Protecting your mental peace is essential if you want to maintain a balanced outlook on life and work towards greater meaning and fulfilment. We all have values and aspirations for our lives, but it can be easy to forget them when we get caught up in our day-to-day struggles. And that’s when we feel increasingly stressed.
In my own life and with my clients, I utilize methods from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) to create movement towards a more peaceful, meaningful, and fulfilling life.
Here are the steps I follow:
Step 1: Define your Values
Clearly define your personal values and your broader life goals. Understanding and refining what is truly meaningful to your life gives you a clear direction to work towards. There are several tools we utilize at Momentum to facilitate a “Life Values Inventory”, and many resources can be found online to do this yourself.
Step 2: Practice Mindfulness
Being mindful means being aware of the present moment without judgement or attachment to thoughts and feelings that arise. It’s about noticing what’s happening around you and within yourself without getting too caught up in it all. Practicing regular mindfulness can help to reduce stress, anxiety and improve concentration levels. Mindfulness increases your awareness of your own emotional and physiological reactions to external events. This is an important indicator of whether you are moving towards or away from values. Taking time to notice your body and thoughts allows you some space to respond instead of reacting to life events.
Step 3. Learn to Set Healthy Boundaries
Through mindfulness, we can become aware of the things that are getting in the way of our peace and value-based living. Setting boundaries is an essential way to protect yourself from negative people, situations and energy which can disturb your sense of inner peace. Setting boundaries is about learning when we need to say “no” politely and firmly. And the practice isn’t always externally directed. Sometimes we also need to say no to ourselves when we want to engage in behaviours that will move us away from our values and goals.
Step 4: Prioritise Self-Care
It’s time to stop making excuses about why you don’t have time for self-care. This is putting your needs last, and ultimately doesn’t help yourself or the people that you care for in life. By taking the time to be intentional about recharging your batteries and your ability to be present, your well-being and ability to help others will both improve. Self-care can fall into a variety of categories including physical, emotional, psychological, financial, social, professional, and environmental. Self-care can be improved through mindfulness exercises, meditation, exercise, good sleep habits, a healthy diet, financial planning, decluttering, and counselling. Find what works for you that best addresses areas where there may be some gaps. Whether it’s taking a warm bath, going for a walk, or enjoying a cup of tea, explore what truly relaxes and refreshes you. Get creative and inspired!
Step 5: Take Committed Action
Once your values and broader life goals are clear, the next step is to start acting towards them. Create an action plan with small steps that bring you closer to what is important to your valued-living goals. Establishing S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Time-Bound) will place you on the path to success. Understand what might get in the way of action and longer-term results, such as perfectionism and negative thought patterns. This will help you to stay on track. Celebrate each step along the way as well as the ultimate outcome.
In short, values-based living is about setting intention in life; prioritising yourself, making mindful decisions and taking purposeful actions to move you in a direction that serves your greater good. By doing this regularly and consistently, you’ll be able to protect your peace of mind and find balance in life. It’s never too late to start protecting your peace of mind and working towards life goals.
And of course, if you need any help with your journey towards greater life meaning and peace of mind, we at Momentum Counselling are here to help.