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5 mindfulness practices to improve mental health



Mindfulness isn't something reserved only for monks. Here's how you can weave simple mindfulness practices in to your life every day and reap the benefits of feeling more serene and grounded.


Everyday mindfulness practices are awareness practices that will help you enhance that deep connection between your mind and body.


These mindfulness practices are designed to improve your mental health, reduce your anxieties, and make you more self-aware. There are lots of mindful practices, but we'll deep dive into five of them and their benefits in this article.


1. Mindful Walking

Let's look at approaching everyday physical exercise in a mindful way. Exercising mindfully, rather than in an unconscious way, has many benefits.


The technique has many possible benefits and may help you to feel more grounded, balanced, and serene. It also helps you to develop a different awareness of your surroundings, body, and thoughts.


Mindful walking is a simple mindfulness exercise you can practice everyday. It's based on the Buddhist concept of walking meditation. Mindful walking is practiced by consciously striving to stay present in the moment, make conscious contact with the earth while oeingjn you senes to your surrounding area, with out judgment. Mindful walking slows down the feeling of urgency you may unconsciously carry with you, slows down your nervous system, leaves you more grounded and increases feelings of well being. People tend to underestimate the impact mindful walking has on the mind.


With mindful walking, getting to a destination isn't the goal. Being aware of your own body as you step, contacting the earth, while gently returning your mind to the present moment is the everyday mindful exercise.


Benefits of Mindful Walking


1. Improves your mind: As simple as going on a mindful walk looks, it can positively imp

rove your mind. It gives you the opportunity to refresh your mind while you walk.


2. Steadies your heart rate: Mindful walking helps make your heart rate stable.

3. Reduces your stress level: Going on a mindful walk calms you down, which reduces your stress level.


4. Reduce blood pressure: Walking naturally helps to balance your body and mind. This goes a long way in dropping your blood pressure.


2. Mindful Yoga


Yoga is an ancient Buddhist exercise that helps you find balance. Inculcating mindfulness into yoga makes it mind-body focused rather than posturing.


Mindful yoga is an exercise that puts your mind and breath on a balance — they are connected to help you meditate. It centers more on self-realization. You're aware of your breath, mind, body and environment.


Benefits of Mindful Yoga


1. You're more accepting of life: Mindful yoga helps you to accept life for what is — both the good and bad, and the things you can't undo/change.

2. You're less judgemental: You learn how to be more gracious to yourself and the people around you.

3. You're more aware of yourself: Practicing mindful yoga makes you see yourself for what you really are. You're able to identify patterns and habits that are holding you back.


4. Build momentum needed to everyday life: Life comes with its daily challenges. But mindful yoga prepares you to face these challenges with patience and understanding. You don't act because you can, but because you've thought things through.


3. Mindful Driving

Driving is therapeutic when you approach it mindfully. Mindful driving is being aware of the present while you're at the driver's seat. It's not about getting to a destination, but being consciously aware of your innermost self.

Going on a mindful drive is a mindfulness exercise that can be of immense help to your mental health. You're in control of the steering while steering your mind to be present.


To effectively practice mindful driving, you're to drive in silence — no distraction. Just you, your car, and your mind savoring every moment as you drive.


Benefits of Mindful Driving


1. It slows you down: Mindful driving makes you slow down to absorb your immediate environment. You drive with the awareness that your destination isn't the ultimate goal.


2. Makes you more compassionate: Driving has a way of bringing out and making you see the worst in other drivers. But when you drive mindfully, you'll have the understanding that everyone on the road is struggling to stay afloat.


3. Brings you back to reality: Mindful driving help you manage your emotions and the things around you.


4. Mindful Creativity

You can inculcate mindfulness into your craft. Mindful creativity is being presently aware as you create things. This mindfulness exercise is associated with many crafts — embroidery, sewing, knitting, carving, pottering, painting, and many others.


While doing any craft, your mind is present and not far off. Even when your mind starts wandering, you're able to bring it back to the present.


Benefits of Mindful Creativity


1. Mindful creativity is a means to practice calm: You're calm and not bothered by everything that could go wrong with the craft.


2. You're more patient with yourself:

It's normal to expect things to go well, but when you're mindfully creative, you give yourself enough time.


3. You're more gracious to yourself and others: Mindful creativity makes you blame yourself less during any craft. You're kinder to yourself and the people around you when practicing mindful creativity.



5. Five Senses Exercise

The five sense exercise is a mindfulness exercise that has to do with your ability to hear, smell, see, touch and taste. It is about being aware of your present environment as you put your five senses to work. Practicing this exercise helps reduce anxiety.


If you notice that you're anxious, you have to indulge your five senses in a mindfulness activity to calm nerves.


Hearing: Listening to your environment entails paying attention to unfamiliar sounds around you. You'll pick the loud sounds quickly, but the more you focus, the more you'll hear those small, uncommon sounds.


Seeing: Observe your environment to single out those uncommon objects. Focus your sight, and you'll notice things you've never seen before.


Feeling: Feeling means that you touch the surfaces or things around you. You're to use your hands to interact with those uncommon things you barely feel.


Smelling: Allow smells to come to you. Don't judge these smells — take them all in to be able to notice uncommon smells.

Tasting: Your tongue is to taste something different. Something outside the regular means you eat or tea you drink.



Sources

Clark-Jones, T. (2014). Stress less with mindful walking. Retrieved from https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/stress_less_with_mindful_walking


Golzalez, M. (2014). Your car commute is a chance to practice mindfulness. https://hbr.org/2014/11/your-car-commute-is-a-chance-to-practice-mindfulness


Jerry, A. (2019) Four Columns of a Balanced Life (2019). 24 astonishing benefits of yoga, mediation and mindfulness. Retrieved from https://fourcolumnsofabalancedlife.com/yoga-meditation-and-mindfulness-benefits/


Kelley, T.M., Pransky, J., and Lambert, E.G. (2016): Realizing Improved Mindfulness/Flow/Mental Health Through Understanding Three Spiritual Principles, Journal of Spirituality in Mental Health, DOI: 10.1080/19349637.2016.1215855


Shensa, A., Sidani, J. E., Dew, M. A., Escobar-Viera, C. G., & Primack, B. A. (2018). Social Media Use and Depression and Anxiety Symptoms: A Cluster Analysis. American journal of health behavior, 42(2), 116–128. https://doi.org/10.5993/AJHB.42.2.11


Vannuccia, A., Flannery, K. M., McCauley-Ohannessianac, C. (2016) Social media use and anxiety in emerging adults. Journal of Affective Disorders. 1 January 2017, Vol(7), pp. 163-166












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