In the current climate of COVID-19, it is tempting to fill our days with constant distractions and stimulation to avoid the anxiety and stress that’s a natural part of this pandemic. This is where mindfulness comes in. Daily mindfulness skills allow us to appreciate the food we eat, the people we love, and the way we spend our days (even when we’re stuck inside).
So, grab a cup of Keith’s Cacao… and try these simple mind-hacks:
The beauty of breathwork is that it’s a beneficial and accessible tool that you can practice anywhere, at any time – no quiet space required. When a stressful situation hits, remember that your body’s trigger responses are tied to your breath, which you can instantly steady and slow, which provides immediate relief and ease.
Using breathwork effectively calms the vagus nerve (in Latin, vagus means “wandering,” so named because it travels throughout the entire body), and thus your body as a whole. Calming the entire nervous system and the physical body sends signals to the brain to calm down, because your breathing is letting it know that you’re safe in this moment.
When you sit down to enjoy a meal or mug of cacao, ditch the phone, TV, and computer. Even if you only unplug for ten or fifteen minutes, the mental, emotional, and physical wellness benefits are instant. Also, by practicing mindful eating, you allow yourself to appreciate the tastes and deliciousness of your food, and are less likely to “stress-eat” and improve your digestion.
Before bed, give yourself an hour without electronics, and instead use this time to consider your day, stretch, or take a warm bath. In a similar fashion, when you wake up, allow your brain to ease into the morning without the bright lights and sounds of text notifications and emails. Drink your morning cacao, take time to meditate, and practice deep breathing.
Ready for a relaxing bath? Try this simple DIY organic bath soak recipe to relax and unwind while you unplug.
• 2 cups Epsom salts or sugar (cane sugar or brown sugar)
• 1 cup carrier oil (olive, coconut, almond, sesame, etc.)
•10 drops of your favorite essential oil
• Mix the salt/sugar with the oil, then add in the essential oil
• Mix again!
Simply tuning-in to the sensations and cues of your body during any stressful situation can help you relax; especially during a pandemic.
Body scanning is a tool often used in meditation, the goal is to focus on what the body is feeling without judging the feelings as “good” or “bad.” This same technique is often used in yoga and called Yoga Nidra. This practice allows the body to soften and relax, while the mind maintains a state of being inwardly alert, observing thoughts and sensations.
How many times have you been involved in a conversation, only to realize that you haven’t been paying attention to the person you wanted to connect with? It’s easy to lose focus and let our mind drift, especially when we’ve been quarantined inside all day.
Try this simple partner exercise: practice mindfulness by making eye contact with your conversation partner and listen to their words, not your internal thoughts. Have them tell you a story.
When a distracting thought comes in, return to their words with the intention of truly listening and understanding, and not simply hearing them. This practice will not only strengthen your relationships, but will also allow you to grow in your own compassion and empathy for others.
If it helps, journal about the thoughts and emotions that you’re observing in your mind and your body. Writing our feelings down is an easy and powerful way to release any stale emotions, and to reaffirm anything that we may want to manifest. This is one of our favorite journals:
Our thoughts wander – it’s a part of being human.
When you’re walking down the street, or even just sitting on the couch, allow your mind to wander, and don’t resist the flow of thoughts. Just as you would imagine yourself watching cars drive down a highway, watch your thoughts as they move across the space of your mind. There’s no need to resist or analyze them. Just watch, observe, and relax.
Try doing a 5 senses meditation, in which you observe your current reality through sight, smell, touch, sound and taste. Spend 2 minutes on each sensation:
• Notice what you see around you: the colors, the textures, the movement and the stillness.
• Notice if there are any smells in the room, notice if they’re pleasant or unpleasant, notice your reaction to the smells.
• Notice the feel of the seat or ground beneath you. Notice the weight of your body against your seat. Notice any sounds in the room, the quality and tone of the sounds, as well as your reaction to them.
• Notice any tastes in your mouth, notice the feel of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Feel free to incorporate food into this meditation so that you can fully focus on the flavors!
Most importantly, be kind to yourself with each of these simple practices. In a time filled with so many variables and unknowns due to COVID-19, it can be easy to get stressed and bogged down. Just remember: mindfulness is a muscle, and it takes time to gain strength with a new practice.
Stay healthy, stay safe… and bring on your magic.
In gratitude and with magic, The Keith’s Cacao Team