Today’s fast-paced world can leave us little time for self-care, and when most of us have more stress on our plates than we know what to do with, we can wind up running ourselves into the ground. Work, home life and even meeting our basic needs can put our thoughts everywhere but in the present, making us vulnerable to concerns over past regrets and future worries. In the process, we deprive ourselves of vital moments we could be reflecting or working on personal growth.
When we allow ourselves time simply to be, we create windows that allow us to look within for direction and answers. Through these openings, we are able to invite greater peace into our daily lives.
1. Do Anything—Mindfully
It really doesn’t matter what the activity is. You could be exercising, eating, even washing dishes or scrubbing the bathroom; as long as you immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing, it can work to your benefit.
Being mindful simply requires that you allow yourself to take in the full experience of an action. Involve as many senses as you can. Analyze the perceptions that come with each sensation. How can you appreciate the moment?
2. Take a Hot Soak
Water cleanses more than the body alone; there’s something emotionally purifying about allowing yourself a good soak. Some of us might not be able to indulge often—finances and drought can hinder this bit of self-care in some regions—but finding the means whenever possible could make a notable difference in how we feel overall.
Be mindful about the feel of the water against your skin, the steam in your lungs, and the heat against any tense muscles. Take a minute or two to breathe slowly and deeply and give thanks for the calming moment.
3. Get Crafty
Any time you can make your hands busy, you give your mind a chance to wander meaningfully. Find something you enjoy and set aside some time, even if it’s once each week, to engage in that activity. You don’t have to be good at it, although you might get better as you go along. What’s important is that you’re giving yourself the opportunity to be alone with your thoughts, wherever they might take you, while you also have the security and distraction of busy hands.
4. Take a Nature Walk
Nature is another beautiful diversion that can allow you to move peacefully between reflection and distraction. Whether you have access to a beach, forest or city park, there are visuals, scents and sounds that can help filter and buffer your thoughts. Try to be mindful of the experience, taking each sensation as it comes. Go ahead, stop and smell those roses—it’s the mindful thing to do.
Meditation is probably the most obvious choice for pulling ourselves into the moment, and yet so many people are resistant to giving the practice a try. While there are numerous approaches, they all offer the mind a chance to simply be.
Guided meditation is a good choice as it requires minimal effort beyond merely remaining present (although it may take some practice in itself). Regardless of a person’s skill level, meditation is an effective tool for directing the mind into the moment and letting go of all those nagging worries—even if it’s just for a little while.
As with every other part of the body, the brain needs a chance to rest every once in a while. Our minds never stop, even while we’re sleeping, and these days most people find their thoughts are stuck working overtime. Maybe it’s time to recharge and refresh. Slow down. Take a moment to be. It could affect more than you expect.