We all know that feeling on Monday morning. You’re bummed that the work week has begun, and you snooze the alarm until the very last second. With barely enough time to shower and eat breakfast, the race to get out the door begins. You scarf down a breakfast bar, gulp down that cup of coffee, and you’re out the door. You start the week frazzled and stressed, and it’s hard to feel ready to focus at work when your day starts off this way. Your mind is full when you really needed to be mindful.
Most of us have a hectic pace of life, and it seems like we’re always struggling to balance work, school, relationships, family, and social life. The days can fly by in a blur, and the anxiety can kick up because we are constantly worrying and stressed. Since mindfulness is all about truly existing in the present moment and accepting thoughts, feelings, and sensations as they arise, it’s an effective technique in managing stress and anxiety at home and at work. So much of anxiety is rooted in the past (I wish I could change this past event) or the future (what if this negative situation or outcome occurs), and mindfulness helps to ground you in the present moment.
Here are 4 ways to be more mindful each day.
Check In with Yourself
Mindfulness can start when we first hear the alarm in the morning by observing how we’re feeling physically and emotionally. By doing a quick check in and noticing any positive or negative sensations without judging them, we are better able to cope with our day because we have increased our awareness of what is occurring within. Simply noting that you’re tired or cranky without judging yourself for feeling that way helps you to better understand what your mind and body need to function effectively that day.
2. Listen to What Your Mind and Body Are Telling You
If you’re feeling depleted, you might need to plan to take breaks throughout the day in order to have the headspace to focus on work tasks. Or you may try to plan more quiet time in your office to recharge in between tasks. During those breaks, you can focus on calm breathing (I teach clients to inhale for 4 seconds through their nose, hold the breath for 4 seconds, and exhale through their mouth for 6 seconds), do a 3 minute body scan meditation through the Calm App, or stretch your back using chair yoga (YouTube has guided chair yoga sessions).
3. Incorporate Mindfulness Into Your Work Routine
If you’re feeling overwhelmed during your day, you could take a moment to step outside and go for a mindful walk to help manage the overwhelm. And if you can’t go outside, you could quietly walk through different areas of your building. Even a short, five minute walk where you are stopping and observing your surroundings can help you to cope more effectively with stress. You could use a five senses grounding technique, which includes observing what you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell, while on your walk, while taking a break in the office, or while relaxing at home to aid in de-stressing and being more present. Even honing into the music you’re listening to during your morning commute can assist in reducing stress. See if you can focus on one instrument at a time, and really hear the intricacies of that one instrument’s part. I encourage clients to pay attention to the less obvious instruments, like the bass or drums, and they find themselves consistently surprised by how much they didn’t initially hear within the layers of their favorite songs.
4. Engage in Mindful Eating
We are rarely mindful and present during our meals, and each meal is actually an opportunity to utilize mindfulness strategies too, as you can immerse yourself in the experience of your mind and body being nourished by food. How many times do we mindlessly munch on a bag of chips when we’re stressed or anxious, only to realize that we ate the whole bag without even noticing? Or we stuff our faces with food during our 30 minute lunch break but can’t remember what we ate for lunch later on? Allowing yourself to eat mindfully by noticing the look, smells, textures, and flavors of the foods you are eating increases satiety, reduces needless snacking, and allows you enjoy your meal more.
For example, if you are eating a piece of chocolate, you might take a moment to notice the wrapper on it (is it wrapped in foil, does it have a paper sleeve, or is it loose in a bag). You could observe if it is milk, dark, or white chocolate, notice if the chocolate is hard or soft, and then focus in on how the texture and sensation changes when you first put the chocolate in your mouth and when it’s melted. Tuning into the full experience is a mindfulness practice.
These are just a couple of pointers to start your mindfulness journey. If you would like your mind to be less full and to become more mindful, click the button below to schedule your initial consultation!