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Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Body-Based Practices for Self-Care and Stress Relief

Photo by Yasmina H on Unsplash

by Catharine Hannay

I'd been feeling a bit crabby and out-of-sorts the past couple of weeks, and I realized it was because I've been spending too much time:

a)  thinking about the past year and everything that happened vs. everything I expected to happen; and 

b) trying to figure out what to do in the next few months, when I have no idea what's going to happen.

I suspect I'm not alone in this. And I figure there are enough 'Reflecting on the Year of COVID' articles already. (Summary: This past year was tough on everyone, ranging from the inconvenient to the tragic. Bonus points to anyone who's been dealing with hybrid learning as a teacher or parent; double bonus points to anyone who's been doing both!) 

I've been finding it helpful to focus on body-based practices rather than trying to meditate, since that keeps turning into rumination. I'm also gently pushing myself to get more movement, as I've gradually gotten more sedentary during the ongoing semi-quarantine where I live.

So today I'll share a few body-based, grounding practices that you might find helpful as you keep on keepin' on with your various challenges. 

Body Scan: Awareness of the Body  
"The purpose of the body scan is not necessarily to relax or to go to sleep, although it can help with that sometimes.  The important thing is that you stay open and curious to your body's experience."
Five Senses Snack: a Mindful Eating Chart
It isn't a treat if you're not enjoying it.  This chart can help you truly appreciate what you're eating by slowing down and noticing not just the flavor but also the texture, scent, color, and even sound.    
Slow, gentle, seated movement you can do at your desk.

Rainbow Walk: a Mindfulness Activity to Move the Body and Rest the Mind 
This is perfect for anyone who tends to spend too much time sitting around with your mind running in circles. 
Trying on Different Shapes: Mindfulness of Mood and Posture
"Changing our shape, in its many parts, can change our mood, our awareness, and what actions we’re able to take."

Video Playlists

If you'd like some guidance and instruction, try these curated collections of mindful movement routines that can fit into even the busiest schedule. Most of them are in the 5-minute to 15-minute range, and they don't require a high degree of flexibility or any special clothing or equipment.

Chair-Based Yoga and Stretching Routines 
Gentle Yoga, Mindful Movement, and Indoor Walking
Gentle Standing Yoga and Stretching 
Silent (and Sound-Optional) Videos for Mindfulness, Meditation, and Yoga  
Yoga and Meditation for Anxiety

I hope you find a couple of options here that help you stay calm and centered in facing the challenges in your life and work. 

Hang in there, everybody!!

About the Author

Catharine Hannay is the founder of and the author of Being You: A Girl’s Guide to Mindfulness, a workbook for teen girls on mindfulness, compassion, and self-acceptance. (Sales of the book help me continue to run with no sponsorship or advertising.)