If you find yourself already feeling the whole weight of the rest of the week on your shoulders when we’re only halfway through Monday, it might be a good time to take a quick pause to check in with yourself. A little mindfulness can go a long way to restoring perspective to the week ahead.
If you’re not familiar with it, mindfulness is the practice of being in the present moment. Instead of jumping ahead to everything that might be making you stressed out or anxious in the future, you focus on the here and now. You can’t be worried about the future while you’re completely present in the now – those are incompatible states.
Mindfulness isn’t for everyone, and if you’re dealing mental health issues, then it’s always a good idea to seek professional advice before diving into a new routine. But if you’re comfortable with the practice, PsychCentral has a collection of 1-minute mindfulness exercises that you can do just about anywhere. For example, mindful breathing:
Lower your eyes and notice where you feel your breath. That might be the air going in and out at your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or stomach. If you can’t feel anything, place your hand on your stomach and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with your breath. If you like, you can just lengthen the in breath and the out breath or just breathe naturally. Your body knows how to breathe.
Focus on your breath. When your mind wanders, as it will do, just bring your attention back to your breath. You might like to say ‘thinking’ when you notice your thoughts and just gently shepherd your attention back to your breath.
This can be done for longer than one minute. However, even for one minute it will allow you to pause and be in the moment. Or you might just like to breathe out stress on the out breath and breathe in peace on the in breath.
If mindfulness isn’t your thing, you can still break up a stressful day. Take a short walk, even if it’s just around the room. Stop and stretch a couple times an hour–it’s good for your body, too.
If you’re not in crisis mode, you can probably sneak in a little time to be good to yourself, and that’s a time investment that always pays off.