While many of us know that mindfulness is a great way to reduce anxiety and stress, it can be a struggle to find time to build it into our already hectic schedule. Mindfulness coach, Clarissa Kristjansson reveals how you can make it part of your routine…
Having a bath or shower in the morning is often one precious time in the day when we have a few minutes to ourselves. So, rather than immediately thinking about the day ahead when you strip off, take five or 10 minutes to focus on and enjoy the ancient ritual of bathing. Feel the warmth of the water on your skin, listen to the sound of it pouring out of the shower head or into the bathtub, breathe in the lovely aroma of the products you’re using and think of the flowers these remind you of.
If you’re walking the dog, use his ‘sniffing stops’ to absorb the scenery around you. Look at the patterns on the leaves, the mushrooms sprouting from tree bark, the spider’s web covered in dew. Listen to the birds singing and the wind in the trees. What other noises, smells and sights are there? If you’re walking a little one to school, stop for a minute or two and get them to join in. It’s essential to introduce stress-relieving techniques to children at an early age so that they grow up happy and healthy.
Now it’s time for a break with a warm beverage of your choice. Close your eyes and wrap both hands around the mug, focusing on the warmth radiating through the cup into your hands. Pay attention and breathe deeply for a couple of minutes. Then take a sip and really savour the taste. Continue to slowly sip the drink, focusing on how it makes you feel and how much you enjoy it.
After lunch, spend a few minutes doing a mindfulness exercise. Sit quietly with your eyes shut and breathe slowly. Pick one part of your body to focus on. Let’s say it’s your feet on the floor. Pour all of your awareness right down into the soles of your feet. What’s the sensation there? Are your feet resting on the floor lightly or are they pressing against it? Now wiggle your toes and notice how the sensation changes.
Are you wearing socks? If so, can you feel the fabric against your feet? Simply focus on what you’re feeling.
As the day progresses and our brains start to get tired, mindfulness can help us stay sharp. Through the afternoon set an alarm on your phone for every hour. When it rings, stop and focus on your breathing rather than on the thoughts and to-do lists in your head for one minute. Pay attention to the inhalation and exhalation of your breath.
As the workday comes to an end and you start your commute home, turn off your phone or the radio and simply be. Let go of any thoughts and focus on your breath. Doing so will allow you to let go of the stresses of the day so you can be fully present when you arrive home.
Start by being mindful as you prepare your meal. Noticing the textures, smells, sights and sounds as you peel, chop and cook. Sit down to eat and savour your food. Turn off the TV and any music. Put away your phone and laptop – tune out everything but your connection with the food you are eating. Take a bite and notice the temperature, the texture and all the different flavours. Be aware of how the food feels on your fork, then how it feels in your mouth. When you’ve finished eating, become aware of your body and notice any feelings of fullness.
Take a moment before going to bed to appreciate something good that has happened in the day. It feels nice and immediately brings the mind into the present, even if we are thinking about something that’s happened earlier today or something on our to-do list for tomorrow.
I know this might all seem ridiculously simple, but that’s because it is! It’s the mind that complicates things. Choosing to pay attention to how you’re feeling in the moment is a crucial first step to living mindfully. When we’re fully present, we’re better communicators, less reactive, and more responsive to the people around us. We’re also more in touch with how we feel and what we need.