I tried many ways to create less anxiety and more contentment in my life. I jumped into minimalism, non-toxic living, mindfulness, and set morning and evening routines in attempts to fabricate a more fulfilling life. But I didn’t notice a real change until I increased my practice in daily awareness.
I had attempted increasing awareness towards my mental health for years with little fruition. When I turned my attention back to other aspects of my life I’d been putting on hold and started connecting the dots between how I lived and my mental state, a plan of action slowly unfolded in my mind.
Building awareness in your daily life is one of the most important first steps in any sort of life change. How can you grow without first knowing what needs improvement?
A few months ago, I came to terms with the fact that nothing was happening for me in life because I would not move forward to take an active role in creating the life I wanted. So, I made the leap and dove headfirst into building my own website and toying with the idea of creating a business.
I could finally see a direction for my life, but in these first stages another battle presented itself. As I worked all hours to make this blog legitimate, my body and mind had run themselves ragged. I could no longer keep up with the work I had set for myself at the same pace and routine.
When this piece of awareness hit me, I admitted I needed a change in my work ethic. And I discovered simple living.
How to Increase Daily Awareness
Even when you feel like you’re at a standstill, life is always moving and changing. You can begin your awareness building by paying attention to your surroundings, with what you fill your every day, and how your mental and emotional reactions automatically respond to these things.
Turn your awareness to:
- physical health
- mental health
- your daily activities
- your work schedule
- the amount of time you spend on a screen
- the food you are putting into your body
- products you have accumulated, from clothes to beauty to home furnishings
- how often you accumulate said products
- what brings you joy and what brings you sorrow
- what leaves you with a sense of fulfillment and what leaves you empty
I know. It sounds like a lot. But once you’re in the habit of taking a mental inventory of your every day, it becomes second nature. You’ll start making better daily decisions without even consciously weighing the good vs. the bad.
When I first began this exercise myself, I was shocked at how little I paid attention to how I was living, how much was or wasn’t in my every day that I did merely out of mundane habit. Very little of what I did on a daily basis was intentional nor served any sort of purpose. I knew a deep transformation was in order.
How to Begin:
Go through each listed item and make subcategories.
Write out a few details about your current physical and mental state, relationships, your job, etc. Configure how many personal hours you’re spending on your phone or computer. Make note of what your average meals consist, how often you grocery shop, and your budget. Take inventory of how many new clothing or beauty items you brought into your space in the past month.
Physical state — weak, easily tired, poor immune system, no daily routine for exercise
Mental state — anxious on a daily basis, stuck in a mindless routine, frazzled every day
Foods — eating clean, but not food adventurous and limited in what I can eat, meals take an hour prep work
Clothing — on average bringing in two items every two weeks, cheap quality, stress shopping
Next, make note of how each makes you feel:
Physical state — inadequate, unsafe, depressed, body image issues
Mental state — anxious, embarrassed, guilty, ashamed, hopeless
Foods — frustrated, overwhelmed, discouraged, jealous
Clothing — claustrophobic (exploding closet), insecure, guilty (buyer’s remorse), money tension
No doubt this little exercise will make you a bit uncomfortable.
That’s good. Embrace the discomfort and tell yourself it’s okay to look at these things straight in the face. You can’t snap your fingers and have it all turn picture perfect, but by accepting your flaws and struggles you gain the upper hand on the things bringing you down.
Now, let’s address the last two categories.
What brings you joy? It doesn’t have to be things you’re doing right now but have done in the past. It can be as a simple as watching a nightly TV show with your partner or having a morning cup of coffee on the back porch. Maybe it’s finishing a long project at work or making the time and effort to support your friends by sending handwritten notes or catching up over monthly dinners.
Tip: Think about your childhood habits — what filled your days? Were you outside playing in the dirt or exercising creative powers by coloring all day? Were you adventurous and bold or quiet and introspective? What kind of a learner were you — studious or hands-on? Think about when happy was easier as you list sources of joy.
How about sorrow? This doesn’t just allude to “low spirits.” Consider what causes anxiety, depression, frustration, anger, and discontentment in your life. Write it down in a notebook you can tuck away so there is no fear of anyone else reading your deepest thoughts — this is an opportunity for you to connect with yourself and yourself only.
End of the Day
At the end of the day, how do you feel? Do you hit the pillow exhausted? With that exhaustion, is there also a sense of accomplishment and peace, or are you already thinking about the next day, going through everything that went wrong in the past 24 hours, feeling like you missed something?
You aren’t going to notice everything about your life in one note-taking session.
But you may be surprised at how little you pay attention to your every day and your own self. It’s so easy to get stuck in a humdrum routine.
Simple living provides the freedom to notice the little differences of each day, express gratitude for its joys, and leaves you confident that you have lived your day to the fullest.
In the next post, we’ll talk about what to do with this new awareness and how to use it to create a daily rhythm that will bring you closer to living a life that works for you.
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