This post was originally published on Oars + Alps.
I use two methods every day to boost my mood, engage my mind, and involve my body—just like an actual adventure.
1. Everyday Journaling
A blank notebook is my everyday carry—or as I call it, an EDC—it’s a simple, pocket-sized notebook that I carry with me along with my favorite pen. The notebook sits with my wallet and keys at home and is in my pocket when I leave the house, always. Keeping it with me helps me stay connected to a deeper part of myself and using it pulls me away from the digital option of my phone.
The analog nature of the notebook is key. It’s where I brain-dump ideas, record insights, write down to-dos, and clear space in my head. By writing down the things that crop up in my mind throughout the day, I am literally creating peace for myself and am also making space in my mind by removing thoughts. I’ll reiterate: the analog is key here. Sure, it might be easier to record these things in the Notes app of our phone but that is just a sneaky way to stay connected to the world—not connected to ourselves.
This is such an easy hack that serves a myriad of mindfulness purposes and I can’t recommend it enough.
Here’s how to get started:
Find a small notebook that is easy to carry but also inspires you. My go-to is Field Notes – for the size, quality of the paper, durability (in and out of pockets and bags), and variety of awesome cover art.
Carry it with you everywhere you go for one week and record anything and everything that arises for you throughout the day. It could be a note to remind you to buy a gift for someone, ideas for an upcoming project, emotional realizations, or quick rants during moments of frustration.
At the end of the week, look back on your notes and see what arises for you. What did you learn about yourself and your life? What shifted for you as a result of the experiment?
Repeat the following week. And the week after that, and the week after that…
2. Move Your Body
Moving our bodies is essential for physical and mental health. A simple google search will flood you with evidence in support of this yet so many of us don’t know where to start. I may have traversed miles of wilderness at this point and can tell you that you don’t need to commit to an eight-mile hike to get the benefits. It’s actually way simpler.
Get up from your desk. Walk away from the machine. Go outside. Even if it’s just ten minutes: get up, walk out the door, walk for five minutes, turn around and walk back. That’s it. That is enough to shift your energy, get your blood flowing, and connect to the present moment.
I have chosen to live in the mountains and that offers a unique opportunity to get outside and into remote spaces rapidly. But, that doesn’t mean that I am free of the machines. I work too many hours in front of a screen and find myself rushing around with my kiddos, in the car running errands, and on and on.
The solution is simple and I really encourage you to try it this week:
Schedule 10 minutes outside, every day. (It’s only ten minutes, you can do it!)
Take deep breaths of fresh air, move your body through a gentle walk, and shift your vision from a screen to the natural world, even if it’s just your neighborhood.
Listen to the sounds, smell the air, and notice the color of the sky or the light shifting.
Pay attention to what changes within you. Does your breath slow down and deepen? Do you notice your shoulders or your stomach relaxing? How about your mind? Has it quieted down? Have your thoughts become spacious or is it the opposite, is this break causing your mind to race with “what if’s?” Everything you notice is valuable.
This isn’t something to overthink and there is no right way to do it—just get up and get out.
Sometimes I wish I had someone to crack the whip on me: get up, stop working, get outside and breathe! Right now I have a recurring alarm at 3:50 pm each day. That’s the point I really hit a lull. Instead of coffee or sugar, the alarm goes off, I get up, go outside, do 10 push-ups, 10 squats, 10 burpees, and 10 jumping jacks – then I walk for 10 minutes.
If consistency is a challenge for you, get yourself an accountability partner. I have a colleague that I do this activity with. I text him, We both groan. And then we do it at the same time. Then we text each other 10 minutes later with: done. We both report feeling shifted, clearer, and more present.