Do you often feel that practicing mindfulness feels like mindFULLness? With countless resources that are out on the internet, it can feel overwhelming and unrelatable. But, what if mindfulness can be simple?
As an educator for 16 years, my highest priority for all my students and their families has always been putting their emotional, physical, and social health first — even before academics. When these needs are met, children thrive. When you give attention to your mind, body, and soul, you can attend to other things in your life.
This is true for adults as well. However, our “to-do” lists take priority over our wellbeing. Parents are superheroes and ultimate givers. They give their time, focus, and energy to everyone — everyone else but themselves. This leaves many parents feeling depleted and wondering how they are supposed to incorporate mindfulness in the midst of everything else? How empowering would it be if we knew these small moments of retreat can happen in our Mondays through Sundays?
Below, I share with you how you can create a sense of calm, joy, and a pause in your day no matter how busy you are. Overhauling your entire life doesn’t work. Making small do-able shifts do, especially if they are practiced over time.
1. Carve out Time for YOU From the Start
The morning typically sets the tone for how the rest of our day will go. It’s a beautiful opportunity to start by taking care of you. Many of us have experienced trying to sneak in alone time whenever it might come up, and it usually ends in these two scenarios: not happening, or it happens at the very end of the night when we are too exhausted to enjoy it.
Rather, try setting your alarm clock about 15-minutes earlier than normal. This will be difficult at first. In these 15-minutes (or less, or more), without any interruptions, choose one thing to do that brings you joy. You might use this time to just sit in silence and breathe because peace and quiet are rare. Other acts of self-care you can explore are yoga stretches, journaling, leisure reading, or lighting your favorite candle. choose anything that feels good.
If you’re stuck, ask yourself, “Is there an activity/project that I have been wanting to do?” or “What sounds fun right now?” These questions may spark some joy and clarity in how you want to spend your time. Thinking about these questions the night before will help you maximize your time the next morning.
2. Move Everyday
Make a commitment to move in some way, everyday. For me personally, once I started to shift my language from calling it a workout to movement, I found myself moving more because the pressure was off. Attending to your physical body through movement gives you permission to be creative. You no longer need to stick to HITT classes 5 days a week. Instead, you are mindful of your choices by listening — first — to what your body is calling for. Some days, my body calls for yoga to tune inwards. Other days, I notice the beautiful fall foliage outside so I go outside for a run. A family walk is movement. Move in a way that inspires you. Inspiration can be a spontaneous dance party with your kids! Move in some way, everyday.
3. Use Your Senses
A powerful way to stay in the present moment is to use your senses. Talk about detox from multitasking! Take one thing you do already in your regular day and see how you can attend to that activity/project/task with undivided attention. I suggest choosing one that is easier to give your full attention to so that you find it approachable. Perhaps on your family walk, you and your family notice the leaves falling, you name the colors of the leaves you see, you hear the sound of leaves crunching as you walk.
If you are alone, an activity I love to practice is enjoying my morning coffee using my senses. I take in the comforting smell of the coffee beans and feel the warmth of the mug on my hands as I close my eyes to take a small sip to truly taste the bittersweetness of the beans. At that moment, I feel abundant, just from a cup of coffee that I have every single morning. Using our senses turns an ordinary part of our day into something magical, as if we are experiencing it for the first time.