Mindfulness Exercises for Beginners – At Horizon Plymouth, we see individuals every day who are struggling with the negative effects of decreased mental health. As counselling experts, we can help you sort through these issues and improve your mental wellbeing, but there are steps that you can incorporate on your own to help supplement the work you do with your counsellor. Often, we recommend mindfulness exercises, which are especially beneficial for individuals who constantly feel overwhelmed and overtaken by daily stressors. In this article, we will go over the basics of mindfulness and introduce some simple exercises that you can use when feeling overwhelmed.
What is mindfulness?
In today’s era of constant information overload, our brains are tasked with having to shift through countless pieces of information at any given moment. Emotions, tasks waiting to be completed, and upcoming events and reminders are all chaotically co-existing inside of your head, often causing a brain-body disconnect that can result in mood disturbances and decreased mental health. Mindfulness exercises are designed to help you sift through this mental clutter and focus on being truly present in the moment, experiencing each of your emotions, thoughts, and bodily sensations as they occur.
Often confused with meditation, mindfulness doesn’t require you to sit in a completely silent state of reflection for an extended period of time. And, while setting aside designated time every day is often a good place for beginners to start, mindfulness is something that can be implemented in the moment to help you focus on your current tasks in a calm, slow, and intentional manner. The practice of these techniques can look slightly different to every person, so finding the right combination of exercises to practice slowing and centering your mind is crucial.
The following exercises are designed to increase mindfulness in beginners. They can be implemented throughout any part of your day, but especially when you begin to feel stressed, overwhelmed, or panicked. These exercises are quick and simple for a beginner to implement in whatever way works best for your schedule and mental health.
- Body scanning: Settle into a comfortable, relaxed posture with your eyes closed. In your mind’s eye, begin at the top of your head and slowly start to go down your body, paying close attention to how each body part feels. Can you feel a twinge in your neck? The seat pressing against your hips? The rise and fall of your stomach or the slight wiggle of your toes? Continue this scan as many times as you like, keeping your thoughts on how you feel rather than judgements about size or imperfections.
- Diaphragmatic breathing: Deep breathing helps to calm the nervous system and decrease the number of stress hormones in your body. Close your eyes and breathe in deeply through your nose until your lungs are full. Hold for three seconds, and then let the air out slowly through pursed lips. As you breathe in and out, focus on the way that the air feels as it fills up your lungs and then rushes out past your lips.
- Two-minute check-in: The two-minute check-in is one of the easiest ways to create a habit of practicing mindfulness. Establish a set time every day when you can take two minutes to sit in stillness. This could be the first thing when you wake up, during your lunch break, before you go to bed, or even all three! Close your eyes and focus on your breaths and the way your body feels. Try not to linger on distressing thoughts or ruminations and focus on the actions of your body at the moment.
These are just a few mindfulness exercises that can be used to regain some control and mental clarity in the middle of a stressful or busy day. If you are struggling with your mental health or would like some more guidance regarding strategies to enhance mindfulness, the expert counsellors at Horizon Plymouth would love to chat with you! Contact us today to set up your initial consultation.