- Breathe deeply – although we all breathe, many of us don’t take time to breathe deeply. You can practice it when you walk up and down stairs at home, when you wake up in the morning, before and after a meditation…in fact, any time you need to! Breathe deeply through your nose, hold for a second or two, and then release slowly through your mouth – do this three times, or until you feel calm.
2. Try meditation. It doesn’t have to be long, just 10 minutes a day will help. The app ‘Headspace’ is a great way to start guided mediation, and has a few you can try for free.
3. Practice gratitude – more than ever in challenging times, it’s important to focus on what we’re grateful for. Try writing down three things each day.
4. Practice self-love and self-compassion. We are often our own harshest critic, and speak to ourselves in ways that we wouldn’t dream of speaking to someone else. Whenever you see yourself in a mirror, stop and say something kind (…you have nice eyes, your hair looks good today, you look nice in that top…). Look for the good things rather than picking out the bad. From self-love, comes self-respect.
5. Counting to 10 – if things are getting too much, stop and count slowly to 10. This will give you distance, time to breathe, and the ability to re-set your thoughts and check your reactions.
6. Try not to get caught up in negative talk. It’s easy to do, especially when talking to others…I think it’s quite a British thing? If people around you are talking negatively, try to distance yourself. If this isn’t possible physically, take your mind to a ‘happy place’ and think about something else that is positive.
7. Keep a journal. This is a great way to clear your mind and get your thoughts and worries out onto paper. Sharing them (whether with a person or on paper) allows you time to process the information and clear the mind. However, a journal doesn’t have to take a long time. I personally use ‘The 5 Minute Journal’, which is quick, and helps to focus the mind towards gratitude and positivity at the start and end of each day.
8. Start a morning routine. Something that is easy enough to keep up 5 out of 7 days, something that helps you focus on the positive, and awakens your body ready for the day. This could include a 10 minute yoga session from the internet, a quick journal, or a meditation.
9. Even if it’s not part of your morning routine, exercise is well-known to help with mental well-being. Just 10 minutes a day can help bring peace to your body and mind.
10. Write a to-do list! This helps clear the mind, helps you to focus on what you need to get done, and will give you the headspace to become more productive.
11. Take a long soak in a warm bath, with bubbles and low lights if you can!
12. Listen to soothing music. This might be different for different people, but I always find classical music or spa sounds good.
13. Try not to multi-task. Focussing on one thing at a time will help to encourage a more peaceful mind, whilst getting tasks done systematically.
14. Stop and smell the flowers! If you are anxious and feeling overwhelmed or panicky, stop what you are doing, and look for three things that you can see, three things you can hear, and three things you can smell. This is a great way to focus the mind on the present. Followed up by the breathing from step 1, and counting from step 5, this is great to help re-set your thoughts.
15. Talk…to friends, family, a mentor, a counsellor…whoever your support system is. Someone else will help you see things from a different perspective, you’ll feel more grounded, it’ll help you sort through your thoughts, help you to feel connected, and you may even end up having a laugh, which does wonders for the mind!
Now if you’ve reached this far, well done! Obviously this list is just a collection of ideas, and there’s no expectation for you to do all of these, every day! Pick and choose which ones suit you, fit with how you feel at a specific time, and also where you are at a specific time. Maybe choose one or two steps to introduce to your every day, and then save this list to your phone or write it down and keep it in your purse, so if you feel anxious or overwhelmed during the day, you can easily access the ideas and put one into practice.