Stress has a serious negative impact on both our physical and mental health. More acutely, it causes our ‘fight or flight’ response to kick in, which disconnects us from our senses. By preventing this disconnection, we’ll be better equipped to stay grounded and centered, no matter what stressful situations we’re faced with.
Mindful eating is the perfect way to add a routine stress-relief moment to your day. In this time you can ground yourself, be present, and be aware of your senses. Plus, what’s more comforting than a warm bowl of soup? Here’s how to use Spooning as stress-relief:
Before you eat, simply look at the warm soup in its bowl. Notice the rising steam. Admire the colors and shapes of the ingredients. Allow your eyes to settle on them and be drawn to where they want to go. Take three breaths. Dedicate them to expressing gratitude that you have this meal in front of you.
Put your hands around the bowl. Feel the warmth radiating from it. Notice how that heat spreads through your body. Acknowledge how comforting it feels.
Breathe in deeply through your nose. Allow the soup’s aromas to fill your nasal passages and send calming signals to your brain. Let your mind wander to whatever memories those scents lead you too. Watch your mind dwell on the memories momentarily and then bring it back to the present.
Pick up your spoon and take a mouthful. Before you swallow and reach for another mouthful, slow down. Taste the flavors in every spoonful. Notice how the food feels in your mouth and how the tastes change as you eat. Think about how the individual flavors combine together. Do this with every spoonful you take.
Listen to the sounds you’re making and the sounds around you. Don’t try to drown them out. Notice them and be aware of their presence. Don’t try to block them out — accept them and welcome them in. Allow these noises to bring you to your present location and situation.
While you eat stay present with all five senses. If your mind wanders off bring it back to your breath and to the taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound of your meal.
Having one mindful meal a day can significantly lower your stress levels. Being present to this experience will calm your mind, help you focus on your body and how you feel, and enable you to be grounded and centered, no matter what the day throws at you.