Picture yourself driving down the road; you are behind the wheel of your car, a place of ease where you know exactly how much pressure to apply to the gas pedal to speed up, change the volume of the radio while chatting on blue tooth, and adjust the seat to perfect comfort. It’s summer vacation, and with nowhere specific to go because everything is still closed due to coronavirus, you jump in the driver’s seat and start driving. You decide early during your cruise that you will take the road that leads you to Starbucks, for a treat. You sit back to enjoy the breeze from the open windows, and picture yourself talking to friends when you are back on campus in the fall, or enjoying a trip to the pool with your family. Suddenly you snap back to reality, and realize you missed the turn! You make a U-turn to head back in the right direction for the prized caffeine boost.
Sound familiar? Maybe Starbucks was not the destination, but have you ever been lost in thought or daydreaming, when you suddenly remember your body is actually doing something in the present moment and that your brain was not following along? Mindfulness was created for those moments, among many others. It has become a common word tossed around in today’s list of ways to relieve stress and anxiety, but it is also useful for daily training of our brains; to notice life around you and deliberately connect your brain and your body for being present. It is certainly also valuable for managing negative thoughts that often partner with anxiety, and reducing stress that can negatively affect your health. Mindfulness is useful for paying attention with openness and curiosity to your surroundings and experiences. Here is a two-part series to describe some simple mindfulness techniques you can begin to implement this summer, and practice regularly to ease your stress and enjoy the summer break!
1. Try a Grounding Exercise: reduce negative thinking by focusing on what is around you. If you are feeling overwhelmed or want to stop and enjoy the moment God has given you, try this exercise.
- Look around you and find:
- 5 things you can see
- 4 things you can touch
- 3 things you can hear
- 2 things you can smell
- 1 thing you can taste
- Notice how you feel when you have completed the exercise, and embrace the moment!
2. Practice Progressive Muscle Relaxation: this exercise involves tightening specific muscle groups, one at a time, and then slowly relaxing them. It can help weary bodies relax before falling asleep, and provides insight about where you might be holding onto tension in your body. Here is a full article on how to practice this and which muscles to tighten.