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Simple Ways to Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness doesn’t have to take much time or preparation or require any fancy kit, with these top tips from our friends at The Positive Planner it can be incorporated into everyday activities.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is simply trying to bring your full awareness to the now and whatever activities you are engaged in. It is the ability to slow your thoughts down and focus on the present moment. Like anything, the more you practice, the better you become at it.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness can help to relieve stress and calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve sleep and bring a greater sense of satisfaction into your day as you become more aware of the world around you. So let’s dive into some of our favourite ways to practice mindfulness.
Ways to be mindful
Go for a mindful walk
If we want to switch off and improve mindfulness, a walk can hit the spot. The act of walking in itself is a simple mindfulness activity, but if you wanted to try and practice extra mindfulness on your walk, you could try and focus on the rhythm of your breath and see how it starts to match the rhythm of your strides. Notice the colours around you and listen to the noises you can hear from both near and far. Notice how the air feels on your skin, is it warm or cold? Is there a chill or dampness in the air? As you walk, notice how the ground sounds and feels beneath your feet. These simple ways of bringing added awareness to your walk will help you enter a state of mindful flow, where you are fully engaged in your activity.
Remember your senses
This is an excellent exercise for moments where you feel overwhelmed and will help you to become grounded and present in the moment. By bringing awareness to all 5 of your senses, you should start to notice your thoughts slowing and your body relaxing. Simply start by taking a few slow, deep breaths. When you feel yourself calming down, begin to look around you and find:
5 things you can see
4 things you can touch
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
You can repeat this exercise a few times, but if you find it’s not working, don’t feel you’re doing something wrong. It might not be what you need right now. You could always try some simple breathing exercises.
We couldn’t write about mindfulness without including our favourite mindfulness practice, journaling. Journaling is an opportunity to explore our thoughts, feelings and emotions, but it is also a great tool to help you enter a flow state. Understandably, many people shy away from journaling, thinking they just don't know how to do it, but here’s the secret: you don’t need to be a writer to write a journal! If you are finding it tough to know where to start with journaling, here are a couple of our favourite journaling exercises to help you get started.
3 good things
Get into the habit of writing a list each day of three things that went well, three things you enjoyed and three things you are grateful for.
My perfect day
Set a timer for 10 minutes and write your version of your perfect day. Try to go into as much detail as possible, and imagine how the day would make you feel. Do not focus on your handwriting, spelling or grammar; just let the pen flow and get the words out.
Soothing spiral breathing
If you notice your thoughts racing and feel unable to be in the present moment, this mindfulness practice could help you. It is a simple breathing exercise that can be done anywhere, and no one will know you’re doing it! It uses nasal breathing and can help calm you when you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed, overstimulated or unable to concentrate.
All you have to do is draw a spiral. Breathe through your nose slowly for a count of 4 while drawing one spiral, and then breathe out slowly for 6 while drawing another. It’s that simple! You can do spiral breathing on paper or trace the pattern on your palm. Keep going until you start to feel grounded again.
The Positive Planner is an independent, UK company that designs stationery to help people prioritise their mental wellbeing.
Written by Finn, Co-Founder of The Positive Planner