by CYDNEY COFFEY, CSU Communications Graduate Assistant
The other week, I encouraged everyone to tap into rest and balance. The focus was: The skill of doing nothing. This is one of those skills that is easier said than done. Another week’s practice talked about cultivating “me time,” but the other week we talked about cultivating calm. Doing nothing can be a pleasing way to cultivate calm once you get the hang of it. Surprisingly, doing nothing requires energy.
To tap into the skill of doing nothing, I challenged you all to practice taking ten minutes out of your day, a few days a week, and step away from your active life. Letting yourself settle into doing… nothing. Working to clear your mind. Letting whatever is happening around you run its course, instead of engaging and giving it more fuel. “By staying steady and letting everything run out of gas, you can start to notice what remains once the dust has settled. Rest with it” (Rohan Gunatillake).
Have you ever noticed that when a stressful situation arises, you continuously and maybe unconsciously tell yourself that you are stressed? That is normal, do not worry. You may have also noticed that when you tell yourself that you are stressed, you start to see changes in your body. For example, if you are stressed about studying for an exam that is the next day, and well, you have not started studying for it, you might find yourself staying up all night stressing, cramming, and trying to study for your exam. Due to the stress and the potential lack of sleep, you might notice that your body will react negatively. For me, if I find that I am super stressed, the way my body reacts is by exhibiting symptoms of a cold.
Our minds are very powerful. Your mind has a deep and powerful connection with your body. When we are mentally stressed, our bodies will mirror our minds and will more than likely tighten up. However, on the flip side, when we are mentally open and relaxed, our bodies will follow, soften up, and relax. What is amazing about this is the fact that the connection between our mind and body works both ways. If you work to relax your body, your mind will surely follow. One of the best ways to relax your body is by smiling.
This upcoming week, I am encouraging everyone to tap into curiosity and joy. The focus is on the simple Smile. It takes a lot of energy to be negative. You must work at it, but smiling is painless. When you smile, it changes your mood. It relieves stress in various ways, and it helps you to be and/or stay positive. Focus your energy on smiling.
This week I challenge you all to practice relaxing both your mind and body. Look into figuring out what works for you. This could be something as simple as playing music, taking a walk, drawing, taking time to clean up your space, or taking a nice, long hot bath. Next time you are dealing with a difficult emotion or tense situation, in addition to other self-care tactics, try softening your face and smiling. Smiling will automatically tell your mind that you are doing okay- even if you are not feeling that way at that moment.
Trust me, it works. Without going on too much of a tangent, one day, I woke up and felt like complete crap- my body was very achy. No one has time to or wants to feel terrible. My body was trying to tell me that a cold was coming on. I did not want to deal with being sick- no one does. On top of this, I had a full day ahead of me. I did not have time to sit in bed all day (although, when you are sick, that might be necessary, do not get me wrong). Instead of telling myself that I could not make it throughout the day, I started repeatedly telling myself that today was going to be a great day and that I was feeling excellent. I said this to myself in various ways. I jumped in the shower, washed that negativity right off, and started my day. Throughout the day, I continuously told myself that I was feeling great. Soon enough, after I had changed my mentality and outlook on the day, my body echoed. All the aches that I was feeling when I woke up were gone. I felt like a brand-new person. If this does not give you any insight as to how powerful your mind is, I highly encourage you to try for yourself. You will be shocked at how far a smile or simple phrase will go.