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mindful exercises

As someone who struggles with diagnosed ADHD and Anxiety, I am always trying to find ways to practice mindfulness and be centered (everyone’s version of centered is different). To be mindful means to be fully present and aware of of our bodily sensations, thoughts, emotions, and our surrounding environment in the moment. And not just present and aware but non-judemental towards those things as well. My brain constantly wants to send me in a million different directions at once and learning to streamline my thoughts and take the time to take in the world around me is very important to me. Over the years I’ve missed out on a lot of events because I can’t quite focus. I could be focused on someone’s interesting shirt, bouncing between my thoughts, or looking back and forth in a million directions because there are too many stimuli. I do not use medication for either my ADHD or anxiety and use meditation, mindfulness exercises, essential oils and my own exercises instead. I never felt quite right on either medication so being off them was a better choice for me. Even if you do not suffer from ADHD or Anxiety we live in a society that is always on the go-go-go. Rarely do people take the time out of their day to enjoy the views, sounds or feelings around or within themselves. And, it feels like such an effort to take that time out of our day to practice mindfulness but it’s so important to take that time.  As a mother and a woman, it seems we take on a lot so, take a load off, even if just for 5 minutes.

These are 5 Ways to practice mindfulness that take a very minimal amount of time out of my day to do and be in the moment.

1. Legs-Up-The-Wall Yoga Pose also known as, Viparita Karani. This is such an easy pose to do as long as you have some free space on a wall or door.

legs on wall with torso Once in the pose, you instantly relax, as this pose activates the rest and digest state of your nervous system. Read more about your nervous system here. You also do not need to do this for long but I wouldn’t blame you if you did! I love doing this pose, closing my eyes, taking deep breaths and drifting off (whether to sleepy land or just in my thoughts). It helps lower your blood pressure as well and reduce edema (fluid build-up) in your legs. It stretches out your body as well and if you need to, throw a towel under your hips to alleviate pressure there.

legs on wall

An example I like to use for the effectiveness of this pose is a day where I came home after work with a splitting headache that was heading for migraine territory. I do not get them often but when I do, HOLY HELL they HURT! I had just gotten home from picking up my kids from daycare, I could not focus from the pain, my kids were screaming like banshees, and as soon as my husband walked into the door I booked it for our bedroom. I ran away yelling, “I JUST NEED 5 MINUTES!!!!” When I got upstairs I turned the lights off and threw my legs up on the wall, closed my eyes, started to take deep breaths, and I felt so much better! It was crazy how my body just relaxed. My head got some blood flow to it and my headache started to dissipate. Practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be complicated or take much effort. Anytime I do any yoga or relaxing stretches I also like to use some essential oils either rolled on or in the diffuser. Lavender is always my go to for relaxation and using essential oils with any of these exercises would be a great idea.

2. Grounding Exercise – Close eyes, feet flat on ground, focus on your feet on the ground for 1 minute. Your thoughts will wander but go back to the feeling of your feet on the ground. This exercise is extremely simple. Don’t feel like you need a timer for exactly a minute. Just, sit there feeling your feet on top of the earth. Like I said, when you notice your mind start to wander go back to your feet. Think of it however you like but for me when my feet hit the ground it feels like I am connected to the Earth underneath me and it is very calming.

3. 5 Senses – This is an exercise we practice even with our son when he is frustrated. He will ask for it sometimes too! Which, is such a great feeling. What you will want to do is, with your eyes open – name 5 things you see, 5 things you hear, 5 things you taste (may be tough), 5 things you smell, and 5 things you physically feel (ex. your bum on the chair). Once you are done you will feel a bit more focused and refreshed.

4. 5 minute meditation – Eyes open or closed, feet flat on the ground, find a focal point (sound, breath or thing in room) breath in through your nose out through your mouth. Your thoughts may wander but go back to that focal point each time and your breathing. If 5 minutes is too long, start with 30 seconds and work your way up. Each morning in one of my classes in graduate school we would start off with this exercise. It was such a great way to start off my day. I especially loved it when it was my first class of the day.

5. Body of water – This is a mindfulness exercise my husband taught me. My favorite time to use it is when I am having trouble falling asleep.

Picture in your mind a body of water. It can take any form you wish; a pond, a pool, a bathtub… All that matters is that this place is yours and yours alone. No one else may enter or disturb this place. It is safe. This pool of water represents your calm. As we go about our daily lives and experience stress, this pool of water begins to dry up. If it reaches the point where it evaporates completely, it will have negative effects on our physical and emotional well-being.

Picture in your mind a body of water. It can take any form you wish; a pond, a pool, a bathtub… All that matters is that this place is yours and yours alone. No one else may enter or disturb this place. It is safe. This pool of water represents your calm. As we go about our daily lives and experience stress, this pool of water begins to dry up. If it reaches the point where it evaporates completely, it will have negative effects on our physical and emotional well-being.

Which is why we must refill it from time to time. Find a quiet place. Choose whatever position is most comfortable for you; sitting, lying down…doesn’t matter. Close your eyes and begin to breathe. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth in a slow, steady, comfortable rhythm. Imagine that with every breath you take you are adding a bucket of water back into your pool. You are replenishing your calm.

This exercise is nice to do in bed before going to sleep, or in the middle of the day if you’re feeling frazzled and need to recharge. Or whenever you have a quiet moment. The hardest part for most people is remaining focused on the imagery without letting all those nagging little thoughts in to disrupt things. Don’t worry; if you find your mind wandering, just re-center yourself and start again. With practice, it will become easier and easier to clear your mind and replenish yourself!

mindfulness water

I hope you try some of these out and they help you as well. Here are my suggestions for further reading  and my picks for great tools for mindfulness and stretching:

“Where Ever You Go, There You Are” By, Jon Kabat-Zinn

Trigger Point GRID Foam Roller

Amazon Basics Yoga Mat

The Calming Collection – Goodbye Worries

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