natural happy chemical - serotonin. Higher levels of serotonin improves your brain's ability to think clearly. This hormone is also responsible for that relaxed feeling of love you get on a warm and sunny day. Even if it’s a cloudy day, many of the sun's rays still find a way down to your skin. As your body absorbs the sun’s ultraviolet light, it converts those rays into vitamin D. In just 30 minutes, your skin produces enough vitamin D to last you the whole day.

Embrace The Outdoor Experience

When you’re outside, you are seeing, smelling, hearing, and feeling a whole bunch of stimuli that are instinctually relaxing to human beings. Think about it - the human world, the one we built with skyscrapers, computers, subways and buses has only been around for about 0.0001% of the time human beings have inhabited the Earth. In evolutionary terms, that’s not a very long time to adapt to a new environment. The outdoors, on the other hand, has been around since the beginning of time. The experience you have outdoors is the one that’s built into your very DNA. Being outside is also one of those no-strings-attached activities. It’s free, simple, and doesn’t ask anything from you. This leads to a reduction in blood pressure, lowered cortisol levels, and reduced anxiety.

Surround Yourself With Green And Blue

Being outside is such a simple activity, and almost everyone has access to the outdoors in some way. Even if you live in the city center, a small park is usually just a few blocks away. It’s important to enjoy the nature of our planet. You could go somewhere with lots of greenery or a waterfront. Or maybe you prefer to reflect while staring at the clouds and sky. The important lesson here is that you take some time to relax your mind and appreciate the little things life has to offer. Next time you need to clear that brain fog, try using an ancient antidote and spend some time outside.

3 Tips for a Mindful Workspace

Did you know you can optimize your workspace for productivity and wellbeing? Whether it’s your home office, cubicle, or just a space to get things done, there’s something nourishing about a workspace you actually enjoy working in.

We’ve compiled a list of 3 easy (and enjoyable) ways to set up a mindful workspace.

1. Keep It Clean

Did you know the cleanliness of your chair, computer, and desk clean is essential to mindfulness practice? While you work, your mind is exerting energy by focusing on the task at hand. However, when you have a dirty workspace, your mind expands a portion of this finite energy each time you notice any smudges on your screen, crumbs on your desk, or dust on your shelves. By keeping the area clean, it actually reduces distraction.

Quick tip: Keeping a box of eco-friendly disinfecting wipes at your desk makes it easy to keep your workspace clean.

2. Declutter Your Space

A decluttered space equals a decluttered mind. Go through your items to recycle any receipts, papers, empty pens, or dried out highlighters. If you come across things you no longer use, donate or throw them away. Once you’re left with only the necessities, organize those items according to their purpose. Opening a drawer and finding exactly what you were looking for will save you time, energy, and frustration. You can experience this joy by taking the time to get organized.

3. Decorate Your Space

A visually pleasing desk can make work more enjoyable. This is a great opportunity to express yourself. Choose objects and pictures that make you happy, but keep it simple. Too much visual clutter can actually make it more difficult to focus. If you are working on your own business or working towards a goal, you can set up visual cues. A photo or momento that represents your intention or goal is a great reminder to stay focused.

A workspace is there for you to actualize your intentions and goals, which is a very positive thing! By keeping your work environment clean and organized, you are building a space where you can feel safe and comfortable. When the mind and body are calm, you can perform with ease.