In the year since the novel coronavirus hit American shores, time has started doing weird things. A few days can feel like weeks and what happened last Tuesday seems distant. Unless time decides to do the opposite with days blurring together and flying past. When stress hits hard, it can do both.

Mindfulness might be the answer. This remarkable form of self-care gives life back to you by slowing down the brain and body. The benefits of mindful practices are well-researched and seem to offer sharper focus, increased emotional regulation, improved physical health, and reduced stress levels, to name a few.  

Mindfulness is best known as a form of meditation. That is a wonderful practice, and it’s not the only one. The good news is the mindful state of awareness is available to you throughout the day in so many forms. We’ve picked five to share.  

1. Reach out with gratitude 

Text some appreciation to three people today. What have they done that was above and beyond? Why are you grateful for them? If you’re stumped, might we suggest thanking a teacher, first responder, or healthcare worker? They are often unsung heroes and deserve gratitude from us all. 

2. Full attention for food 

Disengage from digital devices and bring your full attention to what’s nourishing you today. Spend time with each bite. Is it hot or cold? Crisp or soft? Savory or sweet? See if you can identify subtle flavors you missed before. If you’re drinking a bottle of Purpose Tea — we hope you are! — savor the flavors of all-natural, simple ingredients. Bonus: You’re getting less caffeine than a soda or iced black tea, which can help prevent a post-meal slump. 

3. Breath of fire 

In Kundalini yoga, breath of fire is a breathing exercise that aids stress relief and concentration, among other researched health improvements. For this beautiful practice, sit tall and cross-legged with your palms on your abdomen. Close your eyes. Inhale through your nose, feeling your belly grow round. Then exhale quickly and powerfully through your nose, contracting your abdominal muscles. In and out breaths should be equal in length. Repeat for 30 seconds and feel the increased clarity.  

4. Call to the present moment

Our days are full of digital disruptions. Get more mindful by picking one sound, like the ding of your phone or an incoming email. Make that noise your call to consciousness all day long. When you hear it, pause briefly. Take note of what you are doing, feeling, and thinking at that moment. Then tune into some good vibes by smiling or repeating an affirmation. Once you’re consistent, this practice can powerfully transform mood.  

5. Connect with nature 

The Japanese practice something called forest bathing, or shinrin-yoku. It means taking in a forest through the five senses. This is not physical exercise, but rather a practice of connection. If you’re a city dweller and not close to a forest, you can still reap the benefits of a better relationship with the natural world. Take 30 minutes, leave behind your cell phone, and step outside. Observe the weather and feel it around you. Breathe deeply and slow down. Walk and pay attention to nature. When you can take more time, schedule an outing to a park or nature preserve. Just look for a place with trees and you’ll be ready to find greater calm and relaxation. 

Got your own tips for mindful living? Drop them below so we can learn from you how to be more present and joyful in life. 

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