Mindfulness matters; Kate shares calming techniques

Mindfulness matters; Kate shares calming techniques

Image Credit: Dave Mast

In today’s fast-paced world, everyone can use a moment to treat themselves.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, Kate Shumaker, Ohio State University Holmes County Extension educator, touched base with a group of seventh- and eighth-grade girls from Chestnut Ridge, Mt. Hope and Wise to talk about mindfulness.

The presentation was part of the family and consumer science day at Chestnut Ridge School, and during a time when the girls were busy pouring every ounce of energy into their miniature bedroom and MyPlate contest work, Shumaker said it was a good time to focus their attention on mindfulness.

According to Webster’s Dictionary, mindfulness means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of one’s thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and surrounding environment, seeing themself through a nurturing lens.

Mindfulness also involves acceptance, meaning someone pays attention to thoughts and feelings without judging them, without believing there’s a right or wrong way to think or feel in each moment.

“A lot of times these types of projects can be very stressful because the girls want to do well and put a lot of pressure on themselves,” said Janna Mast, family and consumer science teacher at Chestnut Ridge. “They put their heart and soul into these projects, and it’s good to remind them how to take care of their mind, body and spirit.”

Shumaker said the focus was all about mindfulness, and she went through several experiences that were designed to help the girls understand the value of focusing on the moment, treating themselves to a time of serenity and contemplation, and making sure they took time to care for themselves amid what can be a hectic schedule.

“We all go through stressful activities and stressful times, and all of our lives can become chaotic at any moment, so it’s good to slow down and pamper ourselves to maintain our mind, body and spirit,” Shumaker said.

One of the activities Shumaker presented was a sugar scrub made from simple ingredients. Each of the girls was invited to create their own favorite scrub, each with their desired scent, and they had fun making their own scrub to pamper themselves when they got on edge.

The scrub was made of two ingredients — white sugar and scented liquid soap — and is an easy mix.

Shumaker also talked at length about food and how the human body is designed to slow down when eating to take in the aroma, flavor and satisfaction of the dining experience.

“One of the things we really try to promote through the Cooking with Kate classes we offer is to slow down and enjoy the experience,” Shumaker said. “It’s good to use all our senses when we eat.”

She talked to the students about taking time to experience what foods look like, what kind of aroma does it project or what does it feel like on the tongue.

“It’s about slowing down and focusing on the food itself rather than rushing to eat it quickly,” Shumaker said. “We want people to get back to the joy of eating and not doing it mindlessly when we do a bunch of other things at the same time.”

While Shumaker said it may have been a tad indulgent to eat chocolate at 10 a.m., she had all the girls take a piece of chocolate and slowly eat it to utilize all their senses.

“Having all of their senses engaged while eating is so important,” Shumaker said.

She said people tend to pound down food before their mind can recognize the body is fully sated. That leads to feeling bloated and sick after eating a big meal quickly, which is often the case at times like Thanksgiving.

She said thinking about this during the holidays can save weight gain and help avoid the feeling of having eaten too much food.

Shumaker said focusing on mindfulness helps bring anyone, even children, into focusing on the here and now. Utilizing all the senses helps people push past the chaos of life to center oneself and refocus by simply slowing down.

“It’s a great message for all of us,” Shumaker said.