As much as I would love to be able to sit down for a few minutes, close my eyes, and clear my head without fidgeting or feeling like I would rather be doing *anything* else, I am not one of those people. I find my mindful (peaceful) moments and mental catharsis in other places: working out, listening to music, watching the sunset and writing, to name a few.
Through this, I have come to realize that you don’t need to put a pause - or silence - on your life to practice mindfulness, and feel more focused and grounded. Meditation isn't always with your eyes closed and your brilliantly tailored 'mindfulness' can spark out of your own personal preferences. With that in mind, I have compiled a list of activities that can help you feel more at peace and stress free anywhere, anytime.
- Work out. You know the feeling when you're really in the zone during a sweat session? It's like time stops and it's just you and your workout and your give your undivided attention to your rep, form, stride, equipment, etc. In that moment, your brain is decluttered from everything else going on in your world. This isn’t a placebo effect! Studies show that combining exercise and meditation amplifies the benefits of each.
- Watch the sunrise or sunset. By witnessing the beauty and awe of the sunset, you can slow down your perception of time, and help you appreciate life's simplest and most breathtaking gifts. It's been proven that we can benefit from incorporating such spiritual and powerful experiences into a regular rituals. In the article, “The Psychological and Physical Benefits of Spiritual/Religious Practices“, Ellen L. Idler, Ph.D., a sociology professor at Emory University, notes, “Transcendent spiritual and religious experiences have a positive, healing, restorative effect, especially if they are ‘built in,’ so to speak, to one’s daily, weekly, seasonal, and annual cycles of living.” So get out there. It's both free and freeing.
- Get out the essential oils. There is power behind scent. Breathe in lavender, peppermint, or bergamot if you're looking to unwind. Take several seconds to truly absorb the fragrance.
- Stop looking at your screen. Computers, tablets and our smartphones have made us fully functioning (and breathing) robots. Take few minutes to stop and look anywhere else - it will help your mind and your eyes.
- Color. Remember that childhood hobby that you liked so much? Adult coloring books are very much a thing and have many therapeutic properties. So what's your favorite crayon color?
- Listen to a song and try to really focus on the lyrics. This is a great tactic for when you just need a break. I also have practiced this when I have trouble falling asleep!
- Go outside. Research shows that engaging in this simple, and very accessible, activity significantly reduces cortisol and blood pressure, while boosting parasympathetic brain activity—AKA the part of your nervous system responsible for rest and equilibrium.
- Write in a journal. The key to organizing your thoughts is to write them all down!
- Get crafty. Whether it's sketching, knitting, scrapbooking, or painting, consider taking up a new hobby.
- Clean your house. Focus on each task and do not turn on the TV!
- Prepare a meal. Mindful eating. From washing, to chopping, to tasting, you not only tune out stress, but you are present in the moment.
How do you practice #mindfulness?