Welcome to the Blog! I'm Erin Solomon, a life coach and former practicing attorney based in Chicago, Illinois. Here, you'll find practical strategies and encouragement for living your best life - an authentic, joyful and peaceful life on your terms. If you're ready to hop in the driver's seat and create a life you love, you're in the right place! I hope you'll grab a cup of your favorite coffee or tea and join me!
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One of the suggestions I often make to clients who want to improve their lives is to start building in some simple, everyday habits or practices to improve their overall mindfulness and wellbeing. Many of them want to go big and do all the things (I understand how that is), but it’s really the small, consistent rituals over time that build a better life. And when you’re pursuing dreams and making an impact on the world, you need a strong foundation. It starts with your daily practices.
Of course, you have to take responsibility for your own wellbeing and choose the habits that are right for you. These are just some of the things that have worked for me and some of my clients.
Yoga is one of my favorite ways to bring mindfulness, deep breathing, and connection into my day. I like to keep a yoga mat readily available on my living room or office floor so I can easily hop on the mat during the day. When it’s time for a break, it’s easy to do a quick (or longer) at-home yoga video. Even just some simple stretching is great. Pausing for a little movement goes a long way!
One of the benefits of yoga is that it gets me to breathe more deeply than I usually do all day. Breathing with movement is even better. It helps me feel more peaceful and almost instantly boosts my mood with positive effects lasting all day, especially the more consistently I do it.
My favorite (free!) at-home yoga is the Youtube channel Yoga with Adriene. She has a wide range of free videos for all different levels, including complete beginners. I love that she focuses on mindfulness and encourages you to listen to your own inner voice and body. Plus, she doesn’t take herself too seriously!
Journaling is a great way to connect with yourself and your inner wisdom. It can help you to process your thoughts, get your ideas out of your head and onto paper, and reduce overwhelm. Despite what you may think, a journal doesn’t have to be kept as a keepsake or a document of your life. Use it as a tool to process your ideas, beliefs, and feelings. You can always tear it up and throw it away if that gets you to write more freely!
Journaling is a great way to practice coaching yourself. You can write down your own beliefs and thoughts and fears and also challenge them as a coach would. Journals are great for exploring your vision for your future, clarifying your goals, or developing your gratitude. Remember, there are no rules so just have fun with it and start writing. See what comes up!
For those of you who are hesitant about journaling but want to process your stuff and release it, release writing is a great option. Allow yourself to write, write, write, as fast as you can like a stream of consciousness. It doesn’t matter how your handwriting looks like and you don’t have to hold anything back for fear it could be read because you’re not keeping it. Put your energy and emotion into it and release it through writing, then tear up the paper, and throw it out!
Meditation is a great way to learn to slow down and carve out space. It’s not about eliminating your thoughts, but training your mind to settle down and focus. We can get so wrapped up in doing, doing, doing, and running around with packed schedules. Sitting quietly and allowing ourselves to not “do” but simply to “be” is a challenge in our society but a very valuable practice.
I have found in my own life that daily meditation keeps me calmer, more grounded, peaceful, and connected with myself. Beyond relaxation, consistent meditation helps me be more patient, let those little annoyances and frustrations roll off me easier, and focus more easily when I need to.
I suggest starting with very small amounts of time (even a minute!) That’s how I started and it really helped me to stick with it. Once you’re used to sitting in the chair every day, you can always add more time. I love the Headspace app’s free foundational guided meditations for establishing the habit and learning some basics about meditation. Now, I use the Insight Timer app either with guided meditations or just the timer. Whatever you use, I highly recommend something that tracks your meditation sessions. The Insight Timer app’s tracker of consecutive days of meditation for me is very motivating and keeps me consistent.
Meditation helps us develop the self-discipline to sit still and not do anything. Of course, there are times when boredom arises and we feel antsy. But learning to sit with that is part of the practice. Over time, we learn to sit longer and be with those feelings, which helps us grow. We aren’t used to doing that in our society where there are easy distractions all around us.
Do you notice you reach for your phone or turn on the TV as soon as you have a quiet moment with yourself? I understand what that’s like. It has never been easier to fill all the quiet spaces with noise and distraction. Even in the shower, we can have a podcast playing in the background!
And while those things we’re distractions aren’t all bad, it’s my belief that we do ourselves a disservice if we don’t have any quiet reflective time in our day to problem-solve, be creative, hear our own thoughts, or even just space out or daydream. So allow yourself some space. Even if it’s only for a few minutes, the next time you’re doing the dishes, going for a walk or taking a shower, let yourself experience a little silence. Notice if you feel a bit calmer that day!
Walking is beneficial for most people, but mindful walking can add a whole new layer of benefit. It helps me slow down and be calmer and more aware of the present moment.
Living in a city, I walk almost everywhere anyway. Mindful walking is about bringing more awareness to your movement and the present moment as you go about your walk. Before beginning, set the intention to be fully present during your walk. Your mind will drift away and that’s okay. The point is how you bring it back to the present.
As you’re walking, keep bringing your awareness to what’s going on within and around you. Notice your breath, the way your arms sway and how your feet feel as they touch the ground. Pick up on the sounds around you – the chirping birds, the colors of the flowers, the breeze ruffling leaves on the trees. Notice any thoughts or emotions that come up. Be aware of them but don’t judge or dwell on them. Simply notice them rise up and float away like waves.
Try it next time you’re out for a walk or sitting outside! Take a few minutes to put away your phone (or leave it at home if you can safely) and bring intentional awareness to the present moment. And if walking isn’t available to you, the same practices can be applied to any movement or experience in which you decide to bring more present moment awareness.
It may sound sort of silly that gratitude is something we need to have as a habit or a daily practice, but it takes intentional focus just like anything else. Sure, you’re probably grateful if you really think about it, but how often do you bring your attention to your gratitude? And how often do you really take the time to FEEL into it? Gratitude is a practice, after all, and so it must be practiced.
Once you start seeking out and noticing all the good stuff you have to be grateful for – really putting your attention on it – appreciation comes naturally and more joy flows through. Even for the simplest, smallest things. Bring a sense of childlike wonder and awe to the beauty of life as you delve deeper into gratitude.
Start by writing down 3 things every day that you’re grateful for, but don’t just write them down, feel them. Emotion is what really activates this, not a list. Take time to close your eyes and dive into the emotion of how that thing/person/situation makes you feel grateful. What would your life be like without that? How does it make your life better?
These simple practices, done persistently, are the kinds of habits that lead to a different, more peaceful life. Notice how they are nourishing and create a solid foundation for everything else. There’s no cookie cutter list of habits that lead to a better life. The key is tune into what you’re really needing right now and what would be nourishing for you and simply start.
I’d love to hear from you! What are some of the daily habits you enjoy or that you’d like to start doing? Comment below and share. I’d love to see your ideas and start a conversation about this!
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