Life can be very stressful. It can feel like your entire day is filled with tasks that have to be marked off a list. This can leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Here are three quick and simple mindfulness techniques that you can start today as part of your self-care routine.
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TIP #1: Mindful Eating
Mindful eating helps you to bring your body and your mind back together when it comes to food.
First, ensure you are hungry. Tune into what your body is telling you by listening to clues such as low energy levels or a growling stomach. Try to not rely on the clock alone as your hunger cue.
Once it is time to eat:
Sit at the table (avoid the couch, bed, desk, etc.)
Consider a ritual for meals, such as setting the table and playing soft, instrumental, relaxing music
Turn off distractions (televisions, phones) so you can focus on eating.
As you eat:
Chew your food. And chew it well. Did you know, on average, food should be chewed 32 times (or more) before swallowing? Give it a whirl!
Explore your senses. How does the food smell? What does it look like? How's the temperature? How do the flavors and textures feel and taste in your mouth?
TIP #2: Mindful Breathing
Mindful breathing helps to support our health by decreasing stress as well as promoting relaxation. We become mindful of the breath by practicing deep breathing which draws air deep into the lungs and fully expelling it out. It can be done lying, sitting, or standing.
Part 1 - Inhale slowly breathing only through your nose. Relax your stomach muscles to allow the belly to expand filling the bottom of your lungs with air.
Part 2 - Continue to inhale air into your lungs allowing the center of your chest to fill with air.
Part 3 - Continue to inhale air into the top parts of your lungs in the top of your chest.
Part 4 - Once your lungs are completely full, immediately begin to exhale through the mouth slowly breathing out from the top down. Start exhaling the air from the upper chest, then the middle of the chest, and finally from the belly (contracting your abdominal muscles to release all the air). Try to take the same amount of time inhaling as you do exhaling.
Start with five repetitions one time per day. Work up to five or ten minutes of focused mindful breathing per day.
TIP #3: Mindful Walking
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and do not take your earbuds! Rather, be present with your surroundings.
At first, walk at a normal pace counting from one to ten with each step. Start to pay attention to how your body moves. Feel your arms swinging opposite your legs and your body swaying. Feel your feet touching the ground. Feel your spine stacked properly and your posture being perfect.
After a couple of minutes focusing on your body, start to focus on your environment. Feel the breeze embracing you. Feel the sun warming you. Listen to the sounds of the trees and birds or the cars and the people and just hear the music they are making. Smell the smells around you. Look at the colors and objects you see and take note of what grabs your attention. Do not fixate on anything, just be fully aware.
When your walk is almost over, come back to your physical sensations and focus on your body’s movements and senses.
The chaos of life does not usually allow us free time to relax or be still. This is why it is so important to carve out time each day for self-care. Using these mindfulness techniques can help improve your stress and establish a self-care routine.
Originally written by Sam Tucker, MS 2018
Modified by Dr. Kim Ross, November 2023