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Make Time For Mindfulness

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by Clay Steele (subscribe)
Nutritionist & Life Coach Meeting all requirements to call myself so (i.e. none)
Published February 28th 2019
Finding time for mindfulness is as simple as breathing
So we know what mindfulness is. We know it's beneficial for mental health. It's an invaluable tool for combatting the mental health issues that grip the developed world. Yep. Wonderful.

Pardon me Moonbeam but we in the developed world have jobs. We have mortgages. We have kids, they have school, sports, lessons, friends, playdates, demands, questions, questions and more questions. We have smartphones. We have email. We have social media. We have all these things that mean we have no time to find for mindfulness.
Busy, Calendar, Too Busy, no time, mindfulness, stress, relaxation, mental health
Calendar full, fool

So you're interested in mindfulness, but can't find the 10 minutes that's recommended as a minimum? There's still hope. Observe. So, breathing is one way. Easily achievable and somewhat essential for survival. But what else?

Listening to music is a great way of escaping the myriad distractions that the mind throws at you. Whether it's a sing along with your kids, listening through headphones on the morning train or singing along loudly while stuck in gridlock music can be regarded as a kind of mindfulness. When you are lost in a song you are living solely in the present moment. You're not worrying about that outstanding electricity bill or that less than positive conversation you had earlier that week.

I don't mean trying to find an extra 30 minutes to walk around the block. Who has time for that? No, I mean that no matter your vocation, you will likely spend some time walking, perambulating or wheeling your mobility device between one place and another throughout the day. Instead of staring at your smartphone screen or bustling along lost in your worries start focussing on your body. Think the old kid's song 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes'. Start focusing on how your toes feel as you're walking, then the soles of your feet, your ankles, your calf muscles, your knees and so on. How do your ear lobes feel right now?

At your desk
Deskbound desk jockey? Put a task/reminder in your calendar at work to stretch, hydrate and relax every 30 minutes. Sometimes you'll be too busy to do this but try to find a couple of minutes here and there to stretch your upper back. There are many stretches you can do unobtrusively at your desk without a) dislocating your hip and b) attracting attention from your fellow cubicle captors.
That's right, you can mindful while you eat. It can be very easy to just buy some fast food and throw it down as quickly as possible before you get back from your lunch break. Instead, try focusing on the food. Before each bite, smell what you're eating. Think about the scents you pick up. How your body reacts: are you hungry? Are you salivating? Take a bite. Don't chew yet. Let it sit on your tongue. Now chew slowly, enjoy the different tastes (sour, sweet, umami etc.), think about the textures. Suppress the urge to swallow for as long as you can. Concentrate solely on what you're tasting and how darn pleasurable eating can be. This is also a great way of increasing satiety, meaning you're less likely to snack later and take in too many calories. Something that's also quite important if you're a sedentary individual.

In Bed
Got better things to do in bed? Yeah, sure you do Cassa Nova. Trouble sleeping can be caused by a racing mind either falling asleep or that 3am thought of "holy Spit, the Fitzgerald account! Whatta I do? Whatta I do?". It will be much more constructive if you take the time you're spending worrying to do a body scan instead. It's the old 'Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes' again. Focus on your different body parts. Or just focus on your breath. How many seconds for each breath in? Try to breath out for just as long or longer. If your mind drifts just bring it gently back to your body/breath. You'll likely find you'll either fall back asleep or at least get up before your alarm in a more rested state of mind.

There are a few examples of how you can squeeze some mindfulness into your life without having to find extra time in your busy first world schedule. If you have any examples of your own, please feel free to leave them in the comments section.
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