Some of us yearn all year long for summer to arrive, others may recoil at the heat and long for it to end. For working parents of young children summer can be a stressful juggling act between work and childcare and non-working parents may feel the pressure of being chief entertainer and picnic-maker for 6 long weeks. Wherever you are, no matter how busy you are, there is always a moment to be mindful, using mindfulness exercises to help you to stay calm and enjoy all the qualities that summer has to offer. Read on for my top 5 tips to enjoy a mindful summer
Tip #1 Wake up with mindfulness
Open windows = noise! I always used to curse the birds waking me up at 4am every morning with their chirpy enthusiasm blasting through the window. Becoming annoyed made it harder to fall back to sleep leaving me tired and grumpy. Rather than wishing them to stop, wanting to push the sounds away, try a mindful approach of actually tuning into the sounds, listening the pitch, tone and pattern of the birdsong may help you to drift back off much more quickly and may even stop you from being woken by them in the first place.
Tip#2 Eat Well
Summer is the season for producing tantalising, vitamin packed, colourful foods. Once you get in the swing of preparing colourful and energising smoothies, salads and interesting picnics, it doesn't really have to take long at all. Being mindful as you shop and as you prepare food, will help you to not automatically throw the same old things into your trolley and be more open to experiment with new recipes.
Even when you're busy, you will eat at some point which provides an opportunity a mindful exercise. Turn off other distractions to notice the colours, smells, tastes and textures of your food for a truly satisfying experience.
Try two of my go to places for inspiration: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/collection/bowl-food & http://www.lunchboxdoctor.com/
Spending time outside has significant and wide-ranging health benefits -- according to new research. A new report reveals that exposure to greenspace reduces the risk of type II diabetes, cardiovascular disease, premature death, preterm birth, stress, and high blood pressure. Science Daily
Tip #3 Get Outside
No longer hibernating in the colder months, take the opportunity to get outside. We are natural beings spending lots of our time in unnatural environments so one of your mindfulness exercises could be an early morning walk before work, not so you can check emails on the way, but instead switching off the phone and tuning in to your surroundings. It really is a great way to start the day! Get the kids outside and set them a task of naming 5 things they can see, 4 they can hear, 3 they can feel, 2 they can smell and 1 they can taste.
Tip #4 Plan Mindfully
Mindfulness exercises strengthen our executive function skills, helping us to plan more effectively. If you're juggling kids and work, or maybe you are having to take on your colleagues responsibilities whilst they're on holiday it can feel a bit overwhelming at times. Careful, mindful planning, can help life run a little smoother. I advise my clients to take a few mindful breaths to help pause the 'go, go, go' button for a moment and reflect on what is a realistic 'to-do' list for today. Does everything have to be done right now, are you over cramming activities into the day? A moment of mindfulness may provide some clarity and a different perspective to be able to plan more effectively. Remember, the busier you are the more important it is to make time for things YOU enjoy doing too!
Tip #5 Be Engaged
Whatever you're doing this summer, whether that's at yet another crowded theme park, on holiday or working, practice mindful exercises to be fully engaged with what you are doing to truly live the experience and stopping unhelpful thinking. If you've been longing for your holiday all year, choose not to be thinking about work and instead engage your senses to fully enjoy your break. Feel the sun on your skin, how does that make you feel? Listen to the music, taste the food, give yourself permission to just 'be'. Join in with the kids, be present to their conversations and if it all gets too much and you can feel the stress rising, tune into what you can see, hear, feel, smell and taste, follow your breathing and tell yourself all will be ok! If you have a serious case of F.O.M.O (fear of missing out) whilst stuck in work, find yourself daydreaming or feeling the pressure, take a few mindful breaths to switch into a more focussed mode of mind and see things for how they really are.
I am very grateful that I am able to split my time between working and being with the kids - and the dog! I hope that you manage to take some time to enjoy, rest and rejuvenate over the summer and I looking forward to connecting with you all again soon.