Building Block #1 for Intuitive Eating
I am sure many of you have heard this term thrown around a lot these days. In our hectic worlds of to-do lists, meetings, assignments, family commitments, etc. etc. there is a desire to recenter and refocus ourselves to maintain peace and sanity in the midst of craziness. Mindfulness is a wonderful way to do just that. The very definition of mindfulness gives me a sense of letting out a deep breath:
a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. (emphasis mine)
I know I am not alone when I say that I struggle with being present in the here and now; not planning for dinner that night, the work I have on my schedule next week, or the trip I want to take next month, and beyond. It is so hard to pull ourselves away from multi-tasking and the urge or expectation to be “productive” and “busy” all the time, as if that is something that deserves acclaim, even when that productivity and busyness very often lead to burnout.
You may be thinking, how does this relate to Intuitive Eating? An underlying theme to all of the tenants of Intuitive Eating (you can find these in my last post if you have not read that yet) is being present in order to relearn our bodies natural cues for hunger/fullness, what satisfies us, how to intuitively exercise, and to respect our bodies. Without learning the basics of mindfulness first, these steps would be almost impossible. So today, I would like to share some of my favorite ways to be mindful in my daily life through fun activities, not just in my interactions with food. I always encourage my clients to take “baby steps” and show themselves SO much grace as they work toward their goals and the same goes for you. Therefore, my hope is for you to get comfortable with being in the moment in every aspect of your life first and in future posts, we will talk more about how to use those basic skills in your relationship with food. If you are brand new to this idea of mindfulness and need some more detailed and basic stepping stones for this practice, read all the way to the bottom for a few more additional resources!
- Prayer/Bible Study
When my mind is swimming with all the things, the main mindfulness activity that re-centers me and pulls me back to the present moment and what is really important is spending some time with Jesus. I find a quiet and comfortable place, vital in any activity of mindfulness, and get to focus on what HE wants for my day and life, not what I have planned. I usually take some time at the beginning of my time to “quiet down” which just means, for me, taking some deep breaths and saying a prayer for God to help me focus on my time with him and what He has to say as I read His Word.
2. Hand Lettering
As many of you know from my Instagram posts and my recent giveaway, hand lettering has become such a soothing activity for me. Since it is a skill I am still learning and perfecting, I have to be in the moment to get the technique right and also focus on the words I am writing. However, it is not something that requires a lot of brain power so my mind can be free to focus on the task at hand, be in the moment, while not stressing about the other worries that might otherwise swim through my mind. A bonus to this activity is that I really have to stay focused on my breathing as well, weirdly enough, so I can maintain a steady hand for smaller details. In later posts we will walk through how deep breathing can serve as an AMAZING tool to complement mindfulness.
Very similarly to handlettering, sewing is a fun and relaxing activity for me that I am still learning. I have been working on a more basic project to allow for me to build my skills and find a more monotonous (in the best of ways!) task so it would be relaxing and not taxing. Sewing is a great example of something that, in this season, is serving as a great mindfulness and self-care activity for me but as the projects get more advanced I can see myself not using this for relaxation or being in the moment. Mindfulness activities and exercises can change depending on your needs of that day, week, month, etc.! Don’t be afraid to switch things up!
4. Being Outside
I feel my best when I am outside and taking long walks is hands down one of my favorite ways to practice mindfulness. You will find, in the mindfulness exercises document below, an activity for practicing your Five Senses, which I practice on many of my walks while exploring our new neighborhood. My mind usually wanders when I walk and don’t have a task at hand (thus #1-3) and most of the time leads me to pretty unhelpful thoughts about whatever is weighing on me at the moment (body issues, stress at work, should I be doing harder workout?, what are people thinking of me as they drive by?….honest to goodness thoughts that occur to me. Whew.) The Five Senses activity is so great for enjoying your environment while being mindful. I hope you find joy in it like I do 🙂
I use these two resources below, provided by Therapist Aid, with my clients all the time and am providing them here for education purposes only. These documents are not to be shared by you or anyone you know and may only be referenced for personal use. This post is not sponsored by Therapist Aid.
Several basic activities to start learning mindfulness. Includes Mindful Eating activity—I encourage you to use this as a very early skill to start noticing how your food feels, smells, tastes, etc. before you practice learning hunger/fullness cues
A wonderful resource for parents who want to start early in helping their little ones learn mindfulness skills!
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all of the choices, a great overarching tip for mindfulness is to just focus on anything that grounds you and refocuses you in the present moment, noticing things in the here and now. Mindfulness is meant to be a pleasant activity but sometimes, as you begin to learn these practices, may be very difficult as you learn to tune out the world and your busy mind. Be patient, show yourself some grace, and take it day by day. Please ask questions or leave comments below!