You may remember that I said I would share a personal pledge to be more mindful and get outdoors throughout August and September, with a bit of background about why that pledge might be good for a healthy mind. Well here’s how my first fortnight has gone…
Pledge 1: I pledge to notice how being outdoors makes me feel
There’s evidence all around us that the outdoors is vital to our physical and mental wellbeing. As the founding idea behind Minds Out I chose this as my first #OutdoorsBeforeChores pledge. Here’s what I discovered:Following this pledge helped me find and explore new places as well as consider my internal experience of the outdoors. A few of my favourite outdoors moments from this pledge were:
- Wet hair in the wind – so much more refreshing than a hairdryer;
- The smell of outside on a fresh cool morning;
- Gardening barefoot – I’ve lost my gardening shoes, but that’s less of a problem while it’s still summer (in theory!); and
- Cutting flowers from my garden to share with a friend (instead of buying cut flowers).
I also loved the physical aspects of getting outside – moving my body, and feeling the wind/sun/rain on my skin (all-weather August!). These experiences almost instantly translated into good feelings inside, lifting my mood if I was a bit glum or helping me to breathe deeper and feel calm when I’m anxious.
Does the outdoors affect how you feel?
Pledge 2: I pledge to bring mindfulness into my day
Mindfulness is very vogue at the moment, with lots of media mentions of it and a huge focus on how it can benefit us in every aspect of our lives. I came across it as a tool around 2 years ago during a challenging time in my life as my partner and I discovered fertility issues that lay behind our difficulty to conceive. It was a tough time for lots of reasons and I found myself constantly obsessing about this big stuff, which I had no control over. Mindfulness was a way to stay in the moment and not let my thoughts run away or completely dominate my existence. This turned out to be an important skill before, throughout, and beyond fertility treatment. I found myself turning to these techniques throughout pregnancy, during labour, and as a new parent. I truly believe that mindfulness is an essential life skill for us all, with infinite uses. But wanted to use this pledge to test out everyday mindfulness and how I might go about bringing this into my daily life. Here’s how I got on:I found this pledge incredibly hard to maintain. It really gave me appreciation of what a skill it is to be mindful on a daily level – rather than simply to draw on it in times of need. I found that life got in the way and I often got to the end of the day and realised I’d not ‘been mindful’ all day and that busy days had passed in a blur. I chose to take a lesson from this because a key principle of mindfulness is to be kind and non-judgemental with your mind. I decided that this pledge was a lifelong learning that I could always keep trying to master.
Do you have a mindfulness routine that helps you to be mindful every day?