With targets to hit at work, the never-ending twenty-something quest to own a house and the big 3-0 on the horizon, there’s supposedly a lot to worry about in my world. But is it all really worth the stress, anxiety and lows?
Recently, I’ve got into a little something called Mindfulness and I can tell you now, it has changed my life. Instead of having a mini breakdown over an Excel spreadsheet, crying over the fact that there’s just not enough days in the week and feeling like ‘adulting’ is a bit of a big step to take, I practice a few of these tips below and come out smiling the other side on a natural high.
So, if you’re wondering what this miracle cure is, here’s a little guide to help you out on those days when you feel like you need a cheeky cuddle and a big, fat Dairy Milk:
Mindfulness is a simple way of making sure that we reach our human potential with both a combination of medical science and philosophical wisdom. It’s practiced to achieve focus, de-stress and slow ourselves down in a world with a steadily increasing pace, whether that be offline or online.
Seven times a minute. This is how many times a deeply relaxed person breathes. The slower you breathe, the more relaxed you will become. I’ve always found this most helpful just before a presentation or interview, equally at times when I need to focus to get something done, maybe like coding a little on the blog. All you need do is breathe in for 6 seconds, hold for 2, then breathe out for another 6.
Not only is walking one of the best forms of exercise to take, it’s also a proven stress reliever and mood booster. Walking can be made even more effective by simply taking in a few simple aspects around you – colours, sounds and sights. If your mind strays back to money concerns or deadlines, simply try and focus your mind on your surroundings again.
A visit to an art gallery or a museum needn’t be a special treat, especially as so many of them are free. Visit as many times as you like, find pieces that capture you and look at them for anything from 5 to 10 minutes and nothing else. Focus on it. When you leave, your mind will feel clearer for having only focused on that one thing.
Identify something that you wear – a ring, a scarf or a watch – whenever your day gets a little stressful, stare at that one piece. Let it remind you to focus on one thing at a time and tell yourself to breathe through the situation.
No matter what it is that surrounds you, people talking, the radio on or the chaotic noises of a local cafe, take time to stop and notice them. Focus your thinking on these individual sounds for up to 2 minutes, take in as much of them as possible. Don’t attach thought to them or begin to ask questions, just listen.
Whenever you’re standing in a queue, waiting for the kettle to boil or even waiting for public transport, use this valuable time to de-stress. Breathe, don’t worry about what may or may not happen at your future destination and practice being still, maybe even listen to a chilled playlist.
When you’ve sat at your desk all day, remember to keep your neck and shoulder muscles loose. Unclench your neck, release your neck and pay attention as your head starts to feel a little lighter. Not only will this exercise make your head feel more relaxed, leading to less migraines, it’ll also make your brain function increase.
Now, it doesn’t matter if you can sing for this one. All you need do is take 6 deep breaths and sing a little range of notes – doh re mi fa so la ti doh. Sing once getting higher, then sing once getting lower. Not only will it give you a giggle, it’ll also distract from any imminent anxiety.>/p>
Weekends are often the best time to practice mindfulness, not only do we have more time but we also have availability to see those closest to us. Whenever you can, try to meet up with these people who inspire you and enjoy a healthy brunch outdoors in the fresh air. Instead of waking up to e-mails and notifications, you’ll focus on human interaction and have a real opportunity to focus on the simplicity of the food you’re eating.
Have you ever practiced Mindfulness before? Did it benefit you at all?