How long is your to do list today? Do you ever feel like your multitasking needs to have an overhaul because all you are doing is moving tasks from one day to the next? Have you ever considered taking a “time out” for yourself? Dr. Daniel Siegel, co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research Center suggests that in this age of distraction, we are so busy running from one activity to another and interacting with so many people, that we neglect to tune in to ourselves. I suspect that in this era of constant change, we might find this to be even more accurate.
When is the last time you laughed so hard you cried? When did you savor the food you had for dinner? When did you pick up the phone and talk with a friend you haven’t seen in a while? These activities may bring to mind emotions of enjoyment as they cause us to slow down. What does the air smell like today? How does the coffee really taste? How do your feet feel when you take your shoes off at the end of the day and run them through the carpet or run barefoot in the grass? So many times we don’t take time to acknowledge what we are feeling, to really notice the messages that our body is sending to our brain and to really just sit for a moment and be, without doing.
I was once told that the greatest way to learn how to apply lessons in life is to practice and then allow time to reflect. Some people do this by keeping a journal, expressing their emotions in writing using words that allow them to really search for the right description. Others, may just sit, and ponder or think. Whatever works best for you, realize that reflection increases our self-awareness and when we increase our awareness we thrive.
You may enjoy the silence in a room or the soft music that allows you to relax. You may savor the sounds of nature like a bubbling brook or the songs of morning birds. As you quiet your heart and take slow deep breaths, you may find that relaxation finds you. Those few moments several times a week have been proven to increase life satisfaction, work production, family enjoyment, and personal health. Why not take a time out for yourself and really focus on the simple things in life that bring you enjoyment?
Mindfulness is training our minds to let go of stress and learn to manage or channel it so that it doesn’t harbor tight muscles, fatigue, or other symptoms in our bodies. How do we get started? Here’s a simple yet very effective practice for you or your family members to try - it’s simply three things. These can be done while eating meals together, walking in various places, standing in line or even just sitting outside in the evening:
What three things do you smell right now?
What three things do you feel?
What three things do you hear?
What three things do you taste or see? (Depending on the situation)
Being mindful is “paying attention, in a particular way, on purpose, in the present moment and nonjudgmentally” (Jon Kabat-Zinn). When I pay attention to my senses, I am in the present moment. My brain focuses on that I experience instead of mulling over worries or to-do lists. Before beginning take 5 deep breaths and conclude with the same. By doing so it’s a way to re-set my brain to focus and accomplish the task at hand instead of trying to “multi-task” which has been proven to not be as effective for quality productivity.
Whenever we feel overwhelmed or the “to do” list is too long, take 5-15 minutes and find your favorite practice. By offering a mindful reset on a regular basis is a way to keep our brains healthy and decrease the fatigue of stress. If you are interested in learning more or attending Mindful Wellness class, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722.
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.