Does it sometimes feel impossible to switch off? You’re not alone. Thanks to our endless to-do lists and growing dependencies on computers, smartphones and social media, peace of mind couldn’t be further from it.
However, just as it’s important to ensure we give our bodies a break, giving our brains a daily dose of mindfulness is just, if not arguably more important in order to combat the effects of stress.
A skill that can prove difficult to master, worrying about it can just add to our woes. So, what’s the secret? “Mindfulness is about being present, really being in your present moment. This is the key to having a healthy mindset,” says life coach and clinical hypnotherapist Jacqueline Hurst .
Ready to find some ‘me’ time? We asked Jacqueline for her top 5 mindfulness exercises to combat stress, #StartBetter and unite body, mind and spirit to help you better deal with life’s demands no matter how busy it gets.
1. Take control of your thoughts
How do you feel? This is the quickest way to start working out what’s going on for you. Are you feeling good or are you feeling not so good? If it’s the latter, you need to think about what you are thinking about. Get a pen, write it down and start questioning your thoughts. Get mindful about what you are thinking.
People think that we don’t get a choice on our thoughts, that they simply just ‘happen.’ It’s not true. It takes two seconds to stop, think about what thought you are having and work out if it’s helping or hindering you. You are more powerful than you think.
2. Focus on your breathing
Take a deep breath. Slowing down is super important in becoming more mindful. We cannot be mindful going at 100 mph.
Stopping is easy. It doesn’t matter if you are standing on a busy street, rushing around a department store, in the middle of a workout or sitting at your desk. Stop. For 10 seconds. Just stop, take a breath and get some oxygen into your lungs. When you stop like this, you are giving your brain time to remember that actually, you are more than a person who is just doing, you are also a being. Focusing on your breath is key. There is a little gap between your in breath and out breath and sometimes just focusing on that is enough to turn everything down a little pace, making you want to go slower.
3. Impose a digital detox
Electronic break time! Take a break. Seriously, just like it says in a Kit Kat advert. It’s so important to stop the electronics for a certain amount of time during your day. Being consistently stuck to a screen whether it be an iPad, computer, laptop, Apple Mac, iPhone...(the list could go on) is just not healthy for your mind. Whether it’s for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 30 minutes or a whole hour, make sure you have at least some time in your day to get away from your electronics and breathe.
4. Don’t worry about scheduling it in
Practice mindfulness anywhere. The beautiful thing about mindfulness is you can practice it anywhere you go. You can be standing in a shopping queue, sitting on a bus or train or even in your car at the traffic lights (there will always be someone there to remind you when your time is up – trust me). Waiting somewhere can be thought of as an ‘opportunity to practice slowing down.’ It’s a great thought to have which will lead to a great action…that action being stopping and focussing on slowing down your mind.
5. Practice meditation
Meditation is the key to mindfulness. Again, this is something you will want to practice. Don’t expect yourself to be a Buddha in a day. Sometimes even five minutes is amazingly helpful for you and it is certainly better than nothing.
Think of your mind like a little puppy dog. A puppy dog you will need to take time to train. When you walk the puppy it will heal for a moment and then go and find a thousand other things it thinks is more exciting - this is just like your brain. So slowly, slowly train it. Allow it to wander, it’s a natural part of meditation. Don’t judge and don’t get frustrated. Allow the process to take its time and grow. You will be amazed at how far you can come doing this for just 5 minutes a day.
This feature was written in partnership with Clinique . #StartBetter.