Spring is a time for clearing out what no longer serves you. As the sun feels like a nice interruption, Spring is full of change: color, smells, texture. A time of creation and preparation. If you are feeling overwhelmed, fearful or anxious, the symbolism of Spring is perfect for you!
Present mind. Present moment. Present ideas. Present people. Change and recalibration. Everything feels a little more lively and palpable in Spring.
Six ways to connect with your natural rhythm Spring 2022:
1. Renew your mind: Take a moment and write down all the negative things about yourself and/or ruminating negative thoughts you have. Negative thinking contributes to depression, anxiety, obsessive and compulsive thought patterns, even chronic physical illnesses. Negative rumination can leave us frozen. Not only does it change how we see our life, but it alters our perception of the future and the world. Studies show that spending just two minute to concentrate on something positive while staying present is helpful. When you get distracted by a negative thought, notice something so you can engage with in the present.
Practice: 5,4,3,2,1 Mindful Grounding 2-3 times daily. Simply notice 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you smell, 2 things you touch, 1 thing you taste. Now, put your list out with the trash because it’s contents are no longer relevant.
2. Pace yourself: Take a pause before reacting or jumping into action. Prepare and plan a response and break it down into 3-4 actions. Use creativity and pace yourself. No need to rush or hurry to the “end.”
Daily Practice: Write down the scenario and come up with 2-3 options or appropriate responses and the 3-4 actions that will get you there. Remember, nothing wrong with saying “let me think on it and I will respond in ____ minutes or hours. Use this thought log or alternative Thoughts and Actions to help you change the impulse to react before processing first. Then, follow through on your offer to follow up.
3. Become aware of mind and body: Your mood fluctuates with weather. You will notice sensations in your body that alert you about those changes. Take a few minutes to mindfully scan your body and mind. Studies show that practicing mindful body scan can improve awareness, reduce stress, improve quality of sleep, cope with pain, improve focus, increase self-compassion and bring gratitude to the surface.
Practice your new healthy habit: Implement body scan for beginners every morning when you wake up and at bedtime. You can also do it on your own by following the steps below:
- Start by laying down or sitting up in a comfortable position.
- Close your eyes, or at least lower your lids, let your eyes relax and “half-close” them.
- Bring awareness to your body, breathing in and out, noticing sensations at your nostrils, belly and chest.
- Then bring your attention to the places where your body makes contact with the seat or floor, such as your back and shoulders.
- Start scanning your body from your head downward. Move your attention to different parts of your body as you breathe and keep exploring sensations.
- Ask yourself what each body part is feeling. Is there pressure, vibration, heat, pulsing, heaviness, lightness?
- Be curious and open to what you are noticing. Tune in to what’s present without judgment. You can try to visualize any pain or tension leaving your body, but don’t try to force discomfort away.
- When your mind wanders and you get lost in thoughts, bring your attention back to exploring sensations in the body and breathing until you’re done with the practice.
4. Nurture your body: Feed your body with bright and light foods. During cold winter months we eat heavy and hearty food to keep our bodies warm but as Spring invites you outdoors to activity, use this new season to cleanse your body from food, alcohol, cannabis, sugar, caffeine, nicotine. Eating clean helps you realign your natural rhythms both in your body and mind.
Practice: Mindful eating, which involves slowing down the pace at which you eat. Notice when your body feels full, learn to distinguish between real hunger cues and fake triggers that lead you to emotional eating. Choose food that is both pleasing and nourishing by using all your five senses. Learn to fight guilt or anxiety related to food by paying attention to the effects of food on your mood. Last, admire the food you consume. This mindful eating exercise will help you get started.
5. Move your body: Springtime is a wonderful time to take slow, steady walks and mindfully breathe the fresh air in order to connect your body and nature. This will loosen up your body after the cold winter. Walking in the mornings and getting at least 15 minutes of direct sunlight is invigorating. Nature has an incredible power to renew and repair all living things.
Practice: Start with a five minute loving, kind breathing exercise. When walking outside, be mindful to notice your surroundings without judgment. As you walk through your environment, notice colors, sounds, textures, smells, new blooms, old trees, green or brown grass, blue sky or clouds, etc. If you find it difficult to focus on your own, you can use this guided meditation for mindful walking.
6. Build healthy connections: During winter months we are isolated due to weather. The added barriers of COVID-19 have isolated us even more. Studies show that loneliness impacts our health as much as chronic smoking. It increases your risk of early death, high blood pressure, high cholesterol. We are social, connected beings and without it we get depressed, anxious, even suicidal. So go out and connect. Connect to your family, friends, social community, your spiritual community. Create it. Feeling connected to others and giving back increases your self-worth, confidence, and happiness.
Practice: Shave minutes off your screen time, add 20 minutes of in person social, mindful connection. Bonus: walk around your neighborhood and say “hello” and make eye contact with your neighbors. Work onsite whenever possible. Plan at least one in person volunteer task a month. If you find it difficult to connect use these resources to help you connect:
Happy Spring Everyone!