7 Days to Mindfulness
Introduction: 7 Days of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is growing in popularity around the world, and we wanted to see how the basic principles could help a PKU person overcome feelings of stress and anxiety leading up to mealtimes. The diet can often be overwhelming and so for the next 7 days we will be sharing a new activity every day that you can start to incorporate in to your routine, inspired by Sit Breathe Love.
We hope that each day you will gain an invaluable insight into ‘mindfulness’ and how it could help you to feel more positive. A healthy mind + healthy body = healthy you!
Day 1: Breathing
Ever find yourself taking a long deep breath at the end of each day? Breathing in and out may seem like an obvious activity to engage with (to survive!) but when you are working, eating, travelling, looking after your little PKUer or yourself, breathing properly can be severely neglected.
Focusing on your breath can make you feel instantly calmer and grounded. Breathe in slowly through the nose, inhaling fresh air on the way. Then exhale slowly, breathing out any negativity, fear or anguish you may be feeling. Repeat.
Rather than only breathing properly once or twice per day, set a reminder on your phone every hour to increase the air travelling into your lungs and the oxygen flowing around the body.
Day 2: Eating
Focus on the healthy and nourishing food that you ‘can’ eat in abundance (fruits, veg, salad, healthy fats etc), rather than the foods that you can’t eat. When you do this, you can begin to appreciate each meal, reduce the stress associated with eating and improve your mood.
Another important aspect of mindful eating is the ability to ‘slow down’. When we rush eating to make room for other activities we are not listening to our bodies. We don’t know when they are full for example. Being mindful and appreciative of food not only helps with food anxiety, but with weight loss and appetite regulation.
Day 3: Exercise
Many people do not enjoy exercise, but when you start to be mindful of how exercise helps promote a healthier, longer and happier lifestyle, it starts to become very enjoyable.
Instead of focusing on the effects exercise has on the physical body at the beginning, pay more attention to the activities you are performing – be present. How do you feel during and after the exercise? Is your head clearer? Do you feel like you could take on the world? Find an exercise that you love and the resulting physical and mental changes will follow suit.
Day 4: Work
Work can be stressful. Today, try to:
- Take regular breaks to clear your head. A walk around the office will suffice.
- Approach work and colleagues non-judgmentally and inject positivity into conversations, emails, and in group meetings.
You will find that when you put out feelings of calm and positivity, you in-turn increase productivity and creativity within yourself and others. In time, that will reduce your own stress and the stress of those around you.
Day 5: Cooking
For many PKUers, the thought of cooking fills them with dread. What? When? How? Where?
Next time you are cooking from scratch (which for those with PKU is every day!) try to enjoy the planning, preparation, cooking and eating. Try to remain relaxed throughout the process, take in all of the smells of the food and the sounds made when frying, baking, mixing and so on.
Spend some time planning meals for the week ahead also. Sit down, write a breakfast, lunch and dinner list for the next 7 days and then write down what ingredients you need. This reduces the feeling of being ‘overwhelmed’ after a long day when you are more likely to eat something that is either ‘off-diet’ or nutritionally incomplete.
Day 6: Walking
Be grateful for the gift of movement and the freedom that it brings.
The physical act of walking is more beneficial for you than your mind going walkabouts. Whether it is a walk around the block, your living room or around the office, pay attention to the movement in your legs and how your feet feel on the floor (if you are able to go barefoot that is!).
Mindfully walking with no mobile phone distracting you or another person in your ear, can increase your mood, creativity and productivity. You should never get to the end of the day and realise you have stayed still at a desk all day and haven’t taken time out for yourself.
Day 7: A Cup of Tea
We are now on day 7, concluding Sit Breathe Love’s mindfulness steps for beginners (PKU-style!), and today is all about… a simple cup of tea!
We couldn’t miss this one out, as those with PKU can have tea in abundance.
Have you ever thought about who grew and picked the tea leaves, or who packaged them up? Drinking tea is just the last step in a very labour intensive process so enjoy every bit of it. Why not invite some friends over to enjoy tea together? Make it a regular thing!
Thank you for reading and we hope this article benefitted you in some small way. If you have any questions, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org. Have a lovely mindful week ahead.