Meditation and mindfulness are two practices that often go hand-in-hand. Mindfulness is all about appreciating and living in the moment, while meditation lets you focus on one singular thing and relax your mind and body. Put them together and you have an excellent self-care practice for overall wellness. For those struggling with anxiety or depression, this is especially important for you.
What is Meditation?
First, let’s go over what each of these practices is, beginning with meditation. When you meditate, you are trying to reach a state of calm. Instead of thinking about all the things worrying you or stressing you out, you are trying to think about nothing at all. Yes, nothing. For some people (ahem..myself), this can be challenging and the first few times you may only make it a few minutes. That’s ok. The goal is to clear your mind, relax your body, and really just let everything else float away. This does take a lot of practice, so the more you do it, the easier it will become.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is very similar, but you are not actually in a meditation, unless you are combining them. With mindfulness, you want to always stay in the present. Instead of worrying about the past or thinking about the future, you only think about and appreciate what is happening right now. This is often used for people with anxiety, depression, or who are trying to stick to mindful eating. It is another thing that takes practice, but is well worth it in the end. A big piece of this is gratitude. Spending a few moments listing things you are grateful for each day can be immensely powerful.
Where to start
If you haven’t figured it out by now, you will be able to combine these into one practice called mindfulness meditation. You are going to relax, clear your mind, and just focus on your present state. This often begins with sitting in a comfortable, quiet place, and just breathing for a few minutes.
The deep breathing is going to relax your body and help you to let go of all those worries and concerns going around in your head. Just focus on your breathing and nothing else, before you start with the mindfulness practice. Once you are fully relaxed, think about the present moment, and what is happening right now. Experience your current feelings and emotions, but nothing in the past or future. You can do this in short bursts of time, or even while journaling as you relax and just try to focus on now. It is okay to experience some negative emotions, but focus on releasing them after accepting them, then moving on. Ideally, doing something like this for 10+ minutes a day is what I suggest to my clients.
Additional ideas for stress management:
Get a Coloring Book
Adult coloring books have been popular for a while, and they are definitely not going anywhere. There are now many different types of coloring books, depending on what you are interested in. You can get gardens and flowers, animals and creatures, or even coloring books with curse words to have a little fun with them (trust me, they’ll give you a good laugh). This allows you to be creative and de-stress by simply coloring and allowing the mind to focus on that alone.
Not all forms of being creative for self care have to do with art and crafts projects. You can also start writing, which can be very therapeutic for you. This can be anything from writing in a journal to writing short stories or working on a novel. One good practice to start writing is to set a timer for 8-10 minutes, then just start writing whatever comes to mind. Continue writing without taking a break until the timer goes off. This can be journaling about your ideal life, or, letting go of the past. Either way, very therapeutic.
What do you want out of life? What would make you happy in THIS MOMENT? Spend some time imagining, using the five senses. If you want to be on a beach with peace and quiet…how does the ocean sound? What are the smells around you? Can you taste the salty air? Put yourself there. Continue visualizing until you actually think you’re experiencing it. You’ll find yourself relaxing and letting go of things that don’t matter, getting you in a better state of mind.