photo feet in shoes walking on grass
Contributor

SUSANNE BROWN
Senior Administrative Specialist

Wouldn’t you agree that the past fifteen months has been quite the journey? We were in quarantine, schools and businesses were closed. We were isolated from our family members and friends. We even ordered our groceries and did our shopping all online. We simply just never left our homes!

Now, a new page in history has been turned and a little bit of life as we knew it is beginning to reappear, but will it ever really be exactly as it was? After all the stress, isolation and illness will we be OK now? Have we been trying to take care of everyone else but not ourselves? We must learn to take some time for “you” time which better enables us to handle our many responsibilities. What this may look like is different for everyone but that makes it no less important for any of us.

Mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment through a gentle, nurturing lens. When we practice mindfulness, our thoughts tune into what we’re sensing in the present moment rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future. Here are a few key ways to create mindfulness or “you” time.

One of the most familiar practices of mindfulness is yoga but it is by far not the only practice. Meditating to music can enhance the benefits of meditation. We can shift our mindset to positive thoughts, improve our sleep quality, reduce stress and much more. Some studies have found that upbeat music can evoke feelings of optimism and positivity about life. Faster music increases alertness and improves concentration, while slower music quiets the mind and relaxes the muscles, making it a helpful aid for sleep and stress relief.

Another practice of creating “you” time is being in nature. Long walks, birdwatching and gardening are activities that encourage you to slow down, look around and it activates your senses of seeing, feeling, hearing and smelling. Spending time outdoors decreases stress and blood pressure while elevating your mood. In fact, July is National Parks and Recreation Month and the growing body of research — combined with an intuitive understanding that nature is vital and increased concerns about the exploding use of smart phones and other forms of technology — has led to tipping point at which health experts, researchers, and government officials are now proposing widespread changes aimed at bringing nature into people’s everyday lives.

One of my favorite practices is “playtime.” Who doesn’t love to play but hasn’t in the past year? It is essential to bring some fun and joy back into our lives and refresh our outlook. “Play is a great way to practice mindfulness, decrease overthinking and boast special connection,” says Clay Drink, PhD, a psychologist in Hudson Valley, New York, and the author of “Play Your Way Sane.”

“We need to keep reminding ourselves that we’re doing the best we can under incredible circumstances”. – Susan Dreyer Leon, EDD

Here’s to a healthier, happier “YOU”!