Mindfulness has burst onto the scene along with self-care, yoga and carrot smoothies and it promises to transform your life for the better. If you aren’t such a spiritual person though, you might be a little hesitant to try it out. But there’s no need to worry, mindfulness isn’t burning sage sticks to eradicate bad spirits–far from it. Mindfulness is grounded in theory about the mind, stress, and regulation of your body clock. It can help you calm down, help with anger, aid in sleep better and more. So here are five mindfulness techniques you can try at home to bring a little zen into your daily life.
To help with self-esteem – the anchor
This is a technique that’s great for the whole family to try, as it builds self-esteem and grounds you in the present. Place your feet hip-distance apart and really push them into the ground. Feel your thigh muscles tense, notice how strong they’ve become. Imagine your feet are anchoring you into the ground and stand up tall with the upper part of your body. Staying stood this way even for just a minute or two has been proven to improve self-esteem and be a great start to the day. For even more superhero feels, try putting your hands on your hips or one fist in the air for a funny but confidence-boosting trick to get those big days off with a bang!
For when you’re overwhelmed – check your senses
The kids are fighting, the dishwashers just broken and the taxi isn’t turning up. Maybe five minutes before going home, your boss has just shoved a huge pile of tasks on your desks. Maybe your flight is delayed and you have a very important meeting to get to. Whatever it is, it is easy to get overwhelmed. Things get on top of you and you can feel the stress or anxiety sweeping over you like a thick fog making it hard to breathe. When these feelings start, there is one mindfulness technique that can bring you back to earth–checking in with your senses. The technique denotes that during times of overwhelming stress you close your eyes, breathe and focus on your senses, you start to calm right down. What can you hear? And if the loudest thing in the room is screaming children–what else can you hear? Can you hear a car going past? A coffee machine? Then move onto smell–has that car left a trail of exhaust fumes? Or perhaps the aroma of coffee beans. Finally, the most difficult one–what can you feel on your skin? Wind? The feel of your cotton blouse against your arms? By the time you have gotten to this point and opened your eyes, that stressed overwhelming fog is likely to have been lifted, and you can tackle whatever the task is with a fresh–and calmer–perspective.
For when you’re nervous – have something to hold
Whether you have a big job interview coming up, are chairing an important meeting or have to make a speech in front of a crowd–we all get nervous sometimes. Sometimes it even makes us trip up on our words and also on our feet! But this mindful technique has you covered, to help channel your nerves so that they don’t get in the way of your performance. When you begin to practice (your speech or interview prep for instance) find something to hold that is a nice shape and texture. Maybe it’s a pebble, maybe a brooch or pendant. Just make sure it’s something small enough to fit in your pocket or hide under a table. Get used to holding it as you speak. Then, when the big moment comes, have it in your hand. If you start to feel nervous move the object around between your fingers–focus on it. What does it feel like? Is it cold, hot? How does the feel change as you turn it around in your palm? Because you’ve been holding it during your practices, this technique can help trigger you to remember what you need to say, or it can just calm you down as a familiar touch to focus on while you’re a little nervous. By taking a moment to focus on your object, you can forget about your nerves and go on to smash the task at hand. Top tip, don’t pick something super irreplaceable as this could get ugly if you lose it.
To center yourself – silence
Sometimes we might not know what the stress of our lives is doing to our bodies especially if you’re the kind of person who loves to be busy and run around from meeting to meeting. But it’s good to check in and center yourself regardless, which is what this technique is all about. The easiest of all the techniques on the list, it is one you can do literally anywhere. It just requires you to be silent. Not like the game parents play with kids to try and get them to be quiet. Unfortunately, there will be no sweet for staying quiet the longest. You need to silence your mouth yes, but also your whole body. Close your eyes and stay super still and feel where there is any tension. Quite often you’ll notice some in the shoulders but maybe there’s somewhere else that you’ll find needs a little attention too. Once you’ve checked in with your body, try to be silent, truly silent, for at least a minute. You’ll be surprised at how refreshed you feel when you open your eyes again.
To help you sleep – mindful breathing
Trouble sleeping? We’ve all been there, and we all know how horrendous life can be when you aren’t getting a good enough night’s sleep. Mindful breathing is probably the most well known but most difficult of all the techniques, however when executed properly has amazing results. First, lie on your back and relax your arms by your sides. Get comfortable, relax and breathe naturally. Visualize the air going in and out of your body, coming from far away and going someplace distant as you blow it out. Instead of thoughts about what you are having for breakfast tomorrow or the meeting you need to reschedule, focus on your breath. On it going in and out. On your chest rising and falling, up and down, up and down. How does your breath feel? Is it warm or cool? Can you count as you breathe? Breathing in for four counts and out for six? Can you make each breath a little longer than the last? Every time your mind wanders to something irrelevant, a thought creeping from the back of your mind, don’t punish yourself. Just accept it, and focus back on your breathing. Slowly, you should begin to melt into your bed and fall into a deep sleep. It might not work the first try, but studies suggest that doing just five minutes a night helps you sleep in the long run, so why not give it a try.
Macau Lifestyle is not a qualified mindfulness expert nor a health expert, these are some light techniques to try at home. If you are suffering from stress or anxiety please always consult a medical professional.