Today, I want to talk about goals, progress and happiness and how all three things are interrelated.
For me the first few days of a month are always about revisiting my goals, taking a moment to realign myself with my values and mission and then working out my plan on what I’m going to do to help me get there.
In this article, I explore why seeing progress towards your biggest life goals can make you a happier person inside and out.
Did you know?
Pursuing your goals and having something to work towards is important for psychological well-being.
I don’t know about you. But I’ve always been a very goal-focused person. During high school I always had multiple things I was working towards. Whether it was house captain, being better at a certain sport, getting good grades etc.
In university it was no different, and now as I build my business and work full time, I always have a goal I’m working towards.
Sometimes I find it hard to understand those who don’t have any goals. Who aren’t working towards anything particular. How can you not be focused on bettering yourself each and every day, even if it’s just something small?
Although some of us may be better at goal setting and achievement than others, I 100% believe to my core that both of these skills can be learned and reinforced through habit.
I love this quote from one of my favourite success coaches, Darren Hardy. He says:
“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.”
On the same note, Tony Robbins advocates that “Progress equals happiness” and I do believe these guys are on to something pretty special.
The Science Behind It – Goals & Happiness
According to a 2007 study,pursuing personal goals gives a person structure and meaning in their lives. The research also indicates that people who make progress towards their goals have better mental well-being than individuals who lack a sense of direction or purpose.
It may not sound like rocket science, but when we achieve one of our most difficult goals it can give us the confidence, motivation and the emotional reaction we need to continue taking action towards our other goals too.
I live by this strategy every single day.
The Importance of Commitment and Consistency
Like most people, a few years ago, I used to determine my daily priorities based on rolling to do lists and knocking off quantity rather than quality.
I’d ask myself, which items are the simplest and easiest to get done today, so I can tick off as many items as possible on that list.
In my head, I’d convince myself that this method was super productive. But at the end of the day, I’d find myself feeling guilty and defeated because despite what I’d tell myself, I knew that the most important and complex task was left unticked.Have you ever felt a similar way?
It’s not that I was procrastinating. I just had my priorities in the wrong order. Since completing a productivity course earlier this year, I realised that all I needed to do was shift my focus from quantity, to quality.
And wow, that small shift of focus has significantly impacted my progress towards achieving my big hairy audacious goals. I also feel so much happier and satisfied at the end of each day.
Now I’d love you to give it a go too.
Think to yourself, what is the one biggest and most valuable thing you can do today that will help you take one step closer to your goals? What is the one thing that if you get this done without doing anything else, you’ll be happy with your achievement?
It’s amazing how simply shifting your focus to completing your high return activities FIRST and taking small steps towards your goals each day, can make you feel so much more productive and content with your life.
You will no longer have that guilt hanging over your shoulders due to not doing that one high priority task that you promised yourself you would do. Especially when the excuse for not doing it is due to completing all the “small” insignificant stuff.
Are you making progress towards your goals?
The toughest question of all.
I love this time of the year as you can clearly separate those who have been taking consistent action towards their goals, from those who were all talk and never walked the walk.
Some may have even started by taking one step towards their goal, but never actually established a routine which allowed them to build momentum and keep a consistent pace going.
Procrastination is the biggest killer of your dreams. It does more than just undermine your performance but now science reveals that it can also impact your well-being, happiness and satisfaction with life.
So, what are your goals?
Is it to travel the world? Lose a few of those extra kg’s you built up over winter? Is it to learning more about healthy eating? Or maybe to live a happier lifestyle?
Whatever it may be, it’s always critical to continue taking small steps each and every day to get there.
If you’d like to learn more about living a happier and healthier lifestyle, check out the resources below:
You wake up in the morning exhausted, tired and stressed. You had another night of poor sleep, yet a big day at work awaits you. As you start to get ready you recall all the things you need to do today.
The meeting with your boss that you need to prep for
That big project you need to have done for your colleague, Mel, by lunch
You need to take your dog to the vet
Your insurance hasn’t been paid
The tasks keep rolling in…
Stress starts to kick in and it’s not even 8am! You check your phone and see that there’s 100 outstanding emails!
“OMG. How the heck, am I going to get all this done today.”
You enter the office and already people are pulling you in multiple directions. The papers on your desk are disorganised and everything seems to be a scurrying mess.
Suddenly you realise that the plans that you had for your day have gone completely out the window.
You spent the rest of your day putting out fires and reacting to other people’s problems. Finally, as you sit back at your desk you look at the time and it’s 5:30pm.
“What! Where did all that time go?”
You get in your car and start to reflect on your day as you drive home.
“Shit!!! I totally forgot to take my dog to the vet. Oh and I didn’t get that key project done for Mel. Dang it!”
You arrive home feeling defeated, exhausted and saddened by your lack of progress in your day. You also realise that tomorrow is likely to be an exact repeat of today, unless you can make a change.
7 Productivity Tips that Can Transform Your Life
Yep. My life used to be very similar to that story. And for many of you, I’m sure you are probably experiencing something very similar.
These days, so many of us find ourselves flying by the seat of our pants, reactive to other people’s agendas and problems.
We also find ourselves working really hard on multiple projects at the one time, to only discover that by the end of the day we have made little progress on any of them.
This is where I come in…
To help you make some simple changes to your day, in this article I explore seven productivity tips that can truly transform your life.
Even if you start with just ONE of these things and remain consistent with it over time, you are likely to see massive growth in your productivity and progress throughout the day.
1) Focus Only On What You Can Control
Not rocket science, right?
But you’d be surprised by the number of people who stress out about every single thing in their lives, including thing they have no direct control over.
Trying to control everything in your life is only going to lead to significant disappointment, anxiety and overwhelm. There’s no point stressing over things you can not, and will not ever control.
Instead, focus only on what you can control within your inner circle. Switch off from the rest.
A great strategy that can help you with this is to detach and switch off from the daily news and media.
Most of the stories shared on those platforms are negatively skewed, fear-inducing and bias anyway.
They also start your day off on a negative by reporting the latest scandal, devastating accident or conflicts around the world.
By detaching from common media sources and news, you will notice just how much freer you feel in your day, and how much more clearly you can think about the actual things that do impact your life.
2) Plan Ahead & Limit Your Daily Priorities
Productivity tip #2 is to stop striving to get it all done. Instead, focus on getting the most important things done.
Although you may try to be a superhero with your numerous to-do lists and calendar tasks, you will be more effective during your day if you slash down your list to a smaller number of priorities.
Here’s how to do it:
Write down all the things you want to achieve in your day
Consider which tasks are most important to your goals and put a circle around them.
Cross off the trivial.
Estimate how long each of your priority tasks is likely to take you and schedule it into your daily diary or calendar. Make this a non-negotiable appointment with yourself.
As other tasks come up in your day, plan them around your top 3 priorities. You may even schedule them to be completed in another day.
Then as your priority appointment comes up, dedicate quality time to finishing that chosen task
Once your top 3 priorities are complete, then you can consider ticking off some of the others things on your list.
That way, even if you only complete those three things and nothing else, you’ll still feel satisfied with what you have managed to accomplish for the day.
3) Work in 60-90 Minute Intervals
Rather than working non-stop at your desk for an entire day, give your brain a chance to rest and rejuvenate.
You will be much more effective if you break your day into 60-90 minute intervals of uninterrupted focused work, rather than spending hours at your desk with no breaks.
Not giving your brain a break actually hinders attention, focus and performance. It is much more effective to give your brain short breaks in between as a little pick-me-up.
It is also easier to work at your optimum performance level for shorter bursts of time compared to trying to sustain it over a long period of time.
Some ways you can do this include:
Taking a short stroll around the office to get your steps up for the day
Do some stretches away from your screen
Go on a tea break or take a moment to fill up your water bottle
Engage in some deep breathing exercises at your desk
Eat away from your desk for morning tea, lunch and afternoon tea
Catch up with a colleague for 5 minutes
Working for multiple hours straight without breaks will only put you in the vicious cycle of feeling like you’re working a lot but not getting much done.
This productivity tip is worth its weight in gold.
4) Get Up 90 minutes Earlier
Getting up 90 minutes earlier each day can give you a massive advantage in what you achieve in a given day. Especially, during the work week.
Although for some, the idea of getting up earlier may sound scary, those who are willing to get up earlier to knock off the first priority for their day, will unlock access to one of the greatest superpowers:
Being in control of their morning
Taking an additional step closer towards their biggest goals
There are no distractions, your mind is clear and your brain is at its optimum for high-performance.
Even if you can only fit in 30-60 minutes a day, this will put you leaps and bounds ahead of your competitors or colleagues, before the work day has even begun.
As part of my morning routine, I do this every day during the week.
It has had such a drastic impact on my life and there’s nothing better than starting your day feeling in control, and having made progress on one of your top priorities before you’ve even entered the office.
That way, if you do get pulled in multiple directions or need to put out fires, you’re happy to do so because you have already completed your most important priority for the day.
5) Make Time to Meditate in the Morning
My favourite productivity tip of them all….
Start your morning with a short mindfulness meditation. This is a great way to improve productivity during your day.
Meditation is becoming more and more popular in Western society as a way to more effectively manage stress and anxiety. But there are many other physical, emotional and mental health benefits of meditation too.
The benefit that I love most is that it can help to boost productivity in your day.
Meditation can help boost productivity by:
Improving your ability to focus
Slowing down your thoughts
Aiding effective decision making
Starting your day feeling grounded and balanced
Refreshing your body and relieving built up stress and anxiety that may have accumulated from the day before
Meditation is now a non-negotiable part of my morning routine. I find that it really helps to set me up in good stead to tackle the day.
It keeps me focused, organised and level-headed.
Sure, it is an exercise that can take some time to master, but there is little investment required and the basic concepts behind it are pretty easy to grasp.
If you’d like to learn more about meditation, you can check out our FREE/ Lite Meditation eCourse below.
6) Limit Phone Use
Multi-tasking is one of the greatest killers of our productivity.
Our mobile phones are one of our greatest temptations, yet it is something we carry around with us day in and day out.
Even at work, we can find ourselves checking texts from friends, emails and social media at multiple times during our work day.
By limiting your phone use or keeping it in your bag on silent or switched off whilst at work, you will notice such a drastic change in your productivity.
Some of you may have panicked whilst reading that:
“What? Switch off my phone…. I don’t think so buddy.”
But the reality is that the more you succumb to your phone and allow it to pull your attention away from your work, the more harm you are doing to your brain and its ability to stay focused.
You are literally training your brain to seek out distractions to keep occupied.
If turning off your phone during the day is not an option, then even just consider turning your phone app push notifications off.
That way, you won’t find yourself reacting to the constant buzzing or beeping of alerts on your home screen.
Instead you’ll be taking control back over your day, by only choosing to check your phone when it suits you. For example, between your 60-90 minute work intervals.
7) Delegate More
This productivity tip may be more relevant to some than others. But eve so, all of us probably have room for improvement when it comes to doing less ourselves and delegating more.
The problem with most high-achievers is that we often want to do it all. But we simply don’t have the resources to live this way.
There are many tasks in our day that we can delegate whether it be:
Delegating a straight-forward work task to a colleague or assistant
Paying for a house cleaner rather than doing it yourself
Getting your partner to cook dinner one night if you’re running behind or have had a busy day
Delegating some of the household chores to your kids or partner
Hiring a virtual assistant or someone on Fiverr to help you out
Hiring someone of Air Tasker to do some trivial household jobs
There are many ways you can delegate low priority tasks to save time in your day.
This will help you to get more done in your day by doing less yourself and spending less time on trivial tasks.
Top Productivity Tip: Start a Morning Meditation Practice
Meditation is something that has truly transformed my life.
It has helped me move from the person I was (someone who did not handle stress well, was constantly filled with anxiety and had scattered thoughts) to the person I am today (much more balanced, calm and focused).
Of course, I still experience stress and anxiety from time to time. After all, it is a common fault of high-achievers. But, I can definitely see the positive impacts it has had on my life.
If you are interested in learning more about meditation for productivity and how to get started, our 14-day Online Meditation Course “Journey to Calm” would be a great resource for you.
Ever had that moment when you feel incredibly stiff, tense and sore with no clear explanation why?
It’s frustrating, ey!
For many years, I’ve suffered with pain and tension in my upper and lower back. I’ll often wake up to immediately notice the stiffness and tension in my body. almost like my body is constantly screaming at me.
But why? Was it due to:
Poor posture at work?
Exercising too much?
Chronic Stress? or
Sleeping in a bad position overnight?
If I’m honest with myself, it’s probably due to all of the above.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably tried it all: massaging it out, stretching or even ignoring it in hopes it will go away.
But so far, nothing has worked.
Body Scan Meditation is definitely something that can help and that you should check out. Here’s why!
How Body Scan Meditation Combats Built-up Stress
For many of us, chronic stress doesn’t only have mental and emotional symptoms. It can also show up physically in our bodies.
When you’re stressed, you may notice that you become more susceptible to headaches, shoulder tension and back pain, heartburn and more.
And, given we’re used to living in a highly stressed-state, we don’t often connect the dots between our physical discomfort and our emotional state.
This is why regular body scan meditation can be useful and effective because it not only allows us to tune in to our bodies, but also helps to release built-up tension.
Let’s now explore the basics of Body Scan Meditation including what it is, how to do it and also 5 ways that it benefits your health.
What is Body Scan Meditation?
Body scan is a type of meditation that involves mindfully exploring your body from head to toe to tune into the sensations present in different parts of the body.
This enables you to become aware of hidden tensions you may have been ignoring and can help to alleviate them.
There are some different ways you can scan over your body depending on what you prefer. I’ll run through each of these below.
Body Scan from Head to Toe
The most common type of body scanning is to start from the crown of your head and gradually make your way to your toes.
Scanning your body from head to toe is said to be more relaxing and grounding, and can result in feeling sleepy afterwards.
Body Scan from Toes to Head
Scanning your body from the bottom-up is said to be more energising and uplifting compared to scanning top down.
Personally, I have not experienced much difference whether scanning top-down or bottom-up, but it’s always worth trying both and seeing which style feels better for you depending on your goals.
Scanning the Body in Stages
You can also scan the body in stages. For example, you can start by scanning your entire head. Then gradually move down to your neck and throat. Then focus on your torso as one whole section. Next, scan each arm and then gradually scan each leg individually.
The concept behind this is to scan each section of your body individually to really hone down on any specific parts of your body.
Scan Slowly or Quickly
Depending on the amount of time you have available, you have the option of doing a quick or slow body scan meditation. You can choose to spend 15 minutes slowly scanning through your body, or do a quick check in over 5 minutes.
The choice is yours!
Scan Only the Upper Body
Have you noticed that when stressed your shoulders and back start seizing up?
Yep! It’s a pretty common symptom.
For most of us, we store a lot of our stress in our upper body. That’s why doing a scan focused solely on your upper body can still be very beneficial and help to release the majority of your tension.
Targeting Pain in the Body
Although most meditations encourage you to avoid striving for a particular expectation or outcome, with body scan meditation you can aim to target key areas of discomfort.
This allows you to let sensations come to the surface and hone in on what feels bad.
By being mindful of the areas you feel pain and breathing into them deeply, your body can start to troubleshoot and focus on alleviating them.
What are the Benefits of Body Scan Meditation?
Although there are many known benefits of body scan meditation, here are my top 5:
Helps you cope better with stress and anxiety, whilst also reducing their symptoms
Reduces the impacts of chronic stress on the body
Leads to greater self-awareness and compassion
Reduces pain and tension in the body
Helps you feel grounded and centred
Let’s explore each of these in more detail.
1) Using Body Scan Meditation to Relieve Stress & Anxiety
A great thing about body scan meditation is that it prompts us to lean into bodily sensations, rather than becoming paralysed with or battling our thoughts due to stress.
This prompts us to take a moment to ourselves to pause, reflect and deal with stress in a healthy way. It also gives our body a chance to release any built-up tension rather than ignoring it in hopes that it will eventually go away.
2) Body Scanning Can Reduce the Impacts of Chronic Stress
Chronic stress is very unhealthy for our bodies.
It not only results in the release of cortisol and adrenaline which depletes our system resources, but also negatively impacts our mental health.
Giving our bodies time to shift from being in a stress response (activated by the Sympathetic Nervous System) to the relaxation and recovery response of the Parasympathetic Nervous System (PNS), has dramatic effects within the body.
Bringing the body back to a state of homeostasis can reduce muscle tension, kick-start our digestive systems and bring attention to discomforts, pain and tiredness that were being masked by our stress hormones.
You may also notice that your breathing slows down, saliva production increases, your eyes start watering and your stomach may even start gurgling or making noises.
These are common symptoms of relaxation.
3) Improve Self-Compassion and Awareness
When performing any meditation, you may notice something feeling bad or uncomfortable in your body. You may even get frustrated or impatient when your mind wanders or you don’t notice the pain subsiding.
But practicing body scan meditation can help you approach these situations with gentleness and acceptance.
As you practice this technique more and more over, this newly gained self-awareness and compassion can start to trickle its way into your everyday life as well.
4) Reduce Pain and Tension in the Body
As we have already mentioned, regularly checking in with our body can help us identify aches and pains early on – before they become too serious.
By letting your body show you where tension exists, you’re able to focus on it and let your body heal itself. Consciously breathing into these areas can create a sense of space and openness throughout the body.
This can stop your body from screaming at you multiple times during the day to get your attention. By scanning your body on a regular basis, you’re showing that you care and are very much aware of what is going on.
5) Body Scanning Helps You Feel Grounded
Throughout our day we often find our body doing one thing while our mind is doing another.
A body scan meditation can help to sync our mind and body, pulling us away from the noise in our mind and back to the present moment.
Body Scan Tips for Beginners
Because body scanning is often thought to be therapeutic, many try to force relaxation to happen. But doing this, often leads to frustration:
“OMG why can’t I get my shoulders to relax! No matter what I try it’s not working!”
Rather than taking this approach, try to treat body scanning with a tolerant and loving curiosity towards your body. Also called “non-judgemental acceptance”.
If the pain or discomfort coming up is really bad, do you best to focus your attention on it and breathe deeply into that space, then let it go.
This may sound weird for some people:
“Isn’t it impossible to breathe into other parts of the body, outside of your lungs?”
(Don’t worry – I used to think this too).
But with meditation, your key aim is to visualise the breath directing to that area. Use your imagination to picture the area opening up and releasing tension in a soothing way.
How to Do a Body Scan Meditation
If you’re interested in learning how to do a body scan meditation for the first time, you can check out our short video below.
In this video, I guide you through the basic steps of Body Scan Meditation, so you can digest the concepts simply and easily.
In Summary, here are the very basic steps:
Close your eyes
Breathe deeply & slowly
Visually scan from the top of your head and down your body.
Notice if you feel any feelings, sensations, or discomfort in your body.
When you encounter areas of tension, focus your attention and continue to breathe deeply.
Try to visualise your breath soothing that area and the tension leaving your body.
If you get distracted by thoughts, return your attention to the area of the body where you last left off.
Keep in mind that at this stage of the meditation you’re not trying to change anything. You are simply building a picture of how the body feels right now, in the moment.
Your brain will make judgement calls such as “This feels bad”, “This feels good” and “If I do this, it feels better.” By staying focused and mindful of the sensations, we accelerate this process.
How to Release Built Up Tension in Your Body
After you’ve completed your body scan meditation, you can look to release the tension more directly through upper or lower body stretches.
You can also relieve tension by contracting and releasing certain muscles, as I show you in the video above.
Some yoga poses are also great for targeting certain areas of tension. Here are some examples you can try below:
Standing forward bend
Downward facing dog
Start a Regular Meditation Routine & Experience The Benefits
If you’d love to learn more about meditation and how to create a meditation routineto experience the greatest benefits from your practice, ensure to check out our Journey to Calm Meditation Course.
In this course, you will learn how to meditate and tips for beginners when building a routine.
I will also teach you about other natural techniques you can do to relieve stress and anxiety symptoms and boost productivity during our day.
That’s why building a meditation routine can also challenging. Trust me, I know.
On the first day, you start strong.
You get up early and feel pumped with a great sense of achievement after completing day one of your new meditation routine.
“That wasn’t THAT hard!” you think to yourself as you excitedly prepare for the rest of your day.
The second day arrives. You wake up on time and feel great. Similar to day one, you smash through your meditation session. “Cool, this meditation thing is going to be a breeze.”
Then day 3 and 4 hit.
Your alarm goes off but you feel tired. You had a late night last night, so hit the snooze button –“Just 5 more minutes”.
Shortly, this 5 minutes extends to 10, then 15 minutes and suddenly you wake up realising “Shit, I’m late!”
There’s no way in hell that you have time for meditation today, so you make a promise to yourself that you’ll kick start it tomorrow.
Tomorrow comes, and a similar pattern appears.
Your alarm goes off. You hit the snooze button. Your goal of getting up early to meditate has started to slip. That inner voice in your head is so powerful, and although you really wanted to build a meditation routine, it keeps winning.
A week or two has now gone by. Your meditation sessions have been sporadic, and you’ve started convincing yourself that:
“Maybe meditating in the morning isn’t for you”
“You can’t do it because you’re not a morning person”
“You didn’t notice that much benefit any way” or even
“You’re too busy, let’s try again another time.”
As I mentioned, learning how to build a meditation routine is not a walk in the park. But this is the same for building any other new habit.
In this article, I will share 5 tips to help you build a meditation routine and get started.
1) Know Your Why
One of the best tips I can give you when building any new habit is to know your WHY.
If you do not have a clear reason as to why you’re wanting to stay consistent with meditation, the war is over before it’s even begun.
Having a clear “why” helps you overcome many of the excuses that your mind will throw you throughout the journey.
Our bodies are like machines. They love routine and can be resistant to change.
The trick is to survive and push through the first week, which is often the hardest and most challenging part of learning a new habit.
During this time, your body will do everything in its power to resist, but you can beat these excuses and challenges with a strong why.
For example, you may want to start a meditation routine to:
Create a safe haven to unwind, relax and reflect before your busy days begins
Become more self-aware by tuning into your body
Be more spiritual or religious
Whatever your reason, keep it close to your heart.
Each morning as you wake up, remind yourself of WHY you are doing this and why you want to persist.
Once you make it over the hurdle of the first 1-2 weeks, you’ll notice that each day gets easier and your body will adjust to the new routine.
And, I can tell you from experience – the juice is worth the squeeze.
2) Meditate at the Same Time Every Say & Stick to it
When it comes to building any new habit, commitment and consistency are two of the most important things to strive for.
Start making meditation a non-negotiable in your day.
Commit yourself to a certain time in your day and stay consistent with it. That is the best way to build a meditation routine from home.
Avoid meditating sporadically and inconsistently. This will only cause you pain and is unlikely to bring you the benefits you’re after from your practice.
As you continue to meditate at the same time for consecutive days, your body will start to adjust. Eventually, you’ll find yourself waking up naturally at your desired time to start your meditation routine.
But like everything, it can take time to get there.
3) Identify the Type of Meditation You Like
The great thing about meditation is that there are many different types of meditation and meditation styles that you can try.
This means that you can choose a meditation that is best suited for your preferences and goals.
For example, If you:
Want a relaxing or stress-relieving meditation you may prefer body scan meditation ormindfulness
Are someone who likes music and vocals, you may like to try Mantra meditation.
Struggle to sit still and can’t sit on the floor, moving meditations such as Thai-chi or yoga could be great options for you
When wanting to build a meditation routine, it’s important to identify a style that you like and find enjoyable.
Doing otherwise, will only cause you to procrastinate and dislike your practice. We don’t want that!
4) Make it Fun
If you treat meditation like a chore, it’s going to feel like one.
Rather than seeing it as another thing to tick off your to-do list, make it fun. Use your meditation practice as a chance to tune into your body and explore your mind.
You may like to listen to meditation musicto settle the mind or do some stretches to relieve built up tension in your body.
Be kind to yourself. Avoid setting expectations or beating yourself up if your attention wanders.
Just enjoy the moment for what it is and go with the flow.
5) Mould it to Suit Your Lifestyle
There is often a misconception that you need to meditate for a certain length of time and at a certain time in your day to experience any benefits.
That ain’t true!
Unlike what many think, it is important to fit your meditation routing into your existing lifestyle. Too much change at once will only make creating the habit even harder.
Does the thought of getting up earlier than your usual time scares you? Ok. Opt to meditate in the evening before bed.
Need to take care of the kids and get them ready for school around 8:00am? Great, wake up 15-minutes earlier and do a 10-minute meditation.
Do shift work or night shift? Ok cool, find a time to meditate during the day or after you wake up
Whatever your situation or lifestyle is, make it work. There are endless possibilities on what you can do.
It’s up to you to experiment with meditating at different times in the day and discover what works best for you and your lifestyle.
In addition to finding the right time to meditate, there’s also no rule for how long you should meditate for.
If you’re a newbie, 5 minutes is a great length to strive for. Then as you progress and meditate more regularly, you can gradually extend your sessions to 15-20 minutes.
You can’t base your expectations on what someone else may be doing around you. Instead, mould your meditation routine to suit your lifestyle and what is realistic.
How to Build a Meditation Routine
If you would like some help, guidance or accountability whilst building your meditation routine, I can definitely help you out.
We offer an online course specifically tailored to beginners to help them learn:
How to meditate
How to get comfortable with the right meditation posture and pose
Handy meditation resources for beginners to support your journey
How to use meditation to relieve stress and anxiety
And best of all: How to actually BUILD a consistent Meditation Routine
In this course, Journey to Calm, I share important tips when meditating as a beginner and also guide you through 14 days of meditation, including guided meditation, to help you start simply and seamlessly.
In this video, I provide a quick reflection of what we covered last week in terms of posture, deep breathing and mindfulness meditation.
I also talk about the power of Gratitude Meditation, and why practicing gratitude during your meditation practice can have a powerful impact on how you start your day. It’s always beneficial to focus on the positive in your life, rather than the negative.
We the end the video with a short 5-minute Guided Gratitude & Mindfulness Meditation.
In this video, I run you through a 6-minute guided Body Scan Meditation to give you more time practicing this technique. I also take you through some tension-relieving upper body stretches to help remove some stiffness in your body.
If you are finding it difficult to identify areas of tension, or relieve specific areas of tension, don’t worry! This stress relieving technique can take some time and practice to master.
Let me know of any areas you are struggling to relieve tension in and I’ll ensure to share some stretches and tips that can help you.
Day 10: How to Build a Rewarding Meditation Routine
In this video, I highlight the importance of building a meditation routine, including what you can do to get started.
The things to remember, is that just like any other habit, learning how to meditate takes time, consistency, commitment and self-discipline.
If you don’t have either of those things, you’re going to find it hard to meditate successfully each day.
But… the juice is soo worth the sqeeze guys.
So for a little bit of time and dedication now, you can save yourself so much energy, stress and anxiety in the future.
Click here to watch the video. (COMING SOON…)
What These Videos Don’t Cover…
Keep in mind – these videos only cover the absolute basics of Meditation.
If you’re wanting a step-by-step guide on how to meditate, including correct meditation poses & posture and building a meditation routine, you should check out our “Journey to Calm”Meditation for Beginners eCourse.
In this course, I give you all the detail that you need to build a successful meditation routine from home in 14 days.
When I started my meditation journey, back pain was one of the greatest obstacles I faced.
Not only did I find it difficult to reduce back pain during meditation, but I just couldn’t seem to get comfortable in general.
I tried wiggling my legs, itching, scratching, swapping legs, stretching during meditation, and even tried sitting on a bundle of household cushions.
But none of these methods worked for me.
I felt disheartened.
Was it just me struggling with back pain during meditation?
I would see all the images of people looking ultra relaxed and cool in their full lotus meditation poses and I couldn’t help but think that maybe there was something wrong with me or I was doing it all wrong.
You’re Not Alone in This
At times I felt like throwing in the towel BUT, after some basic research I realised that I wasn’t alone with this.
And gosh I’m glad I didn’t give up.
I discovered that experiencing discomfort during meditation was a really common thing. With many complaining about pain in their hips, knees, ankles and back.
The problem with back pain, is that it is a common barrier preventing beginners from building a consistent meditation practice.
instead, they find themselves procrastinating and not enjoying their practice.
We don’t want this!
Over my meditation journey, this is what I’ve learned.
It’s normal for meditation to feel weird in the beginning
It’s normal to experience some discomfort in a new pose
There are many different meditation poses you can try to suit your body
There are many different product solutions that can help
If you’re struggling to get comfortable during meditation, don’t throw in the towel just yet.
Hear me out and stay with me throughout the course of this article.
I’m confident that at least one of these tips could help you with your problem – reducing back pain during meditation.
Let’s explore them in more detail below.
5 Reasons Your May be Experiencing Back Pain During Meditation
There are many possible reasons why you’re experiencing neck and back pain during meditation.
For example, you can be experiencing discomfort due to:
Poor flexibility or reoccurring stiffness
A historical injury
Weak core muscles
Having poor posture to start with.
Choosing the wrong meditation pose for your body
The reality is that for many of us, especially in the Western world, we are no longer used to sitting on the ground cross legged. Most of us graduated from this behaviour post-primary.
Yet, in many Asian and Eastern countries – sitting on the floor cross legged for long periods is common practice.
This is why we have to consider where our bodies are at, before we even start our meditation journeys.
Let’s explore these individually.
1. Poor Flexibility
A person who is greatly flexible, will find it much easier to contort into the more advanced meditation positions compared to someone who is not.
If you force your body into certain meditation poses before you’re ready, you’re going to experience pain regardless.And this is not good!
If flexibility is something you need to improve, that’s ok.
Just focus on improving your flexibility little by little each day until you’re where you want to be.
Start first with the more basic meditation poses, before you even look at the advanced styles. I promise, you will notice a drastic reduction in the amount of pain you feel during meditation.
2. Past Injuries
Alongside flexibility, a person with prior neck, back, hip or leg injuries will need to seek out poses that are less physically demanding.
Prior injuries can reduce movement in your body and also increase stiffness in the morning.
We want to work with this, not against it.
There’s no reason to force yourself to be uncomfortable. If you notice any sharp or aching pain whilst in a meditation pose, stop and change your positioning!
3. Weak Core Muscles
Many of us are no longer required to use our core muscles to support our upper bodies as much as we used to back in the day. These days, we’ve become accustomed to sitting at chairs and adopting bad posture habits overtime.
I know for me, it took me a while to feel comfortable sitting in a seated meditation pose with my back unsupported.
Due to having weak core muscles, I’d find myself slouching, overarching or straining my back muscles to hold myself up straight.
Maybe you’re experiencing a similar thing?
The trick is to practice.
Meditation does takes practice – just like going to the gym.
We must gradually strengthen our core muscles overtime by staying consistent and doing exercises that work muscles we’ve become unaccustomed to using.
4. Poor Posture Habits
Another common reason for experiencing back pain during meditation is related to poor posture habits.
When meditating, it is common for people to slouch or overarch their backs due to certain muscles overcompensating for others. This can lead to a lot of problems.
Slouching and overarching has the tendency to strain certain muscles in your back or neck, and can also bring your spine out of alignment.
The positioning of your head in relation to your spine and pelvis is also important.
Many forget about the angle of the pelvis during meditation, but it is actually one of the most important aspects of posture to consider.
Having your pelvis tilted too far forward or too far back, can impact the natural alignment of your spine. It can also be one of the key triggers for back pain and strained back muscles.
Finding it hard to think of low-cost relaxation techniques you can do?
Don’t worry I’ve got you!
As someone who is regularly busy and easily stressed / anxious, I have a few tips up my sleeve when it comes to natural low-cost relaxation techniques.
For a lot of my life, I struggled with effectively managing my emotions and stress / anxiety symptoms. It was probably because I would make myself so busy that I just didn’t have time to unwind.
Well I felt like I didn’t anyway…
As a result, I’d often find myself working and pushing myself to the brink of burn-out until my body would give me no choice but to rest. Usually because I’d get sick or become bed bound.
Yep, thanks… but I guess it was usually my own fault.
Since Identifying these 9 relaxation techniques, I don’t experience this feeling anymore. I’m much more self-aware, better at listening to my body and stick to scheduled down time during my week.
I no longer feel guilty about it either.
These 9 relaxation techniques are a great no cost / low cost way to relax and unwind.
1) Meditation is a Great Relaxation Technique
Meditation is something that I regularly use to unwind, detach or start my day in a relaxed state. It’s also fantastic for reducing stress and anxiety.
Meditation a learned skill that is easy for anyone to pick up. All you need is patience, commitment and consistency.
One of the benefits of meditation is that it can be done at different locations and at different times in your day. You can also choose whether you want to meditate in the morning, before bed, at you work desk, lying down and even whilst walking.
If you’re interested in learning more about meditation, why it is great for our health and why is can be a great natural technique to relieve stress and anxiety, you can start with our mini email course: An Introductory Meditation Course for Beginners.
Register by entering your details below o the course modules can be sent to your inbox.
2) Deep Breathing
Deep breathing is an amazing relaxation technique for busy women. It is something you can do at anytime, anywhere.
One of the more common deep breathing strategies is the 4-7-8 breathing rule.
The 4-7-8 rule breaks down deep breathing into three memorable and easy steps.
You breathe in deeply for 4 seconds (Breathe deeply into your belly, not your chest)
Then hold your breath for 7 seconds and
Breathe out for 8 seconds
You then continue to repeat this process until you can start to notice your body relaxing and returning to state of balance.
Read more about the powers of deep breathing here and how you can incorporate it into your daily routine.
3) Incorporate Mindfulness into Your Day
Similar to meditation,mindfulness involves bringing your attention to the present moment.
Mindfulness is a great natural relaxation technique because it gives you a moment to wind down and focus on the present rather than being consumed by worries of the past or future.
4) Have a Warm Bath or Shower (anything warm)
For me, having a bath and going to the sauna at least once a fortnight is a non-negotiable.
Both of these relaxation techniques truly help me to unwind at the end of my day.
Whilst in the bath or at the sauna, you can also stretch your body which is a great way release any built-up muscle tension from the week.
Our bodies have the tendency to store emotions in our joints and muscles. Therefore, it is important to stretch regularly to release this built-up tension.
If you don’t have a bath or access to a sauna, a hot shower is a great free alternative and offer similar benefits.
For most of us, warmth promotes feelings of relaxation and comfort. This is why doing something warm during your day / a few times a week is great for your health…and no your normal morning or evening shower doesn’t count.
Using warmth to your advantage can aid relaxation, especially when you’re busy or on a tight budget.
5) Cuddles With Your Partner
People often overlook the power of affection, love and comfort for relaxation.
For those of you who have partners, I’m sure you can relate to that amazing feeling you get when your partner wraps you up in his / her arms after a tough day at work.
There’s something extremely comforting about it.
A feeling like everything is going to be ok.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, or need to find a relaxation outlet – why not spend more quality time with your partner cuddling.
If you’re thinking to yourself right now that you “don’t have a lot of extra time for snuggles”, I’m telling you now…
Even if you can just add 5 minutes of cuddles before you get out of bed in the morning or before you go to sleep each night, I promise it will help you and your partner will likely love it too.
6) Go for a Run or Walk in Nature
I don’t know about you guys, but I find nature to be one of the most soothing things. It’s also such as great relaxation technique, that is completely free.
Same with exercise!
Depending on where you live in the world, there are so many places you can go to a dose of nature.
You can go to one of your local parks, a national park, a botanical garden – honestly anywhere that has trees, flowers, birds or even flowing water.
The reason we often feel refreshed, rejuvenated and relaxed in nature is because of something called “negative ions”.
Despite their name, negative ions are great!
In addition to cleansing and purifying the air around us, the negative ions released by natural resources (eg. Running water, trees etc) are beneficial to our health.
According to Webmd, once negative ions reach our bloodstream, they are believed to produce biochemical reactions in the brain.
These reactions can increase levels of serotonin(the hormone that impacts our mood and feelings of happiness) and reduce depression, relieve stress and boost our energy throughout the day.
Exercise is also known for its stress relieving properties because it helps reduce stress hormones in our bodies such as adrenaline and cortisol.
It also stimulates the production of endorphins that make us feel awesome post exercise.
7) Spend Quality With Pets, Family or Friends
The proven impact of pets and animals in general, on our mental health and happiness is legit. The truth is, pets make us happier….
If you’re feeling stressed, anxious or are finding it hard to unwind, grab your favourite fluffy friend and give them some love.
By doing this, you’re also guaranteed some unconditional love back.
If you don’t have a fury friend, then spend some time with close friends or family.
Laughter is its own form of natural medicine and can also be an amazing stress relieving activity.
The great thing about pets, friends and family is that they also provide a distraction from what may be stressing you in your life.
You’ll need to deal with it eventually, but for now relaxing may better until you’re in the right head space or frame of mind to address the problem.
8) Watch a Movie / TV Series that You Love
This relaxation technique is not rocket science, but a great one nonetheless!
I don’t know about you, but sometimes after a busy day all I feel like doing is plonking on the couch and watching a soothing romance, drama or comedy.
Watching a movie is a great way to distract your mind temporarily by giving you time to detach from the thing stressing you, and instead tune in to something that you love.
Sure, Netflix and some other movie subscriptions cost money – but even if you don’t have access to those programs – most of us have at least one DVD lying around.
Alternatively, if you have nothing at home to watch, tune in to your local TV channels which usually play a movie on Friday and Saturday nights OR catch up a friend who does have some great movies.
Kill two birds with one stone by socialising with a friend and being able to unwind whilst watching a movie.
9) Listen, Dance or Sing Along to Your Favourite Music
Of all of the relaxation techniques mentioned in this article, this one is a classic. It’s crazy how good it can make you feel!
There’s nothing more that I love to do than singing along to my favourite song or music playlist.
Depending on your degree of confidence, you can sing or dance it in most places…
There’s the car, your bedroom, whilst showering, in the bath, whilst shopping. There’s no shame in singing along to your favourite tunes.
You can even get creative like this guy…
After all, we all do it!
And those who say they don’t are lying!! haha
If you don’t have a favourite kind of music, my favourite backup genre is classical music.
I know some people aren’t all that keen on classical, but for those who are interested in trying it I can 100% recommend.
There are some great classical playlists available on Youtube, Spotify and Apple music, so do a search and see if you come across anything that tickles your fancy.
You can also listen to relaxing music instrumentals which contain guitar, nature sounds, etc. These can be a great option to look into as well.
Which Relaxation Techniques are Best to Start With?
If you’re a busy woman like me, trying to work out which relaxation technique is going to give you the biggest bang for your buck can be tricky.
Especially if you have limited time in your day.
Personally, my #1 recommendation would be meditation.
Because with meditation you can knock off 3-4 of these relaxation techniques in one.
I’m an “achieve as much as I can with as little as possible investment” kind of girl.
How about you?
With meditation you get to incorporate deep breathing, mindfulness and listen to relaxing music all in one.
You can also tick off “keeping warm” if you wrap yourself in a blanket or doona (bed spread) like I often do.
If you haven’t done meditation before, you’re probably wondering “what’s the easiest way to learn?”
Don’t worry girlfriend, I’ve got you.
How to Meditate When You’re Busy?
Meditation doesn’t need to be complicated.
Once you get the basic concepts down you’re pretty much good to go and can do it on your lonesome.
The best way to learn how to meditate is to get guidance from someone who has been where you are, meditates regularly and knows what they’re doing – aka ME!!
At Finding Happiness, we offer an awesome meditation for beginners course for our clients called Journey to Calm.
In this course, you will learn everything you need to know about meditation. You’ll also gain an insight into other relaxation techniques such as self-care and natural remedies that can relieve stress and don’t demand a lot of time.
Making time for ourselves and filling our cups up, is just as important what we do for others.
Click here to start the Journey to Calm Course.
If you’re not ready to commit to the complete course, you do have another option – you can sign up for our free “lite” introductory version of the course below.
Now with this mini course, you’re not going to get as much value as you would from doing the complete course.
But, you’ll gain an insight into the basic concepts of meditation so you can decide if that’s something you want to do before jumping into the bigger course.