This week (15 to 21 May) is Mental Health Awareness Week - and with this in mind, we thought we’d share a few simple mindfulness techniques to hopefully help you ease your day and get you feeling positive as you go about your regular routine.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is, in its most basic form, all about paying attention to the present moment - being aware of our thoughts, feelings and emotions so that we can manage them better rather than being overwhelmed by them.
How can mindfulness help mental health?
Being mindful helps to reduce stress, encouraging you to stay calm and to treat yourself and others with more kindness. It assists in keeping you in the “now” rather than dwelling about past events you can’t change or worrying about future issues.
Simple mindfulness tips you can try every day:
Taking time to think about things you normally do without any thought - like breathing, or walking, can really help you get into the moment. Take a deep breath in for 4 counts, and then breath out for 8 counts. Doing this just 4 or 5 times wherever you are (at work, at home or even out and about) will add to your sense of calm.
…and walk mindfully
Just like breathing, walking is something we tend to do automatically. Strolling mindfully means acknowledging each step as you do it, and maybe taking it a little slower than usual too.
Get back to nature
Being in nature can be a wonderful way to be mindful. Take a walk in a local nature area or park and be aware of the beauty of the wild world around you. Take a moment to listen out for the birds, watch a squirrel as it runs and plays, or spend time really observing a beautiful tree or plant: the shape of the leaves or petals, the colours and the smell.
Being amongst wildlife is a great reminder that we are part of something bigger, and helps us to treasure our beautiful planet.
If you can, carve out a little time (5 or 10 minutes will do) each day to keep a journal of your thoughts, feelings or anything you’re grateful for on a particular day. Note too, if you’re not a fan of writing things down, you can draw in your journal too - anything that represents your day, or mood.
Perhaps one of the best techniques to get you into a mindful spirit, yoga helps you to focus on bodily sensations as well as to concentrate and quieten the mind. You don’t need to do lots of taxing poses - just a few simple stretches will work too. Take a look at our blog on mindful yoga poses to get you started.