January is hard. We feel the emotional hangover of post-holiday festivities, there’s nothing to look forwards to until Spring, and we begrudgingly have to settle back into Real Life- with all of its responsibilities and little to none Mariah Carey on repeat. For some of us, the highlight of this month may be the prospect of a shiny new year(!) during which we can be the best version of ourselves, and do all the things we’ve always wanted to do. If you’re feeling the itch to make some changes for 2019 and part of that is to take better care of yourself, allow me to introduce- Meditation.
Okay, I get it, meditation isn’t exactly the cutest, nor most IG-worthy form of self-care; however, it has more lasting effects than a bubble bath, and even on the high end, costs less than a spin class. For those looking to get started, here are 8 meditation tips with a focus on helping to boost your mood, reduce your anxiety, and sleep better.
1.) Start today! Even if it’s just for 5 minutes, or 2 minutes, something is better than nothing.
2.) Make it easy for yourself- you don’t have to sit cross legged with your eyes closed. You can stare at the ceiling lying down on your bed, be on your couch, in your car- whatever works!
3.) Get curious! Use meditation as a way to stop and check in on your mood. What are you feeling and where are you feeling it in your body? Can you put a name to the sensation? Maybe it’s something obvious like “anger” or maybe it’s just a feeling- like “squirmy in my stomach” or “tight in my throat”.
4.) My favourite way to boost my mood is to spend a few minutes practicing gratitude. It’s cheesy- but it works (and is super backed by science).
Breath in- (say silently in your mind) Today, I am grateful for
Breath out- (in your mind)- fill in the blank
This can be a person, a situation, something big like getting a new job, or something small like getting to the bus on time.
5.) For some of us, there’s something instantly soothing about feeling weight on our chest. If you don’t have a gravity blanket lying around, try putting one hand on your chest, one hand on belly, either seated or lying down. Feel your breath, very tangibly, beneath your palms and allow yourself to rest like that for a few moments.
6.) The key to a calming meditation is breath. We want a slow inhale, and an extra long, effortless exhale. You don’t want to feel like you are forcing or pushing the breath out, but instead, imagine the belly and lungs deflating like a balloon. Try counting an inhale to the count of 4, and an exhale to the count of 6. Do this at least 5-10 times.
7.) You can practice the meditation mentioned in tip #6 (also included in this email) and turn up the chill by doing it with your legs up the wall. Borrowing from a yoga pose, try lying down on your bed with your legs against your headboard or the wall. You can even place a pillow under your bum for a bit of lift and support.
8.) Another alternative is to take some time scanning through your body and feeling its weight. Lying down, feel your feet without moving them- and imagine them sinking into the mattress. Do the same, slowly, as your attention climbs up your legs, hips, belly, etc. until you reach all the way up to your head.
Anita is the founder of Betty- a self care snooze club that offers Real Live Beditations for Real Lazy People. Run through the convenience of Instagram, subscribers can tune in every morning at 6, 7, and 8AM for a 10-15 minute meditation. For more information, visit http://inbedwithbetty.com.
Note: Meditation isn’t going to change your life on its own, but it’s a good place to start when we want to connect and take care of ourselves better. It isn’t for everyone- especially if you have a history of trauma or if it doesn’t feel safe to be in your body- so if you feel like any of these practices are triggering, it’s not your fault, you’re not wrong, and there are other tools out there for you.
Use code: BLUMEMEETSBETTY for your first month of Betty, free.