We’re all familiar with living in a fast-paced world and the stresses that come with it.
Practicing mindfulness as part of our everyday life allows us to connect with the present and engage with what’s happening around us. It can reduce feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious by centring and focusing our thoughts, particularly during stressful situations. Mindfulness is driven by things we can experience, such as what we can smell, see, touch or hear, and is an essential part of a selfcare routine. Try out these five mindfulness techniques to start off your day right.
It might seem simple, but mindful breathing is a powerful tool to help ground ourselves to the present moment. You’d be surprised by how many of us hold tension and anxiety in our minds and bodies from shallow breathing, poor posture and harried thoughts. Gently focusing on your breath can centre both your mind and body and set you up for a good day. Find yourself a quiet spot and sit comfortably, perhaps on a chair or the edge of your bed. Close your eyes and relax your limbs and notice each breath as you inhale and exhale, filling up your lungs and nourishing your body with that breath. Get in sync with your natural rhythm. Allow yourself at least five minutes in a state of quiet awareness, taking deep and controlled breaths and being comfortably aware of your surrounding and your tension and stress ebbing away. If you struggle to find a rhythm, try the 4-7-8 Breathing Technique. Breathe in for four counts through your nose and then hold your breath for seven seconds. Steadily exhale from your mouth for eight seconds and repeat the process. Continue breathing in this pattern for five to seven minutes, letting your body relax. Remember that it’s okay for your thoughts to wander! Just gently redirect them to focus on your breathing.
Either listening to music or engaging your musical talents can be a soothing and mood-boosting way to practice morning mindfulness. Perhaps you play an instrument yourself, like the piano or guitar? Or even sing? Expressing yourself through music can be a beautiful process. Begin the day by playing a familiar song on your guitar or by sitting down at your piano to play a melody that brings you joy. Whatever instrument works for you, go with it! Once you start playing, note how the music makes you feel and let yourself get lost in the sound. You can also play gentle music to listen to as part of your morning routine. Classical or instrumental pieces work well, and headphones can help you feel focused and block out other sounds. Let the music help bring your emotions to the surface and let them pass you by, without judgement. Take note of how the music makes your body feel, like vibrations in your chest. Perhaps different parts of the music bring out different feelings. Observe how they make you feel and if feelings of anxiousness or anger start to surface, try a different piece of music, and quietly observe how it makes you feel until you feel comfortable and relaxed.
Morning meditation is a helpful way to focus your mind ahead of a busy day. Fill the room with gentle music and place yourself in a comfortable sitting position. Let your limbs relax and try and unhunch your shoulders – they often sit just beneath our ears without us even noticing – and sit with a straight back. Feel the rhythm of your breath and begin to breathe deeply. Ground yourself to the moment; can you hear birds chirping or feel the thump of your heartbeat? It can help to listen to a guided meditation if you want some direction (there are plenty on YouTube.) There’s no need to bat away any thoughts or block them out. Mindfulness meditation is about observing the moment and being aware of your passing thoughts. If your mind begins to wander, just gently refocus and centre back on your breathing and stay this way for at least 5 minutes. This morning meditation routine can help clear your mind, relax your body and set you up for a productive day ahead.
Stretching and Yoga
Get your day off to the best start with some gentle yoga or big stretches to get the blood flowing through your body and those endorphins firing through your brain. Yoga and mindfulness go hand-in-hand so as you’re doing your exercises you want your mind to be in line with your body and working together to a mindful state. Try following a guided yoga video to wake your body up. As you feel any muscle burns or twitches as you stretch and exercise, try to observe those feelings and remember that it will pass. Any feelings of frustration, or perhaps difficulty in trying a new move, or following a guided video, can be observed using mindfulness techniques and gently let go. Learning how to process and follow your thoughts and emotions, particularly any negative ones, is really important for both your mental and physical wellbeing.
Make time for breakfast and savour every mouthful. Sit yourself down in a peaceful environment and take a deep breath, focusing on your tummy. How hungry do you feel? What is it you’d enjoy eating at this moment? Try to eat according to what your body is telling you; don’t eat until you’re about to burst or nibble a corner of toast and bolt out the door. Take this time to relax and listen to your body’s needs. As you start to eat your breakfast, focus on the taste and texture and ask yourself if you’re enjoying what you’re eating. Eat slowly, chew well and think about sustaining your body. Mindful eating can help with making healthy food choices and can also help combat habits like emotional eating. Taking the time to slow down and observe your thoughts and feelings as you eat can make breakfast time a peaceful affair before you might get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the upcoming day.