Speaking with my surrogate sister recently, I told her I had as many thoughts running through my mind as there are people in Shenzhen, China, my home-to-be starting in August. Shenzhen houses some 17 million people, and this comment felt like only a slight exaggeration. There is a lot to process when packing up a South American home, to visit the Minnesota hometown, and then sail off to set up a new home in China in a matter of four weeks.
Practicing mindfulness is important to each day, but especially so right now, when there are moments I can feel my sanity slipping. Whether you’ve got your routine down, or it is about to be shaken like dice in a Yahtzee cup, these reflections can help you keep your feet on the ground and your mind from clouding over in a world of ever-increasing stimuli.
1. Do things in silence
As the only dweller in my home, I like to rock the tunes to feel like I’ve got some company. Sometimes The Civil Wars are harmonizing in my house, though lately it’s been George Michael setting the mood. Music is awesome the way it can either be blue with you, or pull you up into a spunkier disposition, but I am here to make a case for silence … at least some of the time. Choose at least one daily activity, such as running, cooking a meal, eating dinner or your morning routine, and complete it without the TV or radio playing. This allows your brain to process during the day, rather than keeping you up at night.
2. Do one thing at a time
I think we often feel like the masters of our own universes when we are multi-tasking. We feel so productive when we are baking cookies, while reading our Daily Skimm, while ironing with our toes. Ultimately, though, dividing our brain in such a way all day long wears on us. I implore you, if you are going to listen to a podcast, just do that. Writing a blog post? Don’t check Facebook after you complete each paragraph (I’m keeping myself honest here.) Do that one thing, and do it with all of yourself, even if it is simply folding the laundry.
3. Restorative yoga
Like many of you, when it comes to fitness, I like to feel the burn. I like to sweat. It’s proof that I can be a tough badass lady. So I have hesitated on a number of occasions to hit up restorative yoga, until recently when a friend and I wanted to try out aerial yoga. I would not call restorative yoga a workout in a traditional sense, I think we could coin it a workin. Through holding the poses and stretches, you work into your center and find that peace. I encourage you to sign-up for one of these classes and allow the soft darkness that is stillness envelope you. After finishing up the class last week, I simply floated to dinner. Without even sweating, I still felt cleansed.
4. Watch the clouds pass
In the middle of your work day, take a brain break. Step away from your computer and simply gaze into the sky. Better yet, scoot outside and sit up against a tree while you take in the splendor above. I find shape-shifting, wispy or full floating clouds to be just the thing to relax my breath and my body.
5. Share words of gratitude
Telling your best friend, your mother or your partner why you appreciate them is important. Do it often. And then tell someone unexpected why they matter in your world. The person who cleans your classroom, the person who bagged your groceries and the barista who made your coffee to order would be delighted to receive your kind words. This three minute TedTalk from Laura Trice will get you further pondering the power of saying thank you.
6. Candlelight bubblebath
We often consider such things indulgent, and if it feels as such, wonderful, but self-care is necessary for our best functioning. Grab your lavender essential oil, or favorite scented bubblebath, light the candles, and melt into some well deserved relaxation.
I’m about ready to take some of my own advice now. Though, rather than watching the clouds from the base of a tree, I am going to ponder my South American life from a mountain this afternoon. ¡Viva Ecuador!
“Take care of yourself, so you can take care of others. You’re important too, you know.” –Kid President