How to live in 2021

To stay happy amid uncertainty, live in the moment – but plan ahead to reduce stress

Namo namaha.नमो नमः

  • To boost your positivity about the future, strike a healthy balance between living in the now and planning for tomorrow.
  • Instead of worrying about things you can’t change, develop strategies to reduce future stresses.

Most of the world is facing a lot of unknowns about their work. With most preparing for an economic recession this year, I admit that I have concerns about the future. Reports say that this is going to be one of the worst recessions we’ve ever seen.

Last year was difficult, and despite recently launched Covid-19 vaccination programmes, we should expect mask-wearing, working from home, social distancing, and other pandemic-related rules and restrictions to stay in place in 2021 and perhaps even beyond.

More businesses are likely to close, global travel is predicted to remain stagnant for months to come, and social issues such as homelessness and crime are expected to increase in many big cities.

How can we stay positive and upbeat in the midst of this grave uncertainty?

A study from North Carolina State University in the United States found that the happiest people are those who are able to live in the moment while planning ahead. The research, published in March 2020 in the journal Personal and Individual Differences, looked at two factors that are thought to influence how people handle stress – mindfulness and proactive coping.

Mindfulness, the researchers explained, is when people are centred and living in the moment, rather than dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Proactive coping is when people make plans to reduce the likelihood of future stress.

One of the researchers, psychology professor Shevaun Neupert, said that daily stressors could make us more likely to succumb to negative or bad moods. However, a combination of proactive coping and high mindfulness resulted in the study participants being more resilient.

Mindfulness, the researchers explained, is when people are centred and living in the moment, rather than dwelling in the past or worrying about the future. Proactive coping is when people make plans to reduce the likelihood of future stress.

One of the researchers, psychology professor Shevaun Neupert, said that daily stressors could make us more likely to succumb to negative or bad moods. However, a combination of proactive coping and high mindfulness resulted in the study participants being more resilient.

If you’re in balance, then you’re not too anxious or fixated on the future, and you’re functioning at an optimal, healthy emotional level, he says. “People who can find that balance are able to achieve happiness because their systems are functioning efficiently.”

Excessive worry and rumination about the future can negatively affect our health, Zucker says: elevating stress hormone levels, exacerbating chronic medical conditions from hypertension and headaches to gastrointestinal disorders, and even affecting our immune system – lowering our resistance to infections.

It can also increase anxiety, and when we are anxious, we tend to catastrophise, obsess, overthink and have negative expectations. This affects our behaviour, and may cause us to become more irritable, aggressive or withdrawn, changing how we relate to other people.

My main concern is how the post-pandemic global recession will affect small business, the entrepreneurs and non profit organisations.

Instead of obsessing over what may or may not happen, I try to live in the moment by appreciating the good things in my life and plan ahead by creating actionable goals to help take positive steps when I feel overwhelmed.

I try not to overthink the planning process because overthinking often causes unnecessary worry and stress.

Those steps include taking an online mindfulness teacher training course; taking on more students who align with my values, companies with a mission to contribute something good to people and the planet; and reading about 200 pages a day of non-fiction books on topics of personal interest.

Mindfulness is a big part of my life. I start every morning with 30 minutes of meditation, which raises my level of awareness, gives me mental clarity and helps me identify any underlying stresses and anxieties. It’s a practice I have been doing consistently for over five years.

I also try to bring what I call ‘mindful moments’ into my day. These might include taking a few minutes to really savour my coffee or leaving my phone behind when I go for a walk so that I can enjoy my surroundings. These little moments of calm add up and create incremental changes in my stress level and mood.

When it comes to dealing with the future or anything that is beyond my control, I think there is a fine line between planning and overthinking.

It’s human instinct to worry about what we don’t know and can’t control. Worrying makes us feel like we are somehow in control or solving our problems, but it can reach a point where it starts being unproductive and becomes a big energy drainer. It’s like sitting in a big rocking chair, madly rocking yourself backwards and forwards in order to do something to relieve your stress. You feel like you’re doing something but actually you’re getting nowhere at all.

I may not know what lies in front of me, but there’s a lot I can’t control anyway, so I make it a point to shift my focus from the unknown to the present moment and to fully appreciate just being in that space.

Dr Murray Zucker

Seven ways to focus on yourself for success

Want to find a balance between living in the now and planning for the future? Dr Zucker shares seven tips:

1. Determine your priorities

Make a list of your worries, prioritise them, and focus on the top three that you have some control over.

2. Take care of your health

While focusing on the present and considering the future, be sure to safeguard your physical and mental health by exercising regularly, sleeping well, eating healthily, and practising mindfulness.

3. Do an anxiety “scan”

“Scan” your body and mind for chronic symptoms of anxiety and excessive worry – sleep disturbances, heart palpitations, shortness of breath and headaches, for example.

Get outside and enjoy nature, it will bring you unto the present

4. Get outdoors

Regular walks in green spaces or on the beach can bring you into the present and balance your mind.

5. Set boundaries

Stopping work at a certain time and scheduling breaks or other activities will help your life feel more manageable and make you less overwhelmed.

6. Notice self-defeating behaviour

Put the brakes on negative attempts to manage anxiety or stress, such as overeating, excessive drinking and drug use.

7. Schedule self care

Make time every day to take care of yourself, whether it’s indulging in a hobby, doing mindfulness exercises, taking a warm bath or going to bed early.

References

Wellness in 2021 Health and Well-being

Thank you for joining me on this journey to freedom.

Love light and blessings to you all.

OM shaanti, shaanti,shaanti.

Namaste.

©️ 2021 A Yoga Mindset all rights reserved

ayogamindset

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