Feel healthier in mind as well as bodyJanuary 4th, 2016
It’s the start of a new year, and this often provokes a wealth of magazine articles, adverts, and campaigns aimed at ‘getting fit and healthy’. This month, I’m thinking about the ways we can start to feel healthier in our minds too, from de-stressing to getting a better night’s sleep.
It’s a commitment to undertake mindfulness practice each day. It takes time and practice to manage our emotions in ways we are proud of and/or that cause us less distress; this is a trainable skill like so many others. A simple way to incorporate mindfulness into our busy lives is to give ourselves just a few minutes a couple of times a day to slow down, step back and be mindful. That could mean doing some mindful breathing or being mindful of a sensory experience for 3-5 minutes, which can be great for relieving stress and helping you refocus. I’ve done simple mindfulness exercises in all manner of places- you don’t necessarily need a quiet corner or sanctuary- waiting in line at the supermarket, parked up before collecting the kids from school – you can mindfully breathe almost anywhere, and there are lots of opportunities to be mindful of a sensory experience- while taking a shower, eating your breakfast, or brushing your teeth. The hardest bit is remembering to do it, in the beginning, but it can soon become part of your day.
Calming Bedtime and Wake-time
It can be pretty tough getting out of bed on wintry dark mornings, even if you don’t have clinical depression or anxiety. An alarm clock that simulates the dawn can help make waking up a bit gentler as it starts with a faint glow and gradually becomes lighter. This cues your body to wake up. Getting out of the house as soon as you can after waking, for a bit of fresh air and natural light, can have a big impact on your body clock and make it easier to face the day feeling fresh.
At night, a dark and quiet bedroom will help your mind and body sleep more easily. I did an article a while back for Woman and Home magazine where I helped a very busy working mother learn to calm down and regain time to herself in the evenings; she benefited hugely from making her bedroom a laptop/phone-free zone. She recognised that by making last-minute changes to her online shopping order in bed or sending ‘one last email’ wasn’t actually stress-relieving; it was stimulating her mind and making it harder for her to unwind and have a good night’s sleep. A good book, perhaps a cup of ‘Snore and Peace’ (my current favourite sleep-aiding herbal tea!), and a few minutes of mindful breathing, and we’ll hopefully be well on our way to a good night’s rest and recuperation every night.