With everything that we have going on in our everyday lives, it's easy to get ahead of ourselves. Whether it be chaotic work and personal schedules, to-do lists that seem to never end, or the drama that we all inevitably have to go through, finding a moment to practice mindfulness and find genuine, true presence in the day can be a challenge!
Now, you might be sitting there thinking to yourself: "what is she talking about? Mindfulness? Presence?". Let me explain. Although I am unfortunately not talking about the kind of presence that we hope to get on our birthdays and holidays, incorporating this kind of presence into our lives is something that I have recently found myself being extremely passionate about. The idea of presence refers to the art of being fully there (present) in a place – mentally, emotionally, and physically.
It's easy to ask ourselves where we are physically. Geographically, we may be stuck in traffic, at the grocery store, or at our job's workplace. However, checking in with where we are mentally and emotionally at the same time is just as important, if not more. Are you feeling anxious? Stressed? Comfortable? Exhausted? Asking ourselves these questions can provide essential cues to what our mind and body are in need of and what we need to do to achieve the absolute best for ourselves.
Mindfulness is a practice that goes hand in hand with the art of presence. Mindfulness is defined as the awareness of our current state of existence. It refers to paying attention to our thoughts, feelings, emotions, and actions, and accepting them in a non-judgmental way. For example, last week when I was at the mall with my boyfriend, I decided to take a moment and check-in with myself and my presence at that moment.
I realized that I was feeling significantly more anxious than normal. At first, I was upset by this. I had thought I was doing alright and having a good idea, yet upon truly looking at myself, I was actually worse than I thought? Ugh! However, rather than get frustrated with ourselves, the idea of mindfulness encourages you to be wholly accepting of whatever place you find yourself in, consequently working to move forward from there rather than backward.
Now that you hopefully have a better understanding of what I mean when I use these terms, I'm sure you also have an idea of why it can be so hard to incorporate moments to find presence and use mindfulness in an average busy day. However, I have a few tips that for those days where all you look forward to is sliding into bed and drowning yourself with covers.
Take 5 minutes to not only check in with yourself and where you are at, but also to write down what you find. Write down your thoughts, urges, feelings, and ideas. This can be in an actual journal (Target and Amazon have some really cute ones for reasonably cheap), or an app. My go-to app is called "Day One".
I cannot emphasize the importance of breathing enough and this is coming from a girl with severe asthma. Allowing yourself to close your eyes and take deep breathes is one of the most calming things you can do for yourself. My favorite app to use for this is called "Breathe" and guides you through daily breathing that's calming and rejuvenating.
3. Call A Friend
I know, I know, I sound like a middle-aged woman. Everyone texts, snapchats, or messages each other nowadays. However, I will be a middle-aged woman and PROUD. I truly believe that giving yourself 5 minutes to call a family member, friend, significant other, or another important person in your life, can change your entire day around. Give yourself the chance to talk openly and freely about whatever is going through your mind.
4. Drink Water
This one may seem silly or obvious, but you would be shocked at how easy it is to forget to drink water. I'm going to save you from the hundreds-of-words-long list of benefits that come from drinking water, and simply leave it with the simple fact that water is not only necessary to life, but also deliciously relaxing.
5. Treat yourself!
This is undoubtedly my favorite way to practice mindfulness because it looks so different depending on the person, situation, and even day! In the wise words of Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreation, "treat yo'self". Allow yourself to take at least 5 minutes (or more!) to do something fully and wholly for YOU. That will look completely different every time, whether it be indulging in that delicious brownie or coffee drink that has been racing through your mind all day, watching an episode of your favorite show (full disclosure: I have watched every episode of The Office three times primarily during moments like this), or even just putting on a face mask, doing your nails, lighting a candle, and feeling ~zen AF~.