On Sunday I went to a mindfulness open day at a local therapy house. It was great to have a refresher on how to practice mindfulness and I learnt some new techniques on how to include mindfulness in to my everyday (busy!) life.
Before I talk about mindfulness…
I just want to add that in one of the workshops I got to experience Reiki for the first time. It was simply amazing and I am definitely going to attend a full session soon.
If you have never heard of Reiki before then the description is going to sound a bit hippy and away with the fairies. “Reiki is a form of energy healing therapy, where a universal energy is said to be transferred through the palms of the practitioner to the patient in order to encourage emotional or physical healing”. See, I told you, it sounds bonkers! But it worked, it was so relaxing and I walked away feeling stronger and calmer mentally and that was after just 15 minutes.
If I go for a massage to relax, my mind does not shut off! I’m always thinking things like “I haven’t paid £30 for you to tickle me, get your knuckles in love” or “OUCH OUCH OUCH” or even “OMG this is so nice, I don’t want it to end, is it nearly ending? How long is left? blah blah blah” But with Reiki my mind was able to shut off completely and just enjoy the session for what it was.
Anyway back to mindfulness…
I was first introduced to mindfulness 5 years ago after experiencing postpartum Psychosis after giving birth to my son, then going on to develop depression and anxiety for a short while after. I found it hard to use mindfulness at this time of my life, as I didn’t have focus, motivation, or even any belief that it would ever work. But after a lot of support and encouragement from the amazing mental health team and dribs and drabs of mindfulness here and there I recovered around a year and a half later.
Around 6 months after getting recovery, I was thrown straight back to rock bottom with some devastating and shocking news about a child I childminded for, suddenly passing away overnight, at four years old, due to her intestines growing abnormally and eventually becoming strangulated and leading to sepsis.
Once again after the initial and extremely difficult few weeks following this, I felt I needed to, and was able to, use mindfulness to help me deal with my emotions. This time I kept it up regularly for a while as I knew what a vital tool it was in helping my mental well-being.
However as time went on I felt I needed to use it less and less and daily life took over as it does.
Nowadays I would say I am back to my normal self. However I am still a stress head and have mild mood swings often. But like I say, this is normal for me, as I have been like that since my early teens. From my experience of using mindfulness I have realised that I should make it in to a daily habit to reduce my overall stress and emotions.
Mindfulness helps you focus on the now, rather that the past and future… If like me, you are constant worrier, which leads to you having anxiety pretty much all the time. This then leads to you becoming stressed in minimal stressful situations because your constantly on edge, which finally leads to you feeling fed up and needing a break with your own brain chatter on a weekly basis, then you could really benefit from mindfulness. Using mindfulness really helps me get that much-needed 10 minute brain rest, reset my thoughts and put everything in to perspective.
So how can you be mindful everyday?…
- Chores. Yep that’s right! Choose one normal everyday activity each day and completely focus on that activity. This can be anything from washing the pots, folding the ironing or having a shower. In your head, focus on the temperature of the water, the sound of the pots clattering, the colours and textures of the clothes, the feel of the water in the shower on your back. If any other thoughts come in to your mind that’s OK, just refocus on the activity and take your time.
- A mini mindfulness session. if you don’t have any spare time to do a full mindful session then make sure you allow two minutes a day. This could be before you get out of bed or when you are on the train to work. During the two minutes completely focus on your breathing. Focus on how the breath feels through your nose, how your chest moves up and down, can you hear your breathing? If any other thoughts comes in to you mind, that’s OK, acknowledge them and refocus on your breathing.
- Mindful eating. Eating is one activity we all do, a few times a day so it’s a great way to fit in mindfulness too. We often eat while doing other activities including watching TV, being on our phones, reading a book or doing homework with the kids. This can also lead to over eating and lack of enjoyment from the foods. If we eat mindfully, this can help us recognise when were full but also give us the brain down time we need after a busy day. So next time your eating, eat slowly, taking small bites. Notice the taste, texture, smells and enjoy nothing but your food.
- Mindful walking. This is my favourite but I don’t get time to do it every day. When your next out walking, even if it’s just to the bus stop, try to notice the small things you would just usually walk by. Notice the sounds around you and the colours of everyday natural things. Notice how you feet feel on the floor, is it hard? soft? Notice how the sun or wind feels on your face. I believe this is the easiest way to be mindful as there is so much to focus on. If I was to go for a walk and not be mindful my head would soon get filled with plans, worries and other cluttering thoughts.
- Guided meditation. If you do happen to have a spare 30 minutes (Lucky you!) then there are lots of great guided mindful meditations out there on YouTube, Spotify and Amazon Echo. These are brilliant if you don’t know how or where to start or need more focus when trying mindfulness.
I hope my tips and ideas can help you fit mindfulness in to your everyday routines. Let me know in the comments below if you practice mindfulness and if it helps you in any way or if its something you want to start.