We've reported many times on the positive after-effects of mindfulness (simply being present) and how it can benefit your mental health. It's been proven as an aid to those struggling with depression and linked to relieving stress while boosting focus, morality, and even relationship satisfaction. But if you're not keen on the art of mindful meditation (it's a skill and can be tricky to grasp right away), you can go down another route by using specific activities or techniques that are just as effective. Here are five we love.
This is all about using colouring as a relaxation tool. Through colouring, you can focus your mind on one small task at a time, whether that is shading an area, or losing yourself in the finer details. While this is by no means a cure for stress or anxiety, it can be another weapon to add to your arsenal, calming and centring your mind. There is an array of adult colouring books now available, solely designed for this purpose.
If you've been meaning to take up a creative pursuit, there's never been a better time; studies have shown that crafting lowers stress levels and increases happiness. From patchwork to knitting or flower arranging, these crafts enable you to focus on the task at hand, tuning out the world around you and creating something you can be proud of. It's a truly enjoyable form of mindfulness.
This is all about folding pretty paper. Origami might have originated 1,500 years ago, but experts are now saying the ancient paper technique has very modern mental health benefits that include increasing concentration and encouraging positivity. In many ways, it's a natural progression from adult colouring books, but the difference is that with origami you are actually creating a piece of art and not just filling in someone else's drawing. And you can do it anywhere.
Did you know that the majority of us are breathing incorrectly? We spend our day taking a series of short, shallow breaths instead of breathing deeply as we should. Just shifting your attention from whatever is going on to the act of taking a single purposeful breath can make a meaningful contribution to managing stress. Not only will paying regular attention to your breath (focus on taking full, deep breaths) give you a good reading on your mental and emotional but state, you'll also tap into an easy and efficient way to manage stress and anxiety.
Forget the headphones and fast-paced walking. There is no destination in mind when it comes to walking meditation, and it's best to avoid tight time restrictions or deadlines. This is simply strolling mindfully, noticing the environment around you, allowing thoughts to flow in and out of your mind. If you're on the beach, feel the sand under your feet, listen to the waves hypnotically rolling into the shoreline, and inhale the cleansing, salty air. For a forest or nature walk, let the trees enthral you and notice the simplicity and beauty of the flowers.
Main photograph: Unsplash