You have probably heard the word ‘mindfulness’ but are not quite sure what it means or how you can practice it. This article will tell you everything there is to know about the art of mindfulness, as well as outlining the mindfulness exercises you can try to help you get started.
Mindfulness is a state of being fully present in the moment, focusing all your attention on your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.
The NHS has included practicing mindfulness in their ‘5 steps to wellbeing’ due to its positive benefits on our mental health. By focusing on the present and thinking positively we can begin to change our mindset and look at things in a new light.
For a beginner who might not know how to practice mindfulness, mindfulness exercises can be a great place to start. Doing enjoyable hobbies like arts and crafts or going for a walk, can help you clear your mind by requiring you to focus all your attention on the task at hand – perfect for those who may struggle with meditation.
We’ll be taking you through how to be more mindful using some simple mindfulness exercises…
You don’t have to be Picasso to have a go at mindfulness painting. Simply allowing yourself to be free and creative can help improve your mood, no matter if a masterpiece comes out or a few paint splatters.
Dedicating the time to solely focus on one creative activity can allow your mind to let go of other negative thoughts and just relax in a safe environment. Once your painting is complete you will feel a sense of pride that will help put you in a positive mindset.
Ever found yourself doodling? You may have been practicing mindful drawing and you didn’t even realise!
The key to mindfulness is letting go of any judgment. By doodling and creating shapes you are going with the flow and freely expressing yourself without criticising what the end picture should look like because you haven’t invented it yet.
Although, if you do hit a creative block there are some common mindful drawings that people do to de-stress. You can draw a mandala-like shape which is similar to a doodle in that it’s made of swirls and dots that any beginner artist can do. Or some people like to practice ‘body scan’ mindfulness where you focus on one part of the body and think about how it looks and feels before sketching it.
We have all seen those mindfulness colouring books that come in all kinds of shapes, themes and sizes. But how do they help?
A study handed out questionnaires to two sets of participants. One group spent 20 minutes reading and the other colouring. The results found that colouring significantly reduced levels of anxiety.
If you want to build up your artistic skill before you go onto drawing and painting, then colouring can be a great starting point.
Taking some time to make a simple mindfulness jar can have short and long term benefits on your mental health.
Making the jar is an easy, relaxing mindfulness activity that can help calm you down in the moment but also help with mindfulness in the future. All you need is a clear jar, water, soap and glitter.
Glitter mindfulness jars can help you self-regulate your emotions by using different colours to represent different things such as red glitter for thoughts and blue for feelings. Once finished, you can use your jar again and again to help with other mindfulness exercises like breathing, in which you can take deep breaths along with swirling the jar around, which helped it to get its other name of ‘calming jar’. This turns a playful mindfulness activity into a form of mindfulness meditation – great for calming kids down.
If you don’t have any art supplies lying around then you can simply go for a walk. Getting outside and being amongst nature can be a great way of decluttering your thoughts.
So how is it different from regular walking? Mindful walking is a type of mindful movement. You are consciously making yourself aware of your own physical movements. Most of us are so used to our everyday routine that we do the same old walks and commutes on auto pilot, not even releasing how we got to the office or back home.
Mindful walking forces us to pay attention to our surroundings, breath, steps, senses, body, all the things we usually ignore. It’s a good time to use those 10 minute walks you may do everyday to check in on yourself!
Last but not least is mindfulness meditation. Once you’ve got to grips with some of the mindfulness exercises above, you can work your way up to meditating. The reason this exercise is considered a little more difficult is because it requires you to completely clear your mind, which some find difficult to do, hence a mindfulness exercise is a great distraction.
However, beginners can still give mindfulness meditation a go! Even meditating for just 5 minutes a day can have a positive effect on your mental health by helping you to calm down, slow your breathing and check in on yourself. All you have to do is find a quiet place, preferably be sitting down, close your eyes, take a deep breath and try to really clear your mind of intrusive thoughts and instead focus only on the present moment. Then when you’re ready, slowly open your eyes and continue with your day all relaxed and refreshed.
There we have it! 6 mindfulness activities to help you get started on your mindfulness journey. No matter where you are, or what you’re doing, taking the time to really focus on the present moment can remind you to check in on yourself and practice a little self-care, which is something we often forget to do. Why not treat yourself to a Nakd fruit and nut bar or two like our yummy Blueberry Muffin vegan bar?!