Mindful Habits that Offset the Stresses of Modern Living

How to align your modern life with the way you’re really wired, and thrive.

Posted Apr 04, 2016

Modern life is fabulously full of fast transportation, instant communication, easy convenience, and lavish comforts. Then why are we so fussy and dissatisfied?

Deborah L. Davis

Captivated by a smart phone. Missing the snuggles.

Source: Deborah L. Davis

As outlined in my last post, all this fabulous speed, convenience, and comfort actually messes with us. Modern life may be easier in many ways, but we’ve been robbed of what nourishes us. We are disconnected from what our brains and bodies require, creating a major source of stress.

While my last post examines how that disconnect happens, this post examines how to reconnect:

 Adopt habits of daily living that support the way you're wired, so you can thrive. 

Listed below are habits of daily living that can make life seem more manageable and fulfilling because they connect you to what helps you thrive. You may already be successful or adept at many of these, and now you can be more mindful of their value.  The others, you can strive to integrate them firmly into your life. Notice how they all relate to connecting you back to how you're wired. And they all offer the satisfaction and health benefits that our brains and bodies crave.

Transportation: Slow down, get outside, and move your body.

  • Deborah L. Davis

    Seek respite and sunshine.

    Source: Deborah L. Davis
    Move and stretch your body every day (even five minutes at a time has benefits).
  • Take the stairs. Treasure and look forward to opportunities to use the stairs. Forget something on the third floor? Enjoy racing up there to get it!
  • Walk or bike whenever possible.
  • Seek work closer to home to avoid long commutes.
  • Get outside or find other ways to connect with nature. Even a room with a view is therapeutic.
  • Slow down for a period each day—walk somewhere, stop to smell the roses, pet an animal.
  • Make it a priority to schedule respite in the middle of busy, fast-paced days.

Communication: Make eye contact and lean into each other.

  • Focus on live, rather than virtual, communication. Communicating with eye contact and touch boosts your sense of well-being.
    Deborah L. Davis

    Commune with animals.

    Source: Deborah L. Davis
  • Consider living close to your family of origin-- or your family of choice for social and emotional benefits. Moving away from home doesn’t have to be a rite of passage.
  • Consider vacationing with loved ones, or making travel plans that include visiting them. It adds social interaction and connection to your adventures.
  • Surround yourself with people who are compassionate and enjoy connection.
  • Cultivate community, whether in your neighborhood, place of worship, at work, or in social clubs.
  • Set up recurring social times, like Wednesday night bowling or Saturday strolls, so it’s easy to plug into each week.
  • Spend time communing with an animal; pets are good for both mental and physical health.

Convenience: Revel in your chores and eat nutrient-dense foods you gather and prepare yourself.

  • Start each day with a calm routine, such as easy meditative breathing and a good breakfast.
  • Eat within 30 minutes of waking and then every 3 to 4 hours throughout your day to maintain stable blood sugar and energy levels, and to avert “famine mode,” which makes your body store fat, not burn it.
  • View food as fuel that’s meant to energize you and as medicine that’s meant to benefit your body.
  • Deborah L. Davis

    Gardens provide food at peak nutrition.

    Source: Deborah L. Davis
    Grow a garden. There are many benefits to your health, brain, mood, stress level, attention, and nutrition. It even lowers your risk of developing dementia it provides the satisfaction of growing your own food and gathering food directly from nature, not just the grocery store. 
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods that soothe inflammation, stabilize blood sugar, boost your immune system, balance hormones, and promote a healthy digestive tract and microbiome (the “good” bacteria).
  • Deborah L. Davis

    Nutrient-dense food, eaten mindfully.

    Source: Deborah L. Davis
    Prepare your own meals. Consider that cooking as one of the most valuable, nurturing, life-giving activities you can do each day for yourself and those you love. Get into the art of cooking with rich flavors and colors.
  • Linger over each bite. You labored over this meal—you deserve to enjoy it! Notice how the food looks, smells, feels, sounds, and tastes. And if you’re sharing a meal, cultivate pleasant social interaction and enjoy that too.
  • Save motorized gadgets and chemical cleaning agents for when they are actually necessary. You can scrub, wipe, mop, sweep, dust, chop, mix, shake, and stir, using your own muscles. It’ll save your ears, your lungs, your brain, and your nerves too.
  • Reduce multitasking, which is generally inefficient anyway. Instead, for instance, mindfully wash the pots and pans, feeling the warm soapy water and satisfaction of a good scrub. Mindfully fold laundry, enjoying the textures and colors, and creating a neat pile.
  • Value activities like walking, housekeeping, and yard work as they move your body.

Comforts: Use energy and resources mindfully and practice gratitude for the comforts you enjoy.

  • Deborah L Davis

    Practice gratitude for comforts.

    Source: Deborah L Davis
    Be mindful of the natural resources you use, and practice feeling gratitude for them.
  • Set your thermostat lower in winter, higher in summer, and wear seasonally appropriate clothing so you remain comfortable. Being aligned with the seasons lets your body adjust to the current outdoor temperatures, which benefits your health and immune system. (Besides, does it really make sense to insist on indoor temps that let you wear a t-shirt in winter and then be reaching for your sweater during the summer?) 
  • Be mindful of the water coming out of your tap instead of mindlessly letting it go down the drain. Use less soap and water on your skin and conserve it's healthy microbiome. Strive to use less, not because you personally will make a huge difference for the planet, but because you see it as a resource for which you are grateful. 
  • Invite natives plants to grow in your yard. You'll reduce maintenance, watering, mowing, fertilizing, and the associated costs and pollution.
  • Reduce screen time; reduce or eliminate television viewing. Turn down the lights and turn off the screens in anticipation of bedtime.
  • Deborah L. Davis

    Get sufficient sleep!

    Source: Deborah L. Davis
    Get sufficient sleep, especially during your natural sleep cycle.​ In fact, sleep deprivation is one of the most devastating things you can do to your well-being. In contrast, good sleep boosts your memory and attention, your emotional health, your immune system, and the production of hormones involved in regulating appetite. Just because you can light up the night, this doesn't mean you should!

Try to integrate as many of these habits as you can. By being consistent and mindful, you can make a real difference in the quality of your life. Your brain, your body, and your spirit will thank you.