This summer season is nothing like the last one.
This time last year I was a student, writing the remaining chapters of my dissertation, getting ready for the final exam season before finishing uni. May meant the end of my student life was nearing, so while I was excited for the nice weather and the long awaited summer break, I was just mostly stressed. I feared the ending that was knocking on my door – constantly and relentlessly.
Needless to say there was no place for mindfulness or new perspectives. When your mind is filled with fear, there’s a rush to do as much as possible, in as little time as possible. You lose the ability to slow down and enjoy what should be a fun time of the year.
Though this year I’m not a student anymore, the arrival of 10+ degrees and blossoms has activated some sort of a stress response in me. As if my brain was telling me I need to do more…
This might not just be me
Looking around it’s easy to find people who get so busy they barely have the time to sit down and have a coffee without feeling guilty for not multitasking while they’re drinking it.
Weren’t we all waiting for this? More sun (or at least less rain), longer days, barbecues, going out with friends… When the weather gets better, somehow life speeds up, it gets busier. There’s just so much to do, but never enough time to do it!
So the question is: How do we prepare for the change in gear the new season brings?
Spring cleaning our minds
Change is never easy, and even if you think the arrival of the new season is something that happens every year, so ‘surely it shouldn’t be that difficult…’, well, ask yourself a version of the question that’s a staple of lifestyle magazines: Is your mind bikini-body ready?
Arguably, you need to be in the right frame of mind to embrace change. Let’s just take my example. I was just finishing uni. So many opportunities! Should I continue my studies, start working, volunteer, travel, take some time off…? The world opens up. I, on the other hand, couldn’t see that. My mind wasn’t ready for the change, and so when it happened, it came as a shock.
Getting into this time of the year again, I’m trying to embrace a different mindset. Who knows, I might never be fully ready for the change… but there are a few ways we can all make sure we are more prepared for it.
Try positivity and mindfulness
Don’t worry, we’re not trying to sell you another one of those self-help mindfulness books, nor a new online course about how to set a positive mindset. If they work for you, good on you.
But before buying into the hype, we can try a few simple techniques that can help reduce stress and get into the zen mode we all aspire to reach (because let’s be honest, deep down, we all do). Here’s our advice on how to spring clean you mind and, hopefully, make this summer season the best one yet:
Decluttering your life and your mind | Spring cleaning means we declutter. Get rid of things we don’t need, so what’s left is more space and a cleaner home. In a tidy home we feel more at ease. Now let’s do the same but with our minds. And that means getting comfortable with saying ‘No’.
Instead of trying to keep up with literally everything and everyone around you, try to evaluate what really matters to you. Keep that. Create a list of plans – but only include things that are truly important. Obviously can’t get rid of actual work, but what about that dinner party next Friday you don’t want to go to? Everyone in the neighbourhood is going. But you would rather spend the evening at home, sipping some wine while watching the series you’ve been wanting to see for months. So why not do that?
Decluttering your mind can help focus on yourself, choose your priorities and reduce the stress caused by the never-ending to-do list in your head. Not only that, but decluttering also cleans up space for something new. Something better.
Making choices that lead to happiness | Being mindful often starts at the choices we make. Consciously choosing things that we know will make us happier at the end of the day is probably the best thing we can do for ourselves. Can you exercise this long term? Think about how your choices now will impact your future life? If that seems like a way too big of a burden, start small.
I know I could sit down and watch Netflix after a day of work. Or I can go out for a walk because it’s sunny outside, and get some exercise. When I go to bed my body will thank me. I’ll probably have a better sleep and I’ll feel healthier.
This is only one example, you’ll have your own.
Bring mindfulness to your workplace | What about taking mindfulness further, not just exercising it in our private life but also at work? Mind your environment, mind your coworkers – but not so much that it burdens you. Remember? Declutter.
This could mean deciding to have lunch together instead of doing your own thing. Share a meal. Or don’t. Think about what works for you and how you could bring positivity and mindfulness into your workplace. Our jobs take up a big part of our daily lives, so making that space and activity as fulfilling and beneficial for ourselves as possible can make a big difference.
Be grateful | Actively practising gratitude is a great way to shift your mindset toward seeing the good things. Taking some time to sit down and think about what good happened to us during the day can have a big impact on the way we lead our daily lives. You might find yourself going about your day, noticing those little things that you might have missed before. You will automatically start to look out for these pieces of happiness, so even during an uneventful day – or an overly busy one – you might find yourself just a little bit happier.
Write | We often talk about writing, and how it’s good for you. It remains true and something we constantly stand by. Write a journal. Write down the things you are grateful for in bullet points. Write poetry. Or a novel. Write on paper, in a nice notebook or on your laptop. Find the genre and tool that works for you. It will change your life.
Last but not least | Find the right opportunities and say ‘Yes’. Didn’t we just start by saying ‘No’? We did. But the magic of saying no is that it frees up your mind and energy. Now that there’s more time and the right mindset, it’s time to take the opportunities that are just right for you.
"Opportunities come when our mind is ready to say yes."
You might be thinking you’ll try to take up an extra project at work. Or you might have never been camping before and would like to give it a try for the first time this summer. This might just be the time to do that! Use your newly found skills and mindfulness and take those opportunities.
What am I gonna do?
As I said, this summer is nothing like the previous one. It’s still just as unsure and confusing as it was last year. However, this time I feel like I know how to handle it. I will take the tasks one by one. Think about what matters to me. Make choices that make me happy. Instead of stress, enjoy what’s given, and live in the here and now.