What is Mindful Movement?

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Put simply, mindful movement is carrying out a movement whilst paying special attention to your motion and breathing. For example, you may inhale as you lift your arms above your head then exhale as you lower them back down.

What?

If you think doing mindful movement means carrying out an ambitious yoga routine, don’t worry. Although yoga is a form of mindful movement, beginners can start of with stretches that are within their ability and range of movement.

If you need some suggestions of stretches, there are some great tracks on SoundCloud. Simply listen to these and follow along with the instructions, only doing what feels comfortable and within your range of movement.

You may wish to take note of your favourite stretches from the various clips and ‘flow’ them together into your own ‘routine’.

When?

There’s no specific time that’s best for mindful movement, so think about what works for you. You may find getting out of bed and doing some stretches first thing helps to waken up your body. You can do some stretches throughout the day, for example, if your body becomes stiff from sitting around all day whilst working from home. I would recommend you leave plenty of time after eating before trying any intense stretches as the movement may divert the energy the body would need for digestion.

You can even bring mindfulness to everyday movements such as standing up from a seated position. You’ll be surprised at just how complex this movement is if you’re not used to paying such close attention, for example:

🦶 you may notice the weight shifting to your feet

🪑 your bum will slowly rise away from the chair

🧍‍♂️ your centre of balance will be completely shifted as your body rises up

As I say with all the other concepts discussed in this blog, experiment and see what works for you.

How to do Mindful Breathing

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For this blog, I wanted to share with you some simple, practical tips for mindful breathing. They require no special talents or equipment and be done by anyone, anywhere. Try one of these exercises when you’re stuck in traffic, waiting for the kettle to boil or in bed if your mind’s racing and you can’t get to sleep.

1. Feeling the breath in your body

I suggest sitting in a comfortable position for this exercise.

🫁 Take a deep breath in through your nose. Where do you feel it? Do you feel your tummy rising?

😮‍💨 Now exhale through your nose. What sensations in the body do you associate with breathing out? You may feel your tummy falling or feel the air against your top lip.

🛌 This activity can be adapted to help children relax when going to bed. Ask your child to lie on their back and sit a cuddly toy on their tummy. On taking a deep breath in through the nose, watch the toy rise. With a slow breath out through the mouth, watch the toy fall. (For more sleep tips, see our sleep better blog.)

2. Anchoring your attention on the breath

It can be difficult to keep your attention on your breath. This exercise can help you to stay focused.

🫁 Silently say ‘inhale’ as you breathe in

😮‍💨 Silently say ‘exhale’ as you breathe out

You can adapt this activity by counting 1 as you inhale, 2 as you exhale, 3 as you inhale, etc. till you get to 10 or your attention wanders. You can then start counting at 1 again.

3. Counting

This is a more advanced technique that can reduce a sense of panic. Count in your head whilst you’re breathing/holding.

🫁 Inhale-2-3-4

😮 Hold-2-3

😮‍💨 Exhale-2-3-4-5

😮 Hold-2-3

🫁 Inhale (and continue from the start)

Vary the length of each section to find what works best for you. If you feel holding your breath for too long makes you feel uncomfortable, reduce the length of this section. Having an exhale longer than the inhale can help you feel relaxed. If you feel light-headed at any point during the exercise, return to breathing normally.

4. Notice patterns of breathing

“When we check our email, wait for messages to load, we unconsciously hold our breath. And this matters because… holding your breath is something you do in moments of anxiety.”

~ Dr. Alex Soojung-Kim Pang

Can you notice other changes in your breathing pattern? We tend to take slower, deeper breaths when we experience positive emotions and faster, shallow breaths when we feel anxious or angry. Observe your breathing and consider what triggers and change in rate.

Feel free to experiment with these 4 exercises and see what works for you. Mindful breathing is a great technique to have in your mindfulness/wellbeing toolkit for when you need a little more relaxation in your life.

Does boredom spark creativity?

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Lockdowns have gave us plenty of time to be bored! Do you think that being bored is a bad thing? Having nothing to do can lead you to make bad decisions just for the sake of having something to do. Those who are boredom prone can turn to drugs, alcohol or excessive technology use such as gaming or social media. Some people would argue that getting bored should be embraced as an opportunity to discover and nurture untapped creativity. Others may argue that you could cultivate this without having to get bored first. Let’s take a look at both side of the argument.

Does being bored make me more creative? 🥱

A bored mind can be a great launch pad for new, creative ideas. Research shows that doing a passive activity that allows you to daydream can lead to more creative ideas. In her TED Talk, podcast host and writer Manoush Zomorodi discusses how taking the time to get bored can lead to brilliant ideas:

If watching Manoush’s TED Talk has inspired you, take the Bored and Brilliant challenge. Try each of the challenges each day for 6 days and see how much more creative you are.

Do I need to get bored to be creative? 🧑‍🎨

In a way, these steps are about removing distractions; the sorts of activities you’d indulge in to diminish the discomfort that comes from being bored, such as scrolling through social media or playing a game on your phone. Even if you don’t believe in getting bored, removing distractions by deleting addictive games from your smartphone is a good place to start if you want to cultivate creativity.

If you want to avoid forming bad habits around boredom, have a list of good things to do and things to avoid. Fun Palace’s Tiny Revolutions of Connection provides a fantastic range of creative activities you could try out (you can find our own contributions on our Tiny Revolutions page). Being stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’ trying to find the ‘perfect’ activity to do can bolster an existing sense of boredom. Jump straight into an activity – trick your brain by saying you’ll just try it for 5 minutes; you may find that after those 5 minutes you’ve started to enjoy the activity and don’t want to stop.

If we’ve got you interested in trying out getting bored, remember to start by making a list of creative activities to try out. Also think of what you want to avoid; you don’t want to do anything that would harm your wellbeing. Following the ‘Bored and Brilliant challenge’ is a great next step.

Good luck in finding untapped creative potential! ✨

 

Sources & further reading:

How to Be Bored by Shayla Love on Vice

Does Boredom Bring Out Our Creative Flair? by Dr Sandi Mann on The Huffington Post

How to take control of your mobile phone usage

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Do you feel as if you spent too much time on your smartphone? Both Android and iOS devices now come with settings built-in to help you keep tabs on your usage. Check out our tips and the videos below for an introduction to the features.

Firstly, you may wish to shift your mindset. Picking up your device every time you hear a notification means your likely to fall down a rabbit hole. I’ve heard the best way to think about your phone is to treat it like a toothbrush:

You only use it when you’re supposed to, for as long as you need to, and then, you let it go.

Using Digital Wellbeing tools on Android

Android devices now include a ‘Digital Wellbeing’ section in the settings. This allows you to keep track of how many times you unlock your screen each day and how much time you spent in each app. The video below describes how to set app time limits. It also explains the process of using ‘bedtime mode’ which can mute notifications and de-colour your screen, making your device less enticing to use.


Using Digital Health features on iPhone

Similar features are also available on iPhones, as seen in the video below.


 

Experiment with what works for you when it comes to limiting your smartphone usage. You may also want to check out the Forest app we recommended in our blog about working from home.

Tips for Mindful Walking

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These days, people are going for so many walks it’s become a cliché. We’re all so fed up being stuck inside that we’re glad to get outside! Whilst going for a walk in itself is a great way to take a break, adding an extra layer of awareness to it can make it more interesting. For this week’s blog, I want to give you some tips on how you might want to change your mindset when you go outside for a walk.

Mindful walking is about experiencing the walk more deeply. The best way to do this is to use as many of your senses as possible:

👂🏻 Can you hear the birdsong? 🐦

👃🏻 Can you smell the trees? 🌲

🦶🏻 How does you foot feel as you place it on the ground? 🥾

🤍 Also, do you feel a sense of gratitude that you can go outside and breathe the fresh air? 🏞

Do a rainbow walk 🌈

Here’s an interesting game you can play. It might help children notice more about what they see on their walk or help you take your mind of things.

Whilst you’re on your walk, see if you can find something that is each colour of the rainbow. You may see a red postbox, an orange sign, a yellow car, a green leaf, a blue fence and a purple planter. It may be nice to take a photo of each colour so you can remember your walk.

Where do you like to walk locally? 🗺

There are many great locations in our local area to enjoy a walk. For a short walk within Auchinleck, you may wish to visit The Knowe. The garden is about to burst with Spring colour, so now is the ideal time to visit if you want to watch it transform. Perhaps you like to travel out to the A-Frame site. Another option is the churchyard trails at Auchinleck church. There are lots of options, so please feel free to share your suggestions below in the comments.

Tips on how to sleep better

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For this week’s blog, we share some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep. Feel free to experiment and see what works for you.

Avoid blue light

The first thing you should consider if you want to get a good night’s sleep is your night routine. If you’re using devices just before going to bed, you could consider using bedtime mode on your device. (Wellbeing tools in technology is something we look at in more depth in this blog.) Too much blue light can trick your brain, which means you won’t feel sleepy at bedtime. Check out this article from the Sleep Foundation if you’re interested in finding out more about how blue light affects sleep.

Calm a busy brain

Having calm surroundings can help as a cluttered environment can stimulate the brain. If you have an untidy bedroom, try clearing everything away. If your brain is still buzzing, try some mindful breathing or listening to a sleep meditation (remember if you’re using a device at bedtime to follow our advice about avoiding too much blue light exposure; you could set up what you want to listen to during the day so all you need to is hit play at bedtime).



Some people also find listening to a podcast or audiobook a great way to take their mind off what they’re thinking about. Have a look in the settings of your podcast/audiobook app for a sleep timer setting (it may have a icon). This will allow you to set a period of time the audio will play before it cuts out.

Finding the right position 

Making sure your pillows are allowing you to get into a comfortable position is important for avoiding waking up achy. Good support for the head will help prevent strain on your neck. Side sleepers may wish to experiment with a cushion between the knees to see if this makes them more comfortable. Similarly, back sleepers may wish to put a cushion behind their knees.

Get the right amount of sleep

The average person needs around 8 hours of sleep per night, but this can vary. Not sleeping for long enough can lead to you waking up tired and wanting to take naps during the day. Too much sleep can make you feel groggy when you get up.

Find out if you have a sleep problem

If you think you have a sleep problem, please check out this guide from NHS Inform Scotland. If you have a more serious problem, follow the advice to contact a professional to discuss.

Furthermore, NHS UK have informative guides on sleep and why lack of sleep is bad for you.

Supporting your Children’s Wellbeing

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Simple activities can help stimulate your child’s interest and increase their awareness of the need for good wellbeing. For this week’s Wellbeing Wednesday blog, I will describe some activities you can do with children to encourage them to think about their emotions. We are also providing activity packs with the materials required to carry out the activities, read on to find out more.

Glitter shaker

For this activity, you will need the materials from your pack, plus a glass jar (such as an old jam jar you would otherwise have put in the recycling).

When you shake the jar, the glitter and water get stirred up, making the water cloudy. Our mind is like the glitter; when we get caught up in our thoughts and emotions, it can be difficult to see clearly, which impacts our perceptions and decision making. Practicing mindfulness can help us to become aware of this process, create some space between our thoughts, emotions, and reactions, and allow ourselves the opportunity to settle.

In this activity, one of Hector’s friends, a tortoise or his underwater cousin the turtle, represents you. The glitter represents your thoughts. When the globe is left undisturbed, the glitter settles and the water becomes clear again.

Stress ball

A stress ball can be a good tool to let your stress go.

The stress ball is made using 2 balloons and a filling such as rice, which are all provided in the activity pack.

We find that this breathing exercise if a good way to use your finished stress ball: clench your fist around the stress ball and you inhale. Hold this for a short while. Now exhale, letting you of your stress and your grip on your stress ball.

Getting your hands on a pack

This Wellbeing Activity Pack is brought to you by the STEP team, who also put together the Summer and Autumn Activity Packs during 2020. If you live in Auchinleck, please complete the form below. Families in Netherthird should contact Netherthird Community Centre. Packs are also available for families in Muirkirk to collect from the former Co-op shop and Toll Garage.

Auchinleck Sign-up Form
Sign-up has now ended.

What’s your morning routine?

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Sleep well at night and getting up’s alright

You may be thinking, “Morning routine! How am I supposed to start a morning routine when I’m rolling out of bed like a zombie‽”

If you find yourself unable to get up as early as you’d like in the morning, the first thing you need to look at is the night before. Are you staying up too late? Having a good sleep routine is something we look at in another blog.

Get your brain working first thing

If you need a bit of encouragement to get out of bed, try the ‘Challenges Alarm Clock – Wake up Puzzles’ app. You can configure the app to give you ‘challenges’ to solve, choosing what types, quantity and difficulty suit you.
Download Challenges Alarm Clock – Wake up Puzzles from the Play Store

Use the first moments of the day to set you up for success

Using the first moments of the day to set yourself up for the day can help you get the most from your day. Check out the suggestions in the video below:


  • Avoid bad habits such as checking your phone to scroll through social media or browse the news as soon as you awake.
  • Check in with your mind and body.
  • Ask yourself what quality you want to cultivate today. Consider how your day will look if you stick to your intention. You could write your intention down or set a reminder on your phone to bring your attention back to the intention.

Best activities for the morning

Here’s some classic suggestions of activities for the morning:

read (if you want to get into the habit of daily reading, join the #Read21in21 challenge)
 mindful movement or yoga
journaling

Have you go any tips for a positive start to the morning you’d like to share? Please set us know in the comments:

Mindful Moments for when you’re short on time

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Sometimes we get so busy that we leave ourselves without enough time to take a break to be mindful. However, being short on time doesn’t mean that you should miss out on you mindfulness practice. Here are some ways you could bring some mindfulness into a short period of time…

<60 seconds: Looking at Something ⛈

The ‘Looking at Something’ site allows you to change to on-screen weather by moving your mouse pointer towards the top or bottom of the screen. You could start off with the pointer towards the bottom of the screen if your in a bad mood and slowly move upwards as you calm down, turning a thunderstorm into a pleasant, sunny day enhanced with birdsong.

Visit Looking at Something (This is best viewed on a PC)

60 seconds: Pixel Thoughts 🌠

You start the Pixel Thoughts session by typing your ‘stressful thought’ into a ‘star’. There is then an animation with calming music and reassuring messages. Sit back, relax and sense your worries melt away.

Visit Pixel Thoughts

5(ish) minutes: Headspace Radio 🎙

These short podcast episodes are a great way to inspire some mindfulness in your day.

Check out Radio Headspace – tap your favourite podcast app to start listening

Everyday Tasks 🍽

By turning everyday tasks into an opportunity to be mindful, you can bring some mindfulness to your day without it taking up any more time.

Good activities top turn into mindful activities include mindfully eating your meals or mindful walking.


We hope you enjoy finding short moments to enjoy mindfulness throughout your day. Soon these short moments of mindfulness will start to add up and you will be able to approach each day with a sense of calmness and intention.

Work from Home Wellbeing Tips

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Wellbeing can take a back-seat when working from home. Sitting, staring at a monitor all day can lead to a eye strain and an achy body. Furthermore, staying focused can be exhausting. The answer can sometimes be found by making the technology you use work for you.

Get ‘eye break’ reminders 👁

Install EyeLeo onto your PC to receive reminders to take ‘eye breaks’ from your screen. It can be easy to get engrossed in an important task and end up spending too long staring at your monitor. This can reduce your blinking rate and lead to dry eyes. EyeLeo gives you long breaks and short breaks. You can adjust the time between breaks should occur in the program’s settings.

Take a break to stretch 💪🏻

Visit ineedabreak.work on your PC for a 60-second mini-workout. There are a variety of workouts, each with 4 different exercises of 15 second each. Sometimes the exercises are chair-based so so you don’t even need to move away from your desk. The “RECHARGING DO NOT DISTURB” message across the top of the screen lets anyone who wanders by know to not interrupt your break.

Similarly, the New Tab Stretches extension for Chrome suggests a stretch to you each time you open a new tab in your browser. A description of the stretch is accompanied by an illustration to give you a good idea of how to do the stretch. If that particular stretch isn’t for you, a button in the top left of the window allows you to view another stretch.

Keep your focus 🌲

Downloading Forest onto your Android phone or iPhone encourages you to stay focused on a specific task for a set period of time. You start by ‘planting a tree’ which will take a set length of time to grow. If you get distracted and start using your phone during this time, your tree will ‘die’. Use the app throughout the day to see your forest expand and earn coins to increase your tree species options.

Download these websites, apps and extensions and see what works for you. They’re all free to use, so you’ve got little to lose.