How are you looking after yourself today? Not just today but what about tomorrow and the day after that? Niamh McCarthy, founder of the newly launched music-meets-meditation platform, MINDFUL NATION, shares her guide on how to approach the holiday season carefully and consciously so you can provide yourself with all the tools for self-care to carry yourself through the winter season and beyond.
1) Think new thoughts and turn on the light in your mind
Up to 95% of daily thoughts are repetitive ones, of which 80% are negative. Taking power of your mind first thing in the morning in the moments after waking up has the opportunity to completely reframe your day and create new thought processes for a more positive outset. Of the 5% of new thoughts you have in the day, make sure there are good ones. The most powerful way of doing this is by repeating an affirmation or set of new affirmations each morning. These could be “Today is a good day” “I’m healthy” “I’m happy” “I’m safe”. Turning the light on in your mind is a process that only needs to take a couple of minutes each day with the Affirmations playlist on the MINDFUL NATION app.
2) Include a short meditation in your routine
Meditation is often thought of as something “if I only had time for” but a meditation practice only needs to take three minutes during the day, as an individual practice or as part of a series throughout the day – one in the morning, a pick-me-up in the afternoon and one before going to sleep. MINDFUL NATION works on the philosophy that implementing a tiny lifestyle change will change your life. A suggested starting point is trying one of the Daily Meditations on the app that you can choose according to what feeling you want to bring in at that moment in time from a choice of Powerful, Calm, Grounded, Focused, Positive and Elevated.
3) Get good quality sleep
As mammals, we crave hibernation during the winter months to rest and recuperate, copying the patterns of nature around us. However, modern lifestyle makes this very hard to do. One of the things that makes a massive difference to sleep patterns is minimising our exposure to the blue light from screens (television, computer, mobile phones). The problem with blue light is that it tricks the body into thinking that it’s daytime and prevents the release of melatonin, the body’s natural sleep hormone, which in turn affects our sleep patterns and natural circadian rhythm. In the hour or two before going to bed, try to minimise all blue light and try a binaural beat sleep meditation before switching off your phone. Binaural beat technology is used in the MINDFUL NATION Sleep Meditations and uses drones and deeply ambient sounds to encourage the body to subconsciously go into a calm and relaxed parasympathetic state which directly correlates with better sleep quality.
4) Mindful movement
Release blocked energy in the body by implementing gentle movement each day to encourage deep breathing and a feeling of overall wellbeing. Walk and breathe in fresh air during the daylight hours to feel connected to the natural rhythm of the winter days. Try yoga to get the body moving and increase energy and vitality in your life while also reducing stress and helping sleep.
5) Essential oils
The use of essential oils are an age-old alternative wellness practice to encourage connection to the present moment with each essential oil having their own distinctive benefits. Lavender can be used for relaxation or sleep, either by rubbing onto soles of the feet, putting into an air diffuser or spritzing onto a pillow. Eucalyptus is another fantastic oil for the winter months, originally used by Aborigines in Australia for fevers and for healing wounds. Try it for clearing stuffy noses and alleviating colds by placing a couple of drops in hot water and inhaling it with a towel over your head, or trying a few drops in a hot bath. Essential oils used in harmony with a meditation practice by rubbing a few drops onto your chest help connect you to your breath and are a powerful way of improving your practice.
“Prioritising wellbeing and peacefulness during the holiday season can often fall to the bottom of the list of things to do. It has never been more important to prioritise self-care to show up each day and find the ways of being the best versions of ourselves and shine that light to all those who cross our paths,” say Niamh McCarthy, founder of MINDFUL NATION.