"Take a quick break! Take a breath!" I tell myself. It feels like it's already been a long day that will never end. I feel totally drained. "I'll just check Facebook really fast," I think. All of a sudden, thirty minutes is gone. Guess what? I don't feel any better and I'm not rested. I'm still just as drained as I was thirty minutes before! Oh, and by the way, I'm still scrolling through Facebook!
The biggest time wasters--Facebook, Netflix or whatever it may be--drain my motivation to do almost anything. I don't feel better having scrolled through page after page of, well, nothing. Yet, somehow, I go back to it all the time. Like so many others around me, I'm staring at a hand-held technology trap, moving my thumbs at blinding speed across a digital screen. Why?
This last week, I decided to change this pattern. Instead of turning to Facebook for my breaks, I turned to my practice of mindfulness. Granted, I did not totally cut out Facebook, but instead of instantly turning there, I paused, caught myself, and practiced mindfulness. Facebook will always be there.
Buzzfeed created this really cool blog post with all these visual animations designed to help practice focusing on your breath! It can be challenging to just breath and count. At first, I found it difficult to hone in on an abstract thing, like breath, and not let my mind wander! These animations make it easier. It is fun to watch the ball wander up as I inhale and down as I exhale. Eventually, I could just imagine the ball as I practice. Then, it became even easier to focus without the animations! Before I knew it, I could practice mindful breath no matter where I was. It's as if I'd turned the table on digital brain traps!
I love keeping this blog post somewhere always accessible (like on my phone), which also really helps with mindfulness. I recommend giving it a try for a few minutes a day. And see if you can try practicing mindful breath for 30 seconds to a minute every day for 30 days! Let me know how it goes!
Sara Hulan, MA, Marriage and Family Therapist Registered Associate IMF #97806,