I’ve always been into ‘mindfulness’ as a concept – even though I had never really done anything to put this into practice. However, I recently have been trying to actively reduce my stress levels and improve my quality of sleep. If that’s something you’d like to look into as well, here are a few things you could try.
Usually, the first thing that comes to mind when I mention Yoga is a series of perfectly executed poses that require a lot of flexibility whilst opening all your chakras. Truth is, you don’t have to be flexible or spiritual to try Yoga – you don’t even have to register to a class! If you’re looking to get started, there are plenty of videos on Youtube that are adapted to complete novices. I quite like Yoga With Adriene as she has a simple approach to Yoga and has a few videos for beginners. After a few weeks, you can also try joining a class to see how it feels!
Turn off your screens
Between phones, laptops and tablets, our lives are pretty much surrounded by screens. Most of us work all day on computers then go home to watch TV then browse social media on our phones before going to bed. Sounds like you? Having too much screen time can really affect sleep – which can lead to increased stress and is generally not great for our health. Try reducing your screen time outside of work hours (even better if you can take quick breaks from the screen during the day!): avoid starting your day on your phone and set up a cut off time for all devices at least one hour before going to bed. Since trying this out, I can really notice the difference and feel it’s a lot easier to fall asleep when I haven’t spent so much time on my phone in the evening.
I feel that most of us don’t have an accurate vision of what meditation is. Before trying it out, I just imagined something like a Buddhist Monk clearing his mind of all thoughts to achieve absolute peace. After some research and trying the app Headspace, I realised this wasn’t at all what I thought. Meditation is a great way to get some quiet time during your day, wind down, learn to reduce your stress and even get better sleep. The app makes it really easy, so even if you have no idea what you’re doing, it’s accessible to all.
Find a physical activity you love
Exercise is one of the best remedies against stress – so next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, instead of scoffing a pack of crisps in front of your favourite Netflix show (although there is nothing wrong with that!), try going for a run, a cardio class, or any sport you enjoy practising. After exercise, our ‘happy’ hormone is released, endorphins, giving us that amazing feeling after a workout. If running on a treadmill isn’t your thing, just find something you love so you’re always looking forward to it! My favourites include dancing and kickboxing.
If most people think about Yoga when it comes to relaxing and practising mindfulness, Tai Chi is rarely on the list. I find it a great activity for people who are constantly busy and need to slow down as all movements are made slowly and with extreme mindfulness about how it is executed. You’re likely to find a class in your area so I would recommend giving it a try to see if that’s something that would suit you. I have tried it a few times and found that focusing on slowing down, relaxing and really paying attention to the movements was a very relaxing experience.
Learn something new
Whether that’s a new hobby or a new skill, learning something new through activities or courses is great for mental health and is an important part of mindfulness. I tried a ceramics class a while back and thoroughly enjoyed the experience of learning new things, meeting new people with similar interests and spending a couple of hours focusing on nothing else but the present moment in the class. You could join a crafts class or set to learn something by yourself like a new language! With the abundance of resources online, you can easily get started on your own.
I hope you found these tips useful and that they will help you on your journey to greater mindfulness. Do let me know if you try any of these of if you have any other tips!