Practising self-care is a vital part of a healthy lifestyle and to have good emotional health. Making time for yourself has never been more important. Participating in mindful activities is a powerful form of self-care that can help to improve your self-awareness. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely bringing one’s attention to the present moment, acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings and thoughts.
Allocating time to indulge in some mindful activity in order to care for yourself and your wellbeing is key. Making the time specifically on a Sunday for mindfulness, puts you in a calm and restful place, ready for your fast-paced Monday.
Here are 6 effective mindful activities that promote sound self-care and awareness:
Journaling is a hugely popular and highly recommended mindful activity to participate in regularly. You do not have to be an amazing writer to keep a journal; all you need is a notebook and pen!
There have been vast amounts or research about the positive benefits of engaging in mindful journaling. A study that was carried out by researchers Karen A. Balkie and Kay Wilhelm that journaling about emotions or daily events in your life for 20 minutes per day, on 3 – 5 occasions, saw a boost in immune function and stress reduction.
There are no rules when it comes to journaling; you can write about your day, about an event in your life or even just about your feelings or worries that day. You do not have to do it on a daily basis – it could be a weekly activity.
Other scientific benefits of journaling include:
- It can reduce depression and anxiety
- It can cultivate gratitude
- It can improve memory function
- It can help you recover from trauma
2. Meditation and Relaxation
Relaxation – ‘the state of being free from tension and anxiety’ is a powerful mindful activity that can be hard to master, but life-changing when you use it as part of your routine.
When I first thought about relaxation, or it was mentioned, I naively thought it meant that you watched your favourite TV show or read a book. However, relaxation is about your mind and body being free of stress and worries. Relaxation can be practised through a number of different techniques.
There are various relaxation techniques such as: breathing exercises, body scanning, Tai Chi and guided meditation for just a few examples. Meditation and relaxation techniques like body scanning at readily available on platforms such as Youtube and is a great place to start.
Positive benefits of meditation and relaxation include:
- Reduction in tension and chronic pain
- Improved digestion
- Reduction of stress hormones
- Lower blood pressure
- Enhanced self-awareness
- Better sleep
Mindful walking is a form of mindful movement. Using the everyday action of walking as a mindfulness practice, you can become aware of the sensations that are happening in your body. You can then be at one with your environment and how your body feels; this then helps you to focus on the present moment.
Walking is also a simple and effective form of exercise in order to live a healthy lifestyle. Whether it is a regular walk, or you decide o walk to the shops instead of taking the car, it all has positive changes to both physical and mental health.
Advantages of mindful walking can include:
- Reduced risk of heart disease and stroke
- Increased muscle strength and endurance
- Improved mental health
- Reduced body fat
Sometimes walking isn’t always the most attractive mindful activity, but here are some ways that you can make walking more pleasurable:
- Walk the dog
- Join a walking club
- Walk with a loved one
- Vary where you walk, so that you can explore new nature spots
4. Breathing Exercises
Mindful breathing involves being aware of your breath and focusing on it. It is not about changing the way you breathe. The act of focusing on your breath usually slows down your breathing patterns, which helps you to feel more relaxed. Turning your attention to how the air moves in an d out of your lungs, mouth and nose becomes a type of calming meditation. There are various types of breathing that can help you feel calm and relaxed.
Square breathing: As you inhale, visualise one side of the square. Then you visualise the next side of the square as you exhale. You repeat this process until you have imagined all sides of the square.
4, 7, 8 method: You inhale to count of 4, hold your breath for 7 and then exhale to the count of 7. Repeat as needed.
Belly breathing: Place one hand on your stomach ad inhale slowly through your nose (you will notice your abdomen rising). As you exhale, you contract your abdomen muscles and push the air out of your lungs.
Physical and emotional benefits of breath meditation:
- Lower heart rate
- Reduce stress levels in your body
- Improve diabetic symptoms
- Helps you to manage chronic pain
- Lower blood pressure
Mindful colouring is about bringing your awareness into the present moment by you consciously focusing on the colours and the design. Similar to meditation, you are letting go of any thoughts about the past or future; you just bring the focus and awareness to the activity which you are doing.
A recent study conducted by the University of the West England looked into the benefits of colouring on the mind. Volunteers were asked to spend 20 minutes reading, or 20 minutes colouring in and then answer questions to indicate their mood and mindfulness. The research showed that compared to reading, colouring encouraged lower levels of anxiety and greater mindfulness.
Mindful colouring has been shown to:
- Improve your focus
- Improve sleep
- Improve vision and motor skills
- Reduce anxiety and stress
6. Skincare routine
The most important factor in a mindful skincare routine is the focus on caring for yourself in the here and now. Having a good skincare routine is a great form of self care and self love.
In regards to looking after your skin, mindfulness is commonly associated with factors such as:
- Skincare products that are cruelty free and/or vegan
- Taking the time to enjoy a slower-paced skincare routine rather than rushing through the process
- Incorporating tools or techniques into your routine such as face yoga or using a jade roller
- Noticing how your skin looks and changes, then adopting your routine with suitable products
Everyone can positively benefit from adding more mindfulness into their lives especially after the past year or so with the pandemic, there is no better time to provide some relief for our mind and skin! You can inhale the aromas, focus on the ingredients in the product which you are using, take notice of the texture and take your time.