Spring cleaning is not only good for home and office but for the mind and body as well. Sometimes going through the act of spring cleaning a home or office can also help to declutter the mind and thoughts. When a living space or work space is clean it is more welcoming. It makes sense that most people feel they can do better work in a clean space. Once your space is clean, there is still more that you can do. Spring cleaning your mind may be one of the best self-care projects you can do this season. But don’t stop in the spring! Try it out year round.
Meditation may conjure visions of people in sitting cross legged, eyes closed, and humming “ohhhmmmssss” in a green meadow. Thankfully, taking a mental break doesn’t require nature, yoga pants, or guttural noises. It’s really more about controlling your breathing and clearing out your thoughts. Sit tall, ideally near a window, feet flat on the floor, and take five deep slow breaths. Focus your attention just on your breathing. You can even tell yourself what is happening so that other thoughts don’t creep in: breathe in, breathe out. Breathe in, breathe out.
Concentrate on your senses as you breathe. What do you hear? See? Smell? Feel? It’s good to use this technique in traffic, on your commute, or in other potentially frustrating environments like lines at the grocery store. You can’t change traffic backups or slow lines so focus your mind on how you are a part of them, how they make up your environment, how you are part of the world around you rather than letting them cause you anxiety.
Quiet time at lunch
Many times lunch is just part of the hustle and bustle of the day. More and more people take lunch at their desks, work through lunch, or go out to lunch each day surrounded by people. Periodically, change your lunch break into “you time”. Sit outside, take a walk, read a book, even just sit on the other side of your desk away from your computer. Try focusing on your lunch like you meditate on your environment. Take a few minutes to take in those deep breaths, only focusing on your breathing. Then, as you eat, focus only on the food: taste, texture, smell. You might learn to appreciate what you put in your body more when you have really focused in on it. Where did it come from? How was it prepared? How will it nourish you and give you energy the rest of the day?
Sure, we already talked about breathing but it’s so important! It’s an essential life function that we do automatically but we can also control its rhythm. Deep breathing fully expands the lungs and helps get more oxygen to the blood, brain, tissues, and organs. This relaxed breathing reduces stress. Think of the slow, breathing of someone in a deep sleep. The body is in a relaxed state. Now think of the shallow quick breaths of someone that is scared or in a stressed state. Recognizing when your breaths become shallow due to anxiety or just the routine of day-to-day activities and then taking control and choosing to breathe deeply will restore a feeling of calm and reduce stress.
It’s hard. Doing nothing can take strength, but sometimes when we stop and do nothing the answers are more willing to appear. In his article on Inc.com, Steve Toobak says that we often seek more information in challenging situations, especially those that seem out of our control. Instead, Toobak says to turn everything off and listen to your inner thoughts. Your own inner dialogue will lead you to the answers, solutions, or next steps if you take time to listen.