When people are asked, “How are you?”, the most common responses these days seem to be “busy,” “overloaded,” “tired,” or “crazy.” This chronic stress of being “on the go” much of the day will take its toll on all of us as a society, but also individually, affecting our health (with increased risk of disease) and happiness. I like to think of life as “full” and am shifting my mindset to consciously fill my life with learning experiences, loving, being of service, spending time with family, being in nature, and moving my body, but being present while I practice doing each of these one at a time. That is not always easy and practice is the key!
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware and in the moment, without judgement. Increasing mindfulness for a few minutes a day can be beneficial by bringing us back into our bodies and being present. It increases focus and attention, which in turn increases efficiency and productivity. As this practice builds consistency and endurance, research shows that twenty minutes, two times a day can change the brain in the areas that will support memory, attention, emotional regulation and higher level executive function skills.
As a transformational life coach and therapist, I developed my own ABCs of Mindfulness* and want to share those with you. Since developing my ABCs, my husband reports that I breathe a lot. Taking three deep, diaphragmatic slow breaths with a focus on the elongated exhale is very grounding and supports the calming of your nervous system. It also increases the blood and oxygen flow through the brain and body which is always beneficial (more on this in a different newsletter).
Here are Melissa’s ABCs of Mindfulness:
Awareness and Acknowledgement of how you are feeling and what you are doing or thinking. I recommend a pause every hour. Breathe and check in.
Be and Breathe with your current state and experience without judgement, creating a story or reacting automatically through old patterns, habits or learned behavior. Watch out for the “auto-responder” or your reflexive response to situations.
Consciously Choose how you want to move forward and respond. Observe, create space and make the wisest choice for you. No “have to’s” or “shoulds” or resentment. What choice will serve YOU best?
How to increase mindfulness with mini-breaks throughout the day:
- Feel your rear-end in your seat and breathe. If you can’t feel your rear-end, it is time to get up and move.
- Savor a piece of fruit or a square of chocolate in your mouth, close your eyes and taste the flavor.
- Take five deep belly or diaphragmatic breaths, slow and natural, counting each exhale.
- Feel your feet on the ground as you walk. If there is a grassy area where you can take your shoes off and feel comfortable, feel the earth under your feet.
- Feel the drops of water on your body in the shower. Focus on the sensation and how lucky you are to be able to take a shower whenever you want.
- Take slow inhales of your favorite essential oil. Many like lavender, and I am a big fan of Bergamot and citrus family.
- Take a calming, coloring break. A five-minute break of coloring with colored pencils can shift your focus and mood.
Incorporate these ideas throughout your day and week. Each moment of mindfulness adds up. One minute 5 times a day can make a difference in rewiring your brain to be more present and lessen the effects of stress. At the very least, remember to breathe!
Wishing you a more mindful and present day,