Things are crazy. You're stressed. But you don't have time to sit and do a half-hour meditation or run away for a weekend retreat. What do you do?
You try mini-mindfulness activities. If you have 60 seconds, you can do a reset that puts you in a better frame of mind. Here's our list to try today.
I know, I know. We always start with the breathing thing. That's because it really works to calm our stressed-out minds. This activity includes counting to keep your mind from going astray. And the slow breathing sets off physiological responses that move you toward a state of relaxation.
Try closing your eyes and breathing in through your nose for a count of four. Hold for a count of seven. Then breathe out of your mouth for a count of eight. Repeat three times for a total of four breaths. This 4-7-8 exercise can help with general relaxation and managing stress.
We're really good at mindless eating. You know what I mean. It’s discovering you’re eating the last chip when you thought you just opened the bag. Let's turn this around with a mindful eating exercise.
Find something you love, whether it's a piece of chocolate, a tangerine, or a fragrant cup of tea. Sit down. Breathe deeply. Mentally express gratitude. Then savor the experience - the smell, the texture, the taste buds it awakens in your mouth. After each bite, stop and smile. By the way, you probably want to do this exercise at home. In the breakroom at work it will make people worry about you.
Yawning into the moment
So you're stressed and have been working at your computer nonstop. In fact, your non-activity alarm has gone off on your watch so many times that it's now trying to call the emergency room. It's really easy to lose perspective at a time like this. An action that can help is simply taking time to yawn.
Start with a great big old fake yawn. That will trigger some real ones. Exhale with an "ahh". Notice how the yawn interrupts your negative thinking. Breathe deeply and smile. Add a stretch or two for good measure and you're back in the moment, ready to focus again.
Your thoughts are on the rampage again. You're worried about murder hornets, that mole on your back, and whether they're going to bring back your favorite show next season. Halt! It's time to calm that wayward mind. Here's what you do.
Look around you. 1. Name three things you can hear. 2. Name two things you can see. 3. And then name one sensation that you feel. This activity helps ground you by increasing your awareness of your surroundings and your body. Now, stop worrying. If they cancel your show, you can always watch reruns.
At the sound of the bell
Focusing on one single thing can help you shut out some of those worrying thoughts and stresses. Try this simple activity alone or with friends.
Use a large bell, a chime, or a gong that has a nice long ring to it. Ring it once and keep listening until you can't hear it anymore. If you do this with others, have them raise their hand when they lose the sound. It's interesting to see how different everyone's hearing is. And it's even better to have that degree of focus on one thing so all other thoughts are pushed aside.
Connect with the earth
We forget how grounding the earth can be for our bodies, our minds, and our spirits. How long has it been since you played in the yard in bare feet? How about trying it again?
Try walking barefoot in the grass, noticing how you walk, what the pressure feels like to the soles of your feet. Notice the shifting of your weight as you move around. Feel the temperature of the grass. Breathe deeply and smell the scents of nature. This process of "earthing" is said to help reduce stress and improve blood flow, sleep, and vitality.
Change one task into a mindful moment
We do so many things on autopilot.
Unfortunately, sometimes those things deserve more attention. (Yeah, I'm talking to the black car that didn't notice I was in the next lane...)
An exercise to change that unaware state can be helpful to our minds (and to the person in the next car).
Take one thing you do everyday and try paying attention to every sensation. It could be your morning shower. It could be the sights and sounds of walking into your office. It could be that morning cup of coffee. Pay attention to all the senses and decide what you like about that experience. Try this with something new everyday to rediscover the joys that have become invisible to you over time.
There’s your start toward increased mindfulness.
None of these take a lot of extra time. They don't cost anything. They don't even make you sweat. But they do make you aware of the moment. The precious moment that is now.
Enjoy all your moments today.