Mindfulness is a practice in which you focus your attention on  what you’re sensing and feeling in the present moment, without judging those sensations as ‘good’ or ‘bad.’ Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress. 

There are many ways to practise mindfulness. These include walking, creating art, colouring, and even when eating. It’s all about focusing in on what you’re doing in the moment and letting thoughts come and go without getting caught up in them. 

For example, you can mindfully walk in the following way: 

Mindful walking: 

Taking a simple, short walk during your day can help you manage your thoughts. 

Walk at a comfortable, easy pace.  

Breathe regularly in time with the rhythm of your walk. Swing your arms – not too wide, just enough to relax your shoulders and keep up a gentle pace. 

Pay attention to your surroundings – the colour of the sky, the patterns in the clouds, shapes of the trees and leaves, the colours of the doors, cars and houses. 

Notice how your feet feel as they touch the ground, and feel the rhythm of your arms as they swing by your side. Notice how your spine keeps you upright, and lift your head up as you walk. 

Focus on what you see, what you smell, and what you hear. Be aware of your whole body. Try to stay present and direct your thoughts back to the current moment as often as you can. 

Keeping active 

Keeping active is an important way to support your mental health and emotional wellbeing. Exercise is important as it not only helps with your mood, concentration and alertness, it can also improve your overall physical health too. 

When you exercise, the levels of chemicals in your brain – such as serotonin, stress hormones and endorphins – can change. 

Exercise helps reduce tension, which can help you to feel more relaxed. You don’t need an expensive gym membership or any fancy kit to be active. There are simple ways to remain active that you can incorporate into your life. 

Five Simple ways to stay active: 

  1. Stretch in the morning 
  2. Walk instead of taking public transport or driving 
  3. Use household objects as simple weights (but be careful they’re not too heavy!) 
  4. Try some yoga or dance around you home 
  5. Take the long way round to get to places 

Nurturing friendships 

Good friends are good for your health. Friends help you to celebrate good times and provide support during bad times. Friends prevent loneliness, boost your happiness, and improve your confidence. They also form part of your support network, and can help you through difficult times. 

Developing and maintaining healthy friendships involves ‘give and take’. Letting friends know you care about them, and showing that you appreciate their friendship, will strengthen your bond.  

To nurture your friendships and to be a good friend it helps to remember to be kind, to listen, and to show that you can be trusted.  

Healthy living 

Often we consider mental health and physical health as two completely different things – but the two are often connected, and we need to care for both our minds and our bodies.  

It’s important to think about a whole-body approach to being healthy. We need to understand that our minds are connected to our bodies, because this will help us choose healthy living approaches that support both our physical and mental health.  

Five simple ways to keep your mind and body healthy 

  1. Exercise 
  2. Sleep well 
  3. Eat healthily  
  4. If you drink caffeine or alcohol, smoke, or use any drugs (other than prescribed medication), try cutting back.
  5. Maintaining friendships 

Positive thoughts 

Maintaining a positive outlook as often as you can is really helpful for your mental and physical health. When you try to think about the positives in life, you will likely find it easier to face challenging situations. 

By being optimistic, you are more likely to find a solution, to fix a problem, or to overcome an obstacle that you’re facing in life. A positive outlook helps you feel more able to cope and work through difficult situations. It can minimise stress and lessen the impact that difficult times have on your mental health. 

Five simple ways to think more positively:  

  1. Start the day by repeating a positive affirmation ten times (think of a positive quality you have, and remind yourself of it.) 
  2. Find things that make you smile! Smiling helps your brain produce chemical associated with happiness. 
  3. Write down five things you are grateful for 
  4. Practise mindfulness 

Reaching out

Reaching out for help can feel daunting and a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s important to know that everybody needs extra support at times. Opening up and talking to someone about your thoughts can provide you with comfort or help you feel understood.  

Speaking about what may be troubling you can help you to order your thoughts and prioritise the things that you may need some support with. Talking through your problems can help reduce the emotional and physical stress you may be experiencing by sharing the pent up feeling and emotions. 

Friends, family and people we trust can help and will want to help, but sometimes it feels more comfortable to talk to a mental health professional, for example a talking therapist. The most important thing is to make your feelings heard. 

If things feel difficult and you need to reach out 

  1. Reach out to a friend or family member to talk things through 
  2. Call or visit a health professional and talk about how you are feeling 
  3. Call a telephone support line (these are open 24 hours a day) 

Helping others 

When you help others, it can help you to feel better through creating positive change in your mood and emotions. By helping others, you are not focusing on yourself and things that may be troubling you. Instead, you are focusing on others’ needs, and this can help to give you a greater sense of belonging within your community. 

Actively helping others can help lower stress levels, which in turn can help not only your physical health but your mental health too. Through helping someone with an act of kindness, you can inspire others to do the same, and the potential for support grows. 

Ideas on how to help others 

  1. Donate unwanted clothing 
  2. Volunteer your time and skills 
  3. Be a good friend 
  4. Acts of kindness 

Being organised 

There are many was that being organised can improve your mental health. When we effectively plan and provide structure for the way we work or the way we organise our daily lives, we can see overall benefits that improve our sleep, relationships, work and health.  

Planning our week allows us to decide what we need to concentrate on and helps to limit the stress of managing a busy life. It can also help us to see areas in which we can take breaks and plan some wellbeing into the day or week.  

At times, we can feel overwhelmed with thoughts of coping with all the things we may be expected to do, so building an effective and well thought-out plan can eliminate that stress and provide some calm in our busy lives. 

Steps to be more organised and free up time: 

  1. Plan your meals and/or clothes for the week 
  2. Organise your diary 
  3. Declutter your home 
  4. Set aside enough time to complete work/studies 
  5. Plan wellbeing activities 

Healthy sleep 

For better overall health, both physical and mental, we require good quality sleep. Lack of sleep can make any mental health challenges feel more difficult to overcome and can also cause you to become physically unwell. 

When we create a better bedtime routine to help us get better sleep, we can make sure that our bodies rest as much as possible. This helps manage and repair the impact of any emotional and wellbeing obstacles we’ve faced. 

Healthy sleep habits can make it feel easier to have better relationships, be more productive, and have more of an overall feeling of wellbeing. 

Tips to get better sleep 

  1. Organise yourself  
  2. Create a restful sleeping area free of stimulus 
  3. Eat healthily 
  4. If you drink caffeine or alcohol, smoke, or use any drugs (other than prescribed medication), try cutting back. 

Setting goals 

When experiencing challenges with our mental health, we may feel unable to make decisions or even think past the present moment. Setting realistic and achievable goals for ourselves in our lives will help us to think ahead, and see  the future in an optimistic way.  

When we plan for the future and set goals that we can achieve alone or with support of others, we are creating a mindset that helps us to believe we can succeed. This can of huge benefit for our wellbeing and self belief – provided that the goals we set don’t put too much pressure on us, and are realistic and achievable.  

Tips for setting yourself goals 

  1. Make a plan, including timeframes and steps to take 
  2. Ask a friend or family member to support you  
  3. Think about the path to your goal when you plan. Having clear steps to success will help motivate you. 
  4. Be kind to yourself if you falter and need to start again. It’s all part of the process to achieve real change.