With summer’s energy fueling us, it can be easy to let self-care fall by the wayside. I had a recent firsthand experience when I was moving into a new home. While I was grateful to move in the summer (working 10-hour days on the house while juggling my day job as well would not have been nearly as appealing in the slower, colder, winter months), I was finding myself so busy that I wasn’t getting any self-care in. After just a couple of weeks my mind and body started to feel awful and I found a renewed determination to resume some kind of self-care.
The self-care exercises shared here are designed to fit into your busy summer schedule and give you that much needed grounding.
1) Pick one activity each day to do mindfully. Who says meditation has to be something done outside of yourself and your life? Why not make life your meditation — eating, walking, cooking, even driving! Remember the ultimate intention is to make mindfulness a part of everyday life, so why not take informal meditations a step farther and pick a daily activity to practice mindfully. Pick something you usually do on autopilot … maybe that’s showering or brushing your teeth or getting dressed … and do that activity mindfully, really engaging all your five senses. What does it really feel like to shower? What sounds do you hear? What does the water on your lips taste like? What does the water cascading down look like? You get the idea. Play with it and have fun. There is no wrong way to do this exercise; it’s merely about learning to get off autopilot and all that time we spend in the past or future and gently bringing our attention to the present experience of joy … whatever that may be.
2) Take breathing breaks. Breathing breaks, as simple as they may sound, are incredibly powerful and are something you can practice throughout the day. Studies show that even three minutes of breath meditation can be tremendously effective and that a few shorter meditations spread throughout the day might even be more effective (or at least effective in different ways) than one longer meditation. You say you don’t have three minutes? (Hint: You might find them by cutting three minutes off your phone time.) Anyway, even just taking a few breaths is great. Just breathe focusing on the inhale and the exhale, coming back home to the gentle lull of your breath.
3) Sit under a tree. Trees are in their full splendor in the summer, happy and green. They are also an incredibly powerful connection to the earth. Think about it. Trees combine the grounding of their roots on solid footing with the daydreaming of their branches to the sky. Not a bad role model. So, sit under a tree sometime, maybe with a book or picnic or maybe even to take those few breaths mentioned above.