Many of us could use some added mindfulness into our daily lives—especially us millennials.
We are the instant-gratification seeking generation that grew up with the digital age. We value self-fulfillment and social impact. And yet, it’s so easy for us to feel overwhelmed and under pressure.
Let’s take a step back and see what simple steps millennials can do to realign our selves in order to feel valued and content.
Before we get started, let’s set the record straight for what mindfulness even is. Clearly, you’ve come to right place (hence the name of my blog).
Mindful.org defines mindfulness as, “the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
For simplicity, mindfulness can be broken down into three steps:
- Learning to be more present
- Become aware with your inner self
- Letting go of judgment of oneself and those around you.
It’s less about being perfectly calm and focused all the time as it is about awareness.
I’ve tailored a series of simple steps that I’ve found are both effective and relevant for our generation. 6 simple steps to living more mindfully as a millennial starts here:
Learn to unplug from the digital world and focus on the present
Do you notice that your computer runs a lot slower when your internet browser has 20+ tabs open? Same thing goes with our brains. It’s time you close some of the tabs open in your head, and start focusing on one thing at a time.
It’s estimated that millennials spend at least 18 hours a day online. We’re constantly managing multiple tasks at once and thinking about what’s coming next.
We need to learn to turn the digital world OFF. That also means putting our brain into airplane mode and focusing on the moment in front of us.
When you’re with your friends, be with your friends. When you’re at work, be at work. Look up from your phone and notice the trees changing color on your walk home. And believe me, every moment of your day does not need to be on Snapchat.
Stop focusing on what to come, and what you’re missing out on somewhere else. Learn to just be in the now.
Get a hobby, other than Netflix
I find it so troubling that no one in our generation has an answer to “what’s your hobby?” In fact, most people look at me like I’m a 70-year old woman when I ask this question. It is really that we don’t have time for hobbies anymore, or that we can’t MAKE time?
Studies show that pursuing a hobby is great for providing peace of mind and improving mental health. Not to mention, it makes you a bit more interesting.
I’m sure you could find a few hours a week to take up a new or old activity instead of binge watching reruns on Netflix. For me, playing guitar, yoga, and working out help me unwind.
Hobbies are a great way to train your brain to be more mindful of yourself and the present.
Practice mindfulness at the start and end of your day
I get that most of us don’t have time to carve out an hour a day for meditation. And for many of us, that might not be our thing.
But instead of spending the start and end of your day glued to your phone, what if you could do something more intentional? There are several ways to practice mindfulness, such as breathing excersizes, stretching, meditating, or even manifesting.
Though it may seem like a chore, mindfulness practices boosts creativity, strengthens neural connections, and reduces stress. It’s about time we all add a little more mindfulness into our “self-care” routine.
Don’t spread yourself too thin
If you’re anything like I used to be, chances are you need to take some things off your plate, or it’s impossible to practice mindfulness at all. I know you want to be involved in every organization while working and going to school, but you need to accept there is only 24 hours in a day.
Perhaps we are entitled, but millennials aren’t lazy. Studies show that we are workaholics who put way too much pressure on ourselves.
It’s okay to want to be productive, but more often than not we are spreading ourselves too thin in the process. We need to be a bit more realistic about what we can accomplish in a day, and know that it’s okay if it doesn’t all get done.
Stop comparing yourself to others online
How many times have you compared what someone’s life looks like online to what your life looks like offline? It’s nearly impossible to avoid. Numerous studies have confirmed this. Seth Stephens-Davidowitz for the New York Times explains,
“We are all dimly aware that everybody else can’t possibly be as successful, rich, attractive, relaxed, intellectual and joyous as they appear to be on Facebook. Yet we can’t help comparing our inner lives with the curated lives of our friends.”
As I recent college graduate I see this every day on my Facebook newsfeed. It’s sometimes as if everyone wants to one-up each other for the best post-grad job, best “squad”, or best relationship.
I’ll be honest that I struggle with this myself, especially as I took a different route after graduating college and moving abroad to live and work. And what other reference point for my own worth do I have than to contrast myself with what others seem to be doing?
The truth is, the more we compare ourselves to others, the harder we are on ourselves. It’s impossible to be content with your own life, or even focus on how to make things better, if you’re constantly comparing it someone else’s.
Stop doubting yourself and thinking that your life sucks. Social media is simply for the highlights of everyones’ lives. The sooner you realize this, the more energy you have to truly be present and content with your own life.
Be patient with your journey
We all are a product of a generation that grew up with technology, and as a result, we crave instant gratification. But what happens when life doesn’t move as quickly as Amazon prime?
We often forget that things take time. Relationships, careers, and financial security. Many of us expected that dream job after we graduated college, and that life would kind of magically fall in place. Or maybe that was just me.
I think it’s less because we are entitled and more about the fact we are all moving along on an unrealistic timeline. We feel like failures because we’re setting impossible expectations for ourselves.
We need to be mindful that things take time. Figuring life out takes time. The journey is not always a linear trajectory, instead usually a long windy road. It’s a marathon not a sprint, and it’s all about the long-game.
With a little faith in ourselves, we can all learn to enjoy the journey along the way.