I don’t know about where you are, but here in Northern California we are having quite a heat wave. It feels like we are hanging out on the surface of the sun and that is making people sweaty, cranky and tired. We are also experiencing power outages because the grid is overwhelmed with all the ACs running at capacity.
Summer months are often what people look forward to for a variety of reasons- vacations, family time, swimming, outdoor activities,etc. However, it can also be a time of increased anxiety and stress. All that family time is leading to some major headaches and arguments. Swimming means putting on that bathing suit you have been avoiding all year. And your stay-cation doesn’t quite measure up to all those Facebook posts of your friends in Hawaii and Belize.
So what do you do when you find that instead of enjoying these summer months, you’re actually dreading everyday until September? Mindfulness for one. And no, I’m not talking about sitting and meditating for the remainder of summer. Mindfulness basically means that you are living INTENTIONALLY in the moment without judging it. Research has shown that practicing mindfulness can significantly decrease anxiety and depression, but first we need to learn how to do it. Then we need to practice it often.
Here are some quick ways to put a little mindfulness into your summer:
- Get out of autopilot. Start focusing on truly being present. Sure, it may not be some stunning beach in the Caribbean but what IS happening around you? Open up your mind to the sensations around you. The sights, smells and feelings of your current space. Maybe its the water or the smell of sunscreen and the city pool? Maybe it’s the tall yellow grassy weeds swaying in the slight breeze. Or perhaps its the feel of a cold glass in your hand with the sweet taste of icy water. Wherever you are, take some time to truly be present.
- Don’t judge the moment or compare it to others. Just observe, and take it in.
- Is there just one word you can focus on in this moment? If you find yourself getting agitated of stressed, go back to that word and repeat it until you are able to get out of your head and back into the present.
- Move. When you can, swim, walk, create art or music in your surroundings. Experiencing the moment by being physically present can help take your mind out of the wandering “what ifs” and negative judgments of your space.
There are so many wonderful tools out there to encourage mindfulness, this is just the tip of the iceberg. I invite you to have a conversation with your partner about how the two of you can work together to incorporate mindfulness into a plan for your a connected and satisfying summer!
Yasmine Binghalib is a Relationship Specialist and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist offering online therapy in California & Connecticut. You can learn more about her and the services she offers by going to TherapyWithYasmine.com