5 Daily Mindfulness practices for your Mind & Body

It may not be immediately obvious, but mindfulness and living a balanced lifestyle are two closely related concepts that can help support one another. Incorporating mindfulness practices into your daily life can help with stress management, increase your self-awareness, and improve your physical well-being, which are all important elements of living a balanced lifestyle.

Some mindfulness practices can take hours of time and lots of dedication to complete, but others are more simple can be done in 30 or even 5 minutes during a work day. Here are five daily mindfulness practices that you can start incorporating into your daily routine to help you nurture a more balanced lifestyle:

1. Meditation

Meditation and related activities - such as deep breathing and ujjayi - can help to balance your thoughts and emotions in a number of ways. Firstly, it decreases the activity in the sympathetic nervous system, reducing the 'fight or flight' response and helping restore a sense of calm and safety. Secondly, it helps decrease cortisol levels, which are directly linked to stress and anxiety. Finally, it can help to enhance self-awareness, preparing you to accept whatever the day might hold for you.

It's best to meditate at the beginning of the day, as it helps you set the tone for your day as one of thoughtfulness and calmness.

2. Journaling

Not only does journaling require thoughtfulness and patience, it also requires you to do some self assessment, and truly connect with your thoughts and feelings. Not everything you write has to be profound or meaningful, you could just record how you're feeling in the moment, what your plans are, or what happened to you that day. The most important thing is that you take some time either every day or every few days to connect with yourself and reflect.

Journaling is best done at the end of the day, so you can reflect on everything that's happened and look forward to what lies ahead tomorrow.

3. Yoga & stretching

Yoga combines physical exercise with posture improvement, breathing, and meditative practice. While it can seem daunting at first, yoga is a lot of fun and very easy to get into. You can do it for 20 minutes a day or 1 hour a few times a week. You can decide to stay at a certain level, or increase the difficulty of your practice until it becomes both physically challenging and spiritually rewarding.

The best thing about yoga is that it can be done in any appropriate space as long as you have a mat or a towel. There are hundreds of free courses online and on Youtube, aimed at every level from beginner to expert yogi!

4. Cook a simple meal

Cooking not only helps you be more mindful of what you eat, but allows you to be creative and more aware of the connection between the mind and the body. If you're feeling stressed about something you're working on, walking away for a while and engaging in a completely different activity can often help you destress and even think about ways to approach the problem from a different perspective. Or you can channel all your anger into some vigorous chopping!

Also, what we eat has a direct impact on our physical and mental health. Prepare food for yourself as if you're someone that you care about!

5. Take a walk in nature

I always recommend people walk outside for at least half an hour every day, preferrably when the sun is out for some much needed vitamin D. It's also best to go when it's relatively quiet, like in the early morning or over lunchtime. Not only do walks improve your mood, but the exercise is good for joint pain (built up from hours of sitting at our desks) and gets the blood flowing, which is great for the heart!

As you can see, these actions are not only straightforward but short. Anyone can start doing them anywhere and at anytime. You can keep them up while you're travelling, or just decide to try one out when you're having a particularly stressful moment at work or at home.

Do you have any other easy mindfulness activities people can pick up easily?

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