Give Yourself a Break!
We have had a few really chaotic weeks recently. We went from getting 20+ inches of snow where I live to it being 53 degrees and feeling the pressure to get outside and take advantage of the gorgeous weather.
Something I have been struggling with is feeling that I have not been productive enough. In our society, you are praised for working yourself to the point of burnout. It is natural to compare what we have been accomplishing to what we see others doing on social media, but news flash- that is a highlight reel! Often our self-worth is determined by our productivity levels, not deeper reasons. This includes me! If I have a list of tasks I want to get done, but only check off half of them, I will get mad at myself for not completing all of my tasks instead of praising myself for getting a few items on my to-do list finished. I keep reminding myself and I want to remind you- this is a pandemic, not a productivity contest!!! Especially during the beginning of the pandemic, people were posting and sharing the new hobbies they started, the projects around the house they tackled, and the fitness routines they were starting. That is great for them, but that is not everyone’s experience. Many of us were struggling to get out of bed. And that is okay!
It is great to set goals and have aspirations for yourself, but it is a balancing act between taking care our yourself and working towards those goals. One way to create this balance is by using mindfulness. Mindfulness is defined as "a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique". That self-awareness creates a sense of consistency in a time when nothing is consistent.
Here are a few ways that you can include mindfulness in your everyday life.
1) Do a body scan in 10-15 minutes. Close your eyes and breathe more deeply and slowly. First, focus your attention on your feet. Notice any tension, pain, or stress. Take deep, slow breaths as you focus your awareness on that area of your body. As if you are scanning your body with light, move your attention slowly upward. Notice how each section of your body feels as you continue to breathe slowly: your shins and knees, thighs and hips, lower back and abdomen, chest and upper back, neck and shoulders, and finally your head.
2) Check in on your breath throughout the day. Close your eyes and take some deep breaths and notice where in your body you are storing stress. As you breathe, imagine sending that breath to that area as you inhale, and imagine the knot relaxing as you exhale. Repeat this cycle.
3) Check out youtube for a sun salutation yoga series to get in touch with your body.
4) Relax at the end of the day by using guided meditation. Keep apps or podcasts on your phone for easy access.
5) Take a break from technology. Notice what is around you- What can you see? What can you hear? How does your body feel?
I am challenging you to try one of these mindfulness methods today and pay attention to how your body feels before and after it. Remember that your self-worth is not determined by what you accomplish in a day. Listen to your body. Give it what it needs.