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2015 has been non-stop with events and amazing opportunities. I've been traveling, teaching, finished one book and will soon to start on my third book! My life is a stack of deadlines and to-do lists.

Some days my head feels like it's going to pop. I love being busy, traveling and teaching. And I am ever so thankful for such an awesome, creative life.

But I have one fatal flaw - when I'm stressed, I like to eat sweets. And not just an innocent cookie - if only! Which has caused all sorts of problems that I fight against daily. I know I'm not alone in this. Oh how comforting a Cadbury egg can be when I am barreling through a crazy day!

I thought I would share a few mindfulness techniques that I've learned over the years to help me combat stress and avoid a binge when I'm stressing. I use my beads and creative process as stress-battling skills!

Practicing mindfulness is just getting really zen and not thinking about anything other than what is in front on you.

  • If a wayward stressful thought tries to make it's way in, acknowledge the thought and refocus on what is in front on you. 
  • Use all your senses and focus on one thing during your mindfulness practice. 
  • Mindfulness is the opposite of multi-tasking and if you are feeling stressed out from too much on your plate, give it try for 20-30 minutes at a time.

Engage the Senses

I may decide to calm down by sorting beads mindfully.

I'm going to look at the beads, touch the beads, notice the noise they make when they clink together. I look carefully at the beads, notice any patterns or imperfections that make a bead interesting. Notice the difference in colors or textures as I sort through them.

Sorting them, I let the world fall away as I focus on the tray or bowl in front of me. The goal isn't to get a lot done during this session, but to enjoy the process.

Working Effectively

There are tasks you do as a jewelry-maker that are repetitive and could lend themselves toward mindfulness.

Maybe it's grabbing a bowl of Czech glass flowers and creating wrapped dangles with fancy ball headpins. Or it might be stringing seed beads onto wire, focus only on the task and let all other thoughts fall aside.

Do these simple tasks with no other distractions, focusing on working quickly and effectively.
One Task

The creative process can be a mindful practice, especially if you are doing it instead of a negative behavior like scarfing down a pan of Nutella brownies. (What?)

  • Create a space without distractions: turn off the TV if it's in the background, put your phone out of reach and turn off the ringer. 
  • Pull out your materials for one project only, gather everything you need. 
  • Listen to calming music while you work. 
  • Don't be critical or judgemental of your process. 
  • If something isn't working, think of it objectively. "How can I improve the balance of this design?" or "What feels off?" instead of thoughts like "This sucks."
  • Set a timer if you need to get back to reality after a certain time. 
  • While you are creating, really take notice of what you are touching, seeing, hearing. 

Be there, don't let your mind wander to stressful thoughts. Again, if one creeps in, acknowledge the thought and let it go. (How? Just say, yep that's reality but right now I'm working on this necklace. Or yep, I'm so angry about that but right now it's just me and these beads.)

Level Up

The next mindfulness idea is to engross your mind in a very challenging project. Focus only on the task at hand working on mastering the new skill. This should be something that needs 100% of your attention.

Stress Buster

If it helps, have a piece of paper next to your work. If you have a thought nagging you, jot a note down about it and tell yourself you will get to it as soon as you are done with this time.

Treat your mindfulness time as sacred, schedule it in and give it a try. Let's those beads be a tool to bring some calm into your day!

So instead of grabbing a Snickers, go grab those beads and de-stress! Give one of these mindfulness exercises a try this week and let me know how it goes.