How to Achieve Mindfulness Through Exercises and Programs
By: Benefits by Design | Thursday May 10, 2018Updated : Friday June 17, 2022
Achieving mindfulness — that is, achieving a calm and peaceful state of mind for your overall mental health — isn’t easy for many Canadians.
While stress is a very natural part of life, finding the right tools to help you manage stress can be difficult, despite the long term benefits on your overall mental health and wellbeing. Many people try a variety of things before one sticks.
“I have tried to manage stress in different ways in the past. Everything from doing yoga to changing sleep habits, to keeping a diary, and even utilizing herbal supplements — nothing has stuck long-term.” – Jessica Bredschneider, Director of Marketing
So what can you do?
Try a Mindfulness Program
These kinds of programs are full of ideas and exercises to encourage mindfulness and are a great place to begin on your journey!
For example, Green Shield Canada (GSC)’s Mindfulness Program is based on the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) system by Jon Kabat-Zinn. This system brings people into the moment using systematic, and easily doable, instructions.
The program includes:
- 6 x 30 minute modules. The modules are done in sequential order giving yourself about a week to work on the exercises before progressing to the next one.
- After each module, you reflect on what you’ve learned by typing out your thoughts to a few simple questions.
- Once you complete a module, you earn points to bid on Change4Life gift cards.
Before you start, you complete a simple questionnaire. At the end of the entire program, you complete the same questionnaire to evaluate your progress.
The modules are self guided and allow you to progress through each lesson at your own pace. Along the way, you’re asked to reflect on what you’ve learned by answering a few key questions about your experience. This is your opportunity to evaluate what you’re feeling and what you’ve taken away throughout the exercise.
Tips for Achieving Mindfulness
Like training your body, it takes a bit of time to train your mind. Here are a few tips for anyone looking to get started:
Tip #1: Remain open to the experience.
Trying something new can seem daunting. Thoughts creep in like: “what if I’m not good at this?” or “why is it so hard to turn off my brain?” You may also feel silly trying to sit comfortably and close your eyes to meditate. The key to remember is to be open to the experience. Find a comfortable location and environment to try out the exercises and be willing to feel a bit uncomfortable tapping into your thoughts and body in the beginning. Just like trying a new exercise routine, training your mind to do something new takes a bit of time and patience.
Tip #2: Give the program your complete focus.
This is probably the easiest thing to remember and the most challenging thing to do. While it may feel possible to sit quietly for 5 minutes and not let your mind wander, it’s a lot harder to do in practice. The important thing to remember is to give yourself permission to focus on the exercise and only the exercise.
Tip #3: To quote GSC, “Stick with it.”
Changes don’t happen overnight: commit yourself to making time to completing the modules and practicing the skills that you’re learning in your own time. Not only will you be establishing a lifelong skill, you’ll also be earning points towards Change4Life prizes. Who knows, you might even master mindfulness and be one of the lucky Change4Life winners!