Get Out of Your Head
One day I am making sculptures out of wild flowers with the kids and rolling out naan from scratch, and the next day I am wondering if the human race will survive until the end of the year. What defines my mood? It tends to rely on how much I am living in my head vs living in the present moment. The more time I spend tangled up in worry, judgement, and fear, the more those pesky thoughts become my reality. Yet, most of the thoughts running through my head are not even a little bit true. Most of them are worst case scenarios my mind has conjured up: Death, loss, hunger, loneliness… Even fear of returning back to “normal.” Mindfulness, or paying attention to the reality of THIS moment, has been a life saver here in quarantine (especially with 3 small children). I have been practicing it for years, but now it’s more important than ever. And don’t get me wrong, it’s not easy to stay mindful when dealing with big feeling and fears, yet the more I practice it the calmer I feel. Here are some ways you can get out of your head and into the here and now RIGHT NOW. Connect with Your Body Connecting with your physical self can help quiet all the mental chatter. Exercise, self-massage, yoga, even simply taking a few deep breaths can help you stay in the moment. All you have to do is tune in to sensations that you are feeling. Try to get really detailed about what you are observing. Ask yourself: What am I feeling in my body right now? Where do I feel it? This can also help soften those trouble spots that tend to give us a hard time when we are experiencing stress or anxiety. If you notice a tight jaw, tense shoulders, achy lower back, try to bring a little softness into those spots just by acknowledging that tension is there. Cook and Eat Mindfully We are all cooking a little more than we use to (and maybe eating a little more too), so why not slow down and truly savor the experience. Notice the smells, textures, and tastes as you are cooking and eating. Chew and swallow each bite before taking another, and turn off the screens while you enjoy. Eating mindfully also helps the body register when it is full, so we are less likely to overindulge. This is a great way to avoid gaining the Covid-19 (lbs). Find Comfort in Nature If you are able, try to spend time outside every day. Take a walk through the woods or simply sit on your front stoop and observe. Again, how detailed can you get in your observations? Allow your senses to take over for a bit. Connecting to nature brings a deeper sense of relaxation because we connect to our roots as human beings. Natural settings also provide subtle stimulus, unlike staring at the flashing lights of a computer or TV screen...One more reason nature calms the nerves. Be Creative Not the creative type? Stop telling yourself that and give it a try anyway. Write a poem, paint a picture, work on a monologue, knit a scarf, whittle something out of wood...the possibilities are endless. This is not about creating a masterpiece to sell or hang in a museum. It’s about getting out of your head and into the moment. The simple act of focusing on the creative task is therapeutic. If you are focused on the task at hand, there is much less space for the mind to ruminate on thoughts that do not serve you. Begin Again As you try these mindful exercises, your brain may still want to shift back to the place of worry. When that happens, try not to get frustrated. Just simply “begin again.” It’s easy to see those moments of distraction as failure. BUT the moments where you have to begin again are the jewels in this practice. It’s like a little workout for the mind and soul. The more to begin again the better you will become at staying present. *Photo: #Facethefoliage I created with the little ones. It’s a wonderful way to stay mindful, connect with nature, and be creative. Try it!