Mindfulness and Self Care Tips
After I was diagnosed with Crohn's I became more and more aware of things that I could do to help reduce my stress levels and ultimately make me feel happier and healthier. Simple things which don't cost a lot of money or time but allow me to check in and listen to my body and mind's needs.
I'm sharing 3 tips this month and I hope that you can find some joy in these simple activities;
1. Take a walk outdoors
This doesn't have to be everyday. If you can do it everyday then that's amazing but whenever you have the opportunity and time to spare that's absolutely fine. It also doesn't have to be a long hike, simply 20 minutes is long enough to feel the benefits and you can walk anywhere green - in fields, woodland, near water, on a beach, in a park or other green space if you are in a city.
The main thing that you need to do is leave you phone behind, take the opportunity to fully relax and submerge yourself into the simplicity and beauty of nature. This is a perfect way to take in the moment and be in the present.
In Japonism living, they refer to this practice of healing through being immersed in nature as Shirin - Yoku (Nourished By Nature). There are 5 main steps to Shirin - Yoku;
1. Leave your devices at home
2. Don't follow a set path
3. Soak up the atmosphere
4. Allow yourself to be quiet
5. Take breaks as you go
Walks in nature are not only good for your heart and joint health but studies have shown that levels of cortisol (stress hormone), blood pressure and also pulse rate can lower.
Fractals, natural formed patterns found in nature, also have a massive part to play in reducing our stress levels when surrounded by nature. Many studies show that exposure to fractal patterns within nature reduce peoples levels of stress by 60%.
Feel Better, Live More #84 with Dr Rangan Chatterjee and Professor Shane O' Mara is a great podcast which delves deeper into the benefits of walking.
2. Take time to rest
Making a priority to schedule in deliberate rest is something which is so important to be able to maintain a consistent level of balance.
When was the last time you scheduled in a rest day? In a world where rest is often seen as being lazy or unproductive most people don't rest until they are past the point of burn - out when they then have no other choice but to rest.
Deliberate rest means taking time for activities which both restful, yet mentally engaging. Whether it's being creative, physically active or just something fun, find an activity or hobby that lets you recharge from your workday, while still being mentally productive.
It is becoming more clear that taking regular breaks from intense work, to do something you love, can increase creativity and productivity. We need to be able to take time out to be able to stay focused and positive, finding boundaries between work and play.
So what does rest look like?
Rest for me is either something creative, where I can make something with my hands - I love to paint and draw, knit and macrame.
Gardening and growing plants and vegetables gives me a huge sense of achievement, it helps me to stay in the moment. Playing the violin also helps me to unwind and stay present and making music is mentally stimulating.
Cooking and baking is a great way to relax, and you get to eat what you make! I like to play around with new recipes, making it up as I go along.
I also find rest during a restorative yoga session, a run or a walk. Sometimes alone and also walking with friends is a great shared experience.
3. Write it Down
Daily journalling has become an important part of my life because when I am able to write my thoughts down, I feel so much clearer in my own head and also clearer about my feelings and the way I respond to certain situations and why. This is a great way to be able to concentrate on the positives that come up and find ways to deal with the negatives, leaving you with a calmer, more focused mind.
A few tips about journalling, Keep it short, you don't have to write a lot, so no "Dear Diary" entries necessary. You can just write a few sentences or bullet points about what happened throughout your day and what thoughts, feeling or emotions came up alongside those experiences. It's an opportunity to also note if there were any situations where you could have acted or responded differently.
It's important to do this daily and also to be honest about your emotions and behaviours
I usually spend around 10 minutes to write in my journal and I do this later in the day, before bed so that the day is still fresh in my mind. It's nice to write down positive outcomes that you have found from your day to keep a positive mindset.
When I read back over what I have put down on paper, I can then learn about myself and understand myself a little bit more. It's a good way to reflect and maybe notice any patterns, both positive and also negative in your behaviours and emotions that you can then work on.
I have recently read a really inspiring book called The Source by Dr Tara Swart, she explains in more depth about the benefits of journalling, image boarding and the power of manifestation which I would recommend.