It happened again today. I forgot to go outside. I don’t mean I completely forgot to go outside, but I forgot to do my Five-Minute Mindful Mood Booster.
Ever since I discovered the research that showed that the first five minutes of light exercise in nature delivers the biggest mood booster of time spent outside, I realized what a realistic mindfulness practice it is for even the busiest person. It’s true. The green exercise research program at the University of Essex (UK) has started to quantify some of these health benefits.
“The research has involved a range of different types of nature therapies, contexts, activities, clients, motivations and needs, but all have shown positive health and wellbeing benefits. Findings report that many types of activities, irrespective of activity and duration, lead to improvements in self-esteem and mood, by reducing feelings of anger, confusion, depression and tension. We have also measured physical health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, and seen how engaging in group activities facilitates social networking and connectivity.”
And you don’t have to live in the countryside or do any particular type of exercise — no three-day hike required — although if you enjoy that, it will probably deliver a decent dose of well-being your way.
The research showed little difference for urban or rural dwellers, or for the type of exercise. And just in case you are thinking — oh, it’s cold and wet outside, I am not going to get the benefits of THIS Five-Minute Mindful Mood Booster am I?
Wrong. Green exercise works no matter what the weather is — it is not just about getting the Vitamin D or the joy of a spring breeze — the benefits of green exercise transcend the weather. Wow.
The real clincher — what makes it really hard NOT to take up this idea — is the bit I shared right at the start: it is in the first five minutes that the greatest benefit is realized — and that light intensity activities produce the greatest effects.
Excerpt from Psych Central, to read the full article visit their website here
Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment and accepting it without judgment. Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically and has been found to be a key element in happiness. Scientific studies are showing many benefits from mindfulness in all aspects of our lives which appear to affect people of any age in an extremely positive way. These include in relationships, performance at school or at work, in sports performance, our physical and mental well-being and positively affect levels of empathy and compassion towards others. Being mindful is something which is actually quite easy to do but in today’s busy world it is easy forgotten and very few people do this naturally. Through practice and patience anyone can learn and benefit from this technique.
- Relaxation - Sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra.
- Body sensations - Notice subtle body sensations such as an itch or tingling without judgment and let them pass. Notice each part of your body in succession from head to toe.
- Sensory - Notice sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches.
- Emotions - Allow emotions to be present without judgment.
- Cope with cravings - such as chocolate and allow them to pass.
- Pay attention - Notice external sensations such as sounds, sights, and touch that make up your moment-to-moment experience. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Instead you watch what comes and goes in your mind, and discover which mental habits produce a feeling of well-being or suffering. Learning to take notice and be more aware of the present or being ‘mindful’ can have a great effect on your personal health and wellbeing.
Make it happen
Some suggestions to increase mindfulness and taking notice:
- Resolve to walk more often and notice your surroundings paying particular attention to anything you notice which is new e.g. a house you never noticed, a particularly beautiful tree or plant, the sounds, birdsong etc
- Pay attention to the food you eat and how the foods you eat make you feel
- Try something, new anything that you are interested in
- Join a club
- Join a meditation class
- Look for the good in those around you
- Help out a friend in need
- Do something kind things for others
- Begin to say “Thank you” more often
Finally, take time to notice things around you:
- Say thank you to a colleague who has pulled out all the stops to help you
- Say thank you to the next person who treats you kindly
- Spend time with a loved and notice all the special things about them
If you would like further support with Mindfulness or for further techniques on boosting your resilience Health Assured can help, our team of trained counsellors are available to offer support when you need it most 24/7 from our UK based call centres. To find out more call the number below.