17 Oct 5 Simple Mindfulness Exercises To Try Instead of Scrolling on Your Smartphone
If you’re an iPhone user and have recently updated to iOS12, you might have noticed the Screen Time feature in Settings. And after opening this new app, you might have been surprised. It visually sets out just how much time you spend on each app across different ‘categories’ each day. The likelihood is, you’re spending more time scrolling than you think. In Ofcom’s annual Communications Market Report, it was reported that, on average, Facebook users spend 27 minutes per day on the platform. That’s a pretty significant proportion of our day for just one platform. This leads to two important questions: what else could we be doing with this time? And, how often is our scrolling distracting us from being fully present?
If these questions have got you thinking, it’s worth considering how you could feel more connected with yourself and learn to ditch (or at least reduce) digital distractions. To get you started, we’re sharing a few phone-free mindfulness exercises that could help you feel more present in everyday life.
Take a Break from Your Smartphone with these Mindfulness Exercises
Walking, or even running, is a great opportunity to practise mindfulness. The Mayo Clinic calls exercise ‘meditation in motion’ due to its endorphin-creating tendencies, how it helps reduce stress and encourages you to focus on your movement. Instead of walking and smartphone scrolling (mind that lamp post…), focus on how your feet feel on the pavement or grass, how the breeze feels on your skin and take note of any smells in the air around you.
2. Mindful Eating
When was the last time you really savoured what you were eating? Mindful eating encourages us to pay more attention to the sight, taste and texture of what we’re feeding our bodies with. Many of us are guilty of eating with a fork in one hand and a smartphone in the other. But, with three meals a day, we have plenty of opportunity to take a break from our digital devices without implementing too much change in our routine.
3. Body Scan
No, it’s not what happens at the airport. The ‘body scan’ exercise is a popular meditation method to help you slow down and focus on how your body is feeling. It involves lying down and noticing how your body comes into contact with the floor or bed. Afterwards, you slowly mentally scan up or down your body, focusing on how each area feels in turn. The objective is to wholly focus on your body, switching off from other thoughts and distractions. It helps you to identify tensions and, like other forms of meditation, it helps to train your attention – something that our smartphones are always vying for. You can do the body scan mindfulness exercise yourself, or you can follow an audio guide.
4. Mindful Observation
This is a great exercise to help you become more aware and appreciate the natural world around you. We’re so used to rushing from one appointment to the next and hiding behind screens that we miss the little elements of beauty in everyday life. It could be the first shoots of Spring, the brightness of the moon, or just the shape of a flower we pass on our morning commute. To practise mindful observation, pick a natural object that is around you and focus solely on this object for a couple of minutes. Don’t look at anything else except your chosen item. Try to imagine you are seeing it for the very first time and visually explore it. What do you notice?
5. Mindful Listening
Instead of visually focusing on an object like in mindful observation above, mindful listening draws on another sense; sound. It’s easy to get used to ‘background noise’ and learn to tune it out. So, this exercise encourages you to really listen to the sounds around you, whether they be sirens or birdsong. Try not to let your mind wander, bring it back to the sounds whenever you get distracted.
Practising mindfulness isn’t as intimidating as it seems. If you don’t want to, you don’t need to invest in guides and meditation music; exercises 2, 4 and 5 can be done almost anywhere and are perfect for your lunch break. These exercises are an opportunity to take back some of the focus that our smartphones pull from us each day and in turn, hopefully, we become more mindful of falling into what founder, Tanya Goodin, calls the internet’s black hole.