How To Be Better At Being Good To Yourself

Tips and tricks for becoming a more mindful, active, and zen human being

Wellness, mindfulness, and self-care are all pretty buzzy words right now, and have been for some time now. Is there anyone you know who doesn't have a meditation app on their phone? Group meditations and sound baths are becoming as popular as cycling classes, and, of course, athleisure is still ruling the runways and the streets.

However, wellness can mean different things for different people. One person may love going to the gym, but doesn't know the first thing about meditation, while another may be a seasoned cab and subway meditator (believe me, it’s possible), yet despises the idea of going to a group fitness class. We all have our own practices, and none of them are right or wrong. But yet, not all of us know where to begin, especially when it comes to the specifics. How can we be mindful? How can we learn to love taking care of our physical wellbeing?

Last week, I spent some time in the Miami Design District for The Retreat, a four-day getaway thrown by Funkshion, the brains behind Miami Swim Week, in collaboration with Mini. At this retreat, virtually every aspect of wellness, self-care, and mindfulness was touched upon—from food and meditation to whipping our asses into physical shape in fitness classes with top instructors (admittedly, the only non-relaxing part about the whole weekend, but well worth it).

Through the series of workouts, panels, dinners, fashion shows, and more, I got to learn first-hand how the leaders of this very buzzy industry interpret wellness. They also shared their own tips for becoming a more mindful human being and how to create a more well-rounded practice, whether you’re a wellness newbie or a seasoned yogi. Read all about it, below.

Focus on the now, not the later
A lot of the time we find ourselves completely overwhelmed, it’s because we’re stressing out over our seemingly never-ending to-do lists. Usually, these future tasks we’re stressing over have nothing to do with the present moment. Christina Powter, co-founder of activewear brand Chill by Will, wants us to learn to stop “future tripping” (aka, freaking out about everything we have to get done) and focus on the now. “When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m future tripping—I’m not in the present,” she says. “It’s overwhelming and stressful to think about the many things and activities [I have coming up], but when I’m feeling that way, I try to focus on what’s needed of me at the present moment and slowly chip away at the tasks.” So slow it down, and take it one thing at a time—starting with what’s most important for right now.

Learn to "monotask"
Multitasking is a skill we’ve honed over the years, learning to first balance school with homework and hanging out with our friends. Nowadays, every aspect of our life consists of multitasking. We’re plugged into our texts and e-mails while taking notes in an important class or meeting, or we find that our jobs or school schedule require constantly working on ten things at once—and doing so with perfection. When this happens, we likely find ourselves wondering how the time flew by; we're totally worn out, and never once are we able to take a moment to truly be present.

How do we remedy that? Bianca Cheah, founder of Sporteluxe.com, wants us to learn how to "monotask," really striving to do one thing—and only one thing—at a time. “[I practice mindfulness] by being present in every moment, whether that’s enjoying every spoonful of my lunch or putting down my phone and listening to the person who is talking to me,” she says. “Sometimes it’s challenging, as multitasking was once the skill to have. But nowadays? It’s monotasking.”

Meditate in the shower
Are you the type that blames a lack of free time for your lack of meditating? Believe me, I hear you, but there is a way to squeeze it in to even the busiest of schedules, no excuses. Tiffany Noelani, co-founder of Chill by Will, recommends making time for meditation in the shower. “I’m still working on my own ritual, but I think the shower is a great place to sneak in a quick mini meditation,” she says. “It’s something we all do every day, and adding a few extra minutes won’t have an effect on your timeline, yet could have a huge impact on your mindset.” Sink-side candles and in-shower incense, optional.

Find the best form of meditation for you
When meditation comes to mind, most of us immediately picture ourselves sitting silently in a quiet room for anywhere from ten to 45 minutes. While many people do choose to practice that way, it’s definitely not the only form of meditation out there. “Most people think meditation only happens when you sit in a quiet room, close your eyes, and focus, but that’s not the only way,” says Nima TaherZadeh, founder of athletic wear brand Heroine Sport. “Try to find what naturally clears your mind, instead of trying to force your mind to be quiet.”

This could be a number of things, of course, and it doesn’t always have to involve sitting still. Whether it’s during yoga, going for a run, or cooking, people will find their zen in all sorts of places. How does TaherZadeh do this? “By trying to have a portion of my day only for myself, whether it’s my fitness class or a run in the park. I have my best clarity when I’m physical. That’s my personal form of meditation.” 

Do a bit of trial and error and find when you feel your best.

Take 30 seconds to connect to your breath
Whether or not meditation is a part of your daily practice (or daily shower), we all should strive to take a moment to give our buzzing minds a break when they need one. Thankfully, there small things we can do to practice mindfulness each and every day.

Myk Likhov, founder of Miami meditation club Modern OM, suggests taking 30 seconds to focus on your breath—and it really is as simple and easy as that. “Connect with your breath. Our breath is the one constant in life, yet we rarely pay attention to it. Take 30 seconds to simply notice your breath,” he says.

This especially comes in handy for stressful moments. “What’s pretty wild is that when your attention is on the breath, you can’t actually think about your problems,” says Likhov. “Our minds can’t concentrate on two things at once, so just following your breath for 30 seconds or more, you’re giving your mind (and nervous system) a rest from that anxious state.”

Simply just get moving
Look, being active is crucial to our physical and mental health, but this doesn’t necessarily mean we have to become the type to hit the gym at 6am each morning or join the latest cult-y fitness craze, either—especially if those aren't things you're passionate about.

What it comes down to is that we choose to simply move a little each day, and we can totally start small, especially if fitness isn’t really our thing. Fitness trainer Ron “Boss” Everline suggests setting some simple daily goals. “You can incorporate fitness into your wellness practices by setting a daily goal of small movements—such as going for a walk,” he says. He points out that not only is movement beneficial to heart health, but also it could reap benefits for those who are stressed out or overwhelmed (which, let’s be honest, is probably all of us). “You can use working out as a means of releasing anxiety and tension, and it also helps with freeing your mind and putting yourself in a better place.” So whether it means trying out one of his ass-kicking classes for yourself, doing a few sets of squats while watching TV, or adding an evening stroll to your daily rituals, just, simply, get moving!