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Mindfulness: The Five Senses Exercise

When you are being mindful, you are present in the moment. You are aware of your thoughts and feelings, body sensations and environment. It involves bringing your focus to the present moment through a variety of exercises and strategies. Mindfulness exercises promote positive psychology and reduce feelings of stress. Practicing mindfulness enables you to slow down, to observe without over-reacting and feeling overwhelmed. It can bring you feelings of peace.

One exercise for promoting mindfulness is the Five Senses exercise. It involves tuning into your environment using all five senses, being fully aware. In the following order you take a moment to (1) notice 5 things you can see (possibly things you might otherwise not notice), (2) notice 4 things you can feel (such as the texture of the shirt you are wearing, a smooth surface, the sun on your face), (3) notice 3 things you hear in the background, (2) notice 2 things you can smell and, (1) notice one thing you can taste (of a drink, of the taste in your mouth, the air, a piece of gum). Finish this exercise aware, appreciative and centered.

Holiday Health Tips

December is typically a jam-packed month with holiday celebrations, shopping, end of year duties (personal and/or professional) among other things. Like most people, you are trying to maintain your sanity, weight and peace of mind. Physical activity, stress management and nutrition are 3 major players in maintaining a healthy body and mind. Consider a the following tips to help you keep up the momentum through the end of the year.

  • Experiment with in-season produce and new, healthy holiday recipes. Search the internet for healthy recipes including ingredients such as winter squash, root vegetables, cabbage, pears, and apples, for example. These pair well with warm, sweet spices such as nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
  • To stay active, consider signing up for a local/community walk or run. See what holiday-themed offerings are taking place in your community. Recruit the family for an after-dinner stroll to check out the Christmas decorations.
  • Managing stress takes planning and consistency but not as much time as you might think. Incorporate laughter into your life, every day. A joke, funny video or story can put a smile on your face and lighten your heart. Have 5 minutes? Try progressive muscle relaxation at night when you hit the sack.

Ten Tips for Achieving Better Work Life Balance

We are all looking to achieve optimal work/personal life balance. Consider the following tips for getting closer to reaching your best by establishing a routine that works for you. Whether you work from home (WFH) or commute to an office every day, even adopting one of these tips and putting it into practice will make a difference.

1. Work From Home tip – finish working on time. Work in a separate, designated office, room or workspace with natural light.

2. Keep your office and home surroundings organized and tidy. Go though closets, drawers, cabinets and get rid of ‘stuff’ that’s weighing you down.

3. When/if you get bored or ‘burned out,’ freshen up your routine (activities, hobbies, foods, recreation).

4. Take a lunch break away from your desk, for at least 30 minutes.

5. Avoid overbooking/over scheduling your days/time.

6. Stay on track with 5 essential tasks/day that get you closer to meeting your goals.

7. Read and then re-read emails before sending them. Keep them short, to the point, positive and professional – a reflection of you.

8. Make a note (journal) of the lesson/what you learned from making a mistake/a wrong choice so you don’t repeat it.

9. Group like tasks together in a comfortable, efficient and orderly manner. Avoid jumping around from task to task. Establish a flow to your day that makes sense.

10. Whenever you have a break, squeeze in a walk. Prioritize exercise, at least 15 minutes, either before or after work.