If you’re looking to get down to the core of what wellbeing is really about, then look no further! Read on for a selection of tips and tricks that will help you to think and feel your best this year…
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness has been recommended by the Department of Health and other healthcare professionals as a therapeutic practise that can help people to achieve an improved state of wellbeing. The idea is that we become more aware of our behaviours, thoughts, attitudes and actions in order to gain a better grasp on our lifestyles. It is a practise that involves being ‘mindful’ or aware of the present moment, and being able to remain focussed and in control of our feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations. The practise has been shown to significantly reduce stress and incite feelings of calmness and peace when practised on a regular basis.
Here’s a few ways that you can begin to practise mindful behaviour in different ways throughout your day…
Mindful Eating – This is a great way to stay healthy in 2016 and remain in control of your eating habits. A mindful exercise is to try and adopt a ‘childlike’ curiosity of the food that you are eating as though each bite is something new and amazing. Start by analysing and viewing the food in front of you and imagining its journey from the fork to your mouth, and all the way down your digestive system. Start to savour each mouthful as though it is your last, chewing slowly to assess the wonderful flavours that are released. Then, when you feel ready, swallow each bite, paying careful attention to the sensation of digestion.Mindful eating is a great way to remain in control of portion sizes and being able to assess when you are full. The practise is also a great way to gain awareness of what we are eating as well as why we are eating.
Mindful Moving – Our movements have sped up three-fold over the past decade as we feel increasingly stretched for time during our daily lives. Many of us tend to race around in a morning in order to get dressed, grab breakfast and dash out of the door to work. This can send our cortisol (i.e. our stress hormone) levels through the roof, which, over time, can supress immunity and cause a surge in blood sugar levels. Practising mindful moving is incredibly beneficial for our stress levels as we try to slow down our actions and not do too many things at once. Start by setting your alarm to wake up 20 minutes earlier in the morning. Give yourself that time you deserve to feel at ease and experience the pleasure in daily activities by bringing your attention to your speed and behaviour. Slow down and start to feel human again – we are not robots, after all!
Mindful Talking – This is a fantastic way to achieve more control and peace in your life, simply by bringing your awareness to your speech. Are you a notorious chatterbox? Do you often find yourself reeling off a dozen sentences every 30 seconds? If so, see if you can try to slow your speech rate down throughout the day. When you talk fast, you trick your body into thinking it is under a state of stress. Being mindful of how we talk helps us to stay in control of what we are saying as well as encouraging feelings of ease.
Mindful Relationships – Relationships are crucial in health management and it is super important to surround yourself with the right people in order for you to remain at peace. When interacting with people both in our personal and professional lives, it is important to always stay mindful of our behaviours and attitudes towards individuals. Try to be kind and treat people the way you wish to be treated, without letting the influence of other behaviours stand in your way. Staying in control and maintaining healthy relationships is a great way to increase total wellbeing!
Mindful Thinking – Many of us can gravitate towards negative thoughts, particularly those that are self-critical and self-damaging. These thoughts are self destructive and will only hinder one person – yourself! Whenever you notice a negative comment pop into your head, bring yourself back to the present moment and become aware of this behaviour. Try to switch your thinking to constructive and positive thoughts, such as ‘what is your proudest achievement?’ or ‘what is your favourite personal feature?’ The more you acknowledge the good in yourself, the less you will take note of the bad.
These tips are just a basis for you to go off and can be practised throughout the day. You may feel silly when doing these practises, but again, being mindful of our thoughts is all part of the practise and we need to recognise these thoughts as random, and return our awareness to the present task at hand, without judgement or negativity.
Be mindful. Be happy. Live well!
Words by Lauren Windas