This guide highlights some of the ways that women across the internet have tackled the struggles we all go through- demonstrating how mindful practices can help us find purpose and strength in difficult moments. It’s time to celebrate the women that courageously share their tips and tricks with the world! The women mentioned here look at how we can help ourselves appreciate life that little bit more through a myriad of different methods- take a look and see what works for you!
Kelly McGonigal- Stress makes you social
Author, psychologist, and educator Kelly Mcgonigal does an amazing job of putting stress into perspective. Over the course of her career, she has explored many areas of our lives that are affected by stress, and how we can incorporate these factors to come out better than ever. In her talk, make stress your friend, McGonigal discusses how we view stress and how it effects on our body can also have an adverse effect on our health. Rather than seeing stress as the gateway to health problems, she proposes that instead, see it as an opportunity for change.
One of the factors of stress we often overlook is how it can benefit us. When we are stressed, oxytocin is released, often referred to as the cuddle hormone. Stress also plays an important role in the fine-tuning of your social instincts and makes you act in ways that strengthen social bonds. This is because your body wants you to seek out emotional support; after all, we are better together. Caring for others creates resilience and makes your stress response healthier and more helpful. Being able to look at the bigger picture is essential to keep our hearts and our minds healthy, especially during times of stress.
Jordan Raskopoulos- How I live with high functioning anxiety
Comedian-actor and singer Jordan Raskopoulos gives a highly personal talk that really gets into the nuances that shape our minds. Sometimes we can shoot the moon with no problems at all, then struggle to write a single email. The easier options often get lost in the volume of our own heads, and anxiety can take over. This talk reminds us that we shouldn’t lose ourselves, even when it feels like stress and anxiety overwhelms parts of our lives that should bring us joy. It’s good to be reminded to take pride in the things we can do with style, and make the most of our strengths whilst working on our weaknesses.
Social scientist, anthropologist, and professor Kathryn Bouskill explores how our health is affected by our biology and cultural influences. In her talk The unforeseen consequences of a fast-paced world, Bouskill hits home how many of us feel that we are being left behind if we don’t consistently try to keep up with the world around us.
“Slow time is not wasted time”
We have evolved to focus on one task with a profound level of focus. This has always been true, yet we have gradually created a system by which we are often overwhelmed with the number of choices we have to make. If all the little choices we make are to convenience us in this fast-paced world, then why do we feel so rushed all the time? Shouldn’t we have nothing but time? The notion of productivity has become increasingly worrisome, as we constantly have to give away that little extra bit of ourselves to compete in the rat race, which can be incredibly unhealthy if left unchecked. We need to remember that if we need time to go that little bit slower, we have more control than we think. We don’t always have to come to a complete stop, but it’s okay to slow down and not be stimulated all the time.
Emily Esfahani Smith- There’s more to life than being happy
Writer, editor, and public speaker Emily Esfahani Smith taps into the feeling of dissatisfaction that many of us face. We all want to be happy, but unfortunately, happiness rarely stays for long. Many of us take this as a sign that we are missing something deeper in our lives, so perhaps the answer is looking for meaning rather than happiness. Once you have found meaning in life you are more resilient to life’s stressors and can hit the ground running. It’s a deep feeling of belonging and purpose that can give us the motivation to keep going when life tries everything to slow us down.
Esfahani Smith proposes that the best solution to finding our place in the world is understanding our own pillars of meaning, and what they can mean to us. The main four pillars are as follows:
Belonging- an intrinsic feeling of safety and love. This can sometimes be twisted into more limited forms of belonging, where people care for specific parts of yourself or your beliefs. We often subconsciously devalue those around us without meaning to, and so mindfulness can be a way to lessen the chances of this happening.
Purpose- using your strengths to serve others. People want their actions and efforts to be worthwhile- we can feel like we are wasting our time in a dead-end job or putting effort into a relationship that we find no longer makes us happy.
Transcendence- the feeling of greater meaning- such as witnessing a beautiful sunset and being reminded how vast the sky is above us. We often overlook the importance of appreciating the finer things in life, which only makes us feel more unsatisfied.
Storytelling- the way we interpret our own life. We can edit this story however we like, and the tone we choose can have a huge impact on our general health. By trying to spin your own story in a more positive light, you can sometimes find purpose along the way.
On her site, Esfahani Smith provides many articles that tackle the issue of meaningful living from a variety of angles, as well as providing a quiz to see which of the pillars you tend to rely on yourself.
Ingrid Fetell Lee - Joy and where to find it.
Designer and author Ingrid Fetell Lee reminds us to look for the little sparks of joy all around us. As we get older, little pockets of joy can make us feel happy through our senses, yet these sensations are associated with childishness or self-indulgence. Fetell Lee really hits home the importance of colours and shapes in our mind's interpretation of joy. Colour is a sign of life and abundance, to engage with our environment is to tap into the parts of our brain that make us feel happy.
If we can find patterns in the world that are a recipe for joy, then why not pursue them? Her (frankly amazingly colourful) website breaks down all the fundamentals of the aesthetics of joy- providing us with a deeply engaging breakdown of what it means to let joy into our lives. This focus on colour and shape in a bleak world is like a breath of fresh air- once you understand that it’s okay to look for the little joys, you begin to notice them everywhere.