Practice awareness with your senses

Article written by Mary Metten, Health and Well-being Extension Educator. 
Originally published in the Kenosha News.

I am the type of person who goes through my weeks and months with not just one, but two calendars.

Plotting out my work week in the 15-minute increments provided by Outlook and additionally keeping a physical calendar up to date is my norm. Seeing what is ahead helps me; I can take easy toll on the week to come and also know I need to get my Aunt Char’s birthday card in the mail.

Time stress

Although this type of planning is helpful to me, I also know lots of people that feel very differently about time. For many, concentrating too much on time ends up a source of additional stress. Whether it is a lack of time for everything that needs to get done or feeling as if you have little to no control over your time, these are common stressors.

Time stress can oftentimes be a dance of morning routines planned to the minute, workdays with general schedules to follow, and evenings filled with getting to the next commitment and back home, before doing it all again. And while the adjustment of different routines has continued to evolve throughout 2020, many people have now found themselves having to construct their time differently yet again.

Take advantage of daily tasks

Whether you are less busy now or feel more pressure with added responsibilities, practicing more awareness of what you are doing while you are doing something does not take any extra time. As you complete daily tasks, practice bringing more awareness to them.

Pay attention to the warmth of the water and how it feels as you wash dishes after dinner. Choose to take in the scent of the dish soap that perhaps you picked after flipping open the cap of four options when you purchased the bottle.

Now that the weather has warmed, when you are outside for a walk or to sit, also listen to birds in the trees, feel the breeze in the air, and notice your breath in those moments. Find opportunities to practice awareness during typical activities of your day, using your senses to guide you.

Upcoming learning opportunity

Learning about concepts like this and practicing new skills can help with general stress management and coping strategies. UW-Madison Division of Extension’s Taking Care of You program teaches concepts related to stress management and concrete techniques to introduce to your daily life.

Highlights of Taking Care of You will be offered by Extension Kenosha County and Extension Racine County virtually beginning in July. The program will be held at 1 p.m. every Monday and Wednesday July 20 through Aug. 12. The 45-minute sessions will cover information and topics related to the dimensions of health (mental/emotional, physical, social, and spirit), stress, mindfulness, and reframing/recasting throughout the eight sessions.

The Zoom-based program is available to adults in the area at no cost. To register for this Highlights of Taking Care of You series, please visit Contact Mary Metten at with any questions.

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