Mindfulness isn’t all sitting still and counting your breaths. The benefits are backed by science, so even if you’re not ready for formal meditation once a day, you could reap the rewards of incorporating elements of mindfulness into your everyday – and your workout!
What are the benefits?
There are reams of research studies that show mindfulness can have a sustained impact on your ability to deal with stress, as well as reducing the number of days you take off sick and improving your general quality of life. You want in on that? We’ve got you covered.
How to be more mindful
Mindfulness is about noticing things – how your mind and body feel – without judging yourself, others or situations in general. It’s easy to get carried away reacting to the world around you without pausing for a moment. Slow down! There are some simple ways to stop your racing mind in its tracks and just take stock for a moment. Try this and see how it feels:
Take a routine activity you do each day; making your morning coffee, for example. Ignoring all other distractions, really focus on what you’re doing and how it feels. You’ll find your mind wandering (particularly if it’s your first coffee of the day!), but just bring it back to the task at hand. Try to notice things with all your senses: the smell of the coffee grounds, the feel of the mug warming your hands, the sound of the teaspoon against your cup, the way the liquid changes colour as you add milk and the taste of the coffee. There, you’ve just practised mindfulness – and your coffee is ready!
Mindfulness during a workout
You can try this exercise with a workout related activity, too. Switching off after a busy day at work can be hard, so taking the time to really zone in on your warm-up can help you get more enjoyment out of your hour in the park. Notice how the cold air feels as you breath it in, which muscles you work with that particular stretch, whether there is any pain or tension in your body. And here’s where you’ll notice some of the massive benefits of doing a class outside: listen out for the sound of birds, smell the grass around you, let yourself look at the trees, lakes or cityscape in the distance. Don’t get caught daydreaming, just notice these things and move on.
You’ll find that this is an integral part of some classes, such as yoga, and it’s a great way to end a workout and make the most of those feel-good hormones released by vigorous exercise.
There are plenty of apps out there to take your interest in mindfulness to the next level, but if that’s not for you then these activities are a great way to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of your busy city life! Give it a go during your day-to-day life, then book an outdoor class and really put it to the test.
As always, stay fit, and stay healthy.
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