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Easy mindfulness exercises to find calm and clarity

Mindfulness has been a buzz word for some years now – what exactly is it? A therapeutic practice, it helps us reconnect our mind to the present, enabling us to become aware of our surroundings and our feelings, while remaining calm to achieve a state of inner peace. Whether you want to improve concentration, eliminate anxiety or relax, try these easy, everyday exercises to experience the benefits of mindfulness for yourself.

To awaken your senses
Your kids have been keeping you up at night? Having a food coma? Feeling unmotivated after a long holiday? No matter why you are feeling sluggish and drowsy, here’s a way to wake yourself up the natural way. Dubbed the “Five Senses Exercise”, this mindfulness practice advocates getting in tune with your senses in order to calm and sharpen your mind. Ask yourself what you see, feel, hear, smell and taste at the moment, and concentrate on just one sense at a time. By forcing your mind to direct the attention to each of your senses, you’ll feel more awake and focused.

To lift your spirits
Whether you’re battling the Monday blues or just need help getting through a rough day, this practice will help you raise and regain satisfaction. In a journal, write down every task you’ve completed as the day goes. Similar to the sense of achievement that you get when crossing things off your to-do list, this will remind you of your accomplishments, no matter big or small. You can up the ante by keeping a gratitude journal to record the things you’re thankful for. These can be anything from the good weather to the kindness you’ve experienced from family, friends or strangers. By drawing attention to the positives in your life, you’ll feel happier and more optimistic.

To rid yourself of anxiety
If you’re the type to feel anxious before important events – be it a wedding, a job interview, or activities like travelling and conversing with strangers, compose yourself with breathing exercises designed to calm the mind. Box breathing, for example, calls for anxious individuals to sit with their eyes closed, breathing in through the nose, holding it, then exhaling. The trick is to slowly count to four with each step. Another useful technique is alternate nostril breathing: first close your right nostril with your finger and inhale through your left. Then pinch your nose closed, holding in the breath briefly. After that, close your left nostril and breathe out of your right.
To relieve stress
For a quick relief from feelings of stress, a mindfulness meditation might come in handy. The goal is to shift from the thoughts inside your head to the environment that surrounds you. Simple Habit, which features five-, 10- and 20-minute guided medtations for different life situations to help you quickly lower stress. Meditation Studio, another app, offers different teachings and styles of guided meditations. If listening to music is more your thing, try putting on a piece, and simply take a few moments to relax, ground yourself, and breathe. That can be a mindfulness practice in itself.

To wind down
Do you find it impossible to unwind after a long day? Try these tension-releasing techniques on for size. Body scan meditation encourages relaxation by tuning into sensations in the body. Position yourself comfortably – you could lie down if you wish – and take deep breaths. Simply feel your body from the bottom to the top. When coming across tension, visualise it leaving your body through your breathing. Progressive muscle relaxation is a similar method to decrease body tension, but it requires you to tense, then release, the muscles in the body, starting with the face, and working your way down towards your feet. You can do this while sitting, or lying down.

Looking for more ways to relax? Check out these inspiring documentaries to watch on your own or with loved ones!
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