A 10-Minute Exercise You Can Do To Help You Get Through Your Quarter Life Crisis
Going through any type of crisis in your life is overwhelming. A quarter-life crisis is when you’re at a point in your life where what you once believed about yourself no longer feels true to you. Sometimes it’s realizing the career path you’ve been on isn’t right for you. Sometimes it has nothing to do with your job, but you’re in a relationship you thought would make you happy only to discover you’re miserable and don’t exactly know why.
To break through a quarter-life crisis, you must start by tuning out all of the noise around you. Between the Internet, social media, your family, and friends, you’re taking in a lot of different opinions all the time, all telling you they know exactly how you should or should not live your life. The world is very noisy these days, which means you have to be able to tune out the thoughts/opinions, aka “noise” of others, in order to tune into yourself.
Your goal throughout your quarter-life crisis is to better understand yourself and what you want for your life. When you know yourself, you’re able to make choices that align with your values. When you make choices that align with your values, your life feels like your own and one you want to live.
All of this may feel daunting, which is why it’s important to start small. For ten minutes a day, preferably in the morning, you’re going to meditate for five minutes and then journal for five minutes. The best part: you don’t have to leave the house; it will cost you nothing, and you’ll start to see the benefits pretty quickly.
Here’s why meditation and journaling are so powerful:
Meditation is the practice of focusing your mind either on your breath or a mantra while you notice, but not engage, with your thoughts. Research has shown meditation is incredibly powerful because it’s one of the best ways to manage depression and anxiety while also improving your mood and your emotional reactions.
What makes meditation so vital is you’re actively retraining your brain. While our brains are a static physical structure, it changes based on what we’re thinking and feeling. Our brains have the ability to improve and grow, but it requires regular practice.
Most people believe in order to “meditate correctly,” you must completely clear all of your thoughts. They give up when they find they can’t stop their thoughts during meditation and just assume meditation isn’t for them. Anyone can meditate, and the goal isn’t to completely stop your thoughts; that’s impossible, but to simply notice your thoughts and then let them go.
For example, If you start thinking about what you’re going to have for dinner, instead of beating yourself up for having the thought, simply notice, “I’m thinking about dinner and I’m going to let that go and refocus on my breath or this mantra or the meditation I’m listening to.” You’re not stopping the thoughts; you’re noticing them without judgment and bringing your attention back to the present moment.
Doing this over and over again will help you be more present in the moment. This will help you stop ruminating about the past and stop worrying about the future. It will also help you become more aware of what you’re thinking and feeling, which will inevitably help you learn more about yourself, and what you want and don’t want so you can start making decisions that feel right to you and only you.
Journaling is writing down your thoughts and feelings in order to understand yourself better. Journaling also allows you to process certain situations and experiences. When you journal, you’re taking all those thoughts and feelings circling around in your brain, making you feel anxious and overwhelmed, and you’re putting them on paper.
Once you put something down on paper, it feels less scary and more manageable, which allows you to tackle it not from a place of fear but from a place of awareness. The more you “expose” your thoughts and feelings, the less power they hold over you.
One of the more difficult aspects of a quarter-life crisis is facing the unknown. You’re at a point in your life where your current life doesn’t fit, but you have no idea what kind of life is the right fit for you. Journaling will help you get clear on what you want and don’t want, what thoughts you need to let go of and clarify where you need to put your attention.
Just like meditation, there have been a lot of studies about the benefits of journaling. A 2018 study found journaling for 12 weeks reduced the mental distress of people who struggle with anxiety. There was another study conducted in 2003 of 100 young adults who were asked to journal for 15 minutes about a distressing event or simply about their day twice a week. The participants who journaled saw the biggest results, like a reduction of depression and anxiety symptoms as well as anger and frustration, especially if they were journaling about a specific event.
Why Meditation And Journaling?
While both meditation and journaling will help you better understand your thoughts and feelings, they work really well together. Meditation helps raise your awareness and teaches you that just because you have a thought, it doesn’t make it true, and it doesn’t mean you need to do something about it. Journaling can expand your insight and allow you to take all of those thoughts and put them onto paper so you can really understand why you’re thinking and feeling the way you do.
How To Do The 10-Minute Exercise:
Pick a time of day when you know you can accomplish this exercise without interruptions or distractions. This is why morning is always best. Block off this time in your calendar. The day before you start, pick a meditation you can do. You can find great meditations on Youtube, or you can download an app like Headspace or Calm. Before you start, know what you’re going to use and have it ready. Also, make sure you put aside a notebook and a pen.
When it’s time to practice the exercise, set a timer for five minutes (or pick a five minute meditation). Immediately after your meditation, take a breath and set your timer for another five minutes and open up your notebook and start journaling. Don’t censor yourself; just write what comes into your mind. This simple act will start to awaken thoughts and feelings you didn’t know existed.
Once you start getting comfortable with this, you can increase the meditation time to six minutes and then seven minutes. Meditation is a practice you can build up over time, but you probably don’t want to keep journaling after five minutes because your hand will start to hurt. Also, once you get everything out of your head, it may start to feel like a chore to keep writing.
It’s never easy to go through a quarter-life crisis, and it’s never easy to start a new habit but building strong habits that you practice on a daily basis will make getting to the other side of a crisis a lot easier.
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