In our busy, fast-paced lives it is easy to become overwhelmed with work, social and family commitments, especially in the lead up to the holidays. All of this combined with our reliance on technology and social media means we often find it hard to switch off. This is why it is so important to take time out for ourselves. We looked at simple methods to achieve mindfulness and a healthy headspace in your day-to-day life. In the practice of mindfulness, ‘the journey is the destination’ so try incorporating some of these techniques into your daily routine in the lead up to Christmas and see what works for you.
Move your body
Join the gym, try a new class or team sport and even just go for a walk. Moving helps us centre our thoughts and increases the flow of endorphins and oxygen through our body. If you live in the city, being outside in nature for a bushwalk or beach trip is a relaxing way to escape and take a breath. Studies have shown that exercise helps improve focus, promotes restful sleep and has a positive effect on mental health, along with many other benefits.
Listen to relaxation music
When we listen to music, this can act as a distraction from aspects of our lives through the immersive state of ‘flow’, which in turn can provide health benefits. As music is engaging, we are involved in different levels of processing which can produce positive neurological effects in the brain.
We have created a calming mindful playlist below for you to try:
Breathe or try a body scan
Breathing mindfully is a wonderful anchor and can really help you to get in touch with your mind and body. You can also try a body scan meditation, where you bring moment-by-moment awareness into your body. Focus on the breath and moving your thoughts slowly from one part to the next. A body scan can help bring your full attention to notice any observations, vibrations or tenseness and really focus on why you might be feeling these sensations. Body Scanning paired with breathing exercises can help us get in tune with our bodies and bring a heightened sense of awareness, which we often forget to do. This can help with releasing stress, as we can learn to spot our stress signals early and respond to it before it causes us any longer term issues, like high blood pressure, heart disease, depression or anxiety.
We are used to eating on the go or eating lunch at our desks. To eat mindfully, sit at a table with your food (your desk doesn’t count) away from distractions such as your phone, and television etc and really think about and enjoy the process of eating. You may want to try the following:
- Look at the colours, textures and aroma of the food you are eating
- Think about where your food came from
- How hungry did you feel before and after eating
- Try eating with your non dominant hand
- Take small bites and chew well
- Run a timer for 20 minutes and aim to eat your food through this period of time
Switch off from technology
Try and switch off from technology for at least an hour of your day. In this information age, our worlds are built around planning, analysing, striving, creating and working – we are so connected to computers and phones that it is important to switch off and enjoy the moment instead of scrolling through endless newsfeeds.
Do something kind for yourself
It is important to treat yourself kindly and remember to do things purely because you enjoy them. Whether it is a long bath, a quiet 10 minutes out with a herbal tea or a pedicure with a friend, these little things mean you have taken time out from the busyness of life to just be. Taking care of you is just as important as taking care of others.
We hope this guide will help you achieve a healthy headspace for the rest of the year and beyond. Remember, there are many useful tools online to help us achieve mindfulness, including forums to discuss and explore the process of mindfulness (from experienced practitioners to beginners) and guides to achieving a healthy mind. There are also several free apps available which feature guided meditation to talk you through the process such as 1 Giant Mind, Headspace and Smiling Mind.