There are so many articles, workshops and podcasts centered around the idea of mindfulness practices and how they can improve your overall health. Many believe that things like focusing on the here and now and regularly acknowledging the positives in your life can reduce stress, improve memory, lower blood pressure, and increase your overall peace and happiness.
While scientists are divided on the topic (some pointing out the need for more large-scale research) Psychologist David Creswell, Director of the Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, thinks it can help. “As a scientist, I’m never convinced. I’ve been trained to be skeptical,” he says. “Nonetheless, I do think that there were a number of experiences I had while on meditation retreats that really struck me as very foundational.”
In his 2017 review of mindfulness scientific studies, Creswell cites examples that include a 2003 study from the University of California, Berkeley that shows a correlation between practicing mindfulness and a number of indicators of well-being, such as self-esteem and life satisfaction.
Regardless of whether mindfulness and meditation is the cure-all that many claim, starting up a daily practice is a simple way for you to stay in the moment and start focusing more on the positive aspects of your life. With this idea in mind, we created our Nighttime Reflections journals. Specifically tailored to gratitude journaling in the evening, our hope is that these journals will inspire you to reflect back on the events of the day and start manifesting positivity for tomorrow.
Don't worry, even if you don't have a guided Nighttime Reflections journal you can still embark on your own version of our practice! To help guide you along, simply carve out some time in your evening routine and follow along with the steps below in your favorite journal or notebook:
1. Acknowledge your good
Think back on the events from today and record one good thing you did. Try not to get caught up over-thinking this! This is the space for you to recognize yourself for accomplishments or altruistic deeds.
- Today, I finally finished a big project at work that I started months ago!
- I finally took the time to vacuum under my bed.
- I cooked a colorful healthy dinner! I forgot how much I love asparagus.
- I put food and water out for the cats in my neighborhood, and the tabby finally let me touch her.
- While I was running an errand, I held open the door for a stranger.
We are all far too hard on ourselves, and taking the time to acknowledge self-love is an amazing way to add self-care into your daily routine.
2. Record today's positive, and how it made you feel
Write about something nice that happened to you today, and describe how it made you feel. Again, don't feel overwhelmed trying to think of something big or earth-shattering; it's the little things that make life truly magical.
Was the weather gorgeous? Did you hear your favorite song on the radio? Did a coworker compliment your outfit? Trace your steps throughout the day, and pick your favorite highlight.
As you think about the words to describe how you felt in that moment, take a minute to really reflect. Close your eyes, breathe deep and put yourself back in there, slowly considering the thoughts and feelings that surround your gratitude.
3. Manifest a great day for tomorrow
Take a moment to think about what you can do to ensure tomorrow is a good day. So much of life is out of our hands, but when it comes down to it, the power is in how you choose to approach each day. Are you already excited about something happening tomorrow? Is there something you can plan that will set everything off on the right foot?
Try thinking about what you can do to help others. Thinking outside of yourself and spreading kindness and joy to the people around you is one of the best possible ways to allow yourself to also experience happiness. You don't have to save the whole world - start with thanking the grocery store clerk for their service!
4. List tonight's rituals
Choose the three rituals you will be, or have already tackled tonight. These practices should be all about self-care, focusing on activities that will bring your day to a close with positivity and joy.
- Try a guided meditation, like this End-of-Day Meditation with Deepak Chopra.
- Add in a work-out or stretching routine, as high or low impact as you choose.
- Read a chapter of a great book.
- Take your dog for a longer-than-usual bedtime walk, stopping at a nearby park that you usually forget to visit.
- Treat yourself to a relaxing beauty treatment like a charcoal mask or epsom salt bath.
There are so many tiny routines that help you end your day on a beautiful note. All you have to do is carve out the time and make the effort to actually commit to them!
5. Set your sleep goals
Last, set a goal for tonight's sleep schedule. And hold yourself to it! You'll thank yourself tomorrow morning.
Think about your sleep patterns. Did you feel well rested today? Was the amount of sleep you received enough, or do you wish you'd gone to bed earlier? It seems silly to even point out that the earlier you go to sleep, the easier it will be to wake up early. But it's true! Phasing out distractions and screen time before you get in bed will also enable you to go to sleep more quickly and sleep more soundly.
The most important tip, though? Just start! Sometimes beginning a new practice is the hardest part. So rather than putting it off any longer, pick up your Nighttime Reflections Journal now and start writing. You’ll be grateful you did.
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