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I don’t know about you but my mind is ALWAYS full.
For the past few years I’ve been challenged by my treatment providers to practice mindfulness. Google gave me a pretty good definition. Here it is: a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Easy right? Um No.
For those of you who are like me words like focusing, present moment, calmly, and accepting might send you running in the opposite direction. I’m more of a live ten steps ahead of the game and try to distract myself away from the 3,000,000,000,000 things running through my brain at any given second (or so it seems).
But the truth is mindfulness is really powerful, useful, and helpful in the day to day for those recovering from and managing mental illness and those just seeking more peace in their lives (wow – I can’t believe I just said that shhhh don’t tell my therapist)
But I, of course like everything else, have had to adapt it to work for me. There is no way you are getting me to participate in an hour long body scan and not feel more anxious after than before. For some people that might be really helpful but not this girl. Below are some tools, tips and tricks for incorporating everyday mindfulness into your life (it’s how I do it at least)
1. In the Shower or Bath
- The beauty of using the shower or bath to practice mindfulness is that we all do it on a regular basis (I hope). And it is equipped with lots of tools: nice fragrances from body washes, soaps, shampoos, textures from loofas and wash clothes to hot water. This is also a time when you are guaranteed some privacy away from the rest of the world. Most of the time I close my eyes and picture myself somewhere else for a few minutes.
2. When you Brush your teeth.
- Another great way to use your senses is to practice mindfulness while brushing your teeth. I close my eyes and pay really close attention to the minty taste in the my mouth, the foamy feeling and the fresh feeling right after.
3. Carry a flavored or scented chapstick.
- My personal favorite is Burt’s bees. If I’m out and about and become overly stressed and overwhelmed I put on my chapstick. I like the Burt’s bees kind because it adds a tingly sensation to my lips, and I focus all of my attention on my lips and how they feel for as long as I can. It’s my chance to give myself a mental break.
4. Have a “happy place.”
- There are a trillion guided meditations out there for you to listen to. Some people love them so if you are interested you should try it, you can find many of them right online to listen to. For me I struggle with my mind and usually end up more anxious than when I started. But I do have a “happy place” in my head that I can close my eyes and go to. I go to the same place every time so it requires very little thinking or effort. For me I picturing myself curled up in the hand of Jesus. Your place could be anywhere in the world (or somewhere that does not exist), alone or with someone, with a pet even — it’s all up to you. And whenever you just need a little break – you close your eyes and go there. You might think it sounds strange – I sure did when I started practicing mindfulness but the benefits are amazing.
Give it a try.
My name is Erin and This is Where I Stand