We all want to be happy and have good health, do we not? Pause a moment and think carefully about what you do to ensure your own well-being? Perhaps you like to meet up with friends, go for walks, meditate, listen to music, enjoy a hobby or a sport? Perhaps you do something creative?
Creativity has for a long time been accepted as a very beneficial pastime and even used as a form of therapy. Recent research (Journal of Positive Psychology: Tamlin, Conner, DeYoung & Paul, 2016) indicates that engaging in a creative activity once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind. Researchers assessed over 600 people in terms of their emotional well-being and how much time they spent on creativity over 13 days. They found that there was an “upward spiral for well-being and creativity” in those who engaged in being creative. Basically, creative activities created a boost in positive emotions the next day. Further, the study found that creativity may in fact impact both happiness in social relationships and positivity in the workplace..
Enjoy a Mindful Walk This Autumn. Summer may be slipping away from us, but there are still some warm days ahead of us and autumn can be a really beautiful time to be out walking. Why not take advantage of this by practising a mindful walk?
Mindful walking simply means walking while paying attention to what's going on within our bodies and outside of us. It can be practiced anywhere, whether you are alone in nature or with others in a crowded city.
It can be hard to fit in a formal Mindfulness Meditation when life is so busy. There are many ways we can be mindful without taking time out. You can be mindful whatever you’re doing, even if it’s standing in a long queue at the checkout. Here are a few ideas of how you can be mindful in practical ways:
Watch the Sunset
Watching the sun set over the sea is one of my favourite things to do on holiday. I enjoy watching the beautiful colours as they change in the sky, and feeling the last of the warmth from the sun upon my face. It can also be a reminder that the end of the day offers us a new end and a new beginning.
There are certain attitudes which form the foundation of mindfulness practice. Here are some ways in which these attitudes can reduce anxiety.
Beginners mind. So often we let our thinking and beliefs about what we know to prevent us from seeing things as they truly are. It is a way of seeing things as new and open to fresh perspective. When you can meet anxiety in this way, with curiosity, you can learn to be free of our expectations based on your past experiences, meaning that you are open to new experiences.
Acceptance means having a deep understanding of how things actually are. It is the opposite of denial, where we can bury our heads in the sand and pretend everything is all right when it's not. Sooner or later you can bet that it rears its ugly head! If we can learn to accept the present moment when we are feeling anxious, we can find that those feelings of anxiety soon disappear by themselves. You don't have to pretend that you like it and you can still move towards change. Acceptance means accepting the present moment, so it's just accepting that in this present moment you are feeling anxious. If you can see things as they are, and not how you want them to be, you have a clearer picture of your present state, and are more able to change things for the better.
Mindfulness meditation is a form of mental training. It is quite simple, yet can be quite a challenge, especially if you haven't practised it before, in the same way that lifting weights in the gym would be difficult if you haven't done it before.
During a mindfulness meditation, you are practising keeping your mind on just one thing at a time. Your mind will wander - that's just what it does, don't worry it's expected! See it as your job to notice when your mind has wandered, and to bring it back to what you wanted to be focusing on. Be kind to yourself, and try not to berate yourself for this mind wondering. After all, you're only human! It doesn't matter if your mind wanders 1000 times, practice patience with yourself.
Each time you notice your mind wandering, you are being mindful, and you are strengthening this muscle of awareness.
Maria Hancock,, Hypnotherapist, Psychotherapist, Mindfulness Teacher, NLP Practitioner, MSc Health Psychology