Five Mindfulness "Bells" For Your Everyday Life

Today, I'm going to talk about Mindfulness Bells and how they're one of my weapons of choice in fighting back the anxiety monster. I've been battling against the beast a little bit today, but this is no time to start letting it win after I've been winning for so long! So if you feel like you might be about to lose, like all you want to do is curl up and sleep or cry or scream, you can use one or all of these things that I use to remind myself to be mindful. They are things that I use as a trigger to put me into that zone of being, observing, and feeling rather than frantically thinking and living inside my own head.

Also, if none of these seem to work for you then take a look at your daily routine, try and figure out what activity you can use or insert that will remind you to breathe, stop, and just exist in the moment.

1. Walking

This is the mindfulness bell I chose on week seven of my mindfulness journey. I chose it because I was able to fit it into my everyday life by opting to walk to work instead of getting the bus. I didn't even mind getting up earlier in order to do so because I would start my day with such positivity when I eliminated the drain on my mood that was my bus ride to work. Walking gets more oxygen into your lungs and your bloodstream, it gets your heart pumping a little (or a lot if you're out of shape like me) so there's better blood flow around your body, and gives you countless things to observe mindfully on your journey. 

Even now, since I've moved to a new building which is too far to walk to, I'll get up earlier so I can walk down the road to a further away bus stop, shortening my bus journey and still giving me that time outside.

If there is a place you feel anxious or reluctant about going to, walk as much of that journey as possible and observe how much calmer and more grounded ready you are once you get there. It's how I get myself to do Mindfulness Bell number two.


2. Physical activity

As much as it can suck for a lot of us, working out is a perfect Mindfulness Bell that also improves your physical health. You get into a zone, focused on a goal, but you also have a lot of feelings and sensations that you can observe and examine. How does your body feel? How fast is your heart going? Are you sweating? Are you thirsty? What emotions or feelings are going through your head right now? Has your body changed since you started this routine and if so, how? Even if you don't feel motivated to go, walk to the gym or to the place you run or to an exercise park and practice pushing through those feelings of dread to prepare you for pushing past those oncoming moments of anxiety.

3. Cooking

Apparently I enjoy cooking these days, sometimes more than I enjoy eating. The process is one that employs those five major senses (I try not to say The Five Senses since we have way more than that, but I'm sure you know which ones I mean), and it can be a slow and leisurely or slightly frantic but energizing process which leaves you with something to show for it at the end: a delicious meal and an Instagram snap if you're a loser like me. You might notice I've been making a lot of smoothies if you follow me on Instagram (@jaxxolantern) and while it's partly because they're so delicious and good for you, it's also because the process is so therapeutic.

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4. Do something with your hands

I can't play much of anything - I learned some keyboard at school and I've been slowly (very...very...slowly...) trying to teach myself the guitar. Every time I sit down to play one of those instruments I start to adopt that mindful mindset, and the first thing I notice and can focus on is the sensations in my fingers. The feeling of the strings or the keys and the way your hands will sometimes just fall into the right place without thinking is such an interesting sensation and a good one to explore. Muscle memory taking over when you do something familiar is exactly like the brain's "doing mode" that takes over our day to day tasks. It's a great way to observe its usefulness, working at a hands-on craft and noticing how, with practice, you can do things with less focus and greater speed so it gets accomplished quicker. However, it's so easy to give up and do the familiar thing you've memorized rather than go through the frustration of teaching yourself something new. Just like it's easier to relax into a regular routine. However, you can't make any progress that way.

5. List making

The moment too many things get on your plate and it starts to wear down on your soul: make a list. Write out all the things you need to do so you can see them physically and it makes it easier to know where to start and how to tackle each issue. Just the act of list-making, of finding the right notepad and pen, sitting at your desk or finding a nice spot to sit and think, can start you on a path of mindful thinking. Once you know that this exercise is going to help put your thoughts in order, even the preparation.

Of course, as I said further up you can make your own. Grabbing a cup of tea, brushing your hair, and arranging your shelves could all be great or awful Mindfulness bells for you. These are just some of my common techniques, all of which I swear by if you're trying to beat back that ugly, anxious monster. No matter what you try: give it a week, and in the time tell me what you did and how it felt before and after the experiment. There will, hopefully, be a new found lightness in your chest or a tightness that goes missing. That's the feeling of you finding a way to sit back and organise your mind before you use it continuously, and it's the feeling of your brain thanking you for the rest.

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