Mindfulness is one of those things that everyone has heard about but doesn’t really understand. Like, how can sitting still and thinking improve my life? Isn’t that just a waste of time? Does it really improve your mental health? Below are ways to practice the art of mindfulness, why you should do it and the benefits of being mindful.
1. Get outside, go to a beautiful or calming place and simply think. I actually did this last night; I walked down to the beach and just sat there for an hour, listening to the noise of the water against the stony shore and watching the sun set.
2. Use a notebook or journal to map out your mindfulness. There are so many books and journals available that you are free to use however you like and have pages for self-reflection, happy memories and things in your life that you personally want to work on or improve that are great for mindfulness.
3. Talk to someone else. This is great for actually speaking out about how you want to change and improve your life, taking action and becoming a more mindful person. It might also be ideal for anyone who can’t stand the thought of sitting alone and thinking, so grab a friend and have a chat!
4. Go to church and pray. No, this isn’t me persuading you to be devout and go to church every day, but I sometimes love the quiet and peaceful atmosphere you get in the church, and often church communities are really lovely. You can Google a local church to find out opening times or service times if you’d rather join in for a sermon, but this is probably the best way to become mindful as you can focus on religion and faith rather than anything going on outside the church.
5. Remind yourself of the beautiful things in life. Think about everything you like, things that bring you and your family joy, what you do at the weekend, your favourite memories, what you’re grateful for and what you love about life in general.
6. Do something you haven’t done in a while. It doesn’t have to be something like yoga that has connotations of mindfulness; you could pick up a musical instrument such as the piano again and take the time you would to do something such as social media to focus on learning and mastering a new skill.
7. Draw, paint or sketch. This gives you time to relax and maybe think about things in your life as well, plus being a great distraction from any work-related stress or issues. This allows you to focus your attention on a positive thing and be productive whilst relaxing in a different way.
8. Simply listen to music and think. This is perfect for those who have long days and want to simply wind down at the end of the day, all the while listening to your favourite music.
So…why is being mindful also good for your mental health? It’s good because it gives you time to think, reflect and just be without any distractions. Maintaining good mental health is done through reducing stress, being happy and comfortable with yourself and content in who you are, and having time for you to relax; there are of course dozens of other ways to stay happy, but these are the main aims when it comes to mindfulness. Taking an hour out every once in a while is very beneficial as it relieves stress, gives you time by yourself to do what you wish, gives your brain a break from social media and potential negative energy, and allows you to spend some time in fresh air. All of those things are also great for your physical wellbeing and how you look after your body, so mindfulness should be something that is practised more often due to its health benefits and relaxing feel.
I have been trying to improve my mindfulness skills through two journals, both of which focus on happiness and banishing any anxious thoughts; as anxiety is a big problem for me, the journals have helped to slightly distance such thoughts and try and concentrate on the beautiful things in life, leaving less time to worry. I’ve found time after school, in the evening, five minutes in the morning and even a few half-hour slots throughout the day to celebrate things such as nature, to think about all the potential positivity and happiness in my life and to focus on the people in my life who fully enhance in and create a positive and loving space; the thing that my journals have taught me most is to never forget or stop celebrating how lucky you are to still have family. There are also simplistic ways in which you can practice mindfulness, such as the methods listed above, that are all designed to make you really think about your life, but also others that may not require such long periods of time. Here are a few that you can try if you’re tight for time:
- Take five minutes in the evening or when you wake up to write a short list of things you are thankful for.
- Draw a happy doodle or sketch something every day and then collect these sketches from a month or a year and title them.
- Take fifteen minutes to phone a relative or old friend you haven’t seen in a while to remind them how much you love or miss them.
- Read for a short amount of time in the evening.
- Look back at old photos from a family holiday, meet up or wedding.
- Go out for a walk and make the most of the weather.
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