Mindfulness has become quite a buzz word in the mental health field, and for good reason. Mindfulness-based practices have been scientifically shown to be effective in managing symptoms associated with anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, insomnia and many other conditions affecting our mental and physical health. With roots in eastern teachings, mindfulness and meditation help us stay focused on the present instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
Here are a few of our favorite mindfulness activities you can try right now.
As we know, breathing is something that happens automatically, without us even having to think about it. However, intentional breathing can help us feel centered, focused and bring us back to the present moment. Try belly breathing: Place one hand on your chest and one hand on your stomach. Take a big breath in expanding your stomach, like there was a balloon that you were trying to inflate. Great! Now exhale and allow the imaginary balloon to deflate.
When you're feeling overwhelmed or in need of a grounding exercise to help you return to your center, identify one thing in your environment for each of the 5 senses. Identify something you see, something you smell, something you hear, something you feel, and something you taste. This will help bring you back to the here and now and provide a gentle way to reconnect with your body.
Whether you are standing, sitting, or lying down, grounding can help you feel connected and supported in the present moment. Simply be aware of the ground or foundation that is supporting you. If you're sitting, tune into the sensation of being supported by your chair with your feet planted firmly on the ground. If you’re standing, feel the earth beneath you, supporting you with every step you take. If you’re laying down, focus on the feelings of comfort and stability you experience as you are supported by the bed, couch, or floor. These mindfulness activities are pretty simple and straightforward; the difficulty is in remembering to practice them when the need arises. Choose the one you like best and be intentional about practicing it the next time you feel a little off-balance. As always, if you need a little extra help practicing a new tool, our coaches and therapists are here to support you.