Mindfulness – 11 easy ways to sneak some into your day.
The science is piling up. Multiple Studies have shown mindfulness, meditation, personal time, whatever you want to call it, can do amazing things like:
reduce stress1, reduce inflammation in chronic inflammatory conditions 2, reduce anxiety symptoms and improve coping3, help reduce depression symptoms 4, and the list goes on and on. This area of study is exploding as more and more people benefit from taking a bit of time for themselves.
Meditation can seem daunting but it doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to have a quiet place and sit with your legs crossed while chanting “Ommmmm” although that is very nice. Many of us have to get to work, pick up kids, grocery shop, doctor’s appointments, zoom calls and all the other things we have to do to keep our life moving along.
Many cultures have known this “secret” for hundreds if not thousands of years. We in the west are a bit slow on the uptake, however. But it is never too late! I am here to give you a few sneaky, quick, hacks to get the quiet time you and your brain so desperately need.
I have come up with 11 ways to sneak in some mindfulness. These may seem too easy, like they couldn’t really work; but I promise you they will benefit you more than you know. It won’t happen right away, the effect is cumulative so it does take some time. I challenge you to make a quick note on how you are feeling and what may be stressing you out right now, then put that note on your calendar a month from now with a “I was feeling this way a month ago” when it comes up on your calendar I am guessing you will see the benefits in many aspects of your life.
The thing all these activities have in common is that you are taking time on purpose. You are acknowledging the short break you are giving yourself. You are giving yourself permission to just stop, even for a moment, and breathe. Take the time, you deserve it. Who knows you may find all this so pleasant you start meditating, like, for real.
Let’s get this party started. You are taking some time to read this so let’s take advantage of that. Just 3 breaths can make a huge difference. Breathe into your belly, not your chest, to get the most benefit. Ready, ok! (no speed reading here)
1. Breathe into your belly.………..breathe out……..…
2. breathe in ….….breathe out (read more slowly!;-)
3. breathe in ….….breathe out
Ah that’s nice isn’t it? That’s how simple mindfulness can be!
Most of us need our morning coffee and part of what makes it special is that it is something we do for ourselves. You may think you are a slave to the caffeine but the bigger benefit is giving yourself a treat. Don’t take that cup for granted. Take a moment, smell the aroma, watch the cream swirl in your cup and just breathe. This can be the best way to start your day. Set a timer and give yourself 10 minutes to enjoy that cup of coffee. If you don’t have 10 minutes take 5, surely you can spare just 5 minutes for your mental and physical health.
Walking to or from the car
When you are out running errands or parking for work give yourself some distance. Choose a spot further away from the door than you usually do. Then as you are walking to your destination count your steps, up to ten, then start over. Take your time and walk a bit more slowly than usual. Even if you only count to ten twice you still have slowed down your brain, on purpose, and given it a break.
Waiting in line or on hold
Instead of being irritated at how long you are waiting, take a deep belly breath and welcome the chance to slow down. Again, start counting, this time your breaths, in is 1 and out is 2, in 3 out 4 and so on. And again only count to 10 then start over with your counting.
Stopped at a light or in traffic
Take a deep breath (into the belly) and welcome the short quiet time you have been given.
Turn off the radio, music app or podcast
Sorry podcasters everywhere but we are fighting for mental health here! While driving or commuting, even if it is just for a few minutes, just turn off the input – radio, music app, podcast, and enjoy the quiet. Appreciate the brief respite from your busy day. Again, take a deep belly breath and let your shoulders relax as you exhale.
Brushing your teeth
I highly recommend the timed electronic toothbrushes for this, as does your dentist 😉 If you don’t have an electronic toothbrush just set a timer on your phone for 2 or 3 minutes. Then brush your teeth just like you normally do. Count your strokes or breaths and again appreciate this small bit of quiet you are giving yourself.
Private bathroom time
I won’t go into too much detail here but you know the time I am talking about. Leave your phone off while you are answering the call of nature. You may not want to breathe too deeply but you can count your breaths or visualize you are somewhere else, somewhere peaceful while relaxing your shoulders.
Walking the dog or yourself
You are taking time out to nurture your body and or your pet so let’s get a double whammy from it. While you are out walking count your steps up to 10 then start again. Do this for several intervals of 10, take some deep slow breaths and appreciate that you are being kind to yourself in that moment. Just take some deep breaths and be thankful you get the chance to take a walk.
Face mask time
No not the ones we wear because of Covid19 the other kind. The best excuse ever to pamper yourself. Men don’t think you are excluded from this activity it is fantastic and your partner will be blown away by your silky soft skin. Face masks usually recommend leaving them on for 10 minutes. Take that time to relax, count your breaths, close your eyes and enjoy the quiet. You can play soft music, light a candle, visualize you are at some exotic spa, whatever helps you take a break. Make this a weekly thing – Sunday evening before the busy week starts perhaps.
Take 3 deep belly breaths, like we did at the start of this article. Breathe in as slowly as you can and exhale as slowly as you can. Just that little respite can boost your morale and clear your head.
more of musings