1. Think of your five thank-you’s a day
Practise a 'handful of gratitude' daily. Think about five things that are going well in your life. Consider the last 24 hours. Or if that doesn’t work for you, the last three days. Use mindfulness to really become aware of what you’re grateful for.
So in a traffic jam, you could consider five things that are going really well in your life and the reasons that they make you feel good. And you could even send a text or email, or call once you arrive at your destination, to thank whomever you were thinking of. Expressing gratitude is even more powerful than just thinking about it.
2. Have a digital detox hour
Spend just one hour away from all your devices – mobile phones, laptops, tablets etc., to see what happens when you take time out just to 'be'. Try leaving your phone behind when you go out for a meal or a walk. It feels different. You did this every day as a baby and young child. You had no agenda, no baggage, no goals. You lived in the present moment, so living an hour mindfully isn’t alien to you. It’s a chance to let go of all the stuff that modern society considers normal and see what happens.
Think of it as being like trying out a new hobby or sport and seeing how you find it. After a couple of tries, you’ll find that your mind is able to focus easily on one task at a time, and you’ll feel more in control.
3. Mindful senses exercise
Take about five minutes to try this exercise. Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Either indoors, or if possible, looking outside. Spend one minute connecting with each sense. With your eyes open, just take in all the colours entering your eyes – just notice the various shades and tones of colour for a minute. Then close your eyes and notice what scents are around. Then taste. Then be aware of the physical sensations of your body for a minute. Finally, be aware of the sounds around you for a minute.
Connect with each sense without a need to think about or judge the experience. It’s a great way of ‘rebooting' your mind – a rest from the thinking mind.
The Mindful Way Through Stress by Shamash Alidina is out now.
Read Relax in the doing by Florence Parot on LifeLabs
Photograph: Kohei Hara/Corbis