Monday, 18 January 2016

Lifestyle | Mindfulness - easy ways to start reliving stress


What is mindfulness?
This is a concept that was fairly new to me last year when I started to use meditation techniques to help relieve stress. I won't lie, moving to Lagos has been quite stressful, from trying to settle down to finding the right job and navigating a city so familiar to me yet so alien. I have found that in times were I feel completely drained, practicing mindfulness has been very helpful.

Psychology Today describes it as a "state of active, open attention on the present. When you are mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from distance, without judging them good or bad". 

To those of us who ever get into a stressful state, but do not know how to escape from it, focusing your thoughts and feelings can be a great way to achieve calm. Personally, I know I can be a stress head. Even my friends know that once I get worked up about an issue, I find it hard to snap out of it. Sometimes, all we need to do is reset ourselves and mindfulness is something that can possibly help. We may all have that one trick that helps - for me its listening to 'Moonlight Serenade' by Frank Sinatra or for longer spells, 'An American in Paris', the nearly 17 minutes symphonic composition by George Gershwin. But when that does not work, using certain techniques help to really clear my head. Below, I have tried what I think are two basic ways to begin to to achieve focus, attention and most importantly, calm.


Colouring Books
The Little Book of Colouring Patterns - peace in your pocket
The Little Book of Calm Colouring - portable relaxation

At the start of last year, if someone told me I would be spending my time colouring within the lines, I would have laughed at them. But that is what I have ended up doing. In 2015, colouring books for adults really soared in popularity. Everyone is doing it now, on the trains, buses and in the workplace. It claims to be able to relieve stress and centre your thoughts because all you are focused on is colouring into those intricate lines on the pages. People find that it has quite the therapeutic effect and I akin it to doodling on a page when on the phone or thinking about nothing. I have been informed that the best way to use the books is to focus on your breathing whilst calmly putting in the colours you feel. I first tried it on the flight I took from London to Lagos back in October. I felt like I was in a little world of my own and before I knew it an hour had passed by. I quite enjoy using these books although sometimes, I can get stressed trying to figure out how to make the page perfect! Despite this, it is a quick and easy way to have some time out during the day. 



Apps
(headspace)
(calm)

There are several apps on the iTunes store that I was introduced to by a lovely girl at my old job called Parisa. She had been using these apps for a while to relive stress and found the techniques to be quite useful. From her recommendations, I ended up picking the two I found to be the most useful - Calm and Headspace. Both apps are free on the iTunes store so one can easily try them out to see if it is for you. Once you open up the app, you are directed to pick a program and are instructed on how to position your body and sit in silence. It seems so easy to be able to focus on your breathing and focus for 5 minutes or more but once I started I find that my mind began to wander towards thoughts about your worries or even trivial things like what I wanted to eat that day. But there is a voice on the app that always tries to bring you back to the centre. Eventually, you feel the state of calm from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet. Whether it be for 5 minutes or longer, I feel the benefits of having no distraction for a while. 

The calm app is my favourite of the two free apps. On the app, you can pick from different meditation programmes. I found '7 Days of Calm' to be an effective tool I have used over and over again. You can also control the scene and noises you hear over the app from a sunset beach to silent clouds and rain on leaves. Although, I am still not sure what silent clouds sound like.

(Note I am not an expert and have only shared with you very easy ways to relieve stress that I have found work for me)


Do you use these techniques and find them useful? Leave a comment below and let us know!


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1 comment

  1. I've been colouring in those books lately too! Definitely helps! X

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