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5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating {Giveaway}

by Elise Museles

5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating

Let’s be honest: We’re all curious about successful people. What are their secrets? How do they do it?

Here’s one clue, and it’s something that Jerry Seinfeld, Oprah, Arianna Huffington, and Russell Simmons have in common: they all swear by meditation.

But it’s not just A-listers who rely on meditation for sanity and stability. It’s common among many who advocate a healthy lifestyle, with claims that even a few minutes of daily meditation can reduce stress & anxiety and promote happiness.

So…should you be meditating?

The short answer is, simply: yes. But stay with me for a minute, because there’s good news for those of us who can’t fathom sitting still. (And I even have a giveaway to help you find your focus – but more on that in a minute…)

A perfectly fueled, well-rested body doesn’t do us any good if we’re walking around in an overwhelmed, stressed-out state. Quieting our minds is essential to our overall health and to developing a connection to our bodies.

Admittedly, I’m someone who hasn’t always been good at taking the time to center myself. Not at all! I’m constantly running from one thing to the next, developing and shooting recipes in the morning, dashing off to meet with clients or teach in the afternoon, meeting publishing deadlines, trying to squeeze in a walk with my dogs…and then getting a healthy dinner on the table for my family.

But the problem is more than just an overloaded schedule: it’s that, with all that non-stop action, my brain never gets to slow down. I am full of ideas and to-do lists, not to mention all the minutiae that I need to “write down or I’ll forget”…! Often, there are so many details swirling through my buzzing head that I can’t feel calm or centered. I become so exhausted mentally that I can hardly even make simple decisions.

When my monkey mind won’t quit, I force myself to take a time-out for my version of “meditation,” or what I prefer to call mindfulness. It’s the gentle effort to be present, deliberately making myself aware of what’s going on around me, at that moment, in a calm and non-judgmental way.

Here’s more good news: mindfulness doesn’t mean you have to sit cross-legged, chanting a mantra for an hour. If the idea of traditional mediation overwhelms you (and that’s okay – me, too!), try one of these mood-altering, stress reducing alternatives instead:

Adult Coloring Books

Most of us loved coloring as kids, then abandoned coloring completely once we reached the double-digits. It’s time to pull out those colored pencils! Studies have shown that coloring offers many of the same benefits as meditation. It allows us to switch off our brains from other thoughts and focus only on the moment. It can alleviate anxiety, and promotes calm and tranquility. Plus, it’s fun! If you’re looking to start a coloring practice, there are thousands of options: I’m bringing out my inner artist with Color Me Calm, a workbook created with anxious adults in mind.

5 Unexpected Ways to Get Centered Without Meditating

Cooking

Few things allow me to de-stress and tune out like spending time in the kitchen. The key is to do something that doesn’t require you to pay much too much attention to the details such as a complex recipe.

Pick a task that allows you to go on culinary cruise control, like chopping loads of fruits and vegetables for smoothies, overnight oatsroasted sweet potatoes, and kale salads. (I do this every Sunday!) Or do something methodical, like rolling your own lemony coconut bliss balls or squeezing a nut milk bag while making your own almond milk. Then once you’ve chopped your way to a more relaxed state, don’t forget to sit down and savor whatever you’ve taken the time to create.

Movement

Lacing up my shoes and heading out for a run does wonders for my mind. Between the rhythm of my breath, the sound of my feet hitting the pavement, and the breeze in my face, I can tune out the world and give my brain a rest.

Running may not have the same effect on you, but I’m sure there’s some kind of movement that allows you to quiet your thoughts. Yoga, walking the dog, swimming, biking, or even having a one-person dance party can all serve as great options. Anything goes, as long as it works for you!

Gardening

I love gardening as a way to reach a more mindful state. There is something elemental about digging in the dirt and using my hands that calms my rapid-fire thoughts. Whether it’s planting flowers, tending to your veggies, weeding, or even mowing your lawn, getting out into your yard is the perfect way to zen out… all while being productive! (Hello strawberry smoothie made with homegrown berries!)

Knitting or Crocheting

There’s a reason grandma enjoyed knitting, and it wasn’t just about making cool afghans. If you’ve ever picked up a needle and yarn, you know this craft’s repetitive nature gives way to relaxation and tranquility. Once you’ve mastered the stitches, it’s pretty easy to reach that addictive, blissed out state (and bonus: you’re actually creating something in the process!).

I’m not the only one who sees knitting as a great alternative to meditation; some knitting companies have even launched mindfulness campaigns aimed at inspiring people to share how knitting makes them feel. I’m actually working on knitting my first piece now, and am loving zoning out with my new needles. (Giveaway alert: see below for a chance to win a beginners kit of your own!)

The next time that you notice you need to take an adult time-out to quiet your mind and put yourself into a more relaxed state, try one (or all!) of these non-traditional forms of “meditation.” You’ll feel less anxious without ever having to sit cross-legged on a pillow chanting “om.”

Because stress reduction is an essential part of the nourishment equation, I’ve teamed up with Wool and The Gang to offer one lucky winner a chance to give knitting a whirl as a fun and new way to reduce stress. All you have to do is share what activity (or activities) you’re planning on trying as a form of non-traditional meditation. Or if you have any suggestions that have worked for you, we’d love to know about those, too! Comment below and you’ll automatically be entered to win.

*We’ll announce the winner here on Sunday night.

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