Take notice

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and without judgement.

Have you ever gotten to the end of a page and realised you haven’t actually read anything on it? Ever finished eating without really tasting your food? How about finding yourself on autopilot during a familiar journey?
Taking notice of the place you are at and the moment you are in helps you remain present in the world you live in, and it is hugely beneficial to your wellbeing.

There's some science behind this too:

  • Meditation practices (a form of mindfulness) have been linked to an increased thickness in the cortex, an area of the brain that helps with attention and focus.
  • Regular practice of mindfulness increases the grey matter in the left hippocampus, an area of the brain involved in learning and memory.
  • Mindfulness also causes changes in white matter, particularly in areas involving brain interconnection and self-regulation.
  • Higher levels of mindfulness help you to better regulate emotions and destructive thoughts.
  • Mindfulness has been positively linked with lower blood pressure.
  • An Oxford University Online Mindfulness Study (2013) reported average outcomes course participants of: 58% drop in anxiety, 57% drop in depression, and a 40% drop in stress.

10 mindfulness daily do's

Take a much needed moment to ground yourself
Reconnect all your senses into the physical moment you’re in with this simple but very effective practice. Wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, notice:

  • 5 things you can see
  • 4 things you can touch 
  • 3 things you can hear
  • 2 things you can smell 
  • 1 thing you can taste 

Learn yoga
Yoga is great for reducing stress and promoting relaxation. Studies have found that regular yoga practice improves coordination, reaction time, and memory. It involves breath control and simple meditation which helps connect the body and mind to the present moment.

Take 10 mindful breathes
Deep breathe in through your nose. Really think about the oxygen you are breathing in, feel it fill your lungs. Pause. Then exhale slowly through your mouth.

Be mindful of the first mouthful of food you eat
See if you can really pay attention to all the flavours and textures of the food, the act of chewing and the act of swallowing. See if during your next meal you can be aware of the first two mouthfuls of food, and so on.

Notice interactions between people
Take the opportunity when sitting in a busy place like a shopping mall or the quad, sit quietly and just notice the interactions between people.

Enjoy a break away from your study environment
Go for a walk in a nearby park, being mindful of your breathing, and the environment around you. Can you feel the sun or wind on your face? No judging that wind now, just notice it.

Take notice of the night sky
Be aware of what phase the moon is in and how the visible constellations change throughout the year.

Practice gratitude
Practicing gratitude can decrease levels of depression and anxiety. Try writing down, or noting on a calendar, three things which you are grateful for on a daily or weekly basis.

What was the best thing about your day?
At the end of the day ask friends or family what the best thing about their day was. Listen with interest to their answer.

Get an app to help
Mindfulness can be hard at the beginning. It’s a skill, which is great, as it means you can practice and get better at it.

To get motivated to do mindfulness, it helps when it’s easy. There are some fab apps to help and even remind you. Keep practicing and you may find it becomes part of your everyday life to take notice of the world around you.

Simple Habit and Smiling Minds are good ones, but hunt around and find one that works for you. For a list of more mindfulness apps head to mindful.org.