When I lived in Estes Park a few years ago, a beautiful mountain resort town in Colorado, it felt like everyone I came in contact with was on vacation. And with 100,000 summer visitors compared to 10,000 year-round residents, they usually were! But even living in Denver now, it can still feel that way. I can easily yearn to be outside biking or hiking or just reading my favorite novel, (what people do on vacation), instead of engaging in my work.
Mindfulness (paying attention to the present moment) is so important in summer because we are busier with so many more distractions. It can be challenging to stay on task and focus on your work, no matter how much you like it when it feels like everyone else is on vacation. The good news is, a mindfulness practice can actually feel like a vacation because of the calming and relaxing effects it has on your mind and body, in as little as 5 minutes!
So you can take a vacation by taking the Mindfulness Challenge, a 30 day commitment to practice 5 minutes of mindfulness a day using one of five guided practices. It’s a great introduction to mindfulness, or a way to tune-up your existing practice. Organizations I brought this to in the last year have realized some significant results:
- The Mindfulness Challenge had the highest participation of any other wellness challenge. We think this is because people are very hungry for new ways to manage their stress and mindfulness is appropriate for everyone, unlike quit smoking or biggest loser challenges.
- The average decrease in stress was 23.6% in just 30 days!This was measured with a self-reported pre and post-challenge stress survey.
- Many of the participants continue to practice mindfulness after they complete the challenge. They feel so much better practicing, they want to keep going, as shown by these comments:
I have clearer thinking and focus on things I can control and let go of things I can’t.
I feel happier and more positive.
Just sticking to a goal made me feel more in control.
My days stay calm after starting my day with the mindfulness.
I have the same amount of stress but better coping skills to manage it.
I’m generally happier, and more radiant. My relationships have improved substantially. I’m able to communicate more effectively.
I am more able to handle the increased work load and patient load.
My attitude is more positive with a realistic perspective and I communicate it better.
I feel much calmer and less “choked” about things I can’t control. This practice has helped and I plan to continue it.
I can stay calm and carry on. Even if things get off track, it’s not the end of the world.
Overall, I feel like I am in more control of my emotions. I appreciate being able to take 5 minutes out of my busy work/school day to breathe and think about where I am at that moment!
Is a mindfulness challenge for you this summer? Only if you want to feel more centered, relaxed, positive and happier! Enjoy your summer by taking a vacation every day with your mindfulness practice!