3 Mindfulness Practices to Transform Your Mental Health

January 11, 2021




Mindfulness is truly magic.


I think we can all agree that this year has been a challenge for us all at some point or another. We have prioritised washing our hands and wearing masks to protect our physical health, but what have we done to nurture our mental health?

We may be battling with a global pandemic but we also have an ever growing epidemic of a generation obsessed with overworking, over-stimulation and too much time spent staring at technology.


It isn’t realistic or helpful to just say “take care of your mental well-being” and move on. Mindfulness is practise that takes time and discipline.


The buzzword ‘mindfulness’ is often thrown around as something we should all practise - but what does it actually mean?


Mindfulness

/ˈmʌɪn(d)f(ʊ)lnəs/ noun

  1. The quality or state of being conscious of something.

  2. A mental state achieved by focusing ones awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Mindfulness is essentially a state of consciousness within the present moment, and showing awareness/gratitude to the here and now.

That is far easier said than done and true mindfulness will take time and energy to achieve! However, here are 3 of my favourite ways to start!

Journalling


With the countless distractions that easily distance us from living in the present moment, it is important to make the practice of mindfulness as simple as possible. A life changing practice that anyone can incorporate into their everyday life is journalling. People have kept diaries for generation! It is accessible to anyone and everyone and there is no wrong way to do it!

With more and more research being published around journalling, the proof that it has the ability to ease symptoms of depression, reduce stress, and enhance your sense of self and wellbeing, is only getting stronger.


Journalling is a form of expressive writing, and it has been proven to reduce symptoms of depression, particularly in women that have experienced violence or trauma whether with their intimate partners, or with family and friends. (Koopman, Ismailji, Holmes, Classen, Palesh, & Wales, 2005). It has also been shown to help students in managing their stress and anxiety, therefore improving their engagement and enhance meaning found in the classroom (Flinchbaugh, Moore, Chang, & May, 2012).


Journalling works as a strong way of releasing any negative thoughts or pent up emotions that can feed into depression, therefore allowing your brain to maintain a more positive mindset.


You can use prompts, affirmations or just ‘brain dump’ onto a page and let your pen lead the way. Don’t think, just write.


One thing that I find extremely helpful to bring me back to the present moment is write down 10 things that I am grateful for - whether that’s my health, fresh air, a good breakfast or the first snow fall.


I find it a great way to pause in the morning. I stop and sit with a cup of coffee for 5-10 minutes. I write things that make me happy, any concerns I have and just get everything out of my head and on to the page. When things are in front of you it’s far less overwhelming and much easier to process.


  1. Stay Tech Free for the morning + evening!


We can’t deny it - we’re all somewhat addicted to our phones! They control us. We see a notification and we jump to answer it. They can hold our focus for hours before we realise! My top tip is to reduce your screen time by switching it off entirely!

There is nothing worse than waking up to a message or an email and it ruining your day before it’s even begun. Why don’t you try the first hour of your day phone free and decide how you feel before a notification can dictate your mood!

I also have strict boundaries and cut off points for the evening. I switch off at 9/10pm and won’t touch my phone again in the morning until I have to.


Breathe


This sounds obvious, but deep-breaths in a moment of stress will help you feel calmer and gain clarity in a situation. We are all under so much pressure to be the best we can be, succeed in our careers, be in relationships, uphold a social life etc the list is endless! It is impossible to juggle everything without the occasional wobble. So here is my little rule of 3 for a moment of panic:


First things first, remind yourself that your feelings and your stresses are so valid.


Secondly, focus on the solutions not the problem. Ask yourself ‘what do I need to feel at peace in this moment?’


Thirdly, place your hand on your heart and gently rub it. Feel the heat, warmth and love from your hand on your chest and focus on your breathing. Aim to breathe in for 6 and out for 6. Slow down your heart-rate. Regain control and then make decisions from a place of stillness rather than chaos.




I know these are only little things but give one a go and see if dipping your toe into the mindfulness world helps you at all! Sending so much love to the Daily Bailey community!


@stephelswood





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