As we head into another weekend and as it’s the end of Mental Health Awareness Week, give yourself a pat on the back, you made it through a stressful week!

We’ve put together our top tips for winding down over the weekend. Practicing mindfulness is the art of living in the now and putting one’s mind on ‘pause’ to achieve a little respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, even if only for a few moments:

Breathe – Whether first thing in the morning, after the school run, stressful meeting, or last thing at night, connect with your breathing and take 5 slow, deep breaths. Feel the cool air enter your nose, and the warm air leave your mouth ready for the next breath. This is proven to relieve stress and ground you into the here and now.

Gratitude – Last thing at night, remember three things you are grateful for. It could be simple things like a favourite sandwich you ate for lunch, a surprise text from a friend, someone saying ‘thank you’ for your work on a project. Write them down if it helps, cultivate a gratitude mindset and if you do this every day, this will become a habit. Do it as you practice your breathing, and you will look on each new day in a different light.

You-time – Give yourself time to rest! We all have busy lives and giving yourself permission to rest, have a duvet day, binge a box set, take to the hills on a massive ramble though nature. Whatever you consider as rest, make sure you take time to do it and congratulate yourself for it.

Think it through – Remember that thoughts are just thoughts, not necessarily facts and you largely control how you think about them. We’re big believers in writing things down, often getting thoughts out on paper can help (shred it if you feel nervous about someone else reading it!), and remember that of everyone’s opinion, the most important one remains your own.

Passing (on) Judgement – Practicing Mindfulness is the art of practicing an open acceptance of everything. If you can become aware of how many times you judge yourself during the day you can train yourself to release that judgement. For example, are you judging yourself on how you think your life should look? If so, try to notice these thoughts and your reaction to them, stop and take five slow deep breaths, and release the judgement.

Slowly does it – We’ve all had the feeling like we’re on a track, racing towards an ever-moving destination, like you can’t stop. Try to look at what you have in front of you, make lists if they help (it’s so satisfying to tick things off lists!), if you feel overwhelmed then stop and take five or ten deep breaths. Focus on the task in hand because after all, you can literally only do one thing at a time. Mindfully congratulate yourself on each task after you’ve done it, control the controllables!

Take a Break – not the magazine or the popular chocolate bar although if that’s your thing, then be our guest! We mean take an actual break, put the kettle on and make a drink, walk around the office, move away from your desk. Notice you are doing this. And congratulate yourself for it as you will be more productive after it.

Right here, right now – We’ve all got into the habit of filling our lives from the moment we wake to the moment we sleep (mobile phone by the bed anyone?!). Try to cultivate time in your day to simply breathe, to just ‘be’, to think about nothing other than the feeling of the floor under your feet, the bed under your body, as you simply breathe.

Be Kind – The author’s mother has a lovely phrase; ‘Speak to yourself as you would a child in distress; with compassion and kindness for we are all children in an adult’s body’. You are the person who is always listening to you, so think about how you speak to yourself; in your mind, under your breath and to others. You are the centre of your world, the captain of your ship, treat yourself with the respect you deserve!

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