In today’s fast paced world, it can be difficult to “stop and smell the roses” or for that matter even notice the roses at all. As we struggle to juggle the demands of a career, intimate and family relationships, children,and household chores we may end up sprinting over the roses while simultaneously walking the dog, texting, and scarfing down our breakfast before dropping the kids off at school and arriving to work on time. Many of us think if we only had a few more hours each day or each week we would then take up tai chi, learn to meditate,go to the gym five times a week, cook more meals at home from scratch, play more games with the kids, and take long strolls on the beach at sunset. Sometimes the thought of learning and practicing stress management skills can even stress us out because it becomes another time block on the already lengthy “to do” list. How then can we find balance within the chaos of today’s world?
One important way to balance and decrease stress is by practicing mindfulness - or present moment awareness - in our everyday lives. Mindfulness can be practiced at any moment regardless of the length of your “to do” list. For example, the next time you kiss your spouse, your child, or your dog “goodbye” take that second or two to really be present with them. Pause the ‘to do list’ for one moment and really be there,just then, with just them. Perhaps while you are at work you can take just a few seconds to pay attention to and notice the taste and temperature of the coffee you are drinking or truly listen to the song on the radio while you are stopped at a red light. Building in moments of mindfulness throughout your day can help to calm the mind, reduce stress, and most importantly it can improve the likeliness you will notice and enjoy those fleeting special moments like kissing your loved one “hello” after a long, hard day. If you’d like more information or feel you could benefit from assistance with this topic, check out our Coping with Stress: Achieving a Healthy Balance Group on our groups page.
The following books are also recommended for those of you who would like to learn more about mindfulness:
Mindfulness for Beginners: Reclaiming the Present Moment and Your Life by John Kabat-Zinn
Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness by Susan Smalley, Ph.D. and Diana Winston