By Callie Sanders, LSW – December 12, 2017 –
With the demands of 21st century life – work, parenting, endless emails, texts, social media, etc. – people wear overstimulation like a badge of honor.
There seems to be a kind of confusion in our culture where people feel the need to be anxious and always “on the go” to be effective. I’m just as guilty.
With that being said, we find ourselves in a mindfulness revolution. It’s prominent everywhere. From hospitals to corporations, 33% of Americans said they had used alternative health practices, including meditation (National Institutes of Health).
Mindfulness practice embraces the beauty of monotasking. The way I describe mindfulness to the students I work with is simply “paying attention on purpose.”
By incorporating mindfulness practice at my schools this year, the students that are willing to give it a try leave my office feeling less stressed. Most ask to repeat the practice during additional visits. Let’s face it, kids are stressed out too.
There aren’t any prizes handed out for being the greatest at mindfulness. It is about connecting to our experiences in a different way and giving ourselves a chance to pay attention in the present without adding more stuff to our plate.
If you’ve used phrases like, “My mind just works too fast” or “I’ve tried it and failed,” or my favorite, “I don’t have time for that,” you’re exactly the kind of person that needs mindfulness most. Mindfulness is a lifelong journey, not an all-or-nothing mentality, and it’s free.
According to a study conducted in 2013 by the University of Southern California, most Americans spend 13-plus hours a day consumed by media. No wonder everyone is stressed out.
I was skeptical when the term mindfulness was first introduced to me. But when I decided to give it a chance, I was surprised how simple it was and what I felt.
Practicing mindfulness can happen anywhere. I like to practice in my vegetable garden or out in my yard. When I take a second to sniff a fresh tomato after I pull it off the vine or listen to the birds singing in the background, I feel better.
For just that one second I was present; I noticed nature. What a powerful feeling! I encourage you to try this with your family at home. After you take a second for yourself and enjoy nature, be grateful.
Lastly, I want to leave you with some tips for your workday, especially in the afternoon when the “two o’clock yawns” kick in.
When you can take a break, don’t go straight to your phone for at least one of the breaks. A 2014 study found that being able to see a cellphone hinders the ability to focus on tough tasks.
If you can, go for a short walk and try not to ruminate on work. I realize this can be difficult, but don’t be afraid to give it a try. Ignoring your phone is a great way to practice mindfulness during the walk.
Also, do someone a favor. Not only does this help you connect to others, it aids in recovering from stress.
Most importantly, start small. Remember, no rewards are given for being the best at mindfulness. I encourage you to put your phone down during dinner this evening and engage in conversation. You will feel better being present.