A new year is synonymous with change…right? We expect each year to bring something new and different – a new experience, new people, new job, etc. We even expect ourselves to become something new through the resolutions we create. These resolutions can bring an immense amount of pressure, so much so that we often push them aside so we don’t have to endure the stress they bring. What if we were to approach this new year with a different mindset? Instead of resolving to have new experiences or new things, what if we resolve to become more mindful and aware of what we already have around us? Engaging in mindful practices can be grounding and help promote a sense of calm during times of anxiety and stress – such opportunity to practice mindfulness on a regular basis can make us more likely to use these practices effectively in moments of need. Here are three techniques to try out:
1. Use the Five Senses
Sight, sound, smell, taste and touch are the core ways we experience and navigate the world around us. During any moment, our senses are activated and experiencing different sensations, whether we are fully aware of them or not. In moments of stress, using your five senses can help in grounding yourself and slowing things down enough to bring about peace. To practice this, take a moment to become aware of something you can see, something you can hear, something you can feel, something you can smell and something you can taste.
2. Explore Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises have been used to promote mindfulness and peace for many years. Taking deep breaths can help slow down the physiological stress response from the body and can help manage mental stress and anxiety as a result. To incorporate breathing exercises into your daily routine, start with taking a single deep breath and focus on how it feels to inhale and exhale. Do this a few times and focus solely on your breathing, allowing your mind to let go of stressors in the meantime.
3. Practice Mindful Eating
Regardless of individual differences, all people need to eat multiple times per day to maintain good health. This provides multiple instances each day where mindfulness can be practiced around food to help bring a better sense of awareness to that experience. To begin this practice, choose any food you’d like – it can be a part of a meal or a single food selected specifically for this use. When you take a bite, focus on how the food feels and tastes in your mouth, and how it changes as you move from chewing to swallowing. Focusing all your awareness on the food in that moment can promote calm, increase enjoyment and help quiet voices of judgment or anxiety in your mind. With frequent practice, mindful eating can become a valuable skill in your toolbox to create moments of increased awareness and calm for yourself.
A new year doesn’t need to bring drastic changes or resolutions – instead, the new year can bring an increased awareness and sense of calm through practicing mindfulness. Release judgements and stress by incorporating mindful moments in your new year.
Do you or someone you know need additional mental health help? Contact Discovery Mood & Anxiety Program to find the right help or treatment.
Madeline Radigan Langham is a registered dietitian with experience in mental health and eating disorder residential treatment. She is passionate about advocating for weight inclusivity and a non-diet approach to help people heal their relationships with food and their bodies. In her free time, she enjoys being outdoors and spending time on trails with her family. You can find more of Madeline’s thoughts and work at www.radnutrition.net or on Instagram at @mradnutrition.