It’s safe to say after the last two years we had many individuals have dug deep to practice self care and to ‘mind their mind’. Working from home can isolate, provide too much time in silence with your thoughts and withdraw you from the society; equally, working in a high trafficked industry such as retail or customer service can cause anxiety, lack of personal space and overwhelm. In the last two years I’ve felt a bit of both, mostly the effects of working from home and I have practiced mindfulness in various ways to be more present and act with intent, which I’d love to share with you now. But before we start…
What is Mindfulness?
“…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.” American Psychological Association (APA. org, 2012)
I am going to share my top 5 activities that will allow you practice mindfulness throughout with intent. Remember, its about being in the present and fully experiencing the activity. If you are not into any of the activities I suggest, that’s okay – you do you, just make sure whatever you decide on, you are fully present and give it your undivided attention.
Adult Coloring Books
This sounds childish, but hear me out. These books are designed to take you on an imaginary journey. Not only do you practice your motor skills, but also your attention to detail. These books are generally quite hard with intricate details, forcing you to pay attention and concentrate. Its also a nice change from looking at the screen. Coloring has the ability to relax the fear center of your brain called the amygdala. It provides the same effects on your mindfulness state as meditation would. I am sharing an affordable book with some great designs here.
I must admit there are couple of good things that have come out of the last two years, for example, I have taken up various “hobbies” I would never think to do “in normal life” simply due to lack of time. Being forced to stay indoors taught me to be creative and seek things to do outside of my usual’s (i.e. Binging Netflix). This hobby does not involve big monetary involvement, I received majority of puzzles from my Neighborhood Buy Nothing Group – Just search your Facebook for Buy Nothing [Enter name of your neighborhood] Group and your local group should appear. It’s a great concept for individuals living in the same local area gifting things entirely for free. This is how I got my hands on my first set of puzzles, and once completed I passed them onto someone else to enjoy, all free of charge.
Doing jigsaw puzzles improves brain cognition and visual-spatial reasoning. Having to locate pieces that go together requires concentration, improves problem solving and short-term memory. This is also an excellent alternative for an activity to do as a couple, away from phone or TV screens. Some of the more challenging adult puzzles can be found here.
With spring just around the corner for most of the world, its time to start planting your favorite veggies and flowers. Being out in nature and breathing in fresh air is so simple, yet I feel its often overlooked as a successful mindfulness technique. Planting the seeds is good for you! The act of touching the soil itself has impact on your brain health, which is called grounding. Grounding helps improve your sleep cycle and overall well being. I encourage you to put your SPF on and get out there to plant your favorite fruits, veggies or flowers!
Similarly to coloring, calligraphy requires your undivided attention. This is quite a new “hobby” for me, which I am starting to invest in, with hopes it might turn into something a little more than just a hobby. I have discovered a free Calligraphy Course on TikTok by Becca who is also based in Canada and I’ve been hooked ever since. I am starting her paid course next week and I cannot wait. I must admit, if you don’t feel like investing or don’t have the funds to, that is totally ok. Becca offers multiple courses for free which are great for beginners. Just like with coloring, calligraphy provides a sensory experience and opens up your brain for learning.
Clean up of your local area
Not only you get to spend time outside (weather permitting), be mindful and meet new people but you will also do something good for your local area. I am a huge advocate of helping the earth stay green, I am big on sustainability and buying less, repurposing more. With that being said, now that the snow is melting around us, the trash that has been left behind is now an eye sore. I am certain your respective local areas have clean up programs in place, but if they don’t – reach out to your local city rep or a county council and ask them do they have any resources they’re able to assist with. Perhaps a post on their social media with a time and date where everyone can meet, perhaps they can provide you with the garbage “grabber” so you don’t have to pick things up directly. Whatever it is, doing something is always better than not. If you are in the Vancouver area and are interested in participating you can join an existing clean up here. Helping the environment will make you happy, creating endorphins. They in turn release stress and promote the feeling of well-being.
I hope you enjoyed this post, as much as I enjoyed writing it. I am excited to hear what your top activities would be to promote mindfulness, please leave your feedback in comments below.
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