As a psychotherapist, I find that I repeat myself pretty regularly with the same, simple foundational things that can help with overall well-being and mental health. They aren’t rocket science tasks, but they are some pretty important activities you’ve probably already heard of and are at least partially already doing.
Among the “amazing eight” is meditation. Wait, don’t go!
Meditation has become quite the buzzword these days, and frankly, while many people seem to be hopping on board to the amazing power of a few minutes to go within, others are simply rolling their eyes, skeptical that this really is a thing.
Trust me, it really is a thing.
Most of the time, when I suggest meditation, I can practically feel a breeze in the room because of the exaggerated eye roll. After the quake of disgust, I offer up some creative alternatives to nudge them in the meditation direction so they can go within, focus on themselves, and engage in a little self-care. (I know, another hoity toity buzzword that causes lots of eye rolls).
But because of the vast amount of research that shows that meditation is powerful enough to change your brain and body chemistry so you not only feel better, you are better, there are only good reasons to try out this practice. Here are a few ways I’ve reframed the idea of meditating in order to get some that juicy, wellness goodness into your life:
Close Your Tabs. Your brain works much like a computer. You may think you’re multitasking on five or twenty-five different items, but in reality, the more tabs you have open, the slower your computer, or brain, runs. While you’re reading this, there are programs running in the background of your mind that is slowing down your mental productivity. Perhaps only slightly, but the more you have open, the more sluggish you’re going to operate.
With multiple tabs open, you’re not optimal in any one of them. Multitasking isn’t possible, no matter what you’ve heard. Take just five minutes to take some deep breaths, focus only on breathing. Since you can only focus on one thing at a time, focusing on just breathing will help you close all the unnecessary tabs.
Go To The Restroom. Okay, this may sound strange, but when you can’t find a shred of peace and quiet in your busy day at the office, and your desk or office mate is driving you crazy, go to the restroom and and chill. Everyone’s entitled to a bathroom break!
I’ve been meditating since before meditation was cool, and it all started with me working in a cubicle and needing a break from all the mental leeches sucking life from my soul…in the bathroom stall. I’d go lock myself in and start doing some deep breathing while staring at the literal writing on the wall. Maybe it was five minutes, maybe it was seven. It was almost always on another floor so I wouldn’t be spotted. Those were some golden moments of chill-time, and I highly recommend this method! Go to the restroom stall, lock yourself in, and breathe deeply for five minutes.
Be Like a Tree. As a therapist, I’m often sitting upwards of nine or ten hours a day. It is a mentally draining job because we don’t usually get to “zone out” in ways that can help us close our tabs. Even restroom breaks are pretty quick. So, in sessions, when I’m feeling drained of energy, mentally filled up, or just needing to release some negative energy, I make like a tree, and straighten myself up!
This can work for you, too, sitting at your desk, in a meeting, or even in your car. Wiggle a bit, sit up straight and tall, stick your legs straight out like roots, then take thirty deep breaths. Imagine the oxygen moving from from the roots to the tips of your branches, and back down again.
Find Yourself a Patio. There’s something about nature that just brings everything into focus. Research says that even a little bit of green can make you feel happier, grounded and peaceful. The physical and mental benefits of being in a green space, even if it’s the plant garden in your apartment window, can have a positive effect on your physical and mental health. So, find yourself some greenery. In your backyard, on your back porch, at the park, or at your favorite bar or restaurant, get in the space and focus on the trees and blades of grass.
I’m lucky enough to have a window which looks out upon a sea of green. Yes, it’s sea of weeds and at night it feels like I’m walking into a scene from children of the corn, but it’s green. Weeds are green – I’ll take it! Sitting on my back stoop, or taking a stroll around my building while taking in the fresh scent of…weeds, really feels sort of magical, and relaxing. Find yourself a patio, and some green, and start breathing in the calm, cool, connected feeling of nature.
Meditation is Easy
Meditation is just one way to focus on your mental and physical well-being, but it’s one that’s extremely important. When my clients are resistant, I remind them that they’re coming to me because they want to feel and think differently, and different doesn’t always feel comfortable. Also, the most you have to lose by trying is five or ten minutes because that’s all it takes to make a big shift. Do it everyday for a week, and you’ll wonder what took you so long to hop on the meditation train.
So, go chill out in the middle of your busy day; now you have no reason not to.
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