I say this every month, every year, that I’ve become such a cliche, but I really can’t believe August is here already. The older I get, the faster time seems to fly by, and soon I’m going to wake up as an 80 year old woman and wonder where my life went. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I’ve done with my week as nothing stands out, and I’m sure we all feel like this, but I can’t help but worry that I’m wasting time.
July passed by somewhat like that. The unusually hot weather we’ve been experiencing in the UK has made me extremely lethargic and has made even the simplest of tasks a hundred times more difficult, like eating for example. It takes far too much energy and I end up sweating so much I could swim in it. It’s not nice. The first rainfall a couple of weeks ago was so welcomed as I stood outside barefoot and enjoyed every drop of rain on my clammy skin. It felt like heaven. And today, well I’m wearing jeans and a long sleeved top for the first time in forever; how I’ve missed them! I couldn’t take finding cool things to wear much longer, plus it meant keeping on top of fake tan which is too much hassle.
Contradicting what I said above about time running away, I’m actually secretly happy that it’s now August. Anthony and I decided earlier in the year that we didn’t want a summer holiday abroad this year. We had a long week away in Ireland at Easter in which we visited Dublin, Galway and spent the rest of the week in Cork with Ant’s family, which was lovely. Instead of going abroad, we’re heading to Bristol for two nights, followed by 5 nights in Cornwall. I’ve wanted to visit Cornwall for such a long time that I’m planning on seeing as much as possible; sunsets on the beach, exploring picturesque coastal towns, and hunting for hidden gems. Of course, my camera will be in my hands at all times, I’m sure of it. Who needs to go abroad when there are so many places to explore in the UK? I’m just hoping it won’t be too busy as it’ll be the last week of the school holidays, but maybe I’m being too hopeful.
Mindful living in August
I’m all for mindful living, at least I like to think I am. Whilst it is a craze at the moment, I also like to think of it as a practice, and not necessarily something you can achieve straight away. It takes time and commitment and isn’t as simple as sitting with a cup of tea and a book, although that is a start. There are lots of things you can implement for a slower, mindful life and what better time to start than August! With schools off for the holidays, many of us on annual leave, and long warm days ahead of us, it’s the perfect time to embrace mindfulness.
Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness this month:
The whole concept of being mindful is to bring your mind back to the present; to live in the moment. It’s so easy to get caught up worrying about the past or the future. I can vouch for myself and say that I worry far too much about the future, about things that are out of my control, may never happen, and certainly haven’t happened yet. This leaves me feeling incredibly drained and anxious. Spending far too much time in your own head can leave you feeling disconnected and spaced out, sometimes to the point it feels like your limbs are not your own. However, learning to ground yourself helps to bring your focus and energy back to your body; connecting you to the earth and helping you to feel balanced and centered. I’ll say it time and time again, but yoga (or tai-chi, meditation) is such a great way to bring your awareness back to the present moment, as all you think about is how your body feels when you’re in an asana (yoga pose).
Listen to your body
As modern-day life in the West is so fast-paced, it’s very easy to forget to check in with yourself. When you’ve got a job to attend to, and duties to be carried out, looking after your own body seems like a really selfish thing to do – but it’s not. Failure to do so results in burnout, and even serious illnesses. Listening to your body is more about trusting your intuition, and doing what’s right for you. The only way to do this is to slow down and be mindful of what your body is telling you. Maybe there’s a pain in your body you’ve been ignoring, hoping it’ll disappear, but it’s important to assess where it’s coming from, why, and what you’re going to do about it. Sometimes, this could be as easy as resting from strenuous exercise for a while or changing your diet. The more we listen to our bodies, the better we’ll feel. Only, just don’t get too carried away with feeling every little niggle, having health anxiety is the opposite of being mindful and I know how that feels.
Appreciate the world around you
You don’t have to go as far as writing romantic poetry about nature like Wordsworth, but practicing mindful living does open your eyes to the beauty around you. It may seem hard to find at first, especially in urban populated areas, but it is there, you just have to look harder. For starters, most of us appreciate an amazing sunset, a good old storm, a robin in the garden, and the smell of wet grass. August is a great month to get outdoors, visit lavender and sunflower fields, stargaze, swim in the ocean, and learn more about wildlife. Appreciating these little things that may seem so insignificant to your life helps you to respect the world around you. It teaches you to focus on the things that are beautiful and pure, especially as we’re constantly injected with fear about the negative, scary things happening around the world.
Acknowledge your fears, worries & life’s little stresses
Whilst the idea of living a perfect, carefree life is the dream, it’s just not possible. Things out of our control are always going to happen, and there’s always going to be unpleasant moments that we have to live through. The art of being mindful is to accept this – we’re all human. By acknowledging our fears and worries, we can work on overcoming it, rather than letting it cripple us in despair. I guess what I’m trying to say is, don’t try to run away from life’s little stresses because you’ll never be able to move forward. If there’s something you want to do or achieve this month, but fear of failure is holding you back, accept that it’s not going to be easy, but understand that you have every right to try.
There are so many reasons to practice gratitude, and gratitude journals are very popular if you haven’t already noticed. The great thing about it is that it doesn’t require hours of hard work, as it really is as simple as finding little or big things in your day that you’re grateful for. Studies have shown that expressing gratitude has a whole host of positive effects on the body and mind, such as improved physical health, improved self-esteem, and the ability to form better relationships with others. As with all of the mindful tips mentioned above, it provides you with a greater outlook on life, and I’m sure that’s something we’re all striving for.