5 Ways to Bring Mindfulness into Your Life
by Hela Baer, LMSW, RYT, ESMHL
The past twelve months have been incredibly stressful. From the regular stressors of daily life to the unprecedented challenges of a global pandemic, we have all spent a lot of time in survival mode. In many ways that has been a helpful response – it helped us navigate changing realities, manage risk, and respond to crisis. And while our inherent resilience in times of crisis is remarkable, it also takes a toll on our minds and bodies.
It is incredibly important for us to create opportunities for rest, creativity, and restoration for both our mental and physical wellbeing. In times when we’re balancing so many different things and struggling to make ends meet, it can feel overwhelming and even indulgent to make time to take care of ourselves. So we are here to give you full permission to slow down, nurture yourself, and seek joy – because you deserve to feel whole and connected even (or especially) during difficult times.
One way to do this is by integrating mindfulness into your everyday life. To help you get started, we put together a list of exercises you are welcome to explore any time you want to take a break and just be. We invite you to make any adjustments or changes to these exercises so that they feel good for you and meet your specific needs. As a little reminder, it is absolutely okay if you don’t connect with all of these exercises – feel free to try whichever ones you are curious about and work for you.
- Making time to slow down
It is very easy to get caught up in all of the things we need to do and accomplish every day. With this in mind, you’re welcome to create a little routine to help you slow down at some point throughout the day. Maybe you take time each morning to drink water/tea/coffee and read, or step outside in the middle of the day and watch the trees/birds/people for a few minutes, or dedicate some time in the evening to soak your feet or use a hot compress – anything that lets you take a moment to slow down and just be, even if just for 5 minutes.
- Engaging the senses
A wonderful way to feel grounded and in our bodies is to connect with our five senses. You can do this any time you make a cup of tea or coffee, by taking a moment to notice the sounds of boiling water, the sights of changing colors, smells of your drink brewing, the feelings of warmth when holding the mug, and the taste of your first sip. You’re welcome to bring your awareness to any other sensory details you notice without any pressure to put it into words. Just noticing.
- Ten deep breaths
Breathing can be one of the most effective ways to calm our nervous system and ease stress – and you can practice it anytime and anywhere. Feel free to find a comfortable position sitting, standing, or laying down, and you can decide whether to close your eyes or keep them open. When you’re ready, you can start the exercise by inhaling for 3-5 seconds and exhaling for 3-5 seconds. You can start at 3 seconds for each breath and make your way to 5, or you can stay there the entire time. If you like, you can also use your hand to count your breaths, counting each full breath with one finger.
- Joyful movement
Gently moving our bodies is a wonderful way to both bring awareness to our body’s needs and release tension. And there are so many ways to do this – going for a stroll around the block, doing a couple stretches, dancing to some music, doing a full body shake, putting on some lotion, or just taking an extra bathroom break. There are no standards you have to meet with joyful movement – it is all about moving in a way that feels good to you.
- Coloring or drawing
Getting creative is a wonderful way to slow down, release some stress, and connect with our inner child. There are free coloring sheets for children and adults that you can download from the internet or you could just doodle on a scrap of paper hanging out on your desk. You could also go through some old magazines and cut out pictures for a collage, or invest in a pad of paper and some watercolors and paint the view from your window.