Creating a mindful routine

First, let’s discuss what mindfulness actually is; when people used to say mindfulness, I would jump straight to ideas of spirituality, having to stop all my thoughts or sitting for hours on end meditating in silence, when in actual fact mindfulness is just simply the ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing in our day. A benefit of mindfulness is that it helps us to focus on one thing at a time. When you’re being mindful, you’re not multi-tasking.

Being mindful can bring so much peace and joy to your day and can really help to calm down an anxious or busy mind. Over the last two years since stopping drinking I have been more aware of my thoughts, feelings and actions and more in tune with things going on around me and its changed the way I approach each day, I have now created a daily morning routine which consists of exercise, yoga, reading, meditation and journaling and that works for me and gives each day the best start. I never used to be able to keep to any type of ritual, however, I have found that if you do anything long enough and want it bad enough, it will stick! Repetition is key.

Please remember though that everyone’s lives are different and your mindful routine is whatever works for you. Some people prefer to do their mindfulness practice in the evening and that’s fine too, there are no set rules for how to be mindful.

Here are my mindful routine tips that have helped me along the way and still do; perhaps some of these ideas will serve to inspire you on your own mindfulness journey:

Track your healthy habits

I purchased a habit tracker calendar but you can make this yourself or download free templates online. Essentially a habit tracker is a simple way to measure whether or not you did a habit. The most basic format is to get a calendar and cross off each day you stick with your routine. For example, if you meditate on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, each of those dates gets an ‘X’. As time rolls by, the calendar becomes a record of your habit streak. I find this really keeps me in check and I like to look back at the month and see what things, if any, that I struggled with, or if any patterns emerge like continually missing a workout on a Monday, how I could better prepare myself for this and stop this happening.

Plan the day ahead

Every weeknight I plan my day ahead, I pack my bag for the gym or my run depending on what I am doing that day and get my lunch prepped. I also lay out the clothes that I will be wearing the next day. Doing so helps me feel less overwhelmed and it sounds simple but it saves you so much time come the morning, this time can then be put to use for things like journaling, meditation or reading a few pages of a book.

Take a break from your phone

Try and avoid picking up your smartphone or laptop for the first hour of the day, it’s a rule I set myself and you’ll be surprised at how much more productive you are when you’re not scrolling away the first hour of the day in bed. You can really take in your morning and be present in the moment.

Start reading daily

I read books like the 5am Club and The Miracle Morning and Atomic Habits which are so inspiring and completely changed the way I think about things.

Practice gratitude

I write down three things to be grateful for every day. If I’m struggling and this feels hard to do, I think of things we often take for granted like having a warm home, my cold glass of water or my health. Over time this practice has really helped me to find joy in all of the little things and has shown me that we are so much luckier than we perhaps think we are at times.

Reset with meditation

Incorporating some type of mindfulness practice like meditation into your daily routine is key; it can help to calm you, reset your emotions, and even get you motivated for the day ahead. If you’re not sure where to start there are great apps like Headspace and Insight Timer that offer free audios.

Get quality sleep

Get enough sleep, the recommended amount is between 7-9 hours and the sweet spot for me seems to be 8. When I’ve not had enough sleep I can feel it the next day and it’s hard to be present all the time when you’re tired.

Enjoy some downtime

Whilst taking a shower try and pay attention to the temperature of the water, the sound it makes, how it feels flowing over your body. If you’re braving a cold shower don’t shy away from the cold, let your body feel it all, how does it make you feel? Equally, taking a bath is another great way to bring mindfulness into your daily routine.

Begin deep breathing

Take some deep breaths. It sounds simple but deep, controlled breathing sends a signal to your parasympathetic nervous system and in layman’s terms basically tells your body to calm down. If you ever feel overwhelmed, just pause, take a deep breath in for five, hold it for five and then breathe out through your mouth, I do this a few times over until I start to feel better.

Take a walk outside

Try and go for a walk at some point, whether this is your commute or on your lunch break. Think about all the things you can see, what can you hear, smell, and feel? Notice things like the trees, the birds, the buildings, people, cars, there’s a whole world out there and it’s only when you start being more present that you start to notice it. I take the same walk to work every day and it could get

mundane but it doesn’t because every day I look for something new, it could be a dog walker I

haven't seen before, a bird, a person, the change of colour on a tree, the shape of a cloud; it keeps

me focused on the here and now and that's what is key.

Whatever you do, just give being mindful a go, you can start small and try an activity for just five

minutes a day, I am confident you will feel the difference.

Written by Sarah

Sarah has been sober for over 2 years and lives in Hastings, UK with her husband Jake and their two cats Ben and Jerry. She is also vegan and deeply passionate about animal welfare.

Sarah loves early mornings and will often be up from 5am watching the sun come up, it’s safe to say that sobriety has unlocked the early bird in her!

Since going sober she has been focusing on self-care, taking control of her mental health and setting healthy boundaries, this has resulted in Sarah finding new joy in things such as meditation, yoga, journalling, reading and long hot baths.

Sarah is a keen exerciser and loves to move her body whether that’s going on a long run, dancing round the living room like no one’s watching, or lifting some weights, exercise keeps her sane.

She wants to show everyone that giving up alcohol doesn’t mean you’re missing out on anything, if you want to know more about Sarah check out her webpage: https://linktr.ee/sobersare_

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