Whether you’re working from home or self-isolating, this ‘new normal’ presents its own unique challenges. We all need a simple daily routine, infused with nourishing practices to lift our mood and energy levels and keep us feeling connected. Mindfulness techniques can be a great way to keep us all anchored in calm with no extra time, energy or expense required.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment as it happens – what’s occurring around you and what you experience inside (your thoughts, sensations and emotions). The ability to notice also needs to be coupled with acceptance (allowing things to be as they are), and a good dose of self-compassion (acknowledging when things are tough). Mindfulness helps us manage difficult moments and to truly appreciate the good times.
How can mindfulness help your wellbeing?
Central to the concept of mindfulness is knowing that you are not your thoughts or emotions – you experience them. You are the witness to all these passing experiences. Mindfulness helps us step back so that we are less pushed around by our thoughts and feelings, and in that pause we have greater ability to choose how we respond. There are many mindfulness techniques that can help soothe anxiety, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Different things resonate for different people, so enjoy experimenting with these tools and see what works for you.
8 easy ways to practise mindfulness at home
1. Build a daily routine
Routines give a sense of rhythm to our day which is deeply comforting. It also helps to boost your circadian rhythms, promoting the chance of better quality sleep, which we all know is central to feeling good. As best possible, keep regularity to the time you wake up. Kick off your morning with a healthy breakfast, so you can think with clarity, and get dressed in an outfit that helps you feel put together. Set some loose boundaries to your working day, with a time that you clock on, taking breaks to refresh, and a time when you down tools in the evening. Set aside time for relaxation so you’re ready to hit the ground running tomorrow.
2. Create a harmonious environment
Outer order helps to create inner harmony, so make your bed, straighten up your living space, throw the curtains open to maximise natural light and make your work area as clear as possible to help you concentrate. Notice how a quick tidy literally blows the cobwebs from your mind. If you can, get outside and enjoy the soothing effects of being in nature, but even watching the moving cloudscape from your desk can help you feel grounded.
3. Focus your mind
When your mind feels full or worries are looming large, bring it back to something constructive by thinking about what lies within your control. We can get caught in an endless spiral of ‘what ifs’, but ‘what can I do’ puts you back in the driver’s seat. If your mind keeps flitting to things beyond your control, go gently on yourself and use the healthy distractions like the ones below.
4. Move for mental health
We often associate the benefits of movement with the physical body but we need it just as much for our minds. Nothing fancy is required! Some gentle yoga stretches to release tension, a swift walk up and down the stairs to get the blood and endorphins pumping or a kitchen disco session can be a great mood boost!
5. Enjoy micro moments
Dot your day with soothing practices to help you feel a sense of wellbeing. It can be as simple as massaging in some hand balm with a scent you love, a single piece of music or a minute of meditation to calm you. Keep yourself well fed and watered so you can think straight too.
6. Breathe better to feel better
Slowing down your breath can calm your mind and body, but if focusing on the breath alone feels difficult, move with the breath instead: find a comfortable place to rest your hands, palms facing upwards. As you breathe in, open your hands fully and as you breathe out, make a gentle fist. Keep focusing on the movement of your hands and notice how this relaxes your breathing – a great distraction from unhelpful thoughts.
7. Make time to connect
Connection is like soul food, so make the time to talk on the phone, send a text to check in and just communicate with others.
8. Reboot yourself
You are no different from your devices, so switch off and nourish yourself with downtime. Mindful choices include podcasts, audiobooks, guided relaxation like ‘yoga nidra’, TV and movies that inspire you, or try your hand at a spot of gratitude journalling.
If you are feeling stressed or anxious, do not disregard it. Seek advice from your GP or health professional, or visit Mind for information and support.
Looking for more mindfulness guides?
Suzy Reading is a regular contributor for In The Moment magazine, where you can find more inspiring articles on mindfulness and wellbeing. Here are a few of our favourites:
Or discover more wellbeing guides from BBC Good Food:
Stress relief: How diet and lifestyle can help
Top 10 tips for working from home
The health benefits of exercise
10 foods to boost your brainpower