Since it's World Mental Health Day, we thought for this week's Wellbeing Wednesday that we'd look at how to be more mindful. As a practice, mindfulness is about being present and in the moment. It's origins date back thousands of years, with individuals practicing variations of mindfulness or meditation as part of religion, and there's growing research to suggest that it can have a huge impact on our mental health.
According to the the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), mindfulness is recommended as a way to prevent depression in people who have had three or more bouts of depression in the past. Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness is about 'allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives.'
Despite the huge impact that mindfulness can have on our lives, we can all become a little more mindful by taking just a few simple steps and making them part of our daily routine. So here's just a few simple ways for you to become more mindful.
Go for a walk in a park or on the beach
How often do we take the time to really appreciate our surroundings? Enjoying some time outdoors is a great way to clear the mind and feel refreshed. Whether there's a lovely park or a nice stretch of beach not too far from where you live, clear your get outside and enjoy a gentle walk without a purpose other than to reconnect with yourself.
Try keeping a gratitude journal
Journalling itself can be a great way of becoming more mindful, because it encourages us to reflect. With a gratitude journal, you can go one step further and focus on the things that have filled you with hope, optimism or joy. It's so easy to try out too: simply grab a notebook before you go to bed and write down three things that have made you feel good that day, or that you feel grateful for.
Try something new
Whether it's as small as choosing a different coffee from your usual, or picking a different spot to enjoy your lunch. Or maybe it's something a little bigger, like trying out a new hobby. Either way, trying something new can help us to shift our focus and change our perspective, in turn it can help us to look at the world in a different way.
Pay attention to your senses
It's so easy to feel like you're travelling through life on auto-pilot. Try to take a step back and pay more attention to your senses. Whether it's the crisp leaves crunching underfoot on your commute to work, or the warm water of a freshly run bath when you get home. Take some time to notice the sensation of things around you and reflect on how they make you feel.
Find a way to make it a regular habit
Whether it's writing in a notebook before bed, or some time spent focusing on your breathing before you start the day, the key to becoming more mindful is to make it a habit, and often that comes from making it a regular feature in our day and picking a time that we stick to. That way, it's easy for us to develop a new routine.