Did you realise that even 1 minute of mindfulness in a day can show significant benefits to your stress levels and decision making skills? If you’ve never tried it before, let me share with you what I do and how I’d like to make it easier for you to start.
Mindfulness is a term that we probably come across on a daily basis and many of us will dismiss it as quickly as it appears. But even a very short session can have significant positive impacts on your day. You don’t need to be ‘good’ at it, just give it a go.
Just talking from personal experience, a one minute reset at lunchtime to close off the morning and get set for the afternoon has an amazing effect on me. Particularly when you’re working from home and there’s little to distinguish one passing hour to the next. By making myself sit back and clear my head, I improve my focus, brake the pattern of stressful thoughts and allow my creative brain a little space to breathe.
The benefits of mindfulness
There are scores of medical and psychological research studies which list the benefits of mindfulness, such as those referred to in this recent article by Positive Psychology . The top 5 shown are as being:
- Decreased Stress
- Enhanced Ability to Deal with Illness
- Helps Recovery Following Illness
- Decreased Symptoms of Depression
- Improved General Health (such as lower blood pressure, lower alcohol and smoking levels, increased exercise…)
From personal experience..
Whilst I am well-informed, I’m not a doctor or a psychologist, so I can only agree and support these findings and relate them to my experiences.
So as a working mum of two, this is how mindfulness helps me and why I encourage everyone to try it in any small way.
My mindfulness routine is very simple:
- At 12:30 every day I set a reminder on my phone to stop what I’m doing for at least 1 minute and I hope to get to 15 minutes on a good day.
- At that point I get up and stop whatever I’m doing and move to a different place – outside if possible.
- I then choose from a guided mindfulness session on either the Calm App or the Headspace App ( I can’t recommend these apps highly enough, particulaly for a beginner) or a piece of calming, instrumental music or I just close my eyes and sit.
- I then focus on my breathing. Slowing my breathing down to 4 beats in and 4 beats out and I really feel my body move as the air comes in and out.
- I focus on the rising and falling of my stomach or the feel of the cool air going in through my nostrils. It sounds odd if you’ve never done it, but by concentrating on these automatic, essential functions of just living your brain and body get a break.
These are the benefits that I’ve found:
By moving away from where I am, I adjust my posture, take my eyes away from a screen and get some blood flow into my body. This helps me to wake up, get energy flowing again and rests my eyes.
The deep breathing increases my oxygen levels and gives my whole body a boost.
An open mind
By focusing on something easy and automatic I give my conscious brain a break from problem solving, reacting to something or planning something. This means that my quiet, less demanding subconscious gets the opportunity to be heard. I’ve had flashes of great creativity, resolutions to problems and really interesting thoughts after a few minutes of mindful breathing.
Re-set my emotions
It acts as a re-set. Instead of letting the latest argument or email race round in circles in your head, getting worse and more complicated every moment, you stop it all dead. This reset often brings greater clarity and perspective… and that email response that I wrote in anger ends up in the bin rather than someone’s inbox!
Enjoy the small things
Because I am focused completely on a small thing for a short time, I really enjoy it to the full. I hear every note and emotion in a piece of music, I hear each bird singing a different song, I feel the warm sun heating up my face through the window or a soft blanket under my hands. Simplifying and stripping right back what you ask of yourself, means that you appreciate it so much more.
It’s not practical to be like this all the time as we are busy people with a long to do list, so just to take a few minutes a day to focus only on one, easy thing – it’s a relief and a revelation.
Some help from me: #mindfulminute @findyourwings
I know this is often easier said than done, but I believe the benefits can be so huge in transforming your day that I want to help. So – I will be regularly posting 1 minute videos on Instagram and Facebook of something calming which you can focus on while doing the slow breathing. It will have the #mindfulminute tag.
What to do…
Set a repeating alarm. When it goes off, move yourself away from what you were doing and stretch. Once you’re in a comfortable spot, find the video post and take a deep breath in, count to 4 and then let it out slowly. Try keeping a rough rhythm of 4 beats for the in-breath and 4 beats for the out-breath for the whole minute. Just focus on the video and feel your body move to the breath. At the end of the minute, slowly get up and stretch again and consider if you feel different now from when you first sat down. Then carry on with your day, hopefully a little calmer and more clear headed. Repeat the next day…!
I hope you find the videos useful, please share and comment if you do.