Wellness (Healthy Habits)
What is Mindfulness and why is it relevant?
Mindfulness is a psychological skill, which has been linked to reduced stress levels and increased capacity to cope with big emotions and improvements in memory and concentration. It involves focusing on the present moment, noticing what is happening for you right now, in a non-judgemental and curious way. The best way to learn Mindfulness is by doing, as such the following exercises allow you to practice and develop your Mindfulness skills. Try these out every day mixed in with your normal routine.
If you would like further information, here is a great clip about Mindfulness from Smiling Mind
Mindfulness activities to try and develop your own skills
Grounding involves noticing what your 5 senses are telling you, stopping and taking a moment to observe your physical experience with curiosity.
Take a breath
What are 5 things you can see?
4 things you can feel?
3 things you can hear?
2 things you can smell?
1 thing you can taste?
Spend a moment noticing, really focusing on these things.
Breathing is something we do reflexively, often we don’t stop and notice what our breathing feels like. Try this short exercise and notice the difference.
Place your hands on your stomach, just below your ribs. Take a slow, deep breath in. Notice the sensation of the air as it enters your body. What does it feel like in your nose? Mouth? Notice the rise of your chest or stomach, how your hands move with your breath. Breathe out slowly. Spend the next few minutes focusing on the sensation of your slow, deep, breaths. If you notice your mind wanders, that is normal, just gently bring your focus back to breathing.
It is common for people to ignore and push away emotions, or to feel completely overwhelmed by them. Approaching emotional experience with Mindfulness provides a different perspective. If you feel comfortable, try this short exercise.
Take a moment to notice what emotions you are experiencing right now. Can you name them? Approach this without judgement, try to notice what emotion is present without labelling why you think it is here.
Observe your emotion, try to describe the experience to yourself (what thoughts are a part of it/ what does it feel like in your body/where in your body do you notice it?) Sit with this.
Notice how your experience of this emotion fluctuates. What we think and feel changes over time, with Mindfulness we are able to notice this change, and with practice can become more able to embrace and experience our emotions.
Often we eat while on the go, or have a meal while on our phones or laptops. When was the last time you sat and ate something where your attention was focused solely on the act of eating? Try this with a snack today.
Start by looking at it, notice the colour/size/shape of it.
What does it smell like?
Hold it to your ear. Does it make any sounds?
What does it feel like in your hand? What is its texture? What is its weight?
Put it in your mouth, but don’t eat it yet! Notice it’s taste and texture. Start chewing slowly, notice any changes as you chew.
As you swallow, notice the sensation as it goes down your throat.
UC Medical and Counselling Centre
If you would like to learn more about the practice of Mindfulness, come and chat to one of the counsellors at UC Medical and Counselling Centre today!
- Mindfulness app: Smiling Mind (free), insight timer (free)
- Additional website to explore: Therapistaid.com, mindfulnessexercises.com
(Information provided drawn from: The Body Remembers, 2nd Ed (Babette Rothschild)
DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets (Marsha Linehan) Therapistaid.com, trailstowellness.com)