Mindfulness. Sounds like a hippie-dippy term. But you can call it many things: self-awareness, reflection, meditation, quiet time, living in the moment, being present, focusing on present tasks. This is what tends to happen during a typical day:
- You get up.
- You get in the shower and start thinking about what you need to do today at work.
- You then make a list of the kids’ afternoon activities.
- Meanwhile, your shower is over and you don’t really recall shampooing your hair or letting the warm water soothe your stiff shoulders.
- You get dressed, have a cup of coffee, and inhale some breakfast while packing up your stuff for the day and getting the kids ready. You know you had some yogurt and fruit, but don’t really remember what breakfast tasted like.
- You head off to work, and eat lunch at your desk because you are a bit behind. Or maybe you just want to check in on Facebook. Again, you know you had chicken salad but don’t really remember really tasting it, or chewing as a matter of fact.
- The afternoon goes by.
- You go to the gym before picking up the kids. On the treadmill you are planning your spouse’s birthday party this weekend, making a mental note of supplies needed and envisioning how to transform the patio for party ambiance.
- You pick up the kids, grab a quick dinner, and then shuttle them to soccer.
- Finally, it is about 9pm, and you take your first deep breath of the day, do some laundry, and get ready for bed thinking about what tomorrow will bring.
- You then toss and turn all night because your body never had a chance to detox from the stress of the day.
We don’t really live in the present. We are constantly looking to the next thing, the better thing, what will happen tomorrow, a week from now, maybe even next year. Planning and having future goals isn’t a bad thing, but when every day exists to look at the next day, your adrenal glands are shot. Your body responds to a constant state of stress which equals high blood pressure and increased anxiety. You have the power to slow yourself down with mindfulness. This simply means paying attention to what you are doing right now, in the present moment. Here is what your day could look like instead:
- You get up (10 minutes early). You spend these 10 minutes doing a “brain dump” in your journal about work, the kids, your spouse’s party, your grocery list, whatever.
- You get in the shower, breathe in the steam, take deep breaths, and feel the heat of the water on your back, the scent of your favorite shampoo.
- You get dressed, choosing something that makes you feel your best today.
- You make coffee, enjoying the smell while preparing breakfast.
- You spend 15 minutes chewing your food, enjoying the taste and texture, and encouraging your kids to do the same.
- You have a busy morning at work, but you take your full lunch break. You eat away from your desk, again enjoying your food. You take a 15 minute walk outside, breathing deeply, and listening to the sounds of the outdoors and noting the smells (hopefully they are good).
- The afternoon goes by. You focus on one task at a time. Because we now know there is no such thing as multi-tasking.
- You go to the gym before picking up the kids. Before the treadmill you stretch, paying attention to how your muscles feel, where you are tight. You then work those areas and get on the treadmill, and imagine walking away the tension of the day. More deep breathing.
- You pick up the kids, grab a quick dinner, eat at the table while tasting and chewing your food, and discussing the events of the day. Then you head to soccer.
- Finally, it is about 9pm, and you instruct your kids to get things packed for tomorrow’s afternoon events before bed. You do some laundry, pack up your work stuff and/or lunch so you don’t have to do it in the morning, maybe even pick out what you are going to wear tomorrow.
- You then spend 10 minutes doing another “brain dump” in your journal, so your mind and body can relax.
At the end of the day, your blood pressure is down, your stress level is in check, and you are much calmer for a good night’s rest.
Your challenge for this week… make an effort to be more mindful!