Many people overlook the importance of daily stretching because plopping down on the sofa after a long day seems far more relaxing than grabbing a mat and doing a couple of exercises. If you are someone who tells yourself you should start stretching but avoids it like the plague, this is your sign to start.
Since your life slowly shifted to working remotely, this is an opportunity to control your health and your new workflow and routine. Keep reading through this blog as we help you transition from couch potato to resilient potato.
By now, everyone knows or has heard of mindfulness; with that said, we will skip the explanations and jump right into the techniques.
Try stepping into the role of the observer when you are out and about. This exercise is simple, make a conscious decision to put all of your attention into your environment. The catch with this particular method is not to make any judgements; see your surroundings for what they are.
Look around at the trees, your pets if you have any, or gaze at the horizon. How is the water moving? What way are the trees swaying? Absorb the colours and feel the sensations on your skin while keeping your mind still.
You can do this ANYWHERE; let yourself become the observer of your surroundings without judgement. The best part about this practice is that if your mind starts to pull you away, you can begin again by simply directing your attention to another point of reference.
Practicing active listening is a lot harder than it sounds. Often we assume, predict, and diagnose our responses or what the other person is talking about before they finish their sentence.
We apply what the other person is talking about and respond based on our own experience. We find ways to relate and connect to an individual by answering with our own stories. Don’t worry, we all do this.
Through active listening, we practice empathy and holding space for the person we are talking to. Which looks like this:
Not thinking about what you are going to say while the person is speaking
Not responding with your own story or giving advice based on your own experience.
Instead, you are:
Focusing your attention on what the person is saying.
Listening for the emotion
You are asking questions or simply empathizing.
Active listening takes practice and self-awareness to recognize when you have stopped being present in the conversation. We all want to be heard, seen, understood, and active listening is a great place to start by holding space for the person you are speaking with.
We were having a conversation about mindful eating and how food is essential to our survival. Aside from the obvious but food also brings people together and invites connection. Unfortunately for us, especially in the western culture, we want things to be done fast.
With thousands of distractions all around us, we devour our foods and sometimes not at all, and we forget to nourish ourselves with the richness it has to offer. We are consuming empty calories, forgetting to taste all the flavours, and not showing gratitude for how it got onto the plate in the first place.
Here’s how to practice mindfulness through eating:
No use of electronics, including radio, TV, cellphones, etc.
Find a spot where you can enjoy your food uninterrupted
If you are enjoying a meal with someone, it is okay not to have a conversation
Chew your food 25+ times
Listen to your body when you are feeling full to avoid overeating
Be mindful of what kinds of foods you are putting into your body
Pay attention to how you feel after certain meals
The goal is to incorporate all of those things; however, for starters, start with one thing and do it every day until it becomes second nature.
This method sounds pretty straightforward, yet we are not thinking about the breath or observing how we breathe most of the time. Our bodies are amazing, and we can dive deep into how we feel if we pay attention to our breath.
Through years of exposure to traumas, life experiences, and conversations, we have learned how to cope with stimuli that trigger our anxiety, anger, sadness, etc. We have learned to cut ourselves off in ways that we do not have to dip into those areas of our lives.
This specific technique, we are not suggesting for you to drop into your traumas or start crying, but focus on your breath and the feeling of the air leaving your nostrils.
Focusing your attention on the breath can help you focus your mind and slow down the thoughts that are causing you to feel anxious. There is no right or wrong way of doing this; breathe and fix your mind on the breath.
We suggest starting with 2-5 minutes every day and seeing where the journey will take you.
We are activating our senses every day, but how often do we pay attention to how things feel, taste, smell, or sound?
Playing with your senses encourages you to step into the present moment and observe each of the five senses.
Here are things you can ask yourself when you are playing with your senses:
One of our favorite ways of using this method is when we are close to a pet. If you watch your pet move around, feel their fur, observe their paws, listen to them purr, it is quite beautiful to witness how in the moment they are.
Have you ever tried the practice of paying attention to your heartbeat?
We recommend trying this practice when you are feeling anxious, sad, or disconnected from yourself. Directing your attention to your heartbeat is a sentimental way of showing up for yourself energetically and emotionally.
It is a sacred acknowledgement of your being, acceptance of how you are feeling in that moment, and holding space for yourself to be with whatever is happening in your mind, heart, and body.
We recommend placing your hand or both hands over your heart while taking deep breaths and simply observing that moment. The most important part of this practice is not to judge what comes up and simply watch.
You have probably heard and seen many things on the internet talking about practising gratitude or journal prompts posted in every book store.
Yes, the method of showing gratitude for things you are thankful for is essential and doing it with a glad heart will slowly help you shift your perspective on your life. We mean by this that when you take time out of your day to reflect and acknowledge the things that mean a lot to you, you train your mind to then think about those things more often.
Gratitude helps us open our hearts and see the things we have in our life RIGHT NOW to learn to appreciate vs. thinking about what we don’t have. Practicing gratitude is simple; you can write things down at the end of the day in your journal or practice gratitude first thing when you get up in the morning.
The freedom to choose is entirely up to you. Get creative with this one!
Do you realize it when you make a judgement about something or someone?
A judgment means good or bad; it is simply a personal judgment that you make about something such as calling your friend beautiful or saying that the house over there is ugly. When you are practicing mindfulness, the challenge is not to make judgements about anything.
As human beings, somewhere down the line, we started to judge everything.
Now, the practice is to unlearn making judgements. We are not trying to make you wrong in any way and only direct your attention to it, so next time somebody shows up wearing something you don’t like, you don’t judge.
Or the next time you pass judgement about another human being, you are aware of it. By being mindful, you then have the choice to make another choice.
Or when you are trying to do yoga or meditate, and somebody is loud outside, you don’t judge it.
The practice of avoiding making judgements is to accept things and situations unconditionally, which is a lot harder than it sounds.
We were not going to throw this one up, but this is a great way to connect to your body.
When you are lying down in bed at night, take five minutes with your eyes closed to scan your body with your mind head to toe while focusing on your breath.
Performing a body scan before heading to sleep can aid better sleep, relax the mind, and decrease stress while bringing you back to yourself. A body scan will also help you create a stronger relationship with yourself and drop into your senses.
We found that people who are more in tune with their bodies are more conscious about what they put in them.
Incorporating mindfulness into your day helps relieve stress, treat heart disease, decrease blood pressure, help with chronic pain, and much more. Overall the practice of mindfulness helps improve your mental health without having to rely on medication.
Setting aside 5 minutes every day to be mindful will have tremendous effects on your mental health and wellbeing.
We designed this blog to give you ideas about how you, too, can practice mindfulness in your daily life. We mentioned before that being mindful does not necessarily have to consist of daily yoga or meditation.
We know that daily life can get hectic from time to time, if not always, so we wanted to provide you with tools that you can start using today to be more mindful that don't eat away much of your time.
The techniques we shared with you today are things that we have personally tried ourselves and have seen incredible results.
We have experienced a change in perspective, relationships, and personal life. We like to think of mindfulness as an act of self-care and a doorway to a more fulfilling life.
Remember that when you don’t make a decision, that is a decision in itself. However, we want you to know that the invitation to try is there, at your own pace.
So pick a mindfulness practice, and give it your best shot. :)