It has been a difficult few weeks in this world of physical distancing and isolation. Routines have changed, and people are attempting to establish a new normal around working from home and homeschooling. Mindfulness can be an asset in an ever changing world which evokes strong feelings and anxiety due to the unknown, and where norms and daily lives have been disrupted.
Mindfulness involves being aware of the here and now. It means paying attention to our daily activities, and being purposeful in our focus of the present moment. Think of it as an opportunity to cut out all the noise that can occur. The noise, which is experienced, can create distraction and take away from the present. Mindfulness can initially seem difficult if it is something you are new to. Try it with something like eating breakfast. Take a moment to notice yourself eating and engage in your senses as you do so. Now, notice how often your thoughts shifted away from what you were doing. It can be difficult to stay in the present because we are so accustomed to focusing on the past (what is left undone) and the future (what we have to accomplish).
There are plenty of books, videos, and workshops out there on mindfulness. I don’t want to provide an exhaustive list of the practice. Rather, I want to invite you to be curious about mindfulness and add some extra strategies you are likely already using. For example, some of you may have practices such as yoga, meditation, or prayer in place. These additional options can be added to your day or incorporated as part of a family activity.
Consider writing a journal and make note of 3 things you are grateful for each day. Take a walk outside and use your senses to ground yourself. Make a note of 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you can smell, 2 things you can touch, and 1 positive feeling you are experiencing in that moment during a walk or a similar activity. Engage in an activity which signals self-care. One of my favourite things to do for self-care is sitting down for an afternoon cup of chai and watching ‘The Simpsons’. It is part of a tradition for myself, and one which has always represented a space for family, warmth, and safety. Consider putting your phone away and logging off social media for a period of time to help you reconnect and rejuvenate. Practice kindness toward self and others. There are many apps which focus on deep breathing, meditation, and grounding strategies. These can be incorporated into a daily routine at the beginning of the day, or be practiced as part of sleep hygiene. Take part in an activity where you gather up all the difficult emotions and place them in a container. You can create the container based on your imagination (shape, size, colour, texture), and add any feature you feel would create a container to hold all the difficult emotions. This can also be done as a tactile activity. Write down all the difficult feelings you are experiencing on paper, fold them up or scrunch them up, and place them in a shoe box. The value of placing the emotions in the container can signal acknowledgment that the feelings exist. You can then choose when to revisit the box, and which emotions to revisit.
There are many more strategies out there to assist with mental health wellness. Customize the activity to suit your needs so that it does not feel like another thing on a ‘to do’ list. Most importantly, make it fun! Wishing you all a wonderful Easter break. Stay safe and healthy Chestermere.