The Easiest Way To Be More Mindful In 2017

by Courteney Larocca

I think it's pretty safe to say that many of us are probably very excited about 2016 coming to an end. But luckily for us, we've almost made it through another trip around the sun and can finally look forward to whatever 2017 has to offer. While I'm sure we'd all love to leave certain things behind in 2016, if we're going to keep moving forward, we need to get into the right mindset, which we can do by making a resolution to be more mindful in 2017.

"If you want to be more mindful next year, it does't require a large commitment," Fara Tucker, a licensed clinical social worker in Portland, tells Bustle. "You don't have to take a class or meditate every day. All you need to do is be willing to pause."

Making a conscious effort to focus on what's happening in the moment is a great resolution to focus on in the new year. Here's how you can be more mindful in 2017, from using your Google calendar to talking about your experiences.

1. Take A Pause

Just taking a few moments from your day to pause and reflect on how you're feeling is a good way to be more mindful in the new year. Whether it's by taking a moment to focus on your breathing or repeating a word or mantra to yourself, there's plenty of small things you can do to become more aware of your senses.

"Each of these moments help cultivate our natural ability to be mindful," Tucker says. "It becomes something we can more easily come back to. The spaces between moments of mindfulness can begin to decrease, and the time spent in mindfulness can grow. This can happen naturally, simply by paying attention."

2. Make An Effort To Be Open-minded

It can definitely be hard to make a resolution to be less judgmental, but it's also something that can help decrease stress in 2017. Approaching experiences with curiosity instead of cynicism could help you want to be more in the moment as opposed to distancing yourself from what's happening to you.

"Oftentimes our stress or other forms of suffering comes not from the experience itself, but rather our resistance to what we are experiencing," Tucker says. "We resist being anxious, or sad, or cold, or being stuck in traffic, or feeling pain in our bodies. It's understandable to want to reject or resist these perceived negative experiences. However, the resistance makes us focus on the thing more and causes more tension."

If you can relax into a situation, even if it's an undesirable one, you can still find some sort of relief or peace by choosing to embrace the experience.

3. Use Your Google Calendar To Its Full Potential

When you're super busy, it can feel like you just can't even take a moment to focus on yourself. But even if you feel like 24 hours isn't enough time in a day, it is possible to take time to be mindful if you plan ahead.

"Just like you schedule time for happy hour, or to watch Westworld, pencil in time to just be," Naomi Hirabayashi, co-founder and co-CEO of Shine, tells Bustle. "We’re really good at jamming our schedule full, but getting intentional about free-flowing time is something we all deserve." Factoring in a few extra minutes in the shower or a 10-minute walk are easy ways to add being mindful into even the most hectic of schedules.

4. Talk About Your Experiences

Discussing how you feel can certainly help you be more attentive to how you feel in certain situations. "Our thoughts control our happiness and we often let the anticipation of what's to come psych us out," Hirabayashi says. "Talk out different outcomes or fears around what’s stressing you out with a close friend. By getting your 'what if' scenarios out in the open, you can shift your focus on what you can control — the present."

5. Be Welcoming Of Change

TBH, I love change. I don't like to sit still in one place and I embrace any adventure that comes my way. I look at change as an opportunity to grow as a person, but I also know that not everyone is as idealistic as I am about sudden twists and turns in their life. But learning to accept change is a great way to be more mindful in 2017. "Instead of stressing about deadlines or resolutions, view it as moment to moment progress," Leah Guy, a meditation and mindfulness expert and owner of Modern Sage, tells Bustle. "Being mindful allows us to witness our lives changing and unfolding into a new reality, and that's where the excitement really is."

6. Meditate

Meditation is probably the most obvious way to be more mindful, but that doesn't mean it isn't worth doing — or that it takes all day. "You don't have to meditate for hours to reap the benefits," Dr. Deanna Minich, a functional medicine practitioner and health expert, tells Bustle. "Instead, try to meditate for 10 minutes in the mornings or before you go to bed. Close your eyes, focus on your breath, and let your worries and thoughts from the day melt away."

I know I personally have difficulty meditating on my own, but if you're like me, there are some apps like Headspace that you can download onto your smartphone that can aid you in your meditation.

7. Focus On Your Food

No matter how busy you are, you're always going to have time to eat. Turning your mealtime into mindfulness is a great way to ease into your resolution. "Free the eating environment from distractions, and focus only on the food," Minich says. "Notice the smell, color, texture, and taste of your meal and chew every bite slowly, allowing the flavors to flood your mouth before moving on to the next bite." Being aware of what you're putting into your body is an effective way of being more attuned to how your body is feeling in the present moment.

As much as I'd love to believe that we're leaving all the stress of 2016 behind us, it's likely that 2017 will bring about its own set of anxieties. Making an effort on being more mindful in the new year will hopefully let us focus less on the stress we feel and more on progressing forward with our lives and society.

Want to have an awesome 2017? Then check out the "You IRL" stream in the Bustle App for tips on how to have the most empowering year yet.