By Sarah Romotsky, Director of Healthcare Partnerships at Headspace
As we head into the winter months, it’s important we focus on the small things and prioritise our mental wellbeing to keep us positive, happy and entertained.
The fifth of November will mark a slightly different occasion this year for everyone in the UK as it’s the day the nation enters into its second national lockdown. Traditionally, this day is celebrated as Bonfire Night, a night where we all get wrapped up, watch fireworks, light bonfires and eat toffee apples.
While Bonfire Night will certainly be different this year, it’s still possible to mark the occasion in a more simple and mindful manner. As we enter into this second lockdown and the world collectively takes steps to safeguard our physical health and wellbeing, it’s also important to take care of our minds.
Sarah Romotsky, Director of Healthcare Partnerships at Headspace, has shared some tips on how to experience Bonfire Night mindfully and safely and make the most of the annual celebration, despite the circumstances.
Involve the senses
Whether you’re able to see neighbouring fireworks from your home, or light sparklers in your garden or front doorstep, try and engage your senses when experiencing these things. While watching fireworks may not be considered the most calming pastime, the process stimulates a lot of your senses, which will help ground you in the present moment and be mindful this Bonfire Night.
When watching, focus your attention on the bright colours in the sky, the interesting shapes fireworks create and the loud noises they produce. Concentrate on the difference of each firework, the way they shoot up and explode and the way they cascade through the sky afterwards. If you can watch from your doorstep or garden, take note of the cold, autumnal air on your face, the sight of your warm breath in the air and colourful orange leaves on the ground around you.
Do the same with sparklers by bringing your focus to the sizzling noise of them burning, the bright white light they give off and the sparkles they create.
By focussing on our senses, we are grounding ourselves in the present moment and keeping our minds invested in the act of the doing. By thinking presently, we encourage worrisome or stressful thoughts to leave our minds.
Bonfire night is often celebrated with lots of delicious treats, from toffee apples to candy floss and hot chocolate. Fortunately, the social restrictions in place won’t stop us from enjoying these goodies and also give us a good opportunity to practise mindfulness this weekend.
When eating, encourage your mind to remove distractions and sit uninterrupted with your treat. This process allows us to take time over our food, and when eating more slowly, we savour the aromas, flavours, and textures more, encouraging us to have a deeper connection with our senses and appreciation of every mouthful. This process encourages us to really be acquainted with the pleasure of eating.
Get a good night’s rest
To keep your mind healthy as we enter a second lockdown, it’s important to encourage it to rest. Quality of rest is more important than the quantity, which has a lot to do with the quality of mind.
Trouble with sleep is rooted in a thinking mind, so through meditation we can let go of the endless commentary in our mind and worried thoughts, especially prominent during this time of heightened stress and anxiety.
Training the mind through meditation can help you learn to be calmer, clearer and less overwhelmed, making it easier to wind down and drift off to achieve quality sleep. This Bonfire Night try using Headspace’s Fireside Soundscapes to bring the comforting sounds of bonfires to your bedroom. Use these sounds to bring the warmth and cosiness of the fire to your mind, through the relaxing crackles and nature noises in the recording encouraging your mind to switch off and be calm.
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