- Why is self-care important?
- What is mindfulness and how do I practice it?
- How can I incorporate mindfulness into my busy life?
Hi TFK Fam!
Julia here, taking over for Deb today so she can get busy making TFK even better. On Sundays, we often do Sunday Successes, but today I’m going to switch it up and introduce Self-Care Sunday! In addition to my role at TFK, I am a provisionally registered psychologist – so self-care comes up a lot. But what exactly is self-care and why is it important?
Self-care is about looking after yourself –mentally, emotionally, and physically. Practicing good self-care is important for improving mood and reducing anxiety and plays an important role in your relationship with yourself and others. But good self-care is often easier said than done. Most of us lead busy lives and you may find yourself even busier during this pandemic. To be honest, self-care sometimes feels like just another chore on the never-ending to-do list! But self-care is so important for our wellbeing, especially for those of us in caretaking roles. Eventually, if self-care is neglected, it can lower our ability to care for others. And I know you all want to provide the best care you can for your loved ones. So how can you make this happen?
While there are endless ways to practice self-care, one that works very well (and is based on evidence!) is mindfulness. Mindfulness is a type of meditation with a focus on the present moment. Often, when we are anxious, we are either thinking about the past (which we can’t change) or we are thinking about the future (which we can’t necessarily predict). Focusing on the present moment – one breath at a time - can be very grounding. That doesn’t necessarily mean trying to control your thoughts or stop having them – instead, the idea is to become aware of your thoughts and then let them go. Over time, the end goal is to quiet your mind and ground you in the present moment.
How do I practice mindfulness?
- Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed.
- Sit upright in a comfortable position, with good posture.
- Close your eyes or focus on one place in the room.
- Focus on your breath. Place a hand on your belly so you can feel the rise and fall as you breath in and out. 3 seconds in – 3 seconds out.
- Be aware of each of your 5 senses: sight, sound, taste, smell, touch.
- Mindfulness is most effective when practiced daily – start with 5 minutes and work your way up to 10 or 15 minutes.
- When thoughts enter your mind – don’t try to control them. Just notice that them and then let them go – returning your focus to your breath.
- Don’t be discouraged if many thoughts enter your mind during your mindfulness practice. Just keep noticing them and letting them go without trying to control them. Mindfulness is a practice and it takes time to learn to quiet your mind.
- Try a mindfulness app! One of these apps is Headspace, which has a free trial and even has a section on meditating with kids – because kids benefit from meditation too!
How can I incorporate mindfulness into my busy life?
With busy lives, multiple responsibilities, and unpredictable schedules – it can be difficult to set aside daily time for a mindfulness practice. If you can, schedule it in at the same time every day so you won’t forget. Get up 10-15 minutes early in the morning and do your practice then, or schedule it in right before bed. Set a reminder/alarm on your phone if you are forgetful. But one of the great things about mindfulness is you don’t necessarily have to do it while sitting down quietly on your own. Instead, you could:
- Practice mindfulness while doing the dishes – notice how the hot water feels on your skin, notice the scent of the soap, and when thoughts enter your mind – gently let the thought go and return to a focus on the task at hand.
- Go for a mindfulness walk – use the previous suggestion of focusing on your 5 senses. A mindfulness walk is particularly good for a self-care activity, as it incorporates exercise in – which is good for your physical health.
- Try mindfulness eating – instead of turning on the TV or scrolling through your phone, really focus on what you are eating – the flavours, colours, textures.
- Pay attention when driving – have you ever driven from one place to another with no real recollection of how you got there? Try turning off the music and really taking in your surroundings when driving. You may see something wonderful that you otherwise may have missed!
I hope this information was helpful. We’d love to hear how you practice mindfulness in your life – so head over to our Facebook page or Instagram and share with us!
As always, we are here to help in any way we can. If you have any questions, please give us a call, send us an email, or contact us through social media.
Wishing you a wonderful Mother’s Day and self-care Sunday.
Stay safe, happy, and well.