Guest Post #1 - 'Mindful Walk' by trainee Occupational Therapists, Steph and Frances.
Updated: May 27
Hi Everyone - here is the first of a few Guests contributions we have lined up for this blog from other well-being professionals and specialists looking at the subject of mental health from all sorts of different perspectives. This time we have some suggestions of exercises from Worcester University Occupational Therapy students Frances and Steph who have also written a bit about what they do and what their influences are as a kind of bio to introduce themselves to you as well. Enjoy! :) (Claire)
Contributors Bio -
My name is Frances and I am a Third year Occupational Therapy student due to qualify in July 2020, I love watching football and enjoy colouring in my spare time. I love the sun and traveling to countries with hot climates, exploring the world. I have had professional experience working in mental health in NHS services, and physical health in social services, however I find that I enjoy working in mental health more. I personally find mental health more creative and less ‘black and white’, this keeps me on my toes and ensures every working day is different. I have secured a job within a mental health setting, and aspire to work in a forensic setting in the future.
My name is Steph and I too am a third year Occupational Therapy student at the University of Worcester. I enjoy yoga, walking, cooking and food! I am originally from Trinidad and Tobago and came to England to study. I have personal experience with trying out different techniques to improve my mental well-being, particularly recently on this last practical student placement which I am completing to qualify. I myself do not yet know what area I want to work in eventually, but hopefully with time I will find my niche. I will be starting off my journey in a city council service and I’m very excited to use my occupational therapy knowledge in practice.
There are many different Mindful strategies and exercises which can be incorporated into our lives to help us live in the ‘here and now’. So often we linger on our frustrations, let our stress control our thoughts, and forget about the luxuries life can bring us. Mindfulness does not aim to remove these stresses or anxieties, but help us accept them and let them be. We tend to be embarrassed by our anxieties and the disadvantages life brings us, hiding them away from our memories and creating stresses. But by focusing on the present future and adopting a non-judgemental attitude, we can slowly learn to let our problems go and enjoy our lifestyle, with our stress and anxieties by our side but not controlling our actions.
It is often the misconception that Mindfulness is purely based on meditation, and although there are many meditation exercises that are proven beneficial, Mindfulness can be incorporated into most daily activities and be practised in different environments to suit your routines and interests. If you enjoy artistic activities for instance, it can be used within these as you think about the smells, colours and textures of the materials you are using, as well as how you are feeling when doing the art. Mindfulness can also enhance creative abilities.
Here are a two simple Mindfulness exercises which can be done daily:
Mindful walking – when you next go for a walk concentrate on the physical sensations when you walk, notice the sounds it creates, where you look when you walk, what you notice, and when your mind wanders, return your focus to the physical sensations you are experiencing. These physical sensations can be the wind on your face, the movement of your body, the ground hitting your feet
10 finger gratitude exercise – each day think of ten things you are grateful for. It is important you think of 10 things and not give up when it begins to become hard. Simple things can be used like waking up, the food you ate which nourishes you, the people in your life and having completed a household chore you've been putting off.
Frances: Over the past three years of my degree I have learnt to be more mindful, I personally complete the 10 finger gratitude exercise on a weekly basis and find that it allows me to be content with the things that I have. I am a dreamer and continuously think of the future and what I want to have and achieve. While there is nothing wrong with this, I can be quite impatient and find sometimes that it makes me feel unhappy with what I have as I am often thinking about what I don’t have. This mindful exercise brings me back to reality and helps me to be truly thankful for the privileges that I have.
Steph: I have recently started to test out mindfulness. I started my mindfulness journey unintentionally within my yoga practice. I enjoyed the idea of being aware of the sensations in my body and what it was calling out for. When I embraced the idea of letting go of what my ego wanted, what and instead followed my body needed in the moment, I began to practice yoga in a new way. I also began to enjoy my exercise in a different way and see myself in a new self-loving light. All this happened gradually and I didn’t necessarily realise what was happening right away. Now I try to incorporate mindfulness in small area of my life as I find it can reduce my anxiety. My mind has a habit of wandering towards thoughts that aren’t well-being promoting, and sometimes I employ little mindfulness techniques to ground myself in the present and steer my mind away from anxiety-provoking thoughts. Despite my continuous struggles to employ mindfulness, I do find it a useful tool for wellbeing.
Thanks so much ladies for those ideas, such a great starting point to try and introduce mindfulness into your life in a simple and accessible way.
Have you got any mindfulness practices that you find helpful and use regularly? Have you tried the exercises above and found them useful or have any hints and tips for those who wanted to start? We'd love to hear from you - you can get in touch with Creating Space through all the regular social media channels Facebook Twitter and Instagram and let us know what you think :)
If you are a mental health professional and would like to contribute to our well-being discussion please get in touch.
Stay Safe and be kind