Mindful moments of calm
Simple everyday rituals are a lovely way to introduce moments of calm into the day. They can support us when our creative work gets busy, giving us a break and helping us to reset and refocus. When we take a step back, we can gain insight and clarity, reminding us of our motivations and keeping us on track. I see these moments as tiny touchstones supporting me and my work throughout the day – especially when I get stuck and I start to procrastinate!
One of the goals of an intentional pause is to stop and connect with your mind, body and surroundings, giving yourself a well-earned break. Simple everyday rituals can consist of anything from five minutes of yoga to brewing a pot of tea – just a joyful interlude to enhance the day. There are many ways you can introduce pockets of tranquillity into your schedule and today I’m sharing six that work for me. They are simple and effective, and they help me to work smarter and not harder.
My favourite simple everyday rituals..
1. Joyful journaling
This year I started The Artist’s Way, a book and creative programme by Julia Cameron. One of the activities she encourages is to complete the morning pages – a process of writing a three-page stream of consciousness. It’s a wonderful and insightful practice and I’m finding the discipline of getting my thoughts down on paper extremely valuable. It’s also helping me to address any worries I might have, rather than letting them buzz around my head. I love starting the day on a positive note and taking the time to set my intention is making a huge difference. I can thoroughly recommend giving it a try!
2. A mindful pause
To promote a healthy working day, I love to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness can be done anytime and anywhere – while standing in a queue, at your desk and so on. To do this I focus on my breathing, letting go of my thoughts and connecting with the present moment. It’s a helpful technique if you’re feeling overwhelmed because it encourages you to focus on just one thing. If this is something you’d like to explore, I recommend the book Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Finding Peace in a Frantic World and the Headspace app. I also have a blog post full of mindfulness and meditation resources.
3. Embracing movement
Going for a walk is another great way to pause. Walking gets the body moving, exposes us to light and fresh air and gives us a change of scenery. I don’t know about you, but I find after a brisk walk that I’m better able to complete the things I’m stuck on. Walking seems to generate a fresh perspective and new ideas. And if you’re working at a desk, it’s good to regularly pause, changing your posture and giving your eyes a rest from the screen.
If you’re unable to get away from your workspace, another technique is to become aware of the sensations in your body. For example, your feet on the floor, your body in the chair, how your clothes feel against your skin and so on. You could even try moving your fingers and toes or doing a few stretches to ease any tension.
4. Musical moments
There’s no denying that music can energise and uplift us when we’re feeling a little weary. By taking some time out to enjoy our favourite tunes, we might also find we’re able to reconnect with our work with fresh vigour. If listening to music supports you and your work, you could create a playlist of your favourite relaxing or upbeat tunes for when you need them the most. And if you fancy a dance interlude, there’s nothing to stop breaking out a few moves!
5. Space for books
Picking up a book can change our focus and help us to slow things down. So, whether you take fifteen minutes at lunchtime or use reading to unwind at the end of the day, it’s a lovely habit to make space for. This year I’ve set myself a goal to read at least one book a month, so I’d be grateful for your recommendations! My favourite books of 2018 were Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig, Playing Big by Tara Mohr and Ikigai, The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles. I’m currently halfway through my sixth book of 2019 – it feels great to be reading rather than scrolling!
6. Time for tea
And finally, my favourite daily ritual is to stop and make a pot of tea. I love to focus on the task of tea making and to pause as it brews. It’s a calming process to break up the afternoon and it gets me out of my workspace, enabling me to reflect on what I’m working on and consider if any changes need to be made. Since working freelance, I’ve built up quite a collection of loose teas. My current favourites are Earl Grey by Huffkins and New York breakfast by T2 – delicious!
I hope you’re having a wonderful month and enjoying the February sunshine. Just to let you know, I recently changed my website/blog URL to my name – same me, same content, just a different address (natashadenness.co.uk). Thank you, as always, for stopping by – may you have a beautiful and inspiring day ahead!
Parts of this text originally appeared in Breathe, issue seven.