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21 February 2021

Looking after yourself. Mindfulness, being calm, staying present.

Our wellbeing is sometimes been taken for granted. Even now with restrictions in place, it’s still hard to find the time for ourselves. Equally isolation and loneliness are also damaging for us at this time. Have you thought about mindfulness and meditation? Doing that for a short time can have multiple health benefits for you.

Initially, you can just find some space where you can sit quietly for maybe 10 – 15 minutes. You can even set a timer or reminder if your day is otherwise busy. Then start by taking a deep breath in, through your nose then hold it for a second then exhale through your mouth. Then again. Try and do this steadily for a minute and concentrate all your thoughts on your breathing. Then try a little longer than longer again. Until you’re able to just be present with just your breathing for 10 minutes. When you first start you will find that your mind will wander after a little while. That’s normal as most of our thoughts are of the past or the future. When you realise your mind has taken you somewhere else other than the present moment just start to think about your breathing again.

Like all new skills, it takes time to build up to a point where you can stay present for a while. It’s important that you don’t get annoyed or frustrated with yourself. Simply return to your concentration to your breathing until your timer rings or you are ready to be done.

Another simple relaxation technique is the five senses exercise, this is a great way to address your inner monologue and bring you into the present moment quickly and easily.

What 5 things can you see? Look for five things in the room you are in that you haven’t before. This could be quite easy if you’re staying away as the surroundings may be unfamiliar.

What 4 things can you feel? Pick something up and feel its texture, it’s surface or its weight. Notice how your clothes feel against your skin or your feet feel on the floor.

What 3 things can you hear? This is usually quite easy but listen hard and concentrate. Can you pick up the sound of something you don’t usually hear? Something in the distance?

What 2 things can you smell? If you’re outside what can you smell? Maybe the coffee beans roasting in the cafe, maybe the smell of the leather of your car seats. If you are indoors walk to the kitchen or bathroom where you are likely to be able to smell soap or maybe food or flowers.

What 1 thing can you taste? You may want to go to the kitchen here or if you’re out then try chewing gum or simply notice how your mouth tastes at that moment.

There’s no rule to say how many times you can notice each sense so add more whenever you like. What’s important is the emphasis on the present moment and experiencing what’s happening right now. Not what happened yesterday or what we have planned for tomorrow or next week.

So next time you are away or even at home. Give it a try and see how you feel.

Most importantly make time for yourself.

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