Smell The Roses: 5 Ways To Work Through Mild Anxiety Using Your Senses
It's just another weekday, but it doesn't have to be.
We all step onto the same conveyor belt on Monday. It moves us through the work week at such speed, it doesn't allow much time for mindfulness and tuning into ourselves and our environments.
It turns out that mindfulness is actually what keeps us sane and connected to ourselves when it seems like everything around us is blurred.
But the question that constantly plagues any quest for life balance (and is as applicable when it comes to mindfulness) is always, "How?"
As Millennials, our conveyor belt is likely moving at an even faster speed than that of the average professional, since we are often juggling academics and internships in addition to jobs.
The irony in all of this is the people who really need spa days are too busy hustling to schedule or afford one.
But this doesn't necessarily mean mindfulness and a lighter mood is out of the question for us.
Luckily, it only requires a little creativity, which we are certainly known to have.
It's as easy as five.
The five senses, that is.
You currently know them as sound, sight, touch, smell and taste. But you're about to know them as your keys to daily peace.
Don't believe me? Just ask Dr. Daniel Siegel, who presents correlations between mindfulness and higher immunity. He says that practiced mindfulness can even change the structure of your brain.
Well, since practice makes peace (according to this research), we better start practicing.
Here are five easy things you can do (today) that will engage your senses and zen:
1. Read with your ears.
Remember the wonder you had as a child while you were being read to?
You didn't have to worry about deadlines or annotations.
You weren't responsible for anything except immersing yourself in a new world with characters who eventually became your friends.
Even though you still might love to read as an adult, you don't have as much time to do so.
So, why not take advantage of the time that lags and turn it into the time that engages your imagination?
Reading is proven to productively stimulate the brain through the mental activity we undergo while visualizing characters, settings and events.
Make this happen in your car with an audiobook from the library.
2. Stop for flowers.
We wish we could "stop and smell the roses," but most of us probably reserve that for those who don't work or work from home.
Turns out, there's something to it.
Additionally, research from Harvard showed that participants who saw flowers in their homes during their morning routines reported low anxiety and high compassion throughout their days.
Not to mention, the fragrance on the ride home might even combat that 5 pm traffic.
So, instead of driving by the Friday farmer's market, make a quick stop for the sake of your "happy."
3. Get dirty.
It's time to ditch the daytime clean and get your fingers into the earth.
Dirt made our lunch, but it also provides us with a connection to Mother Nature. It literally reminds us of our roots.
Not only will incorporating a task like planting flowers or pulling weeds distract your mind, it will also provide a tactile experience that commands the primal spirit.
4. Breathe in.
If mornings have gotten you down, a little scent can go a long way. Historically, fragrances have always been a source of healing, so why not heal on the daily?
I suggest eucalyptus and lavender.
Nowadays, wearing your healing is easier than ever thanks to easy access to essential oils and aromatherapy products, many of which are organic.
A simple spritz in the morning can stick with you throughout your day, and can take you to your happy place with each whiff.
If that's not enough to take the edge off, light a candle as soon as you get home. Let its smell fill the room.
Candles aren't restricted to a coupled up restaurant, after all.
5. Treat yourself.
There's nothing wrong with something tasty (in moderation).
Keep a secret stash of your favorite indulgence in your purse, your car or your bedside table.
If sugar is strictly out of the question, try a berry or banana. Both are packed with Vitamin C, which can boost your energy while you're going into the second half of your shift.
Focus your attention on the texture, the shape and the taste of the food while you eat. Allow the flavor's lasting effects to bring you joy.
Slowing down — even in your eating — can also slow down the thoughts running through your head.
These are five easy ways to implement sensory activities that are proven to improve your mood by the time your head hits your pillow at night.
The research has already been conducted, but now, it's up to you.
Make the most of every moment in every sense.