A technique derived from ancient Buddhist modes of meditation, the key to mindfulness is coping with the busy world by actively doing less,using mindfulness to destress and slow down.
Mindfulness is about taking the time to re-tune with your body's most basic functions. A two-minute break to focus on nothing but your breathing can radically affect stress levels, and leave you with a better sense of perspective on life.
Over time, mindfulness extends naturally to an awareness of the body, experiences and relationships with others.
We asked mindfulness expert, author of The Mindfulness Manifesto, Dr Jonty, about how to practice mindfulness in our everyday lives.
Dr Jonty promises an awakened feeling of proportion, renewed perspective and above all a sense of being able to cope with the ever increasing demands of modern lifestyle.
Read on now to discover the key steps for how to use mindfulness to destress...
Practice meditation daily
Of course, we'd all love a regular spa day to help us destress (see some of the best spa breaks UK here), but that isn't always possible. And in fact, the best way to start to bring mindfulness into your life is to find time for a mini meditation session each day. Anything from 30 seconds to 5 minutes is enough. Even if you set your alarm to fit it in, it will gradually become a natural part of your day.
Whether you are on the bus, at your desk or at home, sit in a cross-legged, upright position to allow easy breathing. Focus on slowly drawing air in through your nose, feeling your chest and abdomen fill, and then exhale.
Over time, use difficult situations as a time for a small mindful meditation, and feel how it can help control negative emotions, allowing you to make a more thoughtful and rational response.
Be mindful when eating
Mindful eating has been proven as a technique for controlling compulsive binge eating. Try and use this technique for the first few mouthfuls of every meal, and you will notice a difference in the sensations food gives you - in under a week.
The example Dr Jonty gives is 'the raisin test'. He suggests taking one raisin, and placing it in your hand. Observe it carefully, taking in its shape and texture. Feel its grooves and move it around in your hand to take in every angle. Next, put it in your mouth, but don't eat it. Explore the emotions that gives you. Eventually, slowly take a bite.
Use walking as a way to unwind
Dr Jonty encourages mindless walking as a technique to help let go from the hustle and bustle of daily life. It encourages us to let go of the necessity to get from A to B all the time, thus allowing us to pay attention to what is on our path rather than orientation.
It's really simple - just start walking in whatever direction seems to take your calling. Notice your impulses if you try and turn your walk into a planned journey. Focus your attention on the actual physical means of walking; feel the soles of your feet on the ground. Then, expand out to exploring the other sensations of the experience: your body, your emotions and also the world around you.
Introduce mindful breathing
Breathing is the most basic activity of human existence, but how many of us actually stop and pay attention to it?
When in bed at night, take the time to focus on your breathing. Use all your senses to feel your chest rising and abdomen expand, then gently exhale. Try to focus on nothing other than the sensation of just breathing. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back. Listen to these wanderings - they are a clue to what could be stressing you.
Use online tools that will help you focus
If you need some extra support on your journey to a more mindful life, it could help to sign up to the services offered by woman&home partner, Mindbox.
Mindboxoffers support and therapy for people who need assistance with a range of mental health issues – from those wanting to be more mindful, to those living with anxiety and panic attacks, and individuals who are feeling overwhelmed or struggling with stress management.
At woman&home, we believe it’s important to access help when you need it, which is why we havepartnered with Mindbox to offer you an exclusive discount of up to 50 per cent off their services.
Allow yourself to explore your emotions
The next time a strong emotion overcomes you, rather than reacting instantly, take a moment to savour it. Let it wash over your body. Notice where you can feel it; allow it to grow and take over more and more. Even if it is a negative emotion, let your mind explore it. Essentially, ride your emotions rather than compulsively reacting to them.
This can be difficult at first: often emotions like anger or hurt demand an instant reaction. But, being more in-tune with your feelings will help you understand more about your body from the inside out, and train you into making rational, careful responses.
Lauren is deputy editor at woman&home.com in the UK and became a journalist mainly because she enjoys being nosy. With a background in features journalism, Lauren has worked on the woman&home brand for four years. Before woman&home Lauren worked across a variety of women's lifestyle titles, including GoodTo, Woman's Own, and Woman magazine. After starting out working for a local paper in Yorkshire, her journalism career took her to Bristol where she hunted out stories for national papers and magazines at Medavia news agency, before landing a job in London working as a lifestyle assistant.
Lauren loves helping people share their stories, bringing experiences to life online, honing her interview techniques with everyone from authors to celebrities, headteachers to local heroes. As well as having a good nose for a story, Lauren has a passion for the English language and years of experience optimizing digital content to reach the widest audience possible. During her time at w&h, Lauren has worked on big brand campaigns like the Amazing Women Awards and assisted in developing w&h expert-approved Buyer's Guides—the place to go if you're looking to splash out on an important purchase and want some trusted advice. In addition to her journalism career, Lauren also has a background in copywriting for prestigious brands such as Inhabit Hotel, eco-development K'in in Tulum, social enterprise The Goldfinger Factory and leading London architect Holland Harvey, using language in all its glorious forms, from detailed guidebooks to snappy social content.
A big fan of adventure, Lauren is also a keen travel writer and loves sharing tips on where to find the best places to eat, drink, and be merry off the beaten track. Lauren has written a series of travel guides for London hotels and loves sharing her insights into a destination's cultural and culinary offerings. If you need a recommendation on any UK destination, she's more than happy to help. At the weekend, you'll usually find her hanging out with her pet cat (or anyone else's pet she can get her hands on), escaping to the countryside, or devouring a good book.
Follow her adventures @laurenkatehughes
LinkedIn: Lauren Kate Hughes
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