Updated: Apr 21
Lockdown may be a difficult time for our mental health - missing our normal life, not seeing our friends and family, not enjoying our hobbies... But one positive thing many can get from this life changing experience is a slow down of pace. The perfect time to be more mindful ....
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing on the present moment - raising awareness of what you can see, smell, hear, feel, our feelings, thoughts and emotions.
Day to day we go through life with no thought to many of these senses and emotions. How often do you ;-
- walk the dog, with your head down on your mobile phone ?
- drive home from work in auto pilot and have no recollection of it ?
- run around rushing all day not really thinking about anything but the task
All of which with no thought to your surroundings and feelings. It is easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much along the way.
Being mindful is the opposite to these situations, its about noticing your surroundings connect with your senses and your emotions and creating a much more aware and calm state.
Mindfulness is said to originate from Buddhism and have been around for thousands of years. However, in modern day it is becoming more popular as a therapy to help with depression, anxiety and general wellbeing - paying more attention to the world around you can de stress and improve mental well being.
When we become more aware of things around us we begin to appreciate things more rather than taking them for granted. We feel gratitude for the small things, and think less about more superficial things in life.
Many see mindfulness as some form of meditation and only for the hippies amongst us. However, we don't have to sit crossed legs meditating to get a state of mindfulness, the first step to being more mindful is taking note of our thoughts, feelings, sensations and surroundings and interrupting our auto pilot mode.
Being more mindful can play an Important part of changing our lifestyle habits
A great way to experience and experiment with mindfulness is going for a walk.
Take a 10-15 minute walk, it doesn't matter where this walk is but its best to be alone. Try to be fully aware of your surroundings and feelings, no music or phone
What is around you?
What are the colours of the landscape?
What can you smell?
How does the air feel on your face?
What can you hear?
What is going on around you?
How do you fit in your environment?
Listen to your footprints?
Listen to you breathing?
Feel you muscles contract with movement and breathing
What emotions are you feeling?
Being mindful can also have a positive impact on other aspects of lifestyle.
Being more mindful during activity / exercise
Give the activity all of your attention - If you are going to a set session / class turn up on time, leave your phone in the locker or at home so you are not distracted. concentrate on the movements you are making, the muscle contractions, your breathing, the emotions and feelings you are feeling. You will find you will get more from your exercise / activity.
Being more mindful with your sleeping routine
Think about your sleep activity - Have a routine, maybe stretch, don’t go on your phone, clear your mind, concentrate on your breathing and your muscular movements with your breathing. You will find that you will probably have better sleep
Being more mindful with eating
Mindful Eating in simple terms is paying more attention to what you consume, the senses and feelings it creates.
With our ever increasing busy lives today, quite often eating is rushed, on the go and quick and convenient. We eat mindlessly, putting food into our mouths without really tasting it and acknowledging how it makes you feel.
Thinks to be mindful of:
Why you are eating it - triggers, how healthy it is, the smell or look of it, how the taste makes you feel, the food origins and processes, how full / satisfied you are as you eat and after, how you feel after
It is important to give thought to how we feel, the things we use, the things we eat, our surroundings, our needs to create more awareness, gratitude, a feeling of self worth.