My Mindful Week
Do you spend much time thinking about the way you do things? Are you aware of how you navigate through your daily world? Can you cultivate more mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been getting a lot of buzz lately, but what exactly is it? Mindfulness means bringing attention to the present moment in whatever it is you are doing. Like any other muscle in our body, our mindfulness “muscle” (the brain) requires awareness and consistent practice.
I’ve created a seven-part challenge (originally designed to take place for one week) for you to jump start your mindfulness muscle! Here I’ll be sharing my seven mindfulness categories that can each be practiced for one day, one week, or maybe even one month at a time. The more consistent you are and the more often you practice awareness for each topic, the more you’ll be flexing your mindfulness muscle!
My Mindful #1: Water Intake
Let’s start simple (but not easy!) with bringing attention to how much water you drink daily. Are you really getting enough?
- My favorite way to keep track of water intake is to place a few rubber bands at the bottom of a reusable bottle. After finishing, move one rubber band up and refill the bottle. It’s a nice visual for tracking exactly how much water you get each day. (For example, I have a 60oz mug I use; I place three rubber bands at the bottom and as I finish drinking one 60oz serving, I move one band up, etc.)
- Another great method is to place tally marks on your refrigerator each time you finish a bottle.
- There are several theories on how much water you should drink; some recommend half your weight (in ounces), others suggest your full weight, and some say go with your gut (stop when you feel too full). You decide what feels right for you.
- Drinking fruit-infused water is a great alternative if you hate the “taste” of plain water. Try blackberry/strawberry or watermelon/mint.
- Using a reusable bottle is better for the environment so try to ditch the single-use plastic bottles!
My Mindful #2: Mindful Eating
When was the last time you sat down to eat with no distractions? I think we’re all guilty of being on our phones, working through lunch, chowing down in front of the TV, and so on. I encourage you to set aside some real time to make each meal special.
- Burn a candle, sit outside in the shade, place some flowers on the table, whatever sparks peace for you!
- Slow down enough to actually chew your food—maybe even count as you chew.
- Notice the flavors, textures, and temperatures.
How do you feel after eating this way versus rushing around or being distracted by other obligations?
My Mindful #3: Ditch your Regular Routine
This is one of my favorite ways to teach mindfulness! We spend so much of our day on auto-pilot—cruising through our normal routine, not putting much thought or effort into what we do. So to get that mindfulness muscle moving, break the patterns of your normal daily routines. Switching up something small can allow us to bring more awareness to it.
- Experiment with driving a new route to work.
- Brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand.
- Change up your shower routine (at night vs. morning or wash your hair first before your body).
What can you try to switch up your normal routine to bring a little more awareness into your daily tasks?
My Mindful #4: Body Awareness
This is another favorite mindfulness topic of mine! Sitting is the new smoking, haven’t you heard? But seriously, checking in with your posture (especially if you sit a lot!) is vital to your long-term health.
- If you’re desk-bound all day, set a timer every hour to get up, walk around, stretch, and ideally get outside. (That’s also a great time to chug some water and refill your bottle!)
- Become aware of how you hold your body in space for most of the day. Maybe you notice forward head posture, rounded shoulders, curved lower spine (from sitting, texting, driving).
- How do you sit as you watch TV?
- Do you always carry your purse on the same shoulder?
- Can you become more aware of your gait and standing stance? Are there imbalances, weaknesses, or tightness?
- And if you practice yoga (or any other exercise, really), can you engage in more body mindfulness during your practice?
My Mindful #5: Social Media Detox
Some of you may read this and cringe. “How the hell will I live without social media?!” We have become so addicted to our phones; we scroll endlessly, we jump at every text notification, we compare our lives to others who look happier, healthier, wealthier. I encourage you to spend some time disconnecting from your phone so that you can reconnect with yourself.
- Take an inventory of the types of accounts you follow on social media. Do they inspire you to be better? Do they make you jealous, sad, or angry? Fill your feed with inspiration and empowerment rather than rage or judgments.
- This is true for people you personally know as well—it may be time to cut some ties with friends/family who no longer support your journey to health and wellness.
- I highly recommend a social media/phone detox—even if just for a few hours. Leave the phone in a different room or away from work if you can.
- Set a time limit on your phone so you can only spend one hour each day on social media apps. (Easy to do on the iPhone with the Screen Time app but you can also set a timer on your phone and keep yourself from reaching for it until the alarm goes off.)
- Not sure what to do with all your free time?? Move your body, drink more water, connect with friends, get outside!
Notice how you feel after scrolling on social media for 10 minutes. Could you be wiser in how you spend that time?
My Mindful #6: Watch Your Words
Our words have tremendous power. This one takes time, patience, and a ton of practice. A big hurdle for me recently was how I talk about what I do for a living. I used to tell people I have a doctorate and was an audiologist but now I “just” teach yoga. I realized how small that made me feel and how insignificant my role was in my own life. Now when people ask, I say I teach yoga and I’m a health and wellness coach. Saying it with pride and confidence elicits a much more pleasant response from others as well. Notice how you speak about yourself and if there are any changes you want to make.
- Pay attention to the way you describe yourself to others (your job, living situation, appearance, life choices, etc.).
- If you have kids, how do you speak in front of your children about your body or intelligence?
- Can you fill your life with more gratitude and less complaining?
My Mindful #7: Dig Deep
Erin Wilbanks - Fuson
This one won’t be mastered in one day, that’s for sure! Probably not even one week or month, maybe not even one year. I’m talking about examining your emotions and thoughts. Are you even aware of the way you speak to yourself day in and day out?
- When you look in the mirror, do you think kind or cruel things?
- Do you allow your reactive emotions to take control of your daily life?
- Can you start to retrain the brain to view “negative” emotions and thoughts to be a teaching moment?
- Maybe you self-medicate with booze or over-eating when deep down you are missing love and true connection with others.
- Maybe you self-sabotage relationships with someone good for you because you feel unworthy of love due to a lack of love for yourself.
It’s the stuff of topic seven that is the real work of mindfulness and where I want to help people explore. We have these patterns, self-doubts, and fears that keep us stuck in a life we aren’t necessarily thrilled by. I want to know your why. Why are you so scared to make a change? Why shouldn’t you deserve the life you envision deep down—no matter how silly or wild?
Mindfulness takes time, patience, and repeated practice. Most of us will want to start small, by first bringing a little more awareness to our eating habits, physical body, or the words we use. Begin to observe your thoughts, actions, emotions, and language. You have the power to mindfully rewrite your own life’s story.
You can share about your mindfulness experiences via #mymindfulweek on Instagram. For more tips on mindfulness, yoga, and rewriting your story, please follow along on IG or FB @emindmove / www.emindmove.com . All photography by me (www.erinwilbanksphoto.com).
Erin Wilbanks - Fuson