4. Connect to your 5 senses
Connect to your sense of sight. Look around the space you are currently in and begin to internally label the things that you can see around you. Connect to your sense of touch. Without moving, begin to internally label the things that you can feel. Notice the weight of your body as you sit or stand, notice the feeling of clothes on your body, and notice the coolness of air on your skin. Connect to your sense of sound. Become aware of the distant sounds that are outside of the room you are currently in, just noticing. Then direct your attention to the closer sounds just inside the room you are in, internally label all the things you can hear. Maybe bring your sense of sound even closer and see if you can hear the sounds inside your body, your heart beat, your breath, etc. Move on to connect to your sense of scent. Notice all of the things that you can smell in the space around you, internally labeling these. Lastly, connect to your sense of taste. Become aware of the things that you can taste, as well as notice any absence of taste that may be happening.
In your free time, try to get moving. Go for a walk, take a yoga class, ride your bike, go to the gym, dance, or whatever get’s you going. Literally. Movement and exercise improves your healthy in so many ways. We all know about the physical benefits of exercise, including managing weight, cholesterol, heart health, and improving sleep. But did you know that exercise and movement also can also improve your emotional and psychological wellbeing? Research has shown that exercise also regulates mood, improves symptoms of depression, increases feelings of happiness, improves cognition and memory, and may even increases self-esteem and feelings of self-worth and confidence.
6. Participate in nature
There is something so healing and restorative about connecting to nature. This is about taking a break from worldly stressors in order to keep things simple and return to basics. Breathe the air, smell the trees, see the colors, and get dirty. Return to your roots and connect with the earth. You could even ‘kill two birds with one stone,’ figuratively speaking of course, and get out into nature and move at the same time by taking a hike, flying a kite at the beach, gardening in your back yard, or taking yoga at the park.
7. Develop a gratitude practice
Try to get into the habit of identifying gratefulness. Dedicate a specific time in your day to use this practice, such as first thing in the morning when you wake up or right before lying down to bed. Identify three things to be grateful for. These can be as big or as small as you like. When you feel particularly challenged in identifying things to be grateful for, just keep it simple. Maybe you are simply grateful for your morning coffee, a kind word from a stranger, or even a fleeting feeling of contentment. Even in times of difficulty, we all have something to be grateful for.
8. Be kind to yourself
Can we be mean to ourselves, or what? We have got to be better at this! Our private thoughts about ourselves can be just awful. We wouldn’t dream to make such negative statements to any other person, so why do we do this to ourselves? If you find yourself with unkind and unhelpful thoughts, engage in a technique called Thought Stopping by noticing the negative statement, pausing, and then stating out loud to yourself, “Stop it,” “Knock it off,” or “Shut up,” stopping that negative thought dead in it’s tracks. Then choose a thought that is more kind, or if not kind, at least useful. Ask yourself, “Is __________________ (Thought; E.g. “I’m worthless”) useful for a vital and meaningful life?” If the answer is no, choose another thought that is more useful.
9. Give back
Last, but not least, don’t forget to give back. Get active in a cause that is near and dear to your heart. Volunteer, advocate, or just lend an ear to a loved one. Often times we get so busy with our own personal dilemmas and stresses that we lose sight of the bigger picture, leading us to feel small and disconnected. So, get involved in something that it outside of you and your benefit. Use your skills and areas of expertise to offer a helping hand to someone. The rewards are not just your own satisfaction of offering assistance, but you may be the impetus in changing someone’s life, which has the potential to reach to countless other individuals. The sky is the limit!