As the cooler temperatures have finally arrived in the Louisville area, it is a reminder to all of us that a new season is here. A change in season can be a good time to slow down and take a mindful look at what is different around us, how our routines may adjust or change and give ourselves space to identify what we need with this new stage of the year.
Here are three simple ways to mindfully tune in to the world around you this Monday, starting with your morning commute:
- Become aware of the world around you and how it looks different than just a month ago. It may be darker when you get in your car, maybe you needed to turn on the heat for the first time since Spring and use your defrost before driving. School is back in session and traffic patterns may have changed. Rather than becoming frustrated at longer wait times or increased traffic, use it as a time to be aware of what is around you. Try to find a tree that is changing color or a house that puts a lot of effort into seasonal decorations. Tuning in to the world around you can be a way to make each moment more meaningful for you, rather than something you “have” to do.
- Use your time to tune in to your body. If you are like me and don’t have a garage, I use the few minutes inside of my car as it warms up to tune in to my body and give myself a calm start to my day. I take a big deep breath in, and slowly release it as I sit quietly in the dim morning light that Fall brings. If you do come out to a warmed car, you can still take 1-2 minutes to focus on being in your driver’s seat, slowing your breathing and being intentional about your next step. We can often feel rushed in the morning, and taking a couple of mindful minutes early in our day can help us remain tuned in and calmer with each thing on our to do list.
- Ask for what you need. As you tune in to your body and mind this Fall, you may become aware of personal needs that were less present in the Summer. As evenings become darker more early and temperatures fall, you may need to schedule yourself differently or change something about your routine to better fit this new season. Being flexible to adjust to your needs can help reduce frustration and make you a more productive and cared for you. Several previous blogs have discussed ways to combat symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder and this is the time of year to begin putting these ideas into action. It is okay to have needs and even more okay to ask for them, even if that is simply being mindful to ask it of yourself.
As you experience the crisp air, crunchy leaves and holiday celebrations in the coming months, work to be intentional and mindful to check in with yourself each step of the way. This can be a daily practice, or even throughout your day as you begin feeling overwhelmed or disconnected. If you aren’t sure where to start, you can begin now as you finish reading this blog. Tune in to where you are sitting. Is it comfortable? Too hard or too soft? What do you hear around you? What can you smell? Slowly take a deep breath for 4 seconds, and then slowly take 4 seconds to release that breath. Do this one or two more times. Let yourself feel the calm of that mindful, tuned in breathing as you transition to your next task. You just allowed yourself to practice mindfulness. Encourage yourself to find other times this week that you can take a couple of minutes and turn your attention inward to yourself. You may find that the more you often you take these moments, the more you look forward to them!