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.
Mindful Eating - Mindful eating helps you to bring your body and your mind back together. When you are eating,
focus on what your body is telling you by listening to clues that you are hungry (low energy level, stomach growling).
Sit at the table and turn off distractions (televisions, phones) so you can focus on eating.
Eat foods that are nutritious for your body. When you start eating, eat slow enough that you are able to stop eating as soon as your stomach tells you it is full (wait 10-15 minutes to see if you are still hungry).
While you are eating, explore the flavors and textures in your mouth and think about how the food is nurturing your body.(1)
Mindful Breathing - Mindful breathing helps to support our health by decreasing both pain and stress as well as promoting relaxation. The Three-Part-Breath draws air deep into the lungs to reduce stress and promote relaxation. It can be done lying, sitting, or standing. You will stack the air from the bottom to the top of your lungs while inhaling and then unstack the air while exhaling.
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. 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 (2)
Mindful Walking - Wear comfortable clothes and shoes and do not take your headphones! 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.(3)
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.
About the author: Sam Tucker is a graduate of New York Chiropractic College with a Master's in Applied Clinical Nutrition. She has recently completed the required supervised hours to earn her CNS credential and is anxiously awaiting to take her CNS Exam. In addition to building her clinical practice, Sam lives in Kentucky with her husband and her children.
Willard C. 6 Ways to Practice Mindful Eating. October 13, 2016. Available from: https://www.mindful.org/6-ways-practice-mindful-eating/. Accessed on March 24, 2018.
National Geographic. Complete Guide to Natural Home Remedies: 1025 Easy Ways to Live Longer, Feel Better, and Enrich Your Life. National Geographic. Washington, DC. ND. P267-268
Bertin, M. A Daily Mindful Walking Practice: Take a break and boost your mood with this 10-minute walking meditation. July 17, 2017. Available from: https://www.mindful.org/daily-mindful-walking-practice/. Accessed on March 24, 2018.