The purpose of this challenge is to help train your brain, re-wire the neural pathways that will allow you to develop a mindful mindset. For me, a mindful mindset means letting go of the need to be perfect, letting go of judgement and truely witnessing the emotions we are feeling within us. When we are able to process our emotions, they have less control over our life, so essentially I’m hoping that this can help you, like it did me, take back control of your own mind and body!
The reason this is a challenge, is not because the tasks themselves are difficult, but because finding the time; and remembering to do this often is the hardest part. So I’ve challenged you all, along with myself to try and incorporate one simple mindfulness exercise everyday for the next 6 weeks.
WEEK 1: Mindful Breathing
I used to say things like I can’t meditate because I don’t know how to breathe properly.. Is that ridiculous or what? I put so much pressure on clearing my mind and forcing myself to “stop thinking” that I would avoid it altogether. What happens if we allow ourselves to have thoughts; acknowledge our thoughts without judging, labeling them as good or bad, or without trying to change or avoid them?… Acceptance!
Throughout the day, take just one minute (or 6 breath’s) to focus on some slow, deep breathing. Breathe out until your lungs are completely empty, and breathe in using your diaphragm.
It can help if you put your hand on your stomach and feel it rise as you inhale, and shrink back in size as you exhale. When thoughts enter your mind, acknowledge them, and try to bring your concentration back to your breath.
If your not a fan of deep breathing; there isn’t a necessity to breathe a certain way (deep diaphragm breathing just my preference) just notice your inhales & exhales however you prefer, and focus on the space in-between each breath.
This used to be my most dreaded exercise to do… but once I tried it for one week I honestly found it helped me at times when I felt anxious or was faced with challenging situations (enter toddler tantrums) and just needed a minute…
Try this for only one minute everyday this week (its a great way to start the morning or end a long busy day), you can be sitting, standing, at home, at work it really doesn’t matter. Give it a try and let me know how you go!
WEEK 2: Mindfulness in your Morning Routine
As creatures of habit, we all tend to have a routine in the morning, or a standard activity we perform such as brushing teeth, taking a shower, making breakfast and so forth. Chose one activity that you’re going to do this morning, and when you do it, pay all of your attention to the task at hand. For example: when brushing teeth, notice the temperature of the water, taste of the toothpaste, sensation of the brush on your gums, the smell, sound etc..
If you’re anything like me, your thoughts will wander to other things throughout the task (like the endless to do list for the day). Try to acknowledge those thoughts, let them drift off and return your attention to what you’re doing. Thinking about the different sensations can help you maintain the focus.
Don’t worry about the thoughts interfering as being good or bad etc. You can literally say to yourself, “I can hear these thoughts in my mind, but for now I will continue with acknowledging the sensation of the task at hand” and revert back to what you’re doing.
Try this out every morning this week with either the same or a different task each day; and notice if it gets any easier throughout the week. It seemed a bit strange to me at first, thinking about all the small and insignificant elements of a routine task, however it’s the process of retraining your mind to revert back to the present and appreciate the current moment in time (that we so rarely get to do in the chaos of our lives) that is most beneficial to us.
Let me know how you go with this activity, or tag me in a photo of you performing your morning tasks on instagram. I would love to see how these exercises are working for you!
WEEK 3: Mindfulness in Domestic Tasks
It goes without saying we all perform some kind of domestic chores daily either as part of a routine or just ad-hoc. How easy would it be to pick one task everyday this week, and use this time to create a mindful mindset. It doesn’t take any extra effort out of your day; you can literally incorporate it into something this simple.
Instead of labouring through and thinking about how long its taking to finish the task and how you’d much rather be elsewhere, make yourself aware of every step and fully immerse yourself in the process.
Take vacuuming for example. Notice the sound of the vacuum, notice the body movements required, the force you’re applying, the grip of your hand on the vacuum, the sound of the vacuum picking up bits from the floor as they trickle through the hose (it’s surprisingly satisfying…isn’t it?)
Your mind will likely wonder, especially as it’s not the most exciting thing you could be doing. In order to keep training your mind to stay focused on the task at hand, don’t get caught up in the thoughts that come to mind, acknowledge them and bring your attention back to what you’re doing.
Let me know how you’re tracking with these exercises after doing them mindfully. I’d love to see this working for you guys like it has for me!
WEEK 4: Mindful Eating
Let’s be real.. how many of us would usually eat in front of the TV, whilst scrolling through your phone or almost eating unconsciously & sometimes so quickly before your toddler either gets to it first, or demands your attention thereby requiring you to stop eating altogether and do a million and one things for them!? 🙋🏻♀️
When was the last time you actually enjoyed what you ate?
I for one, am very guilty of eating in front of the TV after a long day, or eating on the go which is often unavoidable with kids!
Take some time during at least one meal every day this week, to sit down and savour every mouthful. Taste every bite, chew your food properly and engage all the sense to fully appreciate your meal.
Eating mindfully is also a great way to monitor your diet as it encourages eating when your actually hungry, allows you to eat slower, digest your food properly by chewing it more thoroughly before swallowing, and as a result your brain will actually tell you when your full which may be a lot sooner than you would normally realise.
WEEK 5: Mindful Walking
Personally on the days that I’m not home with my little one I find myself being quite sedentary at work. Sitting and being static for long periods of time can cause all sorts of pain and discomfort… And having a back injury from a previous trauma, I know all too well the need to get up and move frequently.
This is where mindful movement can be even more beneficial. Whether you’re at home or at work, or working from home, make some time to step out and go for a brief walk. When doing so, check in with how your body feels (this is great to do before any exercise in general especially if you have any pre existing injuries). Notice how you body feels, how the soles of your feet feel as they hit the floor, and the way your bodyweight is distributed as you take each step.
Focusing on your walking is a great way to remain present in the moment, whilst helping you to reduce your overall stress and anxiety. Not to mention that seated “meditation” isn’t for everyone and sometimes you may just not be in the mood for it, so I find walking such a great alternative.
Look out for next weeks exercise!
WEEK 6: Mindful Appreciation
Gratitude is a word I’m seeing more and more these days especially on social media. It’s great to see people sharing their appreciation of their lives on social media with others.
Showing gratitude can help you remember to focus on the positive things that we are so fortunate to have which may otherwise go unnoticed.
So for the final week, I’m challenging you to note down five things that would usually go unappreciated throughout your day. This can be anything from an appreciation of your self, appreciation of a loved one who makes your heart happy, or simply anything around you that you might take for granted on any given day but makes your life so much better!
What are five things you’re grateful for?