Lifestyle

5 Mindfulness Tips to Find Balance in 2021

Hillary Acer
Published on Jan 18, 2021. Updated on Jan 19, 2021.

Can you believe 2020 is over? Many of us still feel like 2020 never ended. However, we must move forward and make the best of each experience. Today on the blog, Osmosis's VP of People and Culture, Hillary Acer, shares some mindfulness tips to help us get through 2021 while still trying to process 2020! 

While the new year brings hope and fresh starts, many are still processing changes and challenges from the impact of the global pandemic. Your routines are likely to be different than a year ago, and you may be discovering new ways of working, new ways of interacting with friends, family, colleagues, professors—and you likely have adapted to new ways of living and spending your days.

If you’re thriving with these changes or struggling to find your groove,  you can rely on the fact that things will continue to change in the coming weeks and years—pandemic or not. Knowing how to navigate these changes is key for finding balance and peace throughout whatever experience you may be having. 

Mindfulness Tip 1: Pause and witness your experience

No matter what you’re experiencing, take a moment to pause and narrate it. One of my favorite meditative practices is the practice of “noting.” In this practice, witness and observe your experience as objectively as you can. 

You might ask yourself “what is happening at this very moment?” To start, you might recognize you’re reading this blog article. What else is happening now? What is your posture? What is happening in your environment? What external stimuli are you aware of? What is the attitude or mood in your mind? 


Mindfulness Tip 2: Label your bodily sensations 

Once you’ve paused and observed your current experience, try tuning into your body and bodily sensations. What does your breath feel like? Are your inhales and exhales the same length and volume—or do they vary? Do you feel any discomfort or tension in your body? What do your clothes feel like on your skin? How about the temperature of the air on your skin? Can you label the different bodily sensations that are arising in your current experience? 

Mindfulness Tip 3: Name your thoughts & emotions

Now we’re diving deep. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. What are you thinking, planning, or worrying about? What are you remembering, analyzing, or regretting? What content is passing through your mind right now? What emotions are present? How do you really feel? Often thoughts and emotions arise and pass away undetected or outside of our awareness. Can you get curious about your emotions and name them out loud. 

I encourage you to verbalize the emotion or use a mantra, “This is what it is to feel/think ____.”  As you name them, you may even notice a connection to your body sensations and your emotions. For example, did you notice tension in your shoulders and realize that you’re also feeling anxious or nervous, or did you notice fatigue in your muscles and realize you feel tired? Notice the cascade, and name that too.


Mindfulness Tip 4: Befriend your emotions and empathize

We often relate to our thoughts or feelings by judging and analyzing them. After you name thought or emotion out loud, you may notice additional thoughts proliferating about what it means to think or feel that way. Instead of letting your mind analyze or judge what’s happening, try stepping back and creating some distance from them. Imagine that you could simply observe and witness and create space between the thoughts and emotions -- and the analysis of those thoughts and emotions. 

From there, imagine what it would look like to “make friends” with the positive, negative, and neutral thoughts and emotions by welcoming them, acknowledging them, and maybe even thanking them for showing up. Instead of jumping to judgement or analysis—say hello, ask questions, and invite them in for a cup of tea.

Remember, thoughts and emotions often deliver important information about our situation. Evolutionarily, they helped us understand how to live with and interact with others. They helped us identify threats and make changes as needed. Your emotions may be signaling to you that it’s time for a change… for example, if you’re feeling irritable, you may want to look at your schedule. Are you doing too much? Are you getting sufficient sleep? Do you need to re-evaluate your schedule? 

Osmosis illustration of Hillary Acer making friends with her negative emotions.

Mindfulness Tip 5: Change your situation or change your outlook

With most experiences, we can quickly realize if we are content in the current environment and wish to remain in that experience or we are discontent in the current environment and want or need to change the experience. 

Assuming we find ourselves in the discontent category and we feel unsettled and uncomfortable, we land at a crossroads. This time, our options include:

  1. Choose to continue feeling discontent. Linger in the discontent.

  2. Choose to actively make changes to your situation. Take action.

  3. Choose to actively change the way you think about the situation. Change your perspective.

To better understand this last tip, we’ll visit a brief case study. Meet Jane. Jane is a second year medical student who is excited to get back to lecture. Jane experiences loneliness because her classes have moved online and she can’t study with colleagues or see them at lecture anymore. 

In this situation, Jane can choose to:

  1. Linger in the feeling: Continue to feel lonely until her circumstances change.

  2. Take action: Jane may join the OMEF program and host trivia nights. She might organize a study group online. She might even work with her professors to build in more collaborative learning time into her online lectures. 

  3. Change her perspective: Jane may take up a gratitude practice to frame her thinking around the positive things she is still experiencing and direct her attention towards something helpful. She may change her perspective about online learning and remember that by not having to commute into campus, she has more time for cooking or walking or reading. She may also just remind herself that things always change and this may not be forever. 

Osmosis illustration of Jane learning how to find balance in medical school.

While you’re and finding your groove, try practicing the above tips. You can combine them or practice them individually and see if you feel more mindful, compassionate, or balanced. 

About Hillary

Hillary Acer is the VP of People & Culture at Osmosis. Hillary is also a 500-Hour Experienced Registered Yoga Teacher (E-RYT) with a passion for education and wellness. She has been teaching yoga since 2010 and currently leads trainings, workshops, and worldwide retreats. After graduating from UC Berkeley, Hillary worked in health care and research labs before making a leap to People Operations to try and improve the health and wellbeing of organizations and the people make those organizations succeed.

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