Life can be stressful. From working through the never ending ‘to do’ list to “quickly” replying to that work email just before bed, our days can be full on. From the moment we wake to the minute we go to sleep, the busy days rarely allow us to take a minute to focus on ourselves.
But the benefits that taking a break and practising mindfulness can have on our physical, emotional and mental wellbeing are immense.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness originates from Buddhist meditation traditions and philosophy some 2500 years ago but was primarily introduced into the western world in 1979 by Jon Kabat-Zinn who developed a programme entitled ‘Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)’.
Simon Alexander Ong, life coach and author of Energize describes mindfulness as a way of “helping us see possibilities that we were previously blind to, understand how connected we are to everyone and everything around us and appreciate that we are not our thoughts, merely the observer of them”.
Rosie Stockley, women’s fitness specialist and founder of Mamawell tells us that “a great way of reducing stress and making every day activities mindful can be through the use of breath, taking time to breathe all the way down to your diaphragm, purposefully with long inhales and exhales can really slow you down and ground you in the moment”.
She explains that “when we are stressed we produce cortisol and one of the physical responses can be to start breathing more quickly and shallowly – but breathing slowly and deeply is a great natural antidote to this and will promote feelings of calm and restoration”.
The core of mindfulness is increasing awareness of our thoughts, surrounding environment and feelings so it’s important to note that there is no one way of practising mindfulness; it won’t be the same for everyone. For some, mindfulness can be taking part in a yoga class whilst for others it can be achieved through meditation.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
There have been numerous studies to show that regularly practising as little as 10 minutes a day of mindfulness can work wonders.
One of the core benefits of mindfulness is the reduction of stress and anxiety and to become more aware of your emotions and thoughts, thus allowing you to deal with them better. Treating stress leads to better physical health. Mindfulness can help improve sleep and reduce chronic pain. It can also help treat heart disease as one study found that this type of meditation helped reduce blood pressure.
The beauty of mindfulness is its versatility and adaptability meaning no matter how busy you are, this ancient practice can fit seamlessly into your life. So, whether you’re a complete mindfulness newbie and need to know where to start or you’re a relaxation pro, we’ve rounded up the best gadgets to help you on your journey to finding your inner Zen.
Pure Energy Yoke Mat Eco Acupressure Mat And Pillow Set
Ever thought that all you need to sort out that pesky back and neck pain is a spa day or massage? The YokeMat Eco Acupressure Mat delivers just that but for a fraction of the price.
Designed by a former NHS nurse, this mat and pillow has 7,000 ergonomically designed spikes which increase circulation and remove old toxins, helping you release tension from the body and gain more energy.
The mat is designed for all parts of the body depending on where tension or pain is felt so you can stand, sit or lie based on what works for you. The mat can also be easily incorporated in your mindfulness routine and can be used during yoga and meditation. Yoke Wellness recommends trying the acupuncture mat before bed for 10 minutes in order to improve sleep quality and encourage relaxation.
Buy now £49.99, Not On The High Street
Morphée sleep aid
Created by mattress and good night specialists, eve, this screen-free sleep aid uses quick guided meditation to help you relax at any time during the day. Each session either lasts eight or 20 minutes so it is perfect for fitting in around even the busiest of days. Its beautiful wooden design will allow the sleep aid to fit perfectly in any house, with any décor.
What we like most about this gadget is that the guided meditation sessions are easy to follow. So, if you find it hard to focus and your mind often wanders when you try to relax then these soothing sessions could work wonders. The range of sessions that the sleep aid offers, 200 to be precise, means you will never get bored listening to the same guide with the same voice.
Buy now £80.00, eve Sleep
Muse 2 headband
Want to try out meditation but feel sceptical that it won’t actually have an impact? Well, the Muse 2 headband uses multi sensors to provide real-time updates and feedback on your heart rate, breathing, brain activity and body movements whilst you’re meditating.
Not only does the Muse 2 track your activity, it also guides you by using advanced signals to interpret your mental activity. This then translates into the sound it plays: a peaceful mind results in chirping birds whereas a less focused mind will lead to rain and thunder. After each session you can assess your results and read the tailored feedback provided. The headband can also be worn at night and it can either track your sleep in silence or play responsive stories with sleep induction technology.
Buy now £219.99, Amazon
Komuso Classic Shift
Even though we are doing it continuously all day, we rarely actually focus on our breathing. This beautifully designed necklace may appear unassuming at first but can actually be used to combat anxiety by helping you slow and regulate your breathing. Controlling and focusing on your breathing has many benefits including decreased stress hormones, reduced blood pressure and lowering your heartbeat as well as loosening up your muscles.
The Shift necklace’s length and diameter is created specifically to achieve ideal exhalation. It can be used at any point in the day and makes no sound so is entirely discreet. We also like the sustainable element to this product as it is made from recycled, medical grade stainless steel and comes in four beautiful colours.
Buy now £88.00, Komuso
Beurer ST100 Stress ReleaZer
Getting into a relaxing state of mind after a long day can be difficult which is why sometimes we might need a bit of help. The Beurer Stress ReleaZer is a breathing trainer and relaxation aid that uses low-frequency vibrations to help you feel calmer.
The Stress ReleaZer can be personalised to what works for you as it comes with three different breathing cycles and various musical compositions. There is also the option of using the heat function on the product as well as the illuminating ring on the outside to help with regulated breathing.
Buy now £99.99, Amazon
With the rise in technology, our minds are continuously becoming overstimulated which, for many, means that falling asleep can become a challenge. However, Dodow, a gadget designed by insomniacs, can help you wind down before bed and claims to help you fall asleep in just eight minutes.
This small device is placed on a flat surface near a bed and is switched on by tapping the touch sensitive surface. Dodow will then emit a blue light on the ceiling and you synchronise your breathing with it: breathing in when the light expands and out when it contracts. Sessions can either be eight or 20 minutes in length and Dodow will automatically turn itself off at the end of the session.
Buy now £49.90, Amazon
Kasina deep vision bundle
If you’re looking to take your meditation to the next level then the Kasina DeepVision Bundle will help you achieve just that. Named after an ancient meditative practice that focuses the mind using visual objects, Kasina is great for relaxation and meditation.
It works by harnessing the power of light and sound with two clever technologies. The first uses coloured LED lights to create psychedelic patterns that stimulate and transport your mind. The sound part of each session utilises various beats and tones to create rhythmic soundwaves. For each session, there are more than 50, the sound and light sync up in order to provide the most relaxing experience.
Buy now £360.00, Amazon