If you feel like your mental health is starting to suffer, finding time for a self-care routine can help reduce stress and give you much-needed time to recharge. Here’s five mindfulness exercises you can start today which will take a minute or under – we promise!
Firstly, what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the act of training yourself to be in the present moment and becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings. The goal isn’t to stop unpleasant feelings or worrying thoughts, it's to be aware of them and non-judgemental, which in turn releases the hold they have on us.
The raisin exercise
Although coined the raisin exercise, any food will work for this exercise. The idea is to encourage present-moment awareness of your senses – taste, touch and smell. Whether it’s a piece of chocolate or slice of apple – purposefully slow down, savour every bite and pay attention to how your body feels.
This mindful practice involves checking in with your body to see how it feels, paying attention to parts of the body in a gradual sequence. Ensure you’re sitting in a comfortable position, with your eyes closed and in a space you won’t be disturbed. Notice if you feel any sensations without trying to change it, like tingling, tension or heat.
Box breathing method
This is a simple breathing technique that you can do anywhere to clear the mind and relax the body. To do this, close your eyes and breath in through your nose counting to four slowly, then slowly exhale for four and repeat the process.
The STOP technique
Simply put, this is a four-step mental checklist that allows you to take a break and determine the best course of action to take in the moment – a good technique in times of stress. Here’s how:
S = Stop what you’re doing
T = Take a few deep breaths to focus yourself
O = Observe your emotions, mind and body
P = Proceed with what you were doing but making a conscious effort to include what you just learned
Feeling grateful every day can be a powerful thing. Sit alone for one minute without distractions and either write down or say in your mind, five things you are grateful for. Whether it’s love and support you’re receiving, having access to clean water or having a warm and safe home to return to at the end of the day –express gratitude every day.
For more tips on practicing mindfulness, visit mind.org.uk.