Mindfulness (for people too busy* for meditation)
*read: impatient There are a lot of positive vibes floating around the internet at the moment and I am ALL for it. Whether it's celebrating our differences a la Missguided or promoting self love, it's very clear that we all feel the need to take a bit of time for us. But do we actually do it? I don't claim to be a saint when it comes to looking after myself. I don't exercise enough, have a weakness for crisps and don't mind a glass of wine (or 3) at the weekend. But one thing that I always remind myself to do is be mindful.
Mindfulness is proven to help reduce stress. Our minds aren't capable of processing the millions of pieces of information thrust at it every day in the modern world. Its too much; we overload, crash and malfunction. By being mindful we give our brains the opportunity to reboot. But I'm too busy/impatient/Don't get this hippy sh*t! I hear you cry. You don't need to be a practising yogi or meditation master to be mindful. It's a simple process that you can apply to everyday life by just being aware.
1. Meditation apps Solo meditation is tricky. My mind wanders off to all sorts of random places when I try to meditate; like a conversation from 10 years ago that had no significant consequence but where I could have maybe said something a little bit differently to really get my point across. Yeah. Great. Meditation apps such as Headspace, guide you through a quick 10 minute session helping to de-stress on your lunch break or kick start your day during your commute by giving you something to focus on that isn't 372726249 of your own unhelpful thoughts.
2. Your morning routine This is my personal favourite. So the app didn't work and you feel like a failure. Don't worry, it doesn't work for me either! There are other ways to reboot your brain! Being mindful is the very simple act of paying attention to what you are doing. By focusing all your attention on one single activity you give your brain something of a coffee break. (That's another one; just enjoy your cup of coffee - the smell, the taste, the temperature. Like I need to give you an excuse...)
Your morning routine is a great time to do this. Brushing your teeth? Focus on HOW you brush your teeth. Cleansing? Just think about getting all that crap out of your pores and NOT about the 9.30 meeting you're not 100% prepared for. Applying makeup should ALWAYS be mindful... no one wants to take a mascara wand to the eye now do they?
3. Walking to the train station. How often do you walk to the station, or bus stop, or even just straight to the office with your head in your phone? I'm guilty of doing it every. single. day. This morning I decided to look up. And boy was it beautiful. I'm lucky because my route to the station takes in some of Liverpool's most beautiful buildings but on a glorious Monday morning like today, how could you resist putting your phone down for 10 minutes and appreciating the world around you.
4. Washing up Yep. Much like brushing your teeth, washing up or cleaning of any kind really, is the perfect opportunity to be mindful. Concentrate on scrubbing off every last bit of smashed avo off that bowl and your mind will feel a million times less worried about the fact you blew your mortgage deposit on fancy brunches.
5. Upskilling Oooh buzzword alert! It may be the fancy new word for training but learning a new skill forces you to be mindful. For your training to really take hold you HAVE to focus. By learning mindfully, you will pick it up quicker and give yourself a chance to focus on one thing at a time - the very definition of mindfulness.
There are loads of places to learn new skills for free, especially tech ones. Invest in your future as well as in the moment!
6. Being Social Another one you might not expect. Being mindful is all about being in the moment. Putting your phone in your bag and enjoying your friends company is possibly the most unexpected way to be mindful but my word does it work wonders for me! Your mates know how to help you forget the days stresses so why not take advantage of that? Do everyone a favour, put you phone down, stop talking about work and just enjoy yourself!
Oh and don't apologise for it or feel guilty coz someone didn't get hold of you. We still had friends in the 90s ....
7. Hitting the Gym This can't come as a shock to anyone! Your time in the gym is perfect for two things besides the workout. First, clearing your head. Focus on nothing but the act of exercising, feeling the tension releasing from your muscles after being hunched over your desk all day and enjoy the rush of endorphins.
Second, jump on a treadmill and run. The monotonous activity can be done instinctively leaving your mind free to work through a problem. One. Single. Problem. Only. If it's bothering you enough that you need to work through it at the gym, give it the focus it deserves and don't get off that treadmill until you have a plan of action! Your body will thank you!
There are loads of other things you can do to be mindful, from as simple as a colouring book (I've been an advocate for much longer than they've been 'a thing') to getting crafty, taking up a new sport or booking a spa day for one.
Those things are all truly brilliant ways to recharge your brain, but they take time and dedication, a luxury many of us don't have. Making the effort to be mindful in every day tasks means you can reap the rewards without having to take time out of your busy schedule.