Mindfulness Tips from Cheshire Change Hub!5 Mar
Mindfulness with Alison and Keli!
This month we’re focusing on ways to look after our mental health, so we’ve called on Cheshire Change Hub’s mindfulness experts Alison and Keli to share their top tips and exercises to introduce you to mindful thinking!
Keli’s mindfulness practices
Mindfulness can be incorporated into your daily routine and doesn’t have to require lots of effort or time, you can practise being mindful in just one minute yet feel the benefits for the rest of the day! Here are some of Keli’s favourite one-minute practices that you can try anywhere, anytime.
Be present with your mind and body by observing your breath. Gently breathe in and out and notice the time between each inhalation and exhalation, and how your lungs expand. If your mind wanders bring your attention back to your breath.
Scan your Body
Close your eyes, relax, and start to bring awareness to your body and its sensations. Start at your feet then very slowly bring your awareness upwards until you reach your hands. What sensations do you feel? Heaviness in your legs? Tension in your back? Strain in your neck? Then start to move your focus away from your body and towards the environment around you.
Walking slowly and gently, become aware of the sensations in the soles of your feet as they connect with the ground and any sensations that arise in the muscles of your legs. If your mind wanders, bring it back by focusing on your feet connecting with the floor in this present moment. Nature is a great way to incorporate mindfulness – try focusing on an object such as a tree. What do you notice? It’s size and colour? Try this with the different things you come across on your walk.
Mindful eating is paying attention to the food we eat moment by moment, without judgement. Research has shown that mindful eating can help to improve digestion, regulate our appetite, nourish our bodies and awaken our senses. Try to avoid eating whilst doing other tasks such as watching TV, scrolling the internet or reading. For your next meal try this simple exercise:
Choose a small piece of food and explore it with your senses. What colour is it? Does it have an interesting texture? Then close your eyes and explore your food with your sense of touch. What does it feel like? Is it hard, soft or squishy? Next, bring the food to your nose. What can you smell? Earthy or sweet? Now place the food on your tongue (without chewing). What do you notice? Finally, begin to chew very slowly. How does it feel? What can you taste? Repeat this practice as often as needed
Learn how to STOP with Alison
Mindfulness is about being aware of what you’re doing when you’re doing it, without allowing yourself to become distracted by troublesome thoughts, such as reminiscing about the past or worrying about the future. When you practice mindfulness, you’re accepting the present moment just as it is! Even if that moment is uncomfortable, by being mindful you are being fully present and in control. This is a great comfort to people who experience stress or anxiety and is a good practice to have on hand during these difficult times.
If you start to feel anxious or stressed, try this short breathing exercise you can do in just a minute and introduce some mindfulness into your lives with STOP. This is designed to help you defuse feelings of stress by creating space where you can pause, slow down and bring yourself back to the present, learn how to STOP with Alison.
S – stop and check in with your body
Notice how you feel right now, what are your thoughts? Are you experiencing any sensations like pain or discomfort? Acknowledge and register all your feelings.
T – take a breath and bring awareness to your breathing
Gently direct your full attention to your breathing. Notice each inhale and exhale as your breath anchors you to the present and helps you tune into awareness and stillness.
O – open and observe
Expand your awareness to include your whole body, then outwards again to your surroundings (such as sights, smells, sounds or physical sensations).
P – proceed to new possibilities
Now move your attention to the world around you and be curious, open, accepting of your surroundings. You may be surprised by how you feel after creating this little breathing space for yourself!
Headspace is a great tool for mindfulness, you can even win a year’s subscription in our Facebook competition!
Audiobooks are great for shifting your focus onto something interesting and positive, take a look here for 100 of the best mindful audiobooks of all time
Buddhify, a meditation and mindfulness app, offers practices suited to the busy modern lifestyle