Help me achieve mindfulness
Mindfulness teaches us strategies on how to respond to strong emotions like stress, anxiety, depression and anger. This heightens our awareness to what is happening in the present moment, so we’re not just acting on instinct.
Here are 5 simple tips for practicing mindfulness.
- Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing, as you do this take notice of where you feel your breath coming from.
- Get outside for 10 - 20 minutes and go for a walk. While you’re outside observe what you see, feel and hear.
- Whatever you are doing, whether you are working, studying, playing games or something else make sure to take some small breaks throughout the day.
- Avoid doing too many things at once. It is important to give your mind some space by not trying to do too many things in one day otherwise you will find yourself getting burnt out and potentially not accomplishing any of it.
- Create a mindfulness journal to map your progress. What worked well? What didn’t? What would you like to try next?
Mindfulness involves 'stepping back' from your thoughts and feelings, and watching them, rather than letting them spiral into something that can overwhelm you.
For many people, mindfulness involves clearing out your mind and choosing to focus on one or two things.
This is a good practice for anyone who isn’t comfortable, or who feels overwhelmed with their emotions, especially when you are feeling tired, stressed or anxious.
Start your mindfulness journey at a time that you’re likely to be most relaxed. This might be during the weekend or while you are on holiday. Pick a day when you feel calm and start with a few small steps.
Here are a few quick ideas to help you get started:
A good first step is to pay attention to something you do every day.
This might be something simple like eating breakfast, catching the bus, or getting ready for bed.
Think about the actions that go into this activity. For example, if you choose to focus on eating your breakfast, think about each step you take. From getting out your plate and utensils, to choosing the ingredients that go into your breakfast, putting them together, choosing a place to eat and, finally, eating your breakfast and washing up.
What do you feel when you do this? Does this activity effect how you are feeling? Did any part cause you stress? What could you do to change your routine and make it better?
Once you’ve focused on one activity, try another one. How does this second activity feel different to the first? Is it something that causes you more stress, or does it make you happier?
Focus on your breathing
Yes, we know, we are breathing all the time (we wouldn’t be living otherwise!), but it’s good to take a few minutes each day to really focus on your breathing.
Take some deep breaths in and out and feel the air moving in and out of your lunges.
Does this make you feel better? Here are a few exercises to help you:
Yawn and stretch for 10 seconds every hour:
To get started yawn, this can be a fake yawn to help you trigger some real ones. When you yawn, say “ahh” as you exhale. Notice how the yawn interrupts your thoughts and feelings. This brings you into the present.
Once you’ve finished yawning stretch your body really, really slowly for at least 10 seconds. As you stretch, notice any tightness in your body and say hello to that place.
Take another 20 seconds to notice the tightness and then get back to what you were doing.
Three hugs, three big breaths:
This exercise is for huggers, you can move to the next one if you’re not into hugging.
Before you get started with this exercise you will need to find someone you trust a lot to help you. When you have found that person, hug them really tight and take three big breaths together.
Even if they don’t breathe along with you, their normal breathing will help ground you.
Stop what you are doing for one minute. If you are sitting down, stand up. As you stand up take in a deep breath.
As you continue to breathe in deeply, lower your eyes and take notice of where you feel your breath.
You might notice the air going in and out of your nostrils or the rise and fall of your chest or stomach. If you are struggling to focus, try placing your hand on your stomach. With your hand on your stomach take another deep breath and notice how your hand gently rises and falls with each breath.
If you like, you can try lengthening the in breath and the out breath.
Go for a walk outside:
Get outside for 10 - 20 minutes! If you can, find somewhere safe, that’s away from big crowds and traffic like the beach, a nice bush walk or your local park.
While outside take some time to observe what you can see, feel and hear.
Allow your thoughts and any stress from the day to drift away from you as you focus on your senses.
How does it make you feel? You might even want to start a journal and take some notes so you can reflect on them later. Keep on reading to find out more about creating a mindfulness journal.
Take mini breaks throughout the day:
Whatever you are doing, whether you are working, studying, playing games or something else make sure you take some breaks throughout the day.
You could get up for a stretch or make yourself a hot drink, anything that allows you to take a mental break from what you are focusing on. You could also take this time to go for a quick walk and get some fresh air.
Avoid doing too many things at once:
There are always a million and one things we need to do. It is important to give your mind some space by not trying to do too many things in one day otherwise you will find yourself getting burnt out and potentially not accomplishing any of it.
Try breaking down your schedule into mini sessions, where you can focus on one outcome at a time. This is great for studying, working and chores.
Don’t forget to leave some time to get up for a stretch and take a mental break.
Create a mindfulness journal:
Writing is another powerful way to slow down and check in with yourself Before you get started let go of your need for perfection.
This journal is for you alone. Think of it as a diary, what you write down doesn’t have to be perfect or make sense to anyone but you.
When thinking about what to write, consider other mindful activities you have tried so far, think about what worked well, what didn’t and what you might like to try next?
You might also want to think about your feelings and emotions. What’s one thing that made you feel really good today, is it something you can repeat another day?
Don’t forget to create a routine and schedule some time for your writing every week.
If you’re not into journaling, why not try a self-kindness meditation instead: Find a quiet place and for one minute, repeat the following line: ‘May I be happy, may I be well, may I be filled with kindness and peace.’
You can substitute “I” for “you” and send some kind thoughts to someone you know and like, or just send kindness to all people.
You can also try changing up the line, get creative!
Live in the moment:
Try to be open and accepting in every moment. If you are doing the chores, what’s something positive in that moment that you can focus on?
Mindfulness Meditation is a type of meditation in which you focus on being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling in the moment.
It is a great way to teach yourself to bring all these little practices into your day-to-day life. Practicing mindfulness in this way can help you to relax your body and mind and help reduce stress.
Anyone can use meditation to help them achieve mindfulness, you just need time to focus, and take it step by step.
Check out our new Spotify playlist to help you relax: [insert link]
Step 1: Schedule in some quiet time where you can spend 20 or 30 minutes by yourself, some place safe and calming where you can meditate. Practice clearing your mind of all distractions.
Step 2: Keep your feet on the ground. This step is very important. Feel your feet on the ground. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing shoes, wiggle your toes and move your feet a bit so that you engage with the ground. Feel the movement of your feet against the stillness of the ground.
Step 3: Do it again, wiggle your toes and connect with the ground. Become aware of the depth of stillness that’s beneath our feet that supports us, that bares us through all our trials, tribulations, sorrows and joy. That’s always there from the cradle to the grave without fail. Feel your feet on the ground, immediately it will help stabile you.
Step 4: If you are struggling to focus that is ok. Bring yourself back to that moment, feel your feet on the ground. If you managed to focus for 5 seconds before your concentration wandered try to increase your focus time to 6 or 7 seconds, or even 10 seconds. Each time you practice the amount of time you can focus for will increase, allowing you to gradually bring your mind under some sort of discipline. Feeling your feet on the ground is a good, simple way to start.
Step 5: From focusing on your feet, you might decide to change things up and focus on your body sitting on a chair or focus on your hands. If you’re focusing on your hands focus on the weight of your hands wherever they happen to be. Whatever you choose to focus on, once again just try to hold your attention there for 1 second, 2, 3, 4, 5. Maybe you’ll already find that your mind is a little bit quieter. Stay with it.
Thanks to @psychcentral for the inspiration!
There are heaps of free resources to help you get started too.
Check out John Butler on YouTube(external link) and delve a little bit deeper into meditation.
Or check out psychcentral(external link) for more ideas.
Check out our list of community groups to find more places that can support you on your journey.