4 Easy Ways to Be Mindful This Summer
It’s exciting — and even a bit overwhelming — to emerge this summer after so many of us spent the majority of the last year at home, dealing with stress, anxiety, and the unknown. Now that cities are opening up, it’s tempting to overindulge in all areas of our lives. But temporary highs are just that — temporary. So, we’re sharing ways to use mindfulness to capture a longer-lasting feeling of joy, peacefulness, and happiness this summer. Here are four tips:
1. Live In The Moment
Our minds are naturally wired to continually want more. If you crave ice cream, and treat yourself to a cone, the minute you start enjoying it, your mind may begin swirling with thoughts about whether to have another one tomorrow. However, we can keep these constant cravings at bay by — to quote Canadian pop and country singer-songwriter k.d. Lang — ‘taking moments throughout the day to tune into the present moment.’
Notice what your socks or shoes feel like on your feet. Feel the fabric of your shirt on your shoulders. Put your phone on silent when you eat a meal. Ignite your senses and really experience what you’re hearing, seeing, feeling, tasting, and smelling in a given moment. If your mind is a whirlwind of distracting thoughts throughout the day, try setting an alarm two or three times to remind yourself to check in and make sure you’re living in the present moment.
2. Do Something Kind Every Day
It’s easy to turn in and focus our attention on our own needs, wants, and desires. We can break that cycle by doing something thoughtful, and completely unexpected, for someone in our lives or even a complete stranger.
Text a friend you haven’t talked to in a while and tell them you’re thinking of them. Buy a candle, plant, or other small gift for a friend or family member and send it to them for no reason. The next time you get a coffee out, cover the cost of a coffee for the next person in line. Make it a point to remember details others share with you and ask them at the relevant time how it went — whether it’s a job interview, a child’s birthday, or other important life event.
Incredibly, when we do something kind for someone else, we often gain more benefit than they do!
3. Appreciate Nature
If you live in a city, a daily trip to a park — to appreciate the trees, flowers, and birds — can be incredibly inspiring. If you’re in the suburbs or a rural area, take a walk for a few minutes in the morning, on your lunch break, or after work. Leave your phone at home and notice the shape of a leaf on a tree or admire the color of a bird flying overhead.
Being in nature is soothing and calming for our bodies and minds. It is easy to live with our heads in our computers, phones and at home. But if you need a mental break, cultivating an appreciation for nature can dramatically shift your energy, helping you to feel more positive, upbeat, and optimistic.
Meditation reduces stress, increases our immunity, and floods our body and mind with clear, renewed energy. If you’re just starting out, simply sit with your eyes closed or with a soft gaze ahead, and pay attention to the sensations of the breath as you inhale and exhale through your nostrils. With a gentle smile, bring your awareness to whether the breath feels warm or cool, or if it prompts a tingling sensation as you breathe in and out of your nose.
You can meditate for one minute or 20 — whatever works for you. Research from Harvard University shows that if you meditate consistently, it actually changes the brain, reducing stress and helping us regulate our emotions and increasing our empathy and compassion. It also helps us put a pause between whatever happens during the day and how we choose to respond. If you love meditating, you can take things a step further and sign up for a meditation teacher training program to inspire others to take up a regular practice.
None of us is perfect. And you may not always get to all four of these exercises. But keep these tips in mind as we welcome summer, and you’ll feel lighter and more content with each passing day.