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Mindfulness. A word that gets thrown around often, but we may not ever take the time to dissect. What does it really mean? In short, it’s being aware. Being conscious of your mind, your body, your surroundings, your neighbors. It’s the opposite of coasting through life mindlessly. It’s being fully conscious in the present moment and thinking about its place within the bigger picture—and how it affects others.
So how can we begin to practice mindfulness in the mundane moments of our daily lives? We don’t have to go on some sort of spiritual meditation journey to find ourselves (although if you have that option, by all means, go for it). The truth is, we can practice mindfulness in the smallest moments, and starting small can help us learn to be mindful on a larger scale later on.
In this time of uncertainty, fear, and jarring change, we could all benefit from a little mindfulness in our day-to-day lives. Here are some practical ways you can start practicing right now.
So, you’re in the grocery store, looking around at angry people fighting over toilet paper and spaghetti, wondering how we got here. It’s so easy to be frustrated with everyone’s panic and just plain rudeness in the store. Lines are long, people are mean, no one’s honoring the six-feet rule. I’m sure we’ve all found ourselves in a similar anxiety-inducing situation in the past few weeks. Everyone’s scared of what’s going to happen next, stocking up on food for their families.
How we can be mindful: Park far away and enjoy breathing in the fresh air on the walk from your car to the entrance. When you get inside, look at the food that is there. Think about the random items as potential ingredients. How can you challenge yourself to get creative with your meals? Be grateful that we have grocery stores to access the moment we need food. Think about the people working at the store, exposing themselves to lots of angry customers and germs each day to put food on the shelves for those of us who need it. Notice how good it feels to get out of the house—running errands may be the one part of your routine you can still do.
We’ve all tried it—pushing aside coffee tables, rolling out yoga mats, trying not to disturb our downstairs neighbors with jumping jacks. As we drip sweat on our favorite rugs and text “IMY :(” to our favorite fitness instructors, we’re all feeling the same sense of anxiety and frustration.
So, how can we be mindful? Take a moment just to feel your toes on the floor. Think about your body and what it’s capable of. Remember all the things your body can accomplish, no matter the environment you’re in. Be thankful for your home and your rug and your fitness instructor. Look forward to when you can get back in the studio while also being present in your body right now. Try to start a new temporary workout routine that feels consistent to you. Laugh at your situation and your sweaty rug. You got this.
“Wh-a-t di-d yo-u s-ay?” There’s nothing like trying to hold an important meeting over some sh*tty WiFi. Watching your pixelated coworker try to share her screen and tell you some “important updates” you can’t hear a word of. We’re all dealing with this right now.
Practice mindfulness by thinking about your job and your ability to work from home in the first place. Bring awareness to your breath, restart your router, and remember that we’re all in this together. Think of all the times you sat at work, wishing you could be home in your PJs. Send an instant message, let them know you can’t hear them, and see how much you can explain over email. We’ll figure it out, and we all understand.
Feeling bored? Wanting to go run a marathon or dance the night away? We feel you. There’s something different about staying in over the weekend for a much-needed self-care night versus choosing to self-isolate to protect the world from a pandemic. But why not switch your mindset?
Self-care and movie nights are fun, and we all love them every now and then. Be mindful by getting creative with how you choose to spend your time at home. Whether it’s hosting a digital dinner party, learning how to meditate, giving yourself a mani-pedi, or setting up the perfect WFH sanctuary, there are plenty of ways to be mindful of how you spend your time. Think of this as an opportunity to reset, to return to work and the busyness of everyday life with newfound gratitude and awareness (and some sassy red nails).
At this point, I’m sure we’ve all had to cancel trips, events, hangouts, and social gatherings we were really looking forward to. Music festivals were postponed, weddings were canceled, girls’ trips to Portland to reunite with college friends were put on hold (yeah, that one’s personal). When you’re hitting that ‘Cancel’ button online or on the phone with airlines and hotel managers, take a pause.
How great is it that we have things to look forward to in the first place? Great friends, family, live music to see—these are the things that bring joy into our lives. Yes, I’m bummed that my trip got canceled, but I’m so thankful for the amazing friends I was planning to meet up with. Last night, we hopped on Zoom and laughed the night away regardless of our canceled plans. If a postponed event is your biggest worry right now, pause and reflect. Be mindful of your current situation in comparison to others—of health, safety, friends, family, everything we so often take for granted. Be mindful and know there will soon be time to reschedule.
This is a big one right now—I think we’re all feeling it. What’s going to happen next? How can we stop this chaos? The thing is, we don’t have all the answers right now. We can wash our hands, stay indoors, practice social distancing, and keep an eye on updates from the WHO. But aside from all that, we need to take measures to protect not just our physical bodies, but our mental health as well.
Practicing mindfulness during a state of worldwide panic may seem like a lofty ask, but we can all take steps to maintain a state of calm in our own minds. Different methods work for different people, so be sure to take time to discover what’s best for you. Maybe it’s ten long, slow breaths to center and ground yourself in the present moment. Maybe it’s finding a live-streamed yoga class from one of the many studios that are offering them right now, or trying a few calming poses in your living room. Maybe it’s downloading Waking Up or Headspace for some guided meditation to clear your mind (or learning to meditate on your own!). Whether you’re plugging in your diffuser and turning on your favorite meditation playlist or blasting some pump-up jams to dance out all that pent-up stress, there’s no wrong way to find your calm and stay grounded in stressful moments.
So, what does mindfulness mean to you? Share your favorite tips for practicing mindfulness on your Instagram story and tag @mindbody to spread the love.
With the inability to leave our houses, right now might seem like the perfect time to try a lot of things we’ve never made time for. In this altered state of reality, and time indoors that seems to drag on forever, it may seem like the opportunities are endless. Organizing, decorating, baking, crafting, reading, TikTok-ing, and doing all those things you see online. But if you’re feeling overwhelmed with options, we’re here to tell you that now’s the perfect time to try yoga above the rest.
Bedroom. Backyard. Livingroom. Basement. Bathroom (hey, to each his own). Anywhere you have room to roll out a yoga mat is fair game. Sorry, extra tall peeps, you may have to move some furniture. As we’re all sheltered-in-place right now, we’re getting creative with how we get our fitness in. But if you just don’t have it in you to start transforming your guest room into a fitness studio (we get it), virtual yoga classes are perfect for you.
You’re probably already wearing yoga pants.
Unless you enjoy suffering and have been putting jeans on every day to WFH (props to you), you’re probably wearing sweats, PJs, or yoga pants on your lower half (with some business on top, of course). If that’s the case, you’re already almost fully dressed for a yoga sesh! Throw on a sports bra or top, push your coffee table out of the way, and you’re good to go (no shoes necessary).
As we’re all stuck at home, people's creativity has started to blossom. Some have started new social media challenges, taken up painting or knitting, or channeled their inner Chrissy Teigen and started trying out all those recipes they never had time to before. If you’re like me, though, you’re a little discouraged when it comes to getting the creative juices flowing. You may be feeling anxious about the state of the world right now, discouraged by how talented everyone else seems on social media, or simply can’t find the energy to take on a new challenge. If that’s you, that’s okay. I’m right there with you. I’m a writer, and usually a pretty creative person, but I just can’t bring myself to hop on this trend right now.
For me, however, yoga has been an awesome way to express myself—a different form of creativity that doesn’t necessarily yield a production at the end. You can start by attending a live virtual yoga class, and add in your own creative flair as you go (because what better time to try new poses than when you’re in your house with no one watching?). Listen to your body, get expressive, and let your creative juices flow (literally).
It’s no secret, that yoga has some incredible mental benefits. And it’s also no secret that a lot of us could use a little extra mental self-care right now. Focusing on your breathing, connecting your body and mind, and diving into meditation all have incredible effects on your overall mental health. It’s been shown to relieve stress, calm the nervous system, and even improve symptoms of depression.
On top of that, in a time of such uncertainty, we are all most likely craving routine. Carving out some time in our not-so-busy schedules to put down our phones, turn off our TVs, and tune in to connect with our bodies and minds could definitely do us all some good right now.
If you’re used to working in an ergonomically correct office and have now switched to a hunched-over-a-coffee-table-on-your-couch situation, we feel you. I know I’ve been having some serious back pain from all the weird positions I’ve been working in each day. Yoga can help strengthen your back muscles, improve posture, and increase blood flow. If you’ve noticed areas of pain or tightness in your body, you can focus on bringing fluid, breath, and awareness to them to release tension and increase flexibility.
There are many different types of yoga, and you may have to test out a few before you find the one that’s right for you. If you want it as a supplement to your other intense virtual fitness classes, you may want to try restorative or Yin yoga. If you want to heat up your muscles and break a sweat, you may want to try a more active Vinyasa or Power flow. Don’t be overwhelmed by choices; think of it as an opportunity to challenge your body and mind in lots of new ways! Here’s a guide to get you started.
If you’re feeling isolated and in need of a sense of community right now, you’re not alone. We’re all missing our friends, family, and general sense of human connection right now. A great way to get connected to a local (or distant) community right now is through virtual classes. Many studios are offering live-streamed virtual yoga sessions that are bookable through Mindbody, where you can flow in solidarity with others around the world.
Maybe you’d like to try out yoga studios near you in hopes of finding one you can frequent once they reopen. Or maybe you’d like to explore what other cities or countries have to offer. Perhaps you’ve been nervous to try yoga for the first time in a studio in front of others. Right now, you have the unique opportunity to experience classes and instructors from a variety of different studios from the comfort of your home. Take advantage of it! You’d be surprised how comforting it is to know that you’re sharing an hour of your day with people in the same boat. And who knows? Maybe you’ll find a local community of yogis you love and a studio to visit once stay-at-home orders are lifted.
If you’re looking for a new hobby, fitness type, creative release, stress-reducer, pain-reliever, or sense of community, yoga is all of that—and more. So, find a space, roll out your mat (or just try it on the carpet!), and find a class to try today. What’s stopping you?