Here are some of my favourite tips to slow down, be mindfully present, and create serenity.
Remember to share your tips too!
Breathe. Slowly. Consciously. It’s harder than it sounds. Our attention is so scattered, our environment so full of visual and auditory clutter, that even focusing our minds on a few attentive breaths can be a challenge. Try to get to 10 mindful breaths. It’s harder than you think, but well worth the effort: you’ll feel more calm, less stress, and an overall enhanced experience of the present moment.
Turn off text message and email alert sounds on your phone. Each little “ding” is a distraction, taking your attention away from your kid, your spouse, your friend, or just your lunch. Your friends can wait, and if it’s really important, they can give you an old-fashioned phone call to get your attention. (You can allow alert sounds for specific people only, like your kids/spouse etc. if you wish.)
A peaceful drive. I have a personal rule when I’m in the car without kids. If I can’t find a song I absolutely love, I turn off the radio. The peaceful silence feels way better than listening to crappy music or invasive radio commercials. Even Chelsea now requests quiet drives: quite the feat for my little talker!!!
Set multiple daily reminders on your smart phone. During the day, set a few reminders to be mindful. You can call it “Breathe” or “Be Present” or whatever message works for you.
Put visual reminders everywhere. I printed “Breathe” in a couple of lovely fonts, cut them out and taped them around the house. Derek’s uneasy about publicly displaying them (um, in the privacy of our home!) as guests may think it’s weird, so I hide the reminders in cupboards, drawers, and our bathroom. Way I figure, if people in my home are comfortable opening cupboards and gingo in my bathroom, they know me well enough to not think it’s weird! I’ve also put balloon stickers (representing air and breath, but you pick any sticker you want) in the car and around the house. Stickers invite fewer questions, if you’re worried about that sort of thing 🙂
Sit down to eat. While you’re at it, take a few deep breaths. Slowing down like this lets us enjoy our food a lot more. An extra bonus is “sitters” eat healthier portion sizes and tend not to snack as much during the day. When we stand, our minds don’t seem to register the food as a real meal, so we eat more at the next meal or in the form of snacks throughout the day. Source: http://www.healthline.com/nutrition/eating-while-standing-up
Get more “free time.” Just wake up earlier than the rest of the family. You can read, exercise, meditate, or sip your coffee in total peace before the morning chaos begins. If you’re like me and the thought of waking up EARLIER and getting LESS SLEEP sounds crazy, then go to bed earlier so you end up with the same amount of sleep. Whenever I do this, I’m able to be a more peaceful, less-harried mom (read, no yelling) as I help get the family fed, ready and out the door.
Leave a few minutes early rather than right “on-time” (or a few minutes late). I have a bad habit of waiting till the last minute before I leave the house. I wash a few dishes, return an email, or throw in just one load of laundry before heading out the door. But whenever I wait until the last minute to leave, I end up freaking out cause I’m running late, and then rushing the kids, snapping at them to hurry up, and kicking myself for the stress I’ve created for all of us. But when I leave a few minutes EARLY, it’s a much more peaceful experience getting to our destination. It’s also a lot safer to drive when we’re not rushed. There’s no temptation to speed, run the yellow light, or tailgate the super slow driver in front of us.
Create serenity in the kitchen by keeping the kitchen table attractive and clutter-free. A messy table = stress and mental chaos. But when it’s cleared and I’ve added bright placemats and flowers, the table becomes a serene centre-piece in the kitchen. It’s fun to involve the kids too, collecting pine cones, stones, shells, wildflowers or long grasses to use instead of traditional flowers in a vase.