Nurses and Health Practitioners... What is your “Mindfulness?”

If you have ever been put off “mindfulness” by being forced to sit still, or, perhaps you didn’t like the voice of someone guiding you through a meditation.

Don’t be so hard on yourself.

It can be common to have have a negative experience with some form of “mindfulness”. And in which case it can be useful to try different methods to connect to your inner self.

Time to mix it up.

Even if you are a person who likes to meditate, including different strategies like; walking in nature, or a moving mindfulness practice can really help you burn off steam and relax further.

Remember it is a practice.

Nobody is perfect at mindfulness. Even with all the training, and the courses available, it can still be incredibly difficult. Having compassion for yourself, the same as you would for a child learning to walk is needed here. Know that there are multiple ways to gain the same connection to yourself and your environment. The key is getting to know yourself, what works for you, and implementing what you need at different times.

Moving is a great option.

Feel free to do a moving mindfulness! Exercising, makes you focus on the task in front of you. Being aware of your physical body, and the skill you are performing is a great way to align your thoughts with the task you are performing. Taking a fitness class, going outside and riding your bike, shooting some hoops with your family or going for a run; all heightens your awareness and brings your focus to the task at hand, whether it be chasing a basketball, doing a burpee without falling on your face, or dodging a puddle on your run, this is where your body and focused mind are connected and your attention is completely in the present moment. After all, exercise beats anxiety!

Come back to your senses.

Another strategy is to connect to your senses whilst you are moving. You can do this by finding two things you can see, perhaps the mountains in the distance, and the ants on the path in front of you. Two things you can feel, weather this is a light breeze on your skin, and potentially the fabrics of your clothing on your skin. Two things you can hear, perhaps the passing traffic, the birds or the scrunching of leaves under your feet. And two things you can smell, perhaps it is the trees, fresh cut grass or your neighbor’s dinner. All are wonderful opportunities to bring your attention back to the present moment and connect to your environment.

Come back to your breathing.

If ever you feel your mind becoming distracted with other thoughts and you wish to bring your attention back to yourself. Using your breath, by doing some deep belly breaths can really help. As you stimulate your diagram, you also stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system. This helps you relax even further, and bring your attention back to the present moment. Feeling your limbs move, your muscles contract, and breathing through the temporary discomfort of exercise can also help to develop discipline and resilience, to also practice and gain a sense of achievement (Moore & Bouchoucha, 2016).

By Stephane Bouchoucha and Amy Benn

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