Mindfulness Exercises To Increase Happiness
Let’s welcome Alison from The Little Blog Of Positivity Alison shares her helpful tips to get you started with mindful living. These are fun exercises you can practise starting today, so make sure to save this post so you can refer back to later!
Learn more about Alison at the bottom of the post.
Even if you haven’t tried any mindfulness exercises so far, I’m sure you’ve heard about mindfulness and meditation.
No longer only practised by Buddhist monks, mindfulness has become more mainstream over the last few years.
Perhaps you’ve tried it but you simply can’t sit still. Or you feel like your mindfulness practice has become a little stale. Or you are struggling to fit it into your day…
Don’t worry, there are many different ways to incorporate mindfulness into your life. With this in mind, I have 5 fun alternative mindfulness exercises for you to try.
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is all about focusing on the present moment.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation which involves bringing your attention to something simple such as your breath, your body or sounds around you.
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” – Alice Morse Earle
People often say to me that they have tried mindfulness and meditation but that they can’t stop their thoughts wandering. I tell them that wandering thoughts are an important part of mindfulness.
Your mind will wander, that’s what minds do. The important thing is to observe your thoughts and emotions without judgement and bring your attention back to your object of focus.Want to increase your happiness? Give these 5 fun mindfulness activities a try! #mindfulliving #mindfulness Click To Tweet
How Can Mindfulness Help Me?
Studies have shown that mindfulness, when practised regularly, can increase happiness and well-being. It can also have a positive impact on many mental health conditions.
Mindfulness has also been shown to improve memory and creativity. Research has shown that mindfulness can also provide effective pain relief.
In addition, many athletes are also turning to mindfulness and meditation as it has been shown to improve performance.
So, How Can I Build Mindfulness Exercises Into My Life?
In order to realise the benefits, it’s important to practice mindfulness on a regular basis.
The good news is that this doesn’t have to be for very long each day. 5 to 10 minutes of mindfulness is absolutely fine. In fact, you can start off with less than this. Try 1 or 2 minutes to begin with and then slowly build up.
It also doesn’t have to involve sitting cross-legged on a cushion!
So many people think they are ‘doing it wrong’ or ‘can’t meditate’.
The important thing to remember is that we are all unique and that there really are no rights or wrongs with this. As long as the basis of the activity is to continually bring your focus back to the present moment, then you are ‘doing it right’!
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5 Fun Mindfulness Exercises for you to try…
1. 5 Senses Mindfulness Exercise
This is a great one to practice when you are feeling stressed or anxious. I find it helps as it slows down all those whizzing thoughts and grounds me back in the present moment.
So, find somewhere comfortable, preferably where you won’t be disturbed. You can practice this anywhere however, so you don’t necessarily need to be seated or alone. (I’ve used this exercise many times on public transport for example).
Take a few deep breaths and close your eyes.
First of all, shift your attention to sounds.
Notice what you can hear. Focus on all sounds, whether they are close by or further away. Try and notice at least 5 different sounds. Notice the beginning of the sound and the end of the sound, and the gaps in between sounds.
Also, try not to judge the sounds (i.e. thinking whether you like them or not) but also don’t judge yourself if you do!
Next, shift your focus to what you can smell.
Perhaps you can smell coffee or food cooking? Or maybe someone’s perfume or flowers around you. Try to notice 2 or 3 different things you can smell.
Then open your eyes and note what you can see.
Look at 5 objects around you in detail. Notice their colour, their texture and their shape.
Now shift your attention to anything you can taste.
You could take a bite of food or a sip of drink if you have something with you. If not, see if there is any taste at all in your mouth, or perhaps you can’t taste anything. How does that feel?
Finally, move on to touch.
What can you feel? This could be the pressure of sitting, your feet on the ground, the air on your hands, temperature or the feeling of clothes against your body.
Open your eyes, you should hopefully feel calmer!
2. Mindful Eating
This was one of the very first mindfulness exercises I ever tried. What a revelation. I never knew food could taste so good! Try it and you’ll see what I mean.
Mindful Eating Techniques:
As in the previous exercise, find somewhere you won’t be disturbed. Remove all distractions such as your phone, TV etc.
Now take a few deep breaths.
- Before eating the food, spend a few moments really noticing how it looks. Notice its colour, its texture, steam rising from it etc.
- Then notice how it smells and whether the smell of the food is provoking any physical reactions and sensations.
- Next, slowly take a bite of the food. Notice how it tastes, it’s temperature, how it feels in your mouth. Take time to chew the food. Notice how this feels and then finally focus on the sensations of swallowing.
- Focus on sounds as you eat, the sounds of you chewing and swallowing, the sound of your cutlery on the plate.
Continue with your meal, concentrating on using your senses to really focus on the food and the experience of eating.Are you incorporating true mindfulness into your life? Here are 5 simple tips to start. #mindfulness #mindfulliving Click To Tweet
3. Mindful Walking
This is a really good one to try if you struggle with the sitting still element of other forms of mindfulness meditation!
Don’t worry, you don’t need to go hiking to practice this! A mindful walk of any distance has benefits, even if it’s 10 steps along your garden path.
Make sure where you are going to walk is clear of any obstacles. It’s also a good idea to keep your eyes open for this exercise!
- Stand still and take a few deep breaths. Focus on what you can feel. This could be your feet on the ground, the air against your skin etc.
- Then very slowly, begin to lift one foot off the ground. Notice the sensations in your foot, your opposite leg and in the rest of your body as you do this.
- Focus on your foot as you move it forward, how it feels moving through the air and then the sensations of it reconnecting with the ground.
- Continue forward with the other foot, noticing the sensations of walking.
- Once you have taken about 10 steps, turn around. Notice how this feels, in your legs and in your hips. Notice the sensations of turning around.
- Then slowly continue for another 10 steps.
Try to do this exercise for at least 5 minutes.
If you want to go for a longer walk, you could start with this exercise and then move to your usual walking pace. Continue to focus your attention on the sensations of walking as you do.
I also enjoy noticing what I can see and hear on a walk as well. Slow down and take the time to notice things around you.
4. Mindful Colouring Exercises
Colouring isn’t just for kids! There are loads of beautiful templates available for mindful colouring exercises. There are even books filled with them available to buy.
Research has shown that colouring can be another helpful way of reducing stress levels. It’s also a great exercise for the brain.
The psychologist Carl Jung used the colouring of mandalas as a form of relaxation for his patients. (Mandalas are circular patterns, a bit like those found in stain-glass windows).
So, even if you haven’t done any colouring for years, grab some pens or crayons, find a quiet corner and colour away!
You don’t have to limit yourself to colouring in ready printed shapes either. Any type of creative activity – painting, drawing or crafting – can bring you into the present moment and lead to you feeling more happy and relaxed.
5. Mindful Music
If you find that traditional types of mindfulness meditation are a challenge, mindful music could be the answer. Some people find the silence of meditation difficult, so listening to gentle music can be a way to ease yourself into a mindfulness practice.
I recently discovered ‘singing bowl’ music which is a series of chimes from meditation bowls and gongs. I only have to listen to it for a few minutes to feel deeply relaxed!
Music has been used as therapy for many years. It can impact on reward centres in the brain so can help you to feel more positive and happy.
Getting Started with Mindful Music Listening:
I find it most helpful to use earphones when mindfully listening to music.
Again, find somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed and then plug yourself in!
- Close your eyes, take some deep breaths and then listen to your music.
- Take in the different sounds of the instruments along with the tone, pace and volume of the music.
- Notice if the music evokes any memories or thoughts for you. Acknowledge these without judgement and then return your attention to the music.
As with all of the exercises, try to do this for about 5 to 10 minutes. At the end of the exercise, take a few deep breaths and bring yourself back slowly into your day.
We’d love to hear from you if you try any of these mindfulness exercises.
How did you find them? What thoughts and feelings arose? Did you find anything surprising or difficult? How did you feel after each exercise?
Alison is the founder of The Little Blog Of Positivity where she shares all she has learned on the topics of personal growth, self improvement, health and well-being.
For regular doses of inspiration and motivation, visit Alison at littleblogofpositivity.com
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