This week I’ve been thinking about depleting and nourishing activities, and how too much depletion and not enough nourishment leads to exhaustion. This makes sense if you think about it. Your body soon becomes run down if you don’t feed yourself well and lack proper nourishment, so why should it be any different for your mind?
Nourishing activities can be super simple, from taking the time to enjoy your mid-morning latte to taking up a regular exercise class. An important part of mindfulness training is to find out if your activities are in balance. If you do more depleting than nourishing, then you’ll quickly become tired and less resilient.
My aim for the coming weeks are to do more nourishing activities – these will also double up as habit releasers. In fact, I did my first Zumba class in about a year last weekend – a whole hour of me-time, yay! I was pretty exhausted afterwards but felt really good.
3 of my favourite nourishing activities
These are my top 3 chill out activities. Not only do they count as a nourishing activity but they also help me get some mindful focus and bring my awareness to the moment.
Why should kids have all the fun? Over the past few years adult colouring books have taken the world by storm. Books such as Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden: An inky treasure hunt and colouring book have been in the bestseller lists for months. There are some fantastic books available from geometric patterns to fantastical underwater worlds, all with varying levels of intricacy. Adult colouring books are rooted in art therapy which is effective for reducing stress. Colouring in is a soothing activity and all you need to do is pick up a pencil or crayon and begin colouring. What could be simper?
Try to concentrate on the pattern, the shapes, colours you’re using and the feel of the crayon in your hand. If your mind wanders, gently bring it back to the moment. Be kind to yourself! As Michael Chaskalson is fond of saying: the mind wanders, it’s what they do. Return to your picture and notice the intricate detail. Try not to assign any story to the image. If you find yourself doing so, stick to geometric patterns instead for this practice, rather than the secret garden puzzle type images which may encourage your mind to wander.
Spending time on a hobby that you enjoy can be really beneficial to your well-being. Doing something new will benefit you by breaking out of autopilot.
Knitting is still in vogue for yummy mummies! Even if you’ve never taken up a pair of needles before, don’t panic. Just knit and focus on that knitting – there’s no need to create a new wardrobe of baby clothes. I knitted a long rectangle over the course of a year in a vibrant purple colour which I now use to warm my legs and knees on cold winter evenings.
Learn how to do the basic knit and purl stitches and then sit, focusing on your knitting, for 15 to 20 minutes. Concentrate on the number of stitches, the texture of the wool and the sound of the needles clicking. Don’t fret over dropped stitches – the aim is to focus your awareness. If your mind wanders, bring it gently back to the knitting.
An exercise class – Yoga, Pilates or Zumba
I love Zumba. I’m not particularly coordinated so I have to really concentrate on the moves. For most of the class I’m focusing on my body, posture and movement rather than my thoughts. It’s a fun workout that doesn’t take itself too seriously and I spend half the time laughing at how rubbish my zumba moves are.
There are whole meditations dedicated to mindfulness of movement plus exercise is a great mood raiser and counts as a nourishing activity. What’s more, combining exercise and mindfulness is a good way to focus your attention and bring awareness to your body rather than mind. Find a class locally or try a new DVD. As you practise, think about the parts of your body as you move and hold poses. How does your body feel?
By practising activities such as these you’re helping yourself to focus on the moment and training yourself to bring awareness to what you’re doing right now. Not only that, but you’ll be taking some precious chill out time just for you and nourishing your mind, something us parents rarely think about. So give yourself a break and avoid exhaustion!
What are your favourite nourishing activities?