There’s a lot going on in the average noggin, and at times it’s near impossible to summon any semblance of mindfulness from the tangled mess made by our trains of thought. So why not try your hand at it, instead? Research has shown that the concentration required to take on tactile tasks – be they physical as a yoga pose, finicky as making a soufflé or as humdrum as brushing your teeth – can help to centre the mind. So give your brain a break and get handsy…
GROW A GREEN THUMB
Whether you’re pruning a ten-foot-high hedge or tending a little lone chilli plant, focusing on the greener things in life does your mind good – as was found by a recent study published in the Journal of Public Health which showed those who spent as little as 30 minutes a week in a garden saw significant improvement to mood and self-esteem. As the saying goes, gardening is cheaper than therapy – and you get tomatoes.
GET BEHIND THE WHEEL
The pottery wheel, that is. Because who among us hasn’t wanted to channel a little Demi Moore in Ghost? But if your penchant for Patrick Swayze isn’t reason enough, research has found that levels of the stress hormone cortisol drop when people play with clay, with the age-old craft distracting them from their woes. If you don’t feel creative enough, the good news is that you don’t need to be an artistic talent. The simple process of connecting mind and body is enough to reap the rewards, no matter what is produced physically.
CLEAN UP YOUR ACT
We’ve all got to do it – and in everything from scrubbing the loo to sweeping your floors there’s a mindful moment or two to be savoured. Headspace – a digital health platform and app with more than three million users across 150 countries – outlines this simple dishwashing strategy: “Be mindful of picking up one thing at a time and taking just an extra second or two to clean it thoroughly; mindful of the passing thoughts and letting them go.”
MAKE SOME MOVES
A US study found that college students who took movement-based classes such as Pilates and Taiji quan over an academic year increased their mindfulness, and noticed they were less stressed, happier and better sleepers – benefits that athletic apparel company Lululemon is well aware of, and who is spreading from Canada to Kenya through its yoga and mediation-focused social impact program, Here to Be. Get in on the action and put those hands to the mat.
KNIT ONE, PURL ONE
In her book The Mindfulness in Knitting, London’s Rachael Matthews writes that “the utterly absorbing process of creating textiles provides us with an informal meditation space.” And it’s one you can take from your bed to the bus. The rhythmic nature of ‘knit one, purl one’ firmly stitches a knitter to the present moment and, as Betsan Corkhill, the founder of community interest company Stitchlinks, found in her survey of over 3,500 knitters, 81 per cent of people felt calmer and happier during and after taking up their needles.
LET YOUR INNER CHILD PLAY
Mindfulness has been linked to everything from puzzles to Lego – and adult colouring-in books aren’t all the rage for nothing. Taking off a few years back with titles such as Johanna Bamford’s Secret Garden, the craze has since sent us scribbling between the lines – and with good reason. “Colouring provides us with an enjoyable and productive activity to focus on, in place of our anxieties,” wrote Regina Palatini in a newsletter from Johns Hopkins University. “It also reminds us of our childhood, a time in which most of us experienced significantly less stress.” So keep calm and crack out the Crayolas.
This article is brought to you by Collective Hub x lululemon as part of our “From Practice to Purpose” series.