‘Mindfulness’ seems to have been the buzzword of recent months, scattered liberally here, there and everywhere. Whilst I do try very hard to be mindful of others — of those I love, work with, and encounter — I know I could do more when it comes to those further afield. In our busy lives, it’s so easy to become caught up in our own things — deadlines, running late, money woes, bad gym sessions — that we lose sight of the bigger picture, the real issues, and the little, tiny things that can go an awful long way. Every time I call my Nana, she tells me it’s made her day — and she means it. So why dammit am I not doing it more?
Like a lot of you, I've already got a lot planned already for 2017. Big things I’m excited to tell you about, but as well as those, I want to make sure it’s the year I look back on and know that I did my bit. That doesn’t mean I’m going climbing up Mount Kilimanjaro for charity or volunteering in Syria, ‘cos as much as I’d love to, it's important to be realistic.
I gave blood for the first time this year which I told you about here, and it really served to remind me that you can do something so good so simply. I saved a life, and all it meant was 30 minutes out of my schedule. Okay I fainted twice but really, it was no skin off my nose. I had an appointment to do so again yesterday — something I’d put on a bit of a pedestal — but unfortunately wasn’t able to donate due to my iron levels being too low. But instead of getting angry (I've booked another appointment for February), I wanted to focus on some of the other things I — and hopefully you too — can and should do (a lot more) for a more mindful year. Here we go then...
Offer a helping hand
How easy is it to help someone with their shopping? Help carry a pram down up the stairs? Stop to offer someone directions? Someone stopped me when I was running across Tower Bridge the other day to firstly ask me to take their picture, then asked for my London recommendations!? I thought it was totally random to start with but then realised, it must have been so helpful for them! Be that person who goes the extra mile.
At risk of sounding like a preacher having only given my first donation this year, giving blood is something we should ALL do more. Most of us can donate, and we must. The nation’s blood supplies are very low and our generation aren’t doing a great job of replenishing them. Book your appointment today and give as regularly as you can.
Spend time offline
A more personal one, but one that keeps you grounded. In the busy world of social media, it’s all too easy to wish for things to be that little bit different and compare yourself to others. It’s inspiring and it’s amazing, but it’s also a breeding ground for negativity. Make sure you spend valuable time offline, in the moment and with those you love. You will never remember the times you spend scrolling through Instagram so don’t waste too much time doing it!
Give regularly to a food bank
Astonishingly, 37% of children living in London live under the poverty line, which is quite simply staggering. Whilst the problems of why and how to solve it go deeper, in the meantime, what’s £5 extra in your shopping basket every month? Check online what your local bank needs more of, stock up and drop a bag off on your way home from the supermarket.
Ask more questions
Time flies, like, fast, and without intention, it's so easy to find days and weeks pass without properly checking in on friends, family and colleagues who might really need you. Ask questions and listen to the answers. "How are you?" shouldn't be rhetorical. Remember, mindfulness.
Donate to charity
One of the most sensible things I did this year was set up a monthly direct debit to Cancer Research. It goes out of my bank without me realising, and goes some way to support funding research for cures for a horrible disease that could affect anyone of us at any time. Don’t let others take responsibility for something you could just as easily do. Donate!
Call grandparents more
I’m guilty of this, I should definitely call my grandparents more. For those of us who work in offices and talk all day, it’s easy to forget how lonely it must be to be home alone all day, so a 10-minute call really goes a long way, especially when you don’t live near enough to visit often. Letters and photographs too! Because who doesn’t love mail?