You may have heard the word ‘mindfulness’ so much by now that you’ve switched off. But what if ‘mindfulness’ was really easy, so much so that it could transform your day without adding an extra ‘item’ to a mental checklist for what might already be a very busy day. Interested?
Here’s why you need it
Imagine being totally in your body. You’re not stressing about the future or the past, or making up a million scenarios in your head. You’re just in the here and now, feeling and sensing what’s around you. Mindfulness is described as ‘being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment’1. Basically it’s pocket sized meditation.
Now imagine you could call on this skill anytime. The key to being instantly more effective and calm is right at your fingertips. Worth going for?
Experts say if we try being mindful every day, it starts to become second nature. But if you’re like many – starting the day with good intentions and ending it with your shoulders up around your ears you know that smelling the roses doesn’t always work out like you planned.
Mindfulness, like anything we take on in life, is a new habit. It needs to be incorporated into a day that’s already full of routine – for example, brushing your teeth, walking the dog, pilates class, cooking dinner. So use established routines to your advantage: don’t put a new habit in. Put a new habit on top.
Here are some simple ways you can engage your senses, particularly your sense of smell, and take a pause while doing what you normally do every day. You’ll see many of them incorporate aromatherapy. That’s because, out of all our senses, smell is one of the most effective ways to help us engage with the world around us. One study into smell and wellbeing states: “Beyond food enjoyment, as part of quality of life, smell has the ability to transfer and regulate emotional conditions.”2
1. Washing your hands
You already wash your hands multiple times a day – even more so since COVID, most likely. All it takes to make this a mindfulness exercise is one little tweak and 8 extra seconds.
Next time you buy hand wash, treat yourself to a special one. Preferably one with natural essential oils or botanical extracts (try Bosisto’s Australian Natives range). When you lather up, and before rinsing, cup your hands up to your face and take a deep breath in, inhaling deep into your belly for the count of four and exhaling for the count of four. Simply taking a deep breath like this, with the added sensory input of aromatherapy can really make a difference in your day.
2. In the shower
Elevate your shower from simply a place you wash, to a place to nurture your wellbeing. A beautiful aromatherapy-based body wash or soap with essential oils will have you inhaling deeper, delivering more oxygen to the brain and triggering a relaxation response3.
Or, if you need a wake up call in the morning, try putting a few drops of eucalyptus oil* on a facewasher at the base of the shower and letting the hot water turn your shower into a refreshing mini sauna!
3. Driving your car
We get in our car on auto-pilot, but you could be missing another perfect opportunity to include aroma (and a deep breath or two) into your day. Keep an aromatherapy mist in your glove box to spritz when you get in, or to help you relax when you’re stuck in traffic.
4. Starting your work day
It’s really easy to begin work and then get engulfed in everything you need to do, with nothing to distract you or slow you down all day. Keeping a plant on your desk is one way you can bring a bit of nature into your day. If you’re starting to feel a bit wound up, looking at, or gently touching its leaves – or better yet, getting up to care for your plant by watering or spritzing it, can help you calm down. An essential oil diffuser is another terrific option. The action of putting drops of your favourite blend in creates both a ‘pause’ in your day and a sensory experience. Be sure to inhale deeply to get some of those lovely breaths in!
When did we stop smelling our food? Smell is intrinsically linked to appetite and even enjoyment of our food, but many of us have slipped into the habit of eating without truly having a whole sensory experience. Your morning coffee is a great place to start remembering to smell what we consume. Inhale that nutty, caramelly aroma before you take your first sip… close your eyes and really experience it for a few seconds. Then on with your day.
6. Going outside
Getting out into nature is the best environment for mindfulness – but we can’t all fit in a stroll in the park every day. How about ANY time you go outside, then? Even if it’s just out the back door to feed your dog, or those few steps from your door to the car. Look for one thing in nature you can focus on – a plant in your backyard, drops of rain on your windshield. Notice it. Breathe in that outside air, and slowly let it out. Done.
Incorporate some of these small tweaks to your day – and a little added help from aromatherapy, mindfulness can come out of your ‘too hard basket’ and back on your to-do list. Effortlessly.
*Always read the label and follow the directions for use.
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Carla’s writing gig started age 5 when she ‘published’ her first book, Tubby the Koala. Perhaps it’s serendipity she ended up writing about eucalyptus oil for a living! Carla’s passionate love of reading led to an early career as a features writer for newspapers and magazines before combining her two great loves – health and writing – in a communications role at essential oils company, Bosisto’s. Now with over 20 years’ experience writing about aromatherapy she’s keen to share all the ways we can use essential oils to boost wellbeing and improve our lives.