Self-care can be crucial to maintaining our sense of well-being. However, I work with a lot of busy people who, if it came down to it, feel like they would have to choose between an hour of yoga or losing an hour of sleep. Since it’s not very helpful in the long run to sacrifice precious sleep for some moments of peace, I like to propose moments of micro-self-care that are possible for anyone. Eventually, some of my busy folks do work on setting boundaries that allow them a little more space during the day for themselves. But this takes time, and sometimes we need a place to start right away to see the benefits of a little moment of peace, even if it’s one minute. Give one of these micro mindfulness-based self-care practices a try this week during your hectic work-week and see if it creates any space for you.
Two Feet One Breath (1 minute) A mindfulness practice where you sit in your chair right where you are. Mindfully notice your feet on the ground one by one. Notice one mindful breath. That’s it.
“Breathing In, I’m Aware That I’m Breathing In, Breathing Out, I’m Aware That I’m Breathing Out” (1-5 minutes) My favorite Zen buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, who recently passed away, suggested this phrase often in his many books on mindfulness. Find a space to sit and repeat the phrase “Breathing in, I’m aware that I’m breathing in, breathing out, I’m aware that I’m breathing out”, synchronized with your breaths. You’ll be surprised at how effective it can be at helping you notice your body and fill your wandering mind.
Mindful Stretching (1-5 minutes) Stretch your arms over your head, across each other, circle your neck and head slowly, bend over and touch your toes. Stretch whatever areas are tight or aching in the body, and you’ll notice the difference at the end of the day.
The “3 Ws”: Walking to another space, getting water, watching something in the distance (5 minutes) One of my favorite podcasts, On Purpose by Jay Shetty, offers the idea to break up your screen time at work and home with simple mental and physical breaks every hour. Spend 5 minutes walking to another room of your house or workplace, get a glass of water and sip it while watching something out of a window, like a tree swaying in the distance that you never noticed.
Put away your phone and practice urge surfing (1-3 minutes) So many of us find ourselves entranced and exhausted with our tiny screens all day. Whenever you find yourself mindlessly scrolling, set your phone down and turn it over so you can’t see the screen light up. Close your eyes and mindfully become aware of the urge to pick your phone back up and look at something else on it, which can usually rise and fall like a wave. If you can, tune in with the peace that a lack of stimulation can bring as well.
Melissa Lee Nilles, LMHC is a licensed mental health counselor and expressive arts therapist with a Master's degree from Lesley University’s Mental Health Counseling and Expressive Arts Therapy program. She is deeply passionate about self-exploration through the arts, mindfulness practices and therapy. She seeks to collaborate with her clients using the tools of person-centered therapy, mindfulness, meditation, trauma-informed body-oriented psychotherapy and expressive arts therapy (through music therapy, art therapy, and poetry/writing therapy). Melissa also employs CBT and motivational interviewing to help you transform your life. She prefers a holistic, eclectic and interdisciplinary approach to addressing client concerns.
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