Six Ways to be Mindful in May

By Mary DeLorenzo, School Psychologist—The weather is finally warmer and our calendars are full this month with all the end of school year activities. This is especially true for me as my four children graduate (a daughter from college and triplets from high school) and I am looking to Mindfulness as a way to stay focused and calm … I am trying!

Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) techniques, describes Mindfulness this way, “It’s the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally”.

Mindfulness is the practice of cultivating an awareness of the present moment and can be a daily habit and a lifelong process. We live in a culture of stress and distraction and mindfulness is there to help us connect with the things that are important in our lives. Cultivating mindfulness will help us achieve our goals, feel better and enjoy life more.  How do we do that?

Going for a walk is an excellent way to calm the mind. “Walking in green spaces enhances mood and holds our attention while at the same time allows for reflection “ (Jenny Roe from Heriot-Watt University in the UK). According to a University of Washington study, spending time in nature helps to conquer mental fatigue and may boost cognitive functioning.

Enjoy the simple moments in your life and accept the positive and negative emotions.  Turn daily tasks into mindful moments by paying more attention to sitting on a chair, drinking a cup of coffee, out shopping or eating your food.
Calming the breath is key to calming the mind. You can do this by simply bringing your attention to your in-breath and out-breath. Without effort, you stop thinking about the past or future and you are in the present feeling more peaceful.

Do one task completely for a time, then take a quick break. Studies have found that it takes 50 percent longer to accomplish a task and are 50 percent more likely to make an error when you multitask. (Sharon Salzberg- Real Happiness at Work: Meditations for Accomplishment, Achievement, and Peace).Put phones away when spending time with those you love. Look into the eyes of the people you are with.

Laugh! A sense of humor has important implications for health.