With the holiday season now in full swing, you may notice yourself having more difficulty feeling relaxed and enjoying little moments through the day. Your mind may be thinking of situations like the dozens and dozens of presents that need to be bought, what will your budget allow, which side of the family to visit, and what will be your new year resolution? No wonder many say the holidays increase stress!
Introducing, mindfulness!
Mindfulness is about being aware of what you are thinking and feeling and deciding where to focus your attention (1). We all linger our thoughts in the past and the future, but what about the present? Being mindful of the moment? We can spend up to 50 percent of our time caught up in thoughts of what could have been or planning those things which are out of ones control. Mindfulness helps engage with the here and now and approach life with greater clarity and peace of mind (2). Spending a few minutes a day practicing mindfulness can give your brain time to recharge. So imply put: Stop, take a breath, and think about what you are thinking (1). One way I encourage my clients to practice mindfulness is to go through the five senses- sight, smell, touch, sound and taste.Here are a few ways to start living each moment and slip mindfulness into your day:

 

Right when you wake up. When your alarm goes off, instead of jumping out of bed, take a minute or two to stop, take in your surroundings, breathe, and clear your mind (3, 4, 5).

In the shower. Notice the warmth of the water on your skin, as well as the sensation of the water droplets falling on your shoulders. Be mindful of the smell of the shower gel or shampoo. Enjoy the softness of the soap on your skin, or massaging the shampoo into your hair. Be aware of the amount of water that you are using, and the sound of silence once you turn the shower off (2).

Driving. Relax! Do you really have to speed? Try driving a little slower today. Let red lights remind you to take a breath. Listen thoughtfully to the radio, or take in some of the sights and sounds of the outside (without getting too distracted from driving!) Notice any emotions that happen while in traffic and be aware of tension in your body (2, 3, 4).
 
Waiting in line at the store. Let this be a time for calm rather than frustration or impatience. Notice your posture and breathing while you wait. Be aware of your breath- practice slow, rhythmic inhales and exhales (2, 3).

Walking in and out of work or school. Next time you walk in or out of work, slow your pace down, don’t rush! Take a deep breath in and smell the air outside. Try breathing in on three steps, and fully out the next three steps. Note any tension in your body and let it go (4).

When you have a meal. Before you take your first bite, notice your meal, the color, texture, seasonings sprinkled on top. As you eat, be aware of specific tastes, temperature, even the motion of chewing and holding your silverware. Enjoy the taste as if you were a top rated food critic (5).

During chores and everyday routines. Usually during mundane activities, such as cleaning, brushing your teeth or folding clothes, the mind tends to ruminate and wander. Start to become more aware of your movement, pressure and tension of your body. Consciously and carefully do your chores, noticing the sounds and placement of objects (3, 5).

A little moment with yourself when you wake up, in your car, or even enjoying a snack or meal can open your day to a little bit of mindfulness and, hopefully, a less stressful holiday season.

References:

(1) Bergland, C. (2013, March 31.) Mindfulness Made Simple. The Athletes Way. Retrieved from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-athletes-way/201303/mindfulness-made-simple.

(2) Headspace.com. (2013, August 2). 5 Ways to Bring Mindfulness into Everyday Life. Retrieved from http://www.dailygood.org/story/497/5-ways-to-bring-mindfulness-into-everyday-life-headspace-com/.

(3) Tartakovsky, M. (2012). 7 Easy Ways to be Mindful Every Day. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2012/06/09/7-easy-ways-to-be-mindful-every-day/.

(4) Goldstein, E. (2009). Hectic Life? Quick Tips for Mindful Living. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mindfulness/2009/07/quick-tips-for-mindful-living/

(5) Tartakovsky, M. (2011). Practicing Mindfulness for Busy People. Psych Central. Retrieved from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/09/26/practicing-mindfulness-for-busy-people/.

Urban Balance prioritizes the safety of our clients and staff and will provide teletherapy counseling services.
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