A couple of months ago I led a yoga and mindfulness workshop at the Girls’ STEM Leadership Conference at St. Margaret’s School. Afterwards I was asked, “How can girls and women incorporate mindfulness and self-care into their lives as students and workers?” Being that mindfulness and self-care are such relevant topics to everyone (not just girls) I thought I would share my answers with all of you below.
While mindfulness and self-care begin as a practice, when we consciously choose to repeat this practice again and again it becomes a beautiful way of being and essentially a way of life. Mindfulness is the practice of slowing down, of paying attention to what is happening in the moment, and welcoming what is. It is waking up to each moment and enjoying the simple things. Mindfulness is something that is transportable and can be taken with us wherever we go. And it begins right from the moment we wake up. You can start by asking yourself, how do I greet the day? Am I checking my phone first thing, answering emails etc., or am I taking the time to rise slowly, to take a few conscious breaths and enter into the day with a sense of calm and ease. Below are five ways to practice mindfulness and incorporate self-care into your day to day:
1. Mindful Eating
Mindful eating is a great tangible way to start incorporating this practice. This is done by simply taking the time to sit, notice, and enjoy each bite of whatever it is you are eating. Can you stop to notice the flavour, the temperature, and the texture of the food? It is a radically different way of eating when we have become so accustomed to rushing and often racing out the door. You can start by doing this with a piece of chocolate beginning with just one piece. Take a bite and close your eyes to tune into your senses. Notice what you notice and enjoy every bite.
2. Mindful Breathing
Try sitting, standing, or laying on your back with your eyes closed and noticing your breath. Without trying to change it, notice how your body fills and expands as you breathe in, and how your body empties, softens, and releases as you breathe out. One breath in and one breath out is one cycle of breath. Try taking 10 cycles of breath noticing how it feels to breathe with conscious awareness. Can you continue to weave this conscious level of breathing into your day?
3. Practise Positive Self-Talk
In my presentation at the STEM Leadership Conference, I introduced the concept of a mantra to the students I was working with. A mantra is defined as “a sacred utterance” which is so beautifully put. It compares to that of a positive affirmation with an added layer of tenderness on top. Words are recited or used repeatedly with the intention of raising ones’ vibration or feeling state. Examples of this would include: I am beautiful, I am strong, I am capable, I am brave, I am calm etc. When repeated again and again these words are said to have power and are capable of shifting ones feeling state. “What you focus on will expand.” Try repeating a mantra in your mind in the morning before you start your day or at night before you go to bed.
4. Spend Time With People You Love
This may sound simple or obvious but they say that we are the average of the 5 people we spend the most time with. So why not consciously choose to spend time with people who make you feel good and fill you up.
5. Drink More Water
While this may seem like such a simple practice, it is often under looked and easily forgotten. Drinking water through the day is about as vital as remembering to breathe! Start your day with a glass of water and even dress it up with lemon or a couple slices of cucumber, orange, or blueberries. This can be especially fun as we move into the Summer months. Not only will you be hydrated but your skin will reap the benefits too!