How can mindfulness help me?

If you've not already come across mindfulness, it's a way of dealing with your thoughts and emotions to help you process them, a coping strategy as such to bring you back into the current moment.

For me, the best description of mindfulness is that it's akin to sitting on a park bench in front of a road and watching the cars go by. You are aware that those cars are passing, but you don't pay too much attention to them whilst they're there, and quickly forget about them as they drive by. Replace those cars with your thoughts, and you're practicing mindfulness.

Here's a few top tips to try every day to help your mindfulness journey:

Pause at the beginning of your day – Before getting out of bed, or in the shower, take a few deep breaths and breathe out slowly. Scan through your body, where do you feel tension? What are your surrounding smells, sounds and sights? Take a minute to notice these things but don't focus on them, acknowledge that they're there and allow them to pass on by.

Visualisations are a great resource to help focus your mind on what you want to achieve. Those achievements don't have to be long term, they can be for how the next 5 minutes plan out! Take some time to sit quietly and visualise how you want that part of your day to go and use that focus for whatever you are doing.

When did you last take a break? We all lead busy lives, rushing around after work projects or children, and often take bites to eat on the go, or sip water whilst driving, but did you know this isn't great for our digestion? Take a moment to pause, and concentrate on what you're eating or drinking, the smells, the texture, the sounds, just for one minute before you continue with your day.

Breathe - Breathing is such an underrated thing. We do it subconsciously to stay alive, but you can use it as a key to help you regain composure in a stressful situation, or as a wonderful technique to reduce your overall stress levels. We've posted a great video on our Facebook page for a simple breathing exercise (why not give us a follow?) and also love the 7-11 technique of breathing in for the count of 7, and out for the count of 11. That count doesn't have to be seconds, it can be any speed so long as you keep the tempo consistent and keep the out breath longer than the inbreath.

Take a walk - Whether it's just a 5-minute walk around the block, a walk around a local park whilst your kids play, or popping to the shop, ditch the car and move your body. Not only will your muscles and joints appreciate the movement, but you can also use it as a mindful moment by being aware of what's around you: sights, sounds, smells, changes. Put your phone down, stop thinking about what is happening later in your day, and just enjoy that moment you're living in.

At the end of your day, take a moment to write down some of the good things that have happened to you that day. Maybe someone complimented your work, maybe you realised you had £10 in your pocket that you'd forgotten about, or you enjoyed taking a pause to watch a squirrel run across your path. Little things that make you smile, written down, can help your brain focus on the positives in life and bring us back into the present moment.

Some simple changes which don't eat copious amounts of time can help you quieten a busy brain and cope with whatever the day throws at you. They are like any physical exercise, they take repetition, but they get easier with practice!

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