Mindful Movement Activities for When You're Stressed
The chaos our mind encounters as we go about our daily routines is enough to increase our stress levels. How many things can we pay attention to before our mind wanders off to the next problem?
Engaging in mindful movement activities is one of the best ways to get in tune with yourself and your environment and find peace amid stress. You can remain in control of your mind even if your world is spinning out of control.
There are many mindfulness techniques you can use to improve your connection to yourself and your surroundings. One effective technique is to sit in a specific position and hum.
In this blog post, I will focus on mindful movement activities you can try to help relieve stress. These activities are simple and easy. You perform some of them every day, but you just don’t do them mindfully. Let’s change that, shall we?
So, what is mindful movement?
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that involves focusing on everything that you’re sensing and feeling in a particular moment.
Mindfulness practice can help you live in the present moment, increase your awareness, boost your self-love and help to relieve stress.
Mindful movement involves activities that can help you relax. It can be anything from a gratitude list to mindful eating, some physical activities, or yoga poses on your favorite yoga mat.
The most important thing is that you feel more in tune with your body and environment after the activity.
Why is Mindful Movement Important?
Simple exercises are great but mindful movement practices keep us grounded and help us appreciate our everyday experiences more. A lot of us spend too much time fussing, planning, daydreaming, and working, all of these can make us susceptible to depression, anxiety, and emotional instability.
There’s a need for us to start paying mindful attention to all the important things that surround us. Simple exercises are great, but mindful movement practices keep us grounded and help us appreciate our everyday experiences more.
We all need those little moments when we disconnect from everything and just focus on ourselves. Mindfulness activities give us a peaceful physical sensation, lesser stress levels, stronger inner connections, and stronger mental health. The good news is that you don’t need to be some sort of guru to get into the practice of mindfulness.
According to a recent study in the National Library of Medicine, ‘mind-body assurance’ which is gotten from practicing mindfulness, is an amazing source of confidence when you’re in doubt. Simple movements like how we stand and carry ourselves when we walk can affect our self-esteem.
Another study showed that practicing mindfulness activities like yoga increases self-esteem and helps to uplift our mood. No wonder professionals recommend yoga and meditation as effective ways to deal with anxiety, stress, and depression.
These little creative mindfulness exercises like mindful walking and mindful listening can literally change the entire course of your daily life. The benefits of mindfulness are endless; apart from increasing your focus and reducing stress levels, there are other scientifically proven benefits.
How do you start a Mindful Movement Practice?
Mindful movements are different exercises and regular activities but with a little twist to them. The good news is that you don’t have to change your entire lifestyle and routines to practice mindful movements.
Depending on the kind of mindful movement you want to practice, you can do it anytime and anywhere as you go about your day.
Simple mindful exercises are the best way to start on this journey. When your regular activities become mindful, they transcend from just being physical activities because this time around, your mind is fully engaged.
Learn about the practice
Start by learning all you need about mindfulness, you’re reading this article, so that’s a great start! It’s not as difficult as you think we promise, you won’t have to do anything new. There are incredible resources and YouTube channels that specifically teach about mindful awareness and the entire practice of mindfulness.
You can make your evening bike rides more mindful by paying attention to your breath and movement. This will help you feel more empowered both physically and mentally.
If you love to take walks in the park, you can do it mindfully by paying attention to the trees, how you move, and the beautiful chirping birds. Mindful movement practices don’t have to be Tai Chi.
Practice mindful movement
Mindfulness activities require some practice; it’s like developing a new habit so you should plan to practice it every day. More structured mindful movement practices require commitment and setting particular time apart to practice.
These structured exercises might need your entire body to move to create more body awareness.
It can take at least six months to build a new habit, but with constant practice, the mind wanders will cease, stress levels will reduce, and mindfulness will come naturally to you. You go, girl!
How do I Practice Mindful Movement?
There are different levels of mindful movement, but you can start with whichever one you’re comfortable with. Mindful movements are a great way to enjoy the present moment and all that it does, even if you hate working out.
Simple exercises like stretching on your seat while you work or senses exercise can go a long way in helping you practice mindfulness.
Here are some simple creative mindfulness exercises you can begin with.
Stretching while you work increases your body awareness, helping you to truly connect to how your body feels. You don’t have to get up to stretch; extend your feet as you sit working, link your fingers and stretch your hands to the sky or bend your body backward and feel how your entire body changes.
Mindful eating may sound weird to you at first but hear me out. It has nothing to do with cutting down on carbs or watching what you eat, but it has everything to do with more focused eating.
Eating mindfully focuses on your awareness of food and how you experience what you eat. So, you’re not just chewing and swallowing; you’re paying attention to how it tastes, how it feels in your mouth, and how it makes you feel.
If you like to take walks, you would love mindful walking. Mindful walking involves walking with purpose in a bid to make something out of your walk.
So, you have to ask yourself questions like, why am I doing this? What do I want to achieve with this walk? As you walk, steer clear away from intrusive thoughts and pay attention to everything happening around you.
To practice mindful breathing exercises, elongate your breath to calm your nervous system and then shorten your breath to refresh your mind. When you’re stressed out or anxious, deep breathing mindfully helps calm your nerves and help you refocus.
One great way to combine this with mindful walking is to walk barefoot. Walking barefoot allows you to feel the ground underneath your feet as you breathe. Focus on how the floor feels on your feet and if at any given moment your mind wanders, bring it back to the present moment and how you feel.
A great example of this involves entering deep into the music, listening to the keys, the strings, the melody and just letting it envelop you. Mindful listening requires that you pay special attention to what you hear.
Your favorite song could develop a whole new meaning when you listen to it mindfully.
A gratitude list is just your everyday list but with a twist. The purpose of writing a gratitude list is to help you relive the good feelings those memories come with.
Write down even the little things like how the café had your favorite muffin or how your hair has become really healthy. Practicing mindfulness through a gratitude list helps you to intentionally cultivate happiness, so when you do it, make sure you pay full attention to what you list and how it makes you feel.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a ‘you thing.’ You can practice mindfulness activities with your friends or family members to help with bonding and reflecting as a group. These are some of my favorite mindful group activities you can practice with any family member and friends;
Eye gazing is a beautiful mindful activity that helps you connect with your partner. Stare into each other’s eyes for at least 10 minutes and pay attention to your feelings. Laugh if you feel like laughing and talk if you feel like talking, the whole purpose is to connect with your partner.
This is a great mindfulness activity for family members. It helps heighten your senses and perception of the people around you. To do this, blindfold yourself and everyone participating and then move slowly until you can sense the other people around you.
There might be shoulder bumps here and there, but soon enough you’ll be able to move mindfully and sense when the other person is around you.
Structured Mindfulness Activities
These are mindfulness activities that require extra time and effort. While you can practice simple mindful movements anywhere and anytime, structured mindfulness practice requires more time and a particular location.
Body Scan Meditation
Our bodies deserve a lot of attention, but the truth is from navigating our daily activities and taking care of all the things overwhelming us, we barely have time to take a break and give our bodies what they deserve.
Body scan meditation emphasizes our need to pay attention to our bodies. It is a practice that involves you scanning your entire body for different sensations. From pain to muscle tensions and everything abnormal- a deeper awareness of these feelings can help you better understand your body.
Body scan meditation is a great group mindfulness activity; it requires a guide that teaches you how to scan every single area of your body with awareness. It is the best way for young people to connect with their bodies and gain self-confidence.
This activity would best be carried out in a comfortable space. Body scan meditation can go on for about 20 minutes, so it’s best to start it when you have enough time.
Yoga and meditation have been popular since time immemorial but recently people have started waking up to their importance. Basic stretches have the power to loosen our muscles and help us relax, so imagine what more intense yoga can do.
Put on your favorite yoga headbands, and practice some basic yoga poses. Mindful yoga poses take basic yoga to another level; in this case, you have to feel every move you make. It is the combination of regular yoga with mindfulness.
Mindful yoga is super beneficial for your mental health, it’s a great stress reliever, and helps you develop a stronger connection to your body. Try out different yoga positions on your yoga mat and feel how your body bends or responds to each bend. The overall purpose is to ensure you connect with what’s happening.
Simple mindfulness exercises and activities
You don’t have to be a professional athlete or yogi to practice mindful movement. You can start in your living room, your home gym, or wherever you feel most comfortable.
We can’t always control the things that happen to us but we can surely control how we react to them. By practicing mindful movements, we are opening ourselves up to a more meaningful way of living.
Practicing mindful movement activities is one of the best ways to overcome stress and go about our daily routine living above it.