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Switch off the Auto-Pilot!
Simple Strategies for Starting Your Day in a Mindful Way

by Chesa Corsiatto Ever Active Schools | February 2 2017

There are researchers, authors, celebrities and many others trumpeting the benefits of practicing mindfulness. But let’s be real, everyone’s busy. How do we have time to fit this in too? Thankfully, mindfulness is not limited to sitting in silence for long periods of time. You don’t even have to do anything extra. Mindfulness can be incorporated into your day, as it already exists. Here are two easy ways for you to start off your day in a mindful way.

  1. Transition time. It’s common to rush through the morning, focused completely on the things that you need to do when you get to school and miss everything you are actually doing, like enjoying a warm cup of freshly brewed coffee or having breakfast with your children. Thinking about work from the moment you wake to the moment you go to bed makes for a very long workday! On the flip side, things that are happening in your personal life may affect how you interact with your class and colleagues when you get to school. It can be helpful to design a practice of transitioning from home to work and back again. While it’s easier said than done, separating your work life from your personal life can help you be more present in what you are doing. It may be as simple as three deep breaths before you get out of your car, taking a moment to intentionally set aside the residual thoughts, worries or excitements that cannot be immediately addressed and focus on what you are doing now. Find a transition that works for you.
  1. Give greetings. In my opinion, this is one of the best and simplest opportunities to apply mindfulness to the school day. It’s common practice to rush through taking attendance in the classroom and only look up when a student is not present. In a very subtle way, this can imply to students that being absent is more important than being present. Looking up and making eye contact as you call a students’ name demonstrates that their presence is noticed and appreciated. Additionally, you get an opportunity to check in with each of them and get a read on their current state of being. Knowing this can help you make decisions about the day with your classes and respond in meaningful ways rather than just moving through your day on autopilot. If your class appears tired you can get them up and moving before beginning the first lesson or if the class appears antsy and distracted, you could do a breathing exercise to help cultivate their attention.

    Even if your role does not require you to take attendance, you can apply this same principle to your morning. By taking the time to greet colleagues—and students—with eye contact and a “hello” or “good morning,” you demonstrate their presence is important. Also, taking a moment to ask, “how are you?” and really listening to their answer can also be impactful. This small act can substantially strengthen relationships, which in turn, makes your workplace a more welcoming, caring and connected space!

There are many ways to be mindful with students and staff but it’s a practice that strengthens with time and will never be perfect. There are going to be times when you are distracted or times when you bring a mood to work with you. This isn’t a bad thing but it is useful to be aware of it and understand how it affects your day, interactions with others or feelings about yourself. Give these tips a try and comment below on how it felt for you.

Chesa Corsiatto

Chesa has an innate ability to fold (literally) in half, making this Kinesiology grad a superhuman. That said, this super ability doesn’t save her from turkeys, which make her a little anxious—particularly around Thanksgiving. Good thing she’s fit and nimble and takes her job as a school health facilitator to heart, supporting Alberta schools along their Comprehensive School Health journeys at Ever Active Schools. With a nickname like 'Chester,' who wouldn’t flock to her side!