We’re all familiar with the physical sensations that manifest during a busy week. Shoulders rise to the ears. Breathing occurs from the chest rather than the diaphragm. Necks and backs suddenly crave attention through dull pains. And don’t forget the ever-present anxiety about what tasks must be accomplished. With the advancement of technology and a culture that celebrates a constant grind, it can be difficult to stay balanced when professional and personal demands feel never-ending.
When the Sun enters Virgo on August 23, pressure will rise as the stars demand that we focus more on our goals and the work required to reach them. This solar placement can feel like a juggling act, making it important that we all find ways to stay balanced.
“Virgo season is often considered a busy time because it falls towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall, which can be a period of transition and increased activity,” says Blood Sex Magic author and The Hoodwitch creator Bri Luna. “Additionally, Virgo is known for its practicality and attention to detail, so people may feel motivated to organize and accomplish tasks during this time.”
Though busy times are afoot, pausing for peace is necessary on even the most chaotic days. “We need and require the ability to slow down, to sit in stillness for reflection, contemplation, and solitude without external stimulation,” says Cheryl Bailey, a wellness practitioner at L’Auberge de Sedona in Arizona and owner of Grit and Grace Meditation. “We need the stillness to connect to our inner self, to hear the answers that come from our soul, our intuition. Those answers are the whispers that help guide us in life.”
Though you may not always have time for long bouts of rest and reflection, it’s important to set aside a few minutes to find balance. When it comes to maintaining personal harmony, there’s no substitute for self-care, meditation, and healthy living. Mindfulness should also play an important role, providing an opportunity to stay centered when there isn’t time to fully zen out.
“Mindfulness and meditation are related practices, but they have distinct differences,” Luna explains. “Mindfulness refers to the act of being fully present and aware of the present moment without judgment. It involves paying attention to one’s thoughts, feelings, and sensations in a non-reactive way. On the other hand, meditation is a formal practice that involves training the mind to focus and redirect thoughts. It often utilizes specific techniques, such as focusing on the breath or repeating a mantra.”
When you need a quick tranquility fix, try one (or many) of the following 17 mindfulness hacks. Though there are many traditions and habits to pull from when it comes to adopting a more mindful lifestyle, Luna cautions against becoming discouraged if you don’t find your new groove right off the bat.
“Incorporating mindfulness into daily life can greatly enhance your well-being and reduce stress, but it’s important to remember that mindfulness is a skill that requires practice and patience,” Luna says. “Starting with small and consistent steps will lead you to significant benefits over time.”
1. Perform a body scan
Our body is constantly sending signals to alert us if we’re hungry, tired, or stressed. However, busy schedules can sometimes lead us to disconnect from our physical selves, allowing tension in the body to build up, which only perpetuates more feelings of stress. When you’re in a pinch and need to quickly find calm, Bailey recommends taking 30 seconds to “scan your body from head to toe, front and back, and consciously relaxing any tension you are holding on to.”
2. Create boundaries with electronics
Peace can be hard to come by when you know anyone can get a hold of you at any time. Checking electronics for new alerts and messages has become a compulsive behavior for many of us, making it difficult to tune out our busy world. When you need to focus on something important or simply wish to be left alone, consider throwing your phone in a drawer, wrapping it in a black cloth, or turning on do-not-disturb mode.
If you have family or friends who need access to you at all times, most phones have a setting that will allow you to set exceptions for the do-not-disturb setting, providing a sense of ease that these loved ones can reach you if something urgent comes up. Work remotely or have a business computer at home? Be sure to power down these electronics at the end of each day, signaling that it’s time to relax.
3. Move your body
When tension builds or you start to feel stagnant, short bursts of activity can help recenter you. Bailey suggests “getting up periodically throughout the day and moving your body.” Oftentimes, we think we have to keep going, to push through our day, but that can build more stress and resistance. Instead, create space, and allow energy to flow through you. Get up. Stretch the body. “Go outside and connect with nature,” Bailey adds. “Nature has an immediate healthy response in our body.”
4. Practice breath awareness
Our breath has the power to calm and destress us if only we tap into its healing potential. “Breath is the first thing we take in when we enter this world and the last thing we exhale when leaving this world,” Bailey notes. “All day long, our breath moves us, and we don’t pay attention to it until we need to. Then, we can manipulate it to support us.”
Breathing techniques can help release and dissolve old emotional pain and traumatic emotions. It can also be used to immediately lower stress responses. While the world of breathwork has many paths, Bailey recommends the following technique: When you need to feel mellow in a pinch, use box breathing, which is breathing in for a count of four, holding for a count of four, breathing out for a count of four, then holding for another count of four. “Do this for four rounds,” Bailey advises.
5. Connect with your senses
When you start to feel overwhelmed or overstimulated, Bailey recommends connecting with your five senses. “What do you feel, taste, smell, see, hear?” Bailey asks. This practice can be particularly helpful when you need to anchor your mind, especially if you choose to focus on the beauty surrounding you. This same exercise can be used to reclaim a sense of gratitude, which can be easy to lose touch with when under stress.
6. Notice your internal dialogue
What you say to yourself is important. While it may feel more natural to subconsciously vent when you feel tired, redirecting the narrative to something more positive can make a huge difference in how you feel. The next time you sense yourself dragging, try bringing words of encouragement to the front of your mind, internally stating that you have the power and endurance to see the day through.
7. Make mindfulness a habit
Spirituality and meditation can benefit from good old-fashioned organization. Because we often prioritize work and responsibilities above all else, wellness habits often fall to the wayside.
Bailey suggests setting a timer on your phone for breaks throughout the day and taking a few moments to check in with yourself. “Feel your body,” she says. “What do you notice? Take a breathing break. Do a short, guided meditation. Then, return to your workday.”
8. Organize on Sunday nights
Mornings are important to consider when adapting new mindfulness techniques and can set the tone for your entire day, depending on how smoothly or chaotically your rituals unfold. Planning ahead at the beginning of the week will help you navigate busy times with a sense of structure and security, giving your mind a few less details to fret over.
Meal and wardrobe planning are essential for getting a head start before Monday rolls in, and catching up on chores can also provide you with more free time at the end of each day so that you can truly recharge.
9. Wear your feelings
Bringing intention to your aesthetic can also help you stay present when there aren’t enough hours in the day, focusing on specific shades or statement pieces that reflect the energy you wish to carry, and even the color of your jewelry and fingernails can help you stay present.
Consider giving yourself a manicure before a busy week kicks off, choosing a polish that will act as a reminder to ground and support yourself. You could also draw symbols with permanent markers on your bare nails before applying lacquer, empowering yourself with secret codes that help you feel collected and sharp.
10. Honor the seasons
When decorations remain consistent in our home or workspaces, they often blur into the background as the months pass. Eventually, items that were placed to lift your spirits no longer leave an impression, causing you to disconnect from your surroundings. Change your interior design with each passing season, allowing your mind to feel connected with the outside world even when indoors.
Try fresh flowers in spring, a bowl of citrus in summer, pumpkins in the fall, and pine cones in winter. They can help you feel more in tune with the cyclical nature of our world. The more you connect with these themes, the more present you will feel in your environment.
11. Open a window
We all know opening a window can be good for letting in fresh air, but bringing intention to this action will help you transition from on the go to mindfully present. Take a deep breath as crisp air hits your space, taking care to relax your shoulders and any other areas of the body that have been storing stress. For colder or hotter months when opening the shutters isn’t an option, consider investing in an air purifier to help move stagnant energy.
12. Stock healthy snacks
Though this may seem like a simple task to keep your body happy, intentionally supporting your physical self can make the difference between sugar crashes and bursts of energy. The act of simply choosing a piece of fruit to keep you satiated rather than a bag of potato chips sends a message to your subconscious that you are taking care of yourself.
13. Hang wind chimes
The sound of chimes will immediately grab your mind’s attention, giving you a temporary and random respite from whatever tasks or pressures you were focused on up until that point without totally derailing your thought process. Calming background music can also help you stay centered, giving your subconscious an anchor.
14. Light candles
Our minds are programmed to respect fire, understanding that though this destructive element can be tamed, it’s still dangerous. Keeping a flame nearby also offers a peaceful ambience, acting as the perfect balance between awareness and calm.
Connecting with different fragrances depending on your mood or intentions for that day can also create a sensual reminder to stay focused and grounded. If you’re sensitive to scent, consider beeswax candles instead.
15. Work with essential oils
The essences of plants are revered for their calming and healing properties, making them a great tool when you need to quickly center during a busy moment. Use floral scents for an elevating mood boost, citrus to help with focus and energy, and earthy notes to balance your mind.
16. Embrace your emotions
Knowing exactly where your heart is will make it easier to harbor grace for yourself and can provide the motivation and strength to set boundaries when you need a respite from other people and the expectations they place on you. This practice will also help you better navigate the emotions of others, though you should remember to vocalize when you need help or space.
17. Mist your face
Keeping a spray bottle filled with rosewater or lightly scented facial toners will help snap you back into the present, especially on days that feel foggy. This tool instantly ignites your sense of touch and smell, inspiring a sense of focus. Simply mist your face throughout the day when you could use a pick-me-up or need to relieve stress or anxiety.
Renée Watt is a Pacific Northwest-based professional psychic, astrologer, and witch. Her mystical insights have been featured in Vogue, Cosmopolitan, and InStyle. She hosts the weekly podcast The Glitter Cast, which features celebrity ghost stories and interviews with leading professionals in her field.
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