When I was talking to my dad on the phone this weekend he mentioned reading my last blog post (about slowing down/ taking my time, read it here) and he said something along the lines of "it's funny you're talking about relaxing more but you also have so much stuff you're doing."
Yep. It is funny. Just one of my many conundrums.
But also, I don't think being mindful/ slowing down always has to relate to having free time or having a relaxing day. I think that being more mindful, more intentional, and consciously slowing down has a lot to do with your mindset rather than how much time you actually have. I think it's possible to find calmness and, to some extent relaxation, in busy scenarios.
Let me explain. *Ahem.*
On Thursdays afternoons I typically have to conduct interviews for my newspaper job. These are kinda hard to fit into my schedule
Is this stressful? Yep. Does this fit the standard definition of being "busy?" Yep. But in a situation like this, while I'm speed-walking across campus, I have two options:
- Thinking to myself "hurry, hurry, hurry!" while triple checking my email for the office's room number, quadruple checking the time, and almost getting run over by a car because I'm not watching where I'm going. (A bit of an exaggeration. Or is it?)
- Putting my phone in my pocket, running through a few facts in my brain as I notice the blooming trees and people and sky, and thinking to myself "you've prepared enough. You got this."
Do I do this all the time? No. But am I trying to? Yeah. Gradually.
So without further ado, here are 6 on-the-go mindfulness 'breaks' that you can take at your busiest moments. And by "break" I mean a mental exercise or particular mindset that gives you a little release from your high-strung, non-chill brain. It's not necessarily a literal break from your busy day. Because there are some days, unfortunately, when we just don't have time.
When walking outside from place to place...
Put your phone in your pocket and look around. Notice the people you pass, and the trees and the scenery and the sky. Notice the construction and the busy people with their noses in their phones. Feel the sun on your skin or the breeze in your hair or the cold air prickling the hairs on your arms. Think to yourself: "I'm glad I get a few moments of fresh air today."
When trying to meet a deadline...
Sit back in your chair and take a deep breath. Make a quick mental or physical list of the specific things you have left to do, and how long they may take. (Sometimes when we've got a stressful deadline we have a hard time taking it apart and not being intimidated by the big picture). Remember that the good thing about deadlines is that soon the task will be completely done and over with and you won't have to worry about it.
Think to yourself: "I have time. It will be okay. I'll just keep working calmly and steadily and this will be over soon.
When eating a meal in a rush...
Even if you're in a rush, try to focus on doing one thing at a time. Eating your food will only take you a few minutes, so put down your phone or your laptop and focus on eating. You're bound to actually enjoy what you're eating a bit more (because you're taking the time to actually taste it) and you'll be more in touch with your body to figure out if you're full or not. Savor your food like its some kind of liquid gold. Just don't dally too much because you're on a schedule.
When a friend stops by to chat...
The worst part about being tired or stressed for me is that I tend to be more curt or blunt with the people around me. Small talk/ being cheery doesn't come naturally to me all the time, so when I'm tired my resting-bitch behavior shows its true colors. College has given me a lot of practice with this because I'm around my friends all the time (and I ♡ 'em), and it's helped me realize that, even if I have stuff to do, spending time with friends is always worth it. So if your friend comes knocking at your door, take a break and talk to them. Don't think about whatever you're in the middle of; just enjoy the company for a few minutes.
Think to yourself: "My friends are the best and I have time to spend with them and catch up. My work will still be here when our conversation is done."
When in a meeting or a class that's dragging on...
When you find yourself distracted or irritated in a setting where you should be paying attention, use the opportunity to check in with yourself: Why am I having a hard time paying attention? Is it because I'm sleep deprived? Because this is boring? Because my brain is buzzing around, thinking of all the stuff I have to do after this? Once you've discovered the source, quickly address it inside your head and put it to ease. Tell yourself, "yep, I'm overtired. But I'll go to bed at 10 pm tonight and it will be fine. Now I've just got to pay attention for thirty more minutes." Or "yep, I have 75 things to do today. After this class I'll write them all out in my planner so I don't feel as stressed. But there's no point in worrying about it right now." No problem or worry is too big to fix; either with a plan or a change in mindset.
When in the shower after a long day...
Buy yourself some luxurious smelling soaps and turn the water on hot. Pay attention to the feeling of the water hitting your skin and imagine all your stress just washing away. Imagine that it's being rinsed off your body and sent down the drain. And leave it down there until tomorrow.
Whew, so those are some tips for completely not losing your mind when life gets crazy! I was just talking to my friends today about how this week in particular is, ahem, hell. But I've been feeling surprisingly positive given my stress levels and lack of sleep. Do you have any tips about staying sane during busy days? Let me know!