Be WellHow to Add Mindfulness to Your Busiest Days April 25, 2017 -Leave a CommentI’ve always been a very future-oriented person. In high school, my friends would often ask me when I was wearing for Valentine’s Day in January and laugh when I could tell them exactly what I was wearing down to the shoes. As an college student, I mapped out my potential classes semesters in advance. Now, I am most definitely a planner. I always plan ahead and often find myself thinking about an upcoming trip, my next birthday, or next basketball season. I always thought that being a planner was a good thing until my anxiety peaked and I realized that being future-oriented was part of the problem. I realized that if you’re always thinking and worrying about what’s to come, you’re not living in the moment. While I’m still a work in progress, learning to practice mindfulness has worked wonders for my anxiety, my peace of mind, my marriage, and my life overall. Mindfulness is the practice of being conscious or aware. It involves living in the moment through accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. As a therapist, I use mindfulness techniques to help clients learn to cope with their feelings and circumstances by acknowledging their presence. My own counselor recommended that I work on practicing mindfulness because my thoughts of the future were at the core of what was making me feel so anxious. I quickly noticed that when you’re focussed on your present circumstance, you’re not so worried about what will happen a year from now, a month from now, or even an hour down the line. Similarly, paying attention to the fact that your heart is racing or your palms are sweaty and acknowledging it is the key to ending the reaction. At the end of the day, self-awareness is key. While mindfulness is a basic human ability, like anything, it takes practice. There are a number of ways to practice mindfulness, and while there’s no one-size-fits-all way to make it a part of your everyday life, anytime you bring your awareness to what you’re experiencing, whether that mean what you’re tasting, hearing, smelling, feeling, or seeing, you’re being mindful. For me, it’s all about living in the moment. It’s about savoring the tastes in my mouth when I eat my favorite foods and trying to pick out each and every flavor. It’s about taking time to acknowledge how beautiful it is in the morning and how the air smells before the rest of the world wakes up. It’s about letting myself feel sad or ecstatic or loved or whatever else I feel in that moment and just being (or feeling the feels, as I like to say). Practicing mindfulness, unlike practicing in other areas of our lives, is pretty easy. We don’t need fancy equipment or to take a special class to learn how to live in the present. While the practice is easy, it can be hard to find time to incorporate it into our hectic daily schedule. These two acronyms that I often share with clients have been monumental in helping me to make mindfulness a part of my everyday life: R.A.I.N Recognize when a strong emotion is present Allow and acknowledge the emotion Investigate and bring awareness to the source of the feelings Non-identify in order to recognize that the emotion is just another passing state and not the definition of who you are S.T.O.P Stop what you’re doing Take a breath Observe your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or what you’re experiencing through your senses and reflect Proceed with something that will support what you’re experiencing in that moment (source: https://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/11/23/for-thanksgiving-week-4-quick-mindfulness-techniques/) Being mindful is something that I still struggle with, but these acronyms help me to bring my attention to the present. When I’m having a moment of intense anxiety, RAIN helps me to come back down to earth. STOP reminds me that mindfulness just takes a second and there’s always time to live in the moment, even on the busiest days. How do you practice mindfulness? Which of these acronyms would be helpful for you?