My New Year's resolution? To be more mindful...
As we say farewell to Christmas and look to the year ahead, it’s an excellent time to reflect on our current selves... Many of us make and often break New Year’s resolutions every year; we’re not judging, it’s the effort that counts! However, if there is one resolution we would like to encourage this year, it’s to be more mindful. Now, this word is being used a lot nowadays, but what exactly does it mean?
What is mindfulness?
The NHS definition of mindfulness describes it as: “Paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you […] mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.”
I’m sure you’re reading this and thinking ‘of course I pay attention to the present moment, I’m living in it!’ This is true, of course, however if you really think about it, you’ll nd that we’re constantly worrying about things that are far in the past or way into the future. Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?
“Why did that customer only rate me three out of five stars the other day?”
“Have I got everything I need to start my new commission tomorrow?”
“Should I reply to that email from last week?”
“I need to organise Jane’s surprise birthday party next month.”
All of this worrying can seriously harm both your physical and mental health. Now it may seem impossible to do, however, just take a few moments each day to look at the world around you and experience everything in that moment: the birds singing, the trees rustling, the smell of rain...
What is the benefit of this?
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment: “It’s easy to stop noticing the world around us. It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’ – caught up in our thoughts without stopping to bnotice how those thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour.”
Once we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted. By being more mindful, we can step back from our thoughts and start to see patterns. We can gradually train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and not allow them to have control over us. This awareness can help us notice signs
of stress and anxiety earlier and help us deal with them better.
It’s not just the NHS recommending mindfulness; the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and Mental Health UK advise that this way of thinking can be a way to help combat depression. Mindfulness is therefore an increasingly recognised and respected way of tackling personal stresses and anxieties.
So, how can we incorporate this into our crafting? Mind, the mental health charity, recommend partaking in a ‘crafternoon’. While the official day for this is in December, there’s no reason why you can’t have several in a year! You’ll be amazed at how rewarding and enjoyable getting crafty with friends can be. You can contact [email protected] to ask for help and guidance in setting up your own crafternoon. You can also use the opportunity to help raise funds for Mind. You don’t have to be an expert crafter, you can do your own things or follow any project you like. Whether it’s with the kids at the weekend, over lunch with your colleagues or an evening with friends, holding a crafternoon is about having fun, getting crafty and making sure that no one has to face a mental health problem alone.
Craft is such a wonderful way to achieve mindfulness, as you don’t have to actively concentrate on blanking out the rest of the world, creating does that for you! Whether you’re trying out a new papercrafting technique or trying to complete the tiniest row of gems, your mind will be entirely consumed by the moment at hand.
Card making can make you feel as if you’re in your own little ‘bubble’, where time stands still and it is just you and your creativity. These are the moments to really savour and appreciate what you can do
when you put your mind to it and let all other worries and thoughts go. Colouring is a well respected way of being mindful, which many of us include in our card making. It is complex enough to aid your concentration without forcing you to think too hard. It’s all about refocusing your attention and reorganising your thoughts.
Many of us prefer to put all technology aside when crafting, which makes a significant difference when practicing minfulness, as it keeps our mind in the room we are physically in, not in a virtual world elsewhere. Technology makes us impatient and is in complete opposition to mindfulness, so time away from those frustrating distractions can be so healing for both the mind and body. Creating a beautiful card involves blissful ignorance of the world around you. So, when you’re working on your crafts from now on, just take a minute to really love what you are doing. Don’t worry about the project you finished yesterday, or the six cards still waiting for you to send out by Monday. Focus on what’s in your hands, what you want to create right at that moment. You may just find your mind a little bit clearer for it.