When your brain is wired to go, go, go, it’s hard to sit down and take a moment to appreciate the small things in life. So mega kudos to you today for taking the time to read this blog post and learn more about mindfulness!
I was tempted to go look up the actual definition of mindfulness, but in the spirit of this lazy Saturday I’ll just explain what my understanding of it is. Mindfulness According to Christine, if you will, is an action step to raising your awareness of your sensory input and its processing. All you have to do is stop and observe. Since stopping is so difficult for us folks, I find it helpful to write it in my agenda and/or use a Pomodoro timer to break my attention at set intervals (see THIS post).
Look at you! You’ve already completed Step One of the STOP Technique. Next up: Take a breath. I find the Calm app really helpful for bringing my awareness back to my breathing (available on Android and iPhone). There is an option for a paid subscription with daily guided meditations, but the app features free use of a visual breathing aid. It shows a circle inflating as you inhale, hold, then deflate as you exhale. It helps you pace your breathing to slow your heart rate.
O is for Observe. Are you breathing quickly? Are you worried about something? Any recurring tumbling thoughts? Try to visualize yourself watching these thoughts as though they are separate from you. This usually helps me process things a little bit, and often gives clarity when I’m starting to feel overwhelmed. I try to take this time to prioritize my thoughts.
And finally, Proceed. After you’ve had a moment to check in with your thoughts, relax your body, and become consciously aware of the things that might be irritating/angering/frustrating you, then we can take action. Write your priorities down in a planner, delete a few tabs on your browser, set your phone to silent, eat something, bring yourself to go pee, etc. Continue on with your day and keep kicking ass.
The trick is to make this a habit. My ADHD makes it hard for me to even remember my “habit forming” medications, but this Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed technique is something I can rely on anywhere, anytime.