Thinking exercises you can try
This is about paying attention to the taste, appearance and texture of what you eat. Try this when drinking a cup of tea or coffee, for example. You could focus on the temperature, how the liquid feels on your tongue, how sweet it is or you could watch the steam it releases.
Moving, walking or running thoughtfully
When exercising, try to focus on the feeling of your body moving. If you are going for a thoughtful walk, you may notice the breeze against your skin, the feeling of your feet or hands against different textures on the land or surrounding surfaces, and the different smells around you.
Scanning the body
This is when you slowly shift your attention through different parts of your body. Start from your head and move all the way down to the end of your toes. You could focus on feelings of warmth, tension, small pins or relaxing in different parts of your body.
Thoughtful colouring and illustration
Instead of trying to draw something specifically, focus on the colours and feeling of your pencil against the paper, you could use a mindfulness colouring book.
This is about sitting quietly to focus on your breathing, thoughts, feelings in your body or things you can sense around you. Try to bring your attention back to the present if your mind starts to wander. Many people also find that yoga helps them focus on breathing and focusing on the present.
So many activities can be done thoughtfully. Different things work for different people, so if one exercise isn't useful to you, try another. You can also try to adapt them for you and make them easier to include in your daily life, such as cooking food or thoughtfully folding clothes and some people find that practising mindfulness in nature can be more rewarding.
How to Relax
Take a break
Relaxation doesn't have to take up lots of your time. Just stepping away from something stressful for a few minutes or taking time away from your normal routines and thoughts can give you enough space and distance to feel calmer.
read a book or a magazine, even if it's only for a few minutes
run yourself a bath, watch a film, play with a pet or try out a new recipe
Try active relaxation
Relaxation doesn't have to mean sitting still. Gentle exercise can help you relax too.
take a walk, going at your own pace or you might choose to go for a longer walk, but even a few minutes of walking can help you feel relaxed
look for a class you'd like to try, such as yoga, Pilates or gentle stretching
try some seated exercises, which you may be able to fit into your day more easily if you are busy.
The NHS has a selection of sitting exercises you could try.
Focus on your breathing
Learning to breathe more deeply can help you feel a lot calmer. It takes just a few minutes and can be done anywhere.
breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth
try to keep your shoulders down and relaxed
place your hand on your stomach – it should rise as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out
count as you breathe by counting 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe in and 'one, two, three, four' as you breathe out
try to work out what's comfortable for you
Getting in touch with your artistic side can help you feel more calm and relaxed.
try painting, drawing, making crafts, playing a musical instrument, dancing, baking or sewing.
try not to worry too much about the finished product - just focus on enjoying yourself.
Spend time in nature
Spending time outside and in green spaces can be great for your physical and mental health.
take a walk in a green space if you can, taking time to notice any trees, flowers, plants and animals you see on the way.
spend some time taking part in conservation, whether that's digging in your own garden or taking part in a local green project.
Picture yourself somewhere serene
Even if you can't physically get away, your imagination can transport you to somewhere you feel calm.
think of somewhere relaxing and peaceful – it could be a memory of somewhere you've been, or a place you have imagined
close your eyes, and think about the details of this place - let your mind drift and your body relax.
Listen to music
Music can relax you, connect you to your emotions and distract you from worrying thoughts.
listen to your favourite songs - dance or sing along, or just close your eyes and enjoy
really listen to the music - focus on the music, and let other thoughts fade away
Do a tech check
Technology can be great for helping you feel connected, but if you're using it a lot then it can contribute to making you feel busy and stressed. Taking a break can help you relax, even if it’s only for a short time.
try turning your phone off for an hour, if you can
step away from the TV, or have an evening where you don't check emails or social networks
use the tech free time to do something relaxing
We have created a selection of exercises that can help you to relax and that be downloaded here. Remember, everyone is different, and you need to find an exercise or technique that’s right for you.