By Alexa Santory
It’s easy to fall into spiraling thought patterns, good or bad. But when was the last time you checked in with yourself and allowed your mind to s l o w d o w n? Navigating life in this day and age feels like it’s nonstop--so much so that we can forget to check in with our bodies, and forget to give ourselves what we need. So what are some of the ways we can come back to us and thank ourselves simply for being?
Giving Thanks to our Bodies
The mind and the body are completely connected. What the mind feels can manifest itself in the body and vice versa. When there’s a disconnect between the mind and body, things get chaotic. Learning to show thanks for our bodies is a great way to reestablish that connection and strengthen the relationship we have with ourselves. It’s also a pretty incredible act of self care. When there are so many outside influences telling us what to buy, what to wear, how we should look, we tend to lose sight of ourselves. Here are some of the best ways to regain that connection and tell your mind and body, “thanks!”
Using kind words towards yourself and your body is a great way to start on a path of gratitude. We are often told to hate how we look or to want to change ourselves, but in the grand scheme of things, we should be happy with what we’ve been given. Start by writing down all the things you like about your body. Get specific; don’t just say, “I like my eyes,” but “I like my eyes because they look like pools of honey in the sun.” Using detail to describe the parts of your body that you like will change your perspective on them as something more than just a limb or a feature. They’re what make up the entirety of you. Write yourself little notes and stick them to your mirror. Remind yourself that you’re beautiful everyday and soon enough, you’ll start to feel it.
This should go without saying, but one of the best ways to thank your body is by giving it the nutrients it needs. Filling your diet with more wholesome foods, cutting out refined sugars, drinking more water; just making little changes to your diet will make a big difference in how you feel and how you perceive your body. I’m not saying to go raw vegan tomorrow -- that’s just not realistic for some of us. But making more conscious choices about the foods you put in your body will have a positive effect on how you feel.
Move your body
This goes without saying too, but getting your body moving and your blood flowing is one of the best ways to show appreciation for your body and its abilities. The whole subculture of fitness Instagrammers and Youtubers is somewhat deceptive -- a lot of the time they don’t show the “before” and can leave viewers with unrealistic expectations of what will happen when they start working out. Just remember: don’t get discouraged because good things take time. Yoga is my workout of choice because I’m more interested in tuning in with my body and focusing on toning and flexibility rather than gaining muscle. Yoga is just as much a mind exercise as it is a body one and it’s amazing for bringing you back to yourself and expressing gratitude for what you can do. If that’s just too slow for you, try some of our favorite workouts to get your heart pumping! We promise you’ll feel incredible after!
Take your vitamins
This is easily one of the things we neglect the most. My grandma has been drilling it in my head since I was a kid to take my vitamins everyday (I still don’t but I’m trying, grandma!!!). It’s the best way to replenish your body and give it targeted nutrients. I recommend, at the very least, probiotics for your gut because the gut controls pretty much everything, folic acid for your brain and reproductive health, and vitamin C for energy and your immune health. This is the age of convenience and what would the world be without a vitamin subscription service!? A little company called Care/Of allows you to customize a pack of vitamins just for you based on a thorough quiz where they ask about all of your body’s deficiencies. They have vitamins for everything like skin health, hair health, brain health, and even prenatal care! All you have to do is take the quiz, and then they recommend 4 or 5 vitamins personalized just for your body. This is such a cool service, especially for those of us who know squat about taking supplements.
Admit it, you’ve done it too. You’ve scrolled through social media and stopped on a post and thought, “why don’t I look like that?” I’m here to tell you to STOP DOING THAT!!!! Sorry for yelling, but now that I have your attention I wanna remind you how unhealthy it is to compare yourself to other people and that it’s the polar opposite of practicing gratitude. Vying for other people’s features or material things is a slippery slope and a one-way ticket to having low self-esteem. The thing to remember about social media is that it is all calculated -- perfectly formulated and timed to appear as if everything in life is peachy keen and squeaky clean. It’s not real. At the end of the day, you don’t know what that person is going through or how they’re feeling. They could be on the other side of the screen doing the same thing you’re doing: comparing. It’s counterproductive and ultimately a toxic behavior that will leave you feeling unsatisfied by everything. Strive for better for yourself. Work within yourself to be happy with what you have. There’s only one you and the world would definitely suck a little more if you didn’t exist!
Life these days can seem like more of a chore than anything. Millennials, especially, are feeling the brunt of life as we know it -- facing the everyday trials of adulthood PLUS the added pressure of trying to keep the world from falling apart and setting it up for a decent future, I’d say we as an age group have a lot to worry about. It’s easy to be fall into a panic about the state of the world and your place in it -- you may even lose sight of yourself trying to keep up. So how can we be more mindful in our day-to-day?
Slow down for a bit
Mindfulness is something we’re all fully capable of. It’s simply the practice of becoming more aware of yourself and what you’re doing so you don’t overreact or overexert yourself to the world around you. Take some time out of everyday, maybe 10 to 15 minutes, to slow down and check in with yourself. Close your eyes and sit or lay in a comfortable position. Remember, this is meditation, so you want to do it somewhere quiet and comfortable.
Notice your breath
Breathing is the most important aspect of any meditation practice. Your breath is going to guide, ground, and center you. Make sure your breath is steady and that you’re allowing your lungs to fill up to capacity before breathing out. Breathing is one of the most effective self-soothing methods; so if you’re feeling panicky, try some mindful meditation to figure out why.
Allow your mind to wander, but reel it back in
It’s natural for other thoughts to pop into your head when you’re trying to clear your mind. It’s important to make note of these thoughts, but it’s just as important to come back to the breath. Let your mind flow, but always come back to your breathing.
How to practice mindfulness:
Mindfulness, like all rewarding things in life, requires practice. Don’t get too caught up in thoughts that come up when you’re checking in with yourself. And don’t get mad at yourself for thinking those thoughts either. Becoming more mindful in your daily life and taking time to breathe and slow down your thoughts will allow you to be more at peace with yourself, your situation, and the world around you. If everyone took the time to be a little more understanding, the world would be a much happier place. But until that day comes, you have yourself to worry about and yourself to show thanks to. Practicing self love and self acceptance is the most radical thing you can do in 2018. Be kind to yourself.