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  • Writer's pictureDr. Michelle Jesop

4-Steps to Feel More Present, Alert, & Calm

1. Eat Mindfully

2. Wash Your Hands Mindfully

3. Take 3 Mindful Breaths

4. Notice Your Toes

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness can be understood as “…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”  In other words, it's intentionally and actively  using our 5-senses to shift our attention and focus to the here and now. It does take work, and yet, it can feel really, really good. When we set aside time for it, say 5-minutes or 20, it's referred to as a meditation. If we set aside regularly scheduled time on a daily basis, it's referred to as a practice.

Why do Mindfulness if it Just Takes More Time?

The research and benefits of the practice of mindfulness meditation on stress reduction spans decades, and is now very well-established. Additional benefits include its ability to help us better deal with illness, facilitate recovery, decrease depressive symptoms, decrease burnout, among many others. The caveat to these benefits is that they require consistent practice. And yet, many experience obstacles with setting aside a regular time to practice, let alone, finding a moment of quiet at all during their over-packed and hectic schedules.

Are There Quick & Easy Ways to Do it?

Fortunately, if we can find 10-minutes a day to set aside, perhaps during lunch, while in the shower, driving to work, before bed, these benefits can be attainable. Below are some accessible ways to include mindfulness throughout your day and sneak in a quick practice.

1. Eat Mindfully

  • You can do this exercise with whatever food is on hand, and yet, this exercise may taste better with fresh, unprocessed foods

  • Use each of your 5-senses with the food of your choice before taking a bite of it, for example, visually notice colors, textures, or how light reflects off of it; smell the food, taking some time to really notice what it is that you notice smelling, and so forth

  • Place the food in your mouth, but do not begin to chew; notice urges to swallow, notice the presence of saliva

  • Place the food on different parts of your tongue, and against different parts of your mouth and notice any differences in texture and taste

  • Finally, allow yourself to bite, slowly, and notice what happens, is there juice? What happens with the flavor?

2. Wash Your Hands Mindfully

  • Bring your attention to your 5-sense as you get ready to wash your hands

  • Smell the soap, feel the water; notice the texture of the soap, see the suds, notice the urge to move your hands together as you wash them

  • Notice the temperature of the water on your skin, notice where you feel the temperature and where you don't

  • Notice how automatic it feels to wash your hands and then notice each step involved in what you do

  • Notice how you automatically move from one step to the next and see if you can slow that down enough to notice the urge to go to the next step before you actually do it

  • If your mind wanders away from your 5-senses, gently notice it, without judgment, and just resume the exercise 

3. Take 3 Mindful Breaths

  • Gently take a regular inhalation through your nose and notice your chest expand

  • Gently breath out through your mouth and watch your chest and shoulders slightly drop and loosen

  • You can place one hand on your chest and one on your stomach if you prefer and continue to inhale gently, and at a regular pace, notice your chest and stomach rising as you inhale, and fall slowly as you exhale for 3 breaths

  • Try this exercise with your eyes open, then with your eyes closed and notice the difference, without judgment

4. Notice Your Toes

  • Wherever you find yourself, either sitting or standing, gently bring your attention to your right big toe

  • Notice what it feels, notice textures, weight, temperature, and so forth. 

  • Bring your attention to your left big toe, and likewise, notice textures, temperature, and so forth

  • Notice the difference between your right big toe and your left, feel free to move each around one at a time

  • Do the same for your other toes, particularly your pinky toes, and notice texture, weight, placement, surfaces each toe can touch and feel

  • If your mind wanders away from your toes, gently notice it, without judgment, and just resume the exercise 

  • Feel free to give this exercise a try with your fingers

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