Calm, cool and collected: 6 simple strategies to help you stay present
Easy yet effective ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.
Despite our best efforts, we often find ourselves over-stressed and a little less present than we strive to be. But actually being present is a little easier said than done. It it can be hard to remain mindful when our days are full of deadlines, commitments and to-do lists. Mindfulness is the ability to be fully present in everything you do throughout your day — it's the awareness that things may go wrong during the day, but it teaches you to not to be overly reactive or overwhelmed by it all. And if that sounds like a challenge, don't worry. Here are some simple yet effective ways to incorporate moments for mindfulness throughout your day. Starting as soon as you wake up in the morning, they're easy to do and take no time at all.
Begin your day with something as simple as pouring yourself a glass of water. Your body needs the hydration and replenishment after a night of sleep, and water can help flush out toxins and jumpstart your metabolism. Keep a carafe by your bed as a simple reminder to start your day off right.
Stretch it out
After your glass of water, stretch out your muscles. These are three stretches you can do before you even leave your bed.
Lie on your back, with both knees bent and feet flat on the bed. Extend one leg straight up from the hip, knee straight but not locked, and pull it gently back until you feel a stretch in the hamstring of that leg. Repeat with the opposite leg.
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended. Bend one knee and pull it in toward your chest. For an extra stretch, gently guide that knee over to the opposite side of your body, pulling your spine into a gentle twist. For example, you'd guide your left knee over to the right side of your body, and vice versa.
Lie on one side and bend your top leg, pulling the heel as close to your buttocks on that side as possible. Keep your knees pinned together and think of pushing your hips forward slightly; you should feel a stretch down the front of your thigh and across your hip.
Keep a daily journal
Many studies note that the act of writing down three things you are grateful can actually make you feel more positive and that positivity can carry you throughout your day. By writing down a positive experience, you relive it all over again and this can increase the serotonin levels in your body — the chemical that balances your mood and keeps you feeling happy. You can also write about what you're looking forward to in the coming day, big or small, which will help you stay focused on the positives of each day. Finally, end your entry with an affirmation dictating how you'd like to feel that day, such as "I am energized" or "I am focused." This can help reprogram your mind to think in a more mindful, positive way. If you're too busy in the morning, try this out at the end of the day when you have a moment to relax, and you might begin to see your days from a whole new perspective.
Meditate to concentrate
Meditation is a great way to increase concentration, reduces stress levels, and alleviates anxiety. There are so many free apps out there like HeadSpace. It takes you through any mood you're feeling, any time of day, and is great for beginners who don't know how to meditate and want to learn. Other apps and sites such as Stop, Breathe & Think or Calm.com are also great tools to get you back on track so you can walk into your next challenge in a calm and collected state of mind.
Stay present while you sip
Being in the moment is essential to mindfulness, regardless of what you're doing. So taking those five minutes to yourself to enjoy a warm beverage will help focus your mind and increase your concentration. This recipe is super easy, plus it warms you up and gets your digestion going.
Pair your practice with aromatherapy
Aromatherapy has been shown to reduce anxiety, ease depression, boost energy levels and even help induce sleep. And while essential oils are all the rage right now, they're actually the perfect addition to your mindfulness practice. Specific aromas have restorative properties that can help you relax, and focus on the present. And if you've got a bit of a headache that's keeping you from focusing, peppermint oil could help. It contains menthol, which has analgesic and anaesthetic properties that help to relieve pain and act as a natural alternative to pain relievers. Learn how to make your own topical headache relief here.