2020 was quite something, with more than its fair share of unexpected challenges. So of course, it’s no surprise that there was such a focus on mental health and a growing chorus of voices championing awareness and support.
Now, as we continue navigating our way through the global Covid-19 pandemic – while hopeful of a healthier, happier 2021 – there’s an opportunity to maintain the momentum. We’re talking about mindfulness, a practice that can help us all take a more considered approach to our wellbeing.
Mindfulness is a recognition of what’s happening internally, as well as externally of our own selves. You might see it described as having a heightened awareness of your body, mind and surroundings. Practicing mindfulness is great way to slow down, be more conscious of the world and appreciate the simple things in life. And because mindfulness actively encourages us to acknowledge our feelings and understand our thought patterns, it can also help us to change our outlook. By being more mindful, not only can we get to know ourselves better, but we can also develop a more positive perspective on the everyday.
So, the theory is impressive, but how can we actually be more mindful? There are lots of different ways to practice mindfulness and, as you get into it, you might find your own methods or personal processes. If you’re unsure about where or how to start though, we’ve put together our top daily mindfulness tips for beginners. Here’s to a more mindful 2021:
Pencilling in some time to meditate daily is a good place to start your mindfulness practice. Meditation involves sitting in silence and paying close attention to your thoughts, feelings, body and breathing. It’s a brilliant way to relax, free yourself of distractions and calm your nerves.
By taking note of and appreciating the ordinary (the flicker of a candle or the sound of a child laughing, for example), you’ll begin looking at things with a fresh pair of eyes. This can help break the monotonous, automatic mode we often go about our lives in. It might be a small change, but it’s one that can have a big impact on your state of mind.
Engaging in creative activities is another excellent way to practice mindfulness. Whether you choose to spend time colouring in an intricate mandala pattern or you prefer listening to soothing music whilst enjoying an indulgent bath. These creative elements can inspire us to pause and reflect. By engaging in something uncomplicated and pleasing, we can learn to listen to and appreciate ourselves. All while giving our minds and bodies a chance to reset without distractions.
Making changes to your routine can help shift your perspective, especially if you feel stuck in a rut. Exploring a different route to work or taking up a new hobby for instance, will expand your horizons and empower you to see things differently.
We all know exercising gets those endorphins going and, as Elle Woods (thanks Legally Blonde!) taught us, “endorphins make you happy”. In other words, going for a run, getting on the Peloton bike or completing a HIIT workout should all help lift our moods. But mindfulness is about more than just working up a sweat or feeling an adrenaline rush. Because mindfulness promotes being in tune with both your body and your mind, slower, more meditative exercise routines such as pilates and yoga are perfect for this. Unwind, clear your head and stretch – make this a regular part of your routine and you should start feeling physically and mentally stronger.
Letting go of the past and learning not to worry about the future are both important aspects of mindful practice. By living in the present, you can stop yourself from feeling anxious about the things you can’t change or control. In doing so, you can create space and time to concentrate on your current self and nurture a deeper sense of optimism – an ideal way to start the new year.