Do you practice mindfulness?
We’ve talked about mindfulness before a few times, but if it’s new to you, don’t worry: it’s simple. Mindfulness is just about staying present in the current moment. It means allowing yourself to notice your thoughts as they come without fixating on them, and heightening your awareness of your surroundings through your senses: what you see, what you hear, what you smell, what you feel, what you taste.
Mindfulness is helpful for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones in our current world is that it is a great way to self soothe and reduce anxiety. Because anxiety is so often linked with heightened worry over things out of our control, thought spirals and catastrophizing, mindfulness can be a powerful antidote because it forces you to stay in the present moment and abandon those uncontrollable thoughts. You don’t know what will happen in the future, so you have to let that thought pass you by, and focus instead on what you do know is around you.
It can sound like an intimidating practice, but the key to mindfulness is simplicity.
That means, work with what you have! You don’t have to create an elaborate mindfulness studio where you go to meditate–in fact, that probably wouldn’t be that helpful anyway! Learning instead to practice mindfulness for a few minutes wherever you are is a much more valuable way to practice it, and a much more accessible way for most of us too.
Instead, think of your quiet moments throughout the day as opportunities for mindfulness. You don’t have to really do anything different–just give yourself a few minutes to take notice of your surroundings, how you’re feeling in them, what’s going on, etc. Focus on all of your senses, even if it’s just for the duration of washing your hands.
If you’ve never tried mindfulness before, summer can be a great time to jump in. It’s a time of transition and bright and sunny weather, more flexible days and brand new schedules–so it’s the perfect time to try something new.
Here are 4 ways you can incorporate mindfulness into your summer routine:
Drink your morning coffee outside:
Before the day gets too hot, taking a few minutes to sit outside with your daily cup of coffee can be a great way to both get that morning pick me up as well as slow yourself down and set a mindful tone for the day. Take time to notice how the weather feels, what it sounds like outside, what your coffee smells like mixed with the fresh air, how it tastes, etc.
Go for a hike:
There are probably plenty of public nature trails you can find in your local area. Take a few minutes to look some up, and take yourself out for a short walk in nature. Try and stay present for your whole walk, listening to the sound of your steps, the wind and creatures surrounding you, the way the light changes as the trail goes on, etc. What are you noticing that you’ve never noticed before?
Carry a water bottle:
Summer, of course, is hot! That means you’re going to need to be more hydrated than usual. And, guess what? A water break is a great way to repeatedly practice mindfulness throughout your day. Try to carry a water bottle so you can take a few minutes whenever you’re thirsty to take a few sips, and use those sips as an excuse to be mindful. How does it feel to quench your thirst? What do you hear, smell, feel, taste and see? Do you notice anything different about how you feel physically or emotionally when you stay well hydrated?
It may not sound like it, but learning to embrace boredom and what comes with it is actually a wonderful mindfulness practice. When we don’t find ourselves feeling “bored” it’s probably a sign that we’re too busy or distracted–basically we’re not giving our minds enough breathing room to even get bored. So when you do notice boredom cropping up, try to embrace it. Why are you bored? What’s not grabbing your attention? Can you sit in the moment and just focus on your surroundings? What is it that would make you feel fulfilled in this moment? Use those moments of boredom to flex those mindfulness skills you’ve been practicing.