Life Can Be Stressful
What a stressful time we live in! As if normal life wasn’t crazy enough with work, family, friends, chores, and all the other things we do normally, here comes a major pandemic that is upending how we go about our everyday lives.
Some of us are now on the front lines of the pandemic (and a HUGE thanks go out to them), some of us are adjusting to working from home, some of us are still required to report to a physical location, and some of us may be facing uncertainty and unemployment. If you’re feeling anxious, know that you’re not alone.
Now’s the perfect time to practice mindfulness.
What is mindfulness exactly? Basically, it’s a purposeful mental exercise to calm the mind, connect to your emotions, thoughts, and the world around us. Practicing mindfulness has a number of benefits, such as slowing your heart-rate and combatting stress and anxiety. It’s sort of like meditation, but unlike meditation, mindfulness can be done anywhere at any time, even when you’re doing other things.
So, no matter what your situation is right now, mindfulness can be a tool you use to cope and forge ahead. Here are a few ways to be mindful wherever you may be.
Focus on Your Breath
The first step to do when trying to get into a mindful state is to focus on something you do naturally breathing. Breathing is one of the body’s functions that are both voluntary and involuntary. The goal with this exercise is to voluntarily breathe deep and simply observe how it enters and leaves your body. You can close your eyes if you’d like, but it’s not necessary. In fact, you can observe your breathing while you do any type of activity.
To focus on your breath, take a deep breath in through your nose, hold it for 2-4 seconds, and then slowly exhale through your mouth, pushing the air out with your diaphragm. After a minute or so of this, you will start to fall into a rhythm. Simply observe your breathe as it flows in and out. If you have other thoughts, acknowledge them, but then resume your focus on your breath. You can do this exercise whenever you feel stressed or anxious, but you can really do it whenever and wherever you are and still achieve the same calming results.
Open Your Ears
There’s usually all kinds of sounds around us that we tune out, or try to, in order to focus on tasks. But taking a moment to listen to the world around us can help generate a feeling of connectedness that might otherwise be lacking in our everyday lives.
A few times a day, stop and really listen. Like with the breathing exercise above, close your eyes if it helps. Listen to the shuffle of papers or quiet murmurings in your office. Or, if you’re at home, open a window and listen to what’s happening outside. Just focus on the sounds, observe and appreciate them. Even if it’s just your kids yelling at each in the background, taking the time to listen without judgment or need to interject can help you appreciate them, as difficult as that may be at times.
Open Your Heart
One of the most powerful ways to practice mindfulness is in how we interact with our fellow human beings. That includes your family and loved ones, but it also includes our coworkers, neighbors, and even people we might encounter at the store (just remember to keep your social distance).
Being mindful in our interactions translates to a couple of things, but mostly centers around proactively listening to what the other person has to say and responding with an open mind and kindness. Even if that person is saying something you don’t like or agree with, it’s essential to try to connect with their point of view. The key is to do it by acknowledging that person’s thoughts and emotions without judgement. That last part is the hard part, but it’s also the most essential.
Just remember, we’re all in this situation together, and being mindful of ourselves, our surroundings, and the people we see every day can help us manage the enormous challenges that are sure to be ahead.
If you are interested in learning more about mindfulness, we can help. Follow us on social media for tips and ideas, or give us a call to schedule a consultation and get what you need to live a happy and healthy life.