Practicing Mindfulness at Home
In this time of uncertainty, it is important to make your mental health a priority. It can be overwhelming to watch the news and scroll through social media and not know what to believe or what the new few weeks entail. You may find that your mind is racing, or that you are thinking the worst possible situations. It can be helpful to bring yourself back to the present moment, even if it is just for a few moments at a time.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness means purposely bringing your attention to the present moment and accepting it without judgement. It is used to treat depression, anxiety, and chronic pain among other things. Another way to think about mindfulness is that it is the opposite of being on autopilot!
Mindfulness is often thought of as the same thing as meditation, and while you are being mindful when you meditate, you don’t have to spend 30+ minutes a day meditating in order to practice mindfulness.
Dr. Rose Signorello and Laura Castronovo, LMSW, of the Office of Counseling and Disabilities Services offer some tips for practicing mindfulness:
Follow your breath. Inhale and feel your chest rise, exhale and feel it fall. Breathe in again and notice the air against your nostrils. Is it warm? Cold? Different when you inhale vs exhale?
30 second mindful check-in with whatever is around you. For example, feel your phone in your hands - notice any ridges or dents in the sides, how smooth the screen is, how heavy it is, the color of the case. Examine your phone, or whatever is in front of you, with a sense of curiosity.
Eat mindfully. You can do this with a single piece of food (a raisin or a chip) or with an entire meal. Approach your meal like you are an alien who has never seen it before. Look closely at everything you have in front of you, notice colors, shapes, textures; bring it to your nose and smell it; place it on your mouth and notice how your mouth. Tongue and jaw know exactly what to do.
Go for a mindful walk. Notice the air on your skin, the feeling of your feet in your shoes, your body as you start to move. Remember to bring your attention back to what is happening in the present moment when you notice your mind has wandered (because it will!).
Forgive yourself - for getting distracted, for forgetting to practice, for not “getting it” right away — being compassionate and non-judgemental, towards yourself and others, is an essential piece of mindfulness!
For up-to-date information on the University of St. Thomas, Coronavirus, and health and safety resources visit: www.stthom.edu/stayhealthy.