As part of our celebrations for Mental Health Day, we’re setting you, if you are willing, a mindfulness challenge. Why? Because mindfulness has been scientifically proven to aid mental health and opens to the doors for us to feel more in control, present and joyful!
By taking on a mindfulness challenge encourages you to practice daily activities that reduce stress and anxiety, improve performance and productivity, and increase happiness with a greater sense of peace, presence and overall well-being. Taking this challenge will also provide practical tools and strategies you can start using immediately to gain more focus and presence in your own life.
Although there are many Mindfulness Challenges out there that give you daily tasks and activities for a set time, I believe that it’s a ‘one size fits all’ challenge. With a little bit more effort and courage, you can set up your own mindfulness challenge that suits you, for as long a time as you wish.
Just follow these steps to set up your Mindfulness Challenge, and go for it!
What you will need:
A journal and pen
A comfortable, quiet space
Any music, smells (i.e. incense) and things that make you feel safe
Time and patience
Step 1: Set your goal
Start by setting your goal, and decide on your length of time to do your challenge. Here’s how:
Identify what you want to achieve, and realistically how long this might take. This could be anything from more peace, cultivating more gratitude, a deeper self-practice - anything! Try not to rush this challenge to get there - I recommend at least 21 Days but it’s up to you.
Take time to visualise this goal, and encourage your brain to think differently and find new ways to achieve the desired results. For example, if your goal is to be more present every day, imagine what it would look and feel like to already have more presence in your life. For the best results, repeat this every day throughout your challenge.
Remind yourself why you decided to do the mindfulness challenge and why it is so important to you. Focus on that importance and use it as motivation!
Look at the bigger picture and visualize your challenge. Picture yourself overcoming any possible hurdles that might hinder your performance.
Imagine the finer details of your personal goal and what it will be like to achieve it.
Imagine the level of elevation you will feel after successfully focusing on your personal aspirations for a month and achieving your goals.
Gently bring your thoughts back to the present moment and take that good feeling with you into the rest of your day.
You are free to journal any thoughts and feelings you have whilst doing these first visualisations. Allow these to start forming your mindfulness challenge, and use it as a reminder throughout the challenge.
Step 2: Set daily tasks
To help you achieve your goal, make a list of possible tasks that will help you get there. Perhaps some of these came up in your visualisations! Then every morning, pick a task from your list and commit to it - find the one that resonates with you that day - maybe it’s the same one as yesterday, maybe it’s something new. Try to make your list long with lots of variety. Here are some ideas:
Active meditation i.e. meditative walk
Calling someone special
Do something you love
Sitting outside in peace
Step 3: Set time for a daily meditation
Even if it’s for one minute a day, set time aside for meditation every day. If you are new to meditation, try a guided meditation to help you along - there’s loads on YouTube. Incorporating this one-minute daily meditation will be immensely helpful throughout your mindfulness challenge – it will keep you anchored in your intention for doing the challenge in the first place. Meditation and mindfulness go hand in hand, so it will also help you cultivate mindfulness.
If you need a little guidance on how to meditate, check out my blog here which gives lots of tips on meditation.
Step 4: Healthy Habits
Throughout your mindfulness challenge, make sure you include some healthy habits to help you along. You know you, and your habits that may help or hinder your mindfulness, but try to add some of these too:
Do not eat while standing up
Do not make calls or text on your cell phone while walking
Meditate every day, without fail
Write down your achievements at the end of each day
Reflect on, or write down, 3 things you’re grateful for each day
Put your phone away when eating dinner or spending time with people
Stop multitasking and complete one item on your to-do list at a time
Step 5: Get support
Tell someone about your challenge. Perhaps a friend or family member, just someone you trust who will support you. Talking through your challenge before you begin can help solidify it in your mind, set practices in stone, and make you commit. It is also wonderful to have someone who can support you and help you stay on track, and be a listening ear if a day or two get tough.
Step 6 - Get going!
When you are ready, get going! You’ve done the work to do it, and there’s no better time to get cracking than straight away. Be kind, flexible and patient with yourself - perhaps the challenge transforms and changes as you move forward. And that’s fine, as long as you stay on track to your goal.
Remember, completing your own mindfulness challenge will require discipline, commitment, focus and sacrifice. It won’t guarantee that you have a mindfulness habit for life, because you can fall out of good habits just as easily as you fall into bad ones. However, it will be a step in the right direction.