Happy New Year dear reader. And what a start to the year it’s been!
The whole country began the year in tiers, and a new strain of Covid put even more strain on our collective resilience and mental health. During these dark days, both literally and figuratively, the mindful practices of reflection, contemplation, and paying attention to our senses can help us to find some solace.
However, what we think of as self-care can sometimes be self-indulgence, dare I even say self-sabotage in disguise. Mindfulness encourages us to pay attention to our thought processes, therefore, it can help us recognise what we actually need, rather than what we think we need. A very important distinction to make when anxieties are running high and we may be tempted to lean on familiar but unhealthy emotional crutches.
Mindfulness became somewhat of a buzzword a few years back, with some arguing the practice had become dislodged from its spiritual roots. While it is rooted in a tradition of mediation that dates back thousands of years, modern-day mindfulness only began in the 70s and was always secular in nature (1)
Mindfulness can help us cultivate positive habits that can enhance our capacity to cope. These habits will be different for each of us depending on our needs, however, here are a few tried and tested practices that are wonderful for nourishing the soul.
Taking time to sit in your favourite spot with a beautiful sustainably sourced notepad and writing a Journal can be incredibly therapeutic. It could take the form of a letter to yourself. A reflection on your day. Evidence has highlighted that journalling can help us label emotions and acknowledge trauma, as well as boosting memory. (2) It’s incredibly cathartic and a great way to connect to your thoughts and feelings.
Sunshine Bindery, Sunflower A6 Recycled Blank Notebook
Bathe in Candlelight
Candles have been used for centuries in ceremonies to bring solace and peace into a space. Unfortunately, many of today’s candles are made from paraffin wax which is bad for the air quality in our homes and the environment.
Brands such as Above the Flame use cruelty-free fragrance oils and 100% soy wax – a superior alternative to traditional paraffin wax, as it has a cleaner burn, doesn’t release toxins and it’s sustainable too!
Turn off the living room lights an hour before bed and get some candles on the go. The natural, flickering flame has a relaxing, calming, and meditative effect that can support a restful night’s sleep. (3)
Above The Flame, Winter Lodge Soy Wax Candle
Nurture a mindset of gratitude
As well as enhancing our capacity to cope, mindfulness also allows us to reflect on those around us and how intimately connected we all are. The company, Kind Bag, makes reusable bags from recycled bottles as well as donating 10% of their profits to Just One Ocean, and 25p from their Boob Bag to Against Breast Cancer. It’s amazing to think about the journey those bags have been on. One of them could have been your plastic bottle once. The mind races thinking about it.
'Recycle' Reusable Bag -100% Recycled from Plastic Bottles
When we are able to acquire things with relative ease, it’s easy to feel disconnected from the everyday items we use. We forget that we exist in a complex network of mutuality, with people and planet. Taking a moment each day to reflect on these fundamental facts of life can help nurture a mindset of gratitude. As Martin Luthar King famously said,
“Before you’ve finished eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on half the world“.
In these difficult and uncertain times, when many of us have been yanked away from our support systems, it’s never been more important to pay attention to what our minds and bodies need to stay well.
Recognising the signs of stress and anxiety means we can put strategies in place to take care of ourselves, each other, and the planet.
So what positive habits will you cultivate this year?
(1) MindfulnessUK, Mindfulness is more than just another Buzzword
(2) The New York Times, What’s all this about Journalling
(3) The Chill Times, Six benefits of burning candles in your home
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