/ 4 Pillar Plan

How to Chill Out if Meditation Isn't Your Thing

Meditation has become a buzzword in the last few years. Everyone's been talking about it to the point where even your technophobic mother-in-law started nagging you about using meditation apps.

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And we know you - you want to take care of your health. So you tried that meditation app, and maybe even went to a class or tried meditating with your friends. But sooner or later, you might have realised it was not for you. Too boring, too hard, or just not your thing - and that's completely fine.

But meditation has so many proven health benefits, from stress relief and better attention all the way to lower blood pressure. Let alone all the yucoin you can get from meditating. If only you could reap the benefits of meditation without actually meditating…

Well, this may not be so far-fetched. Some activities can have the positive effects of meditation without being so intense. A meditative state can be reached in many ways, not just by sitting cross-legged and humming - and we're sure that at least one thing on this list will tickle your fancy.

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If you want to earn your meditative yucoin by doing anything on this list, just use any meditation tracker that links to Apple Health or Google Health Kit. Any meditation app will give you the option to start a timed silent meditation, so just turn that option on, do whatever you want on this list, and get these yucoin flowing. We personally love Calm, and that's why as a yulife member you can get Calm's premium membership for free for the first three months (and then get it for 50% off). Awesome.

1. Yoga

This might be the most obvious meditation alternative, but for a good reason. Like anything in life, you might need a little bit of practice before you can really get the mindful benefits of yoga. Yet once you get into the rhythm of all the poses and sequences, you can really reduce those stress levels and reach zen. A lot of people don't think meditation is for them because they struggle to get out of their heads when they sit still, so yoga - being a type of moving meditation - can be a great option.

You can easily find a yoga class near you (and great news - you get a 3-month access to MoveGB yoga classes for free with your yulife membership to get you going). If you're less keen on going to class, you can always search for some yoga videos on Youtube - they're a great place to start.

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2. Breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are an amazing way to lower anxiety. The brilliant Dr Chattergee recommends one great breathing exercise in his book 'The Four Pillar Plan', called '3-4-5 breathing'. And yes, it's as easy as it sounds: simply breathe in for three seconds, hold your breath for four, and then breathe out for five. This is a great technique especially because you can do it virtually anywhere (even on the tube or in the waiting room before a big meeting), but any breathing exercise would work. Just find the one that suits you - and Calm could be helpful with that.

3. Tai Chi

Tai chi (or for those in the know, tai ji) is a type of martial art that originates from 13th-century China. It focuses on internal health, and studies have shown that the health benefits of tai chi are very similar to those of meditation. The long strokes and movements may make it a little more appealing than meditation and help you reach zen without sitting still, and the fact it's a martial art means you'll achieve skills other than just mindfulness. Just find a class that works for you and prepare to be a much calmer badass.

4. Music therapy

Most of us love music, but did you know that it can also improve your health?

Musical practice is a form of mindfulness, as any musician will tell you. Once you get past the first attempts (that usually end up sounding like a sheer cacophony), you can really immerse yourself in the music. After a little bit of practice, it can feel like there's nothing in the world other than your mind and your guitar (or violin, or drums, or tuba. Whatever floats your boat).

If playing an instrument is a little too much for you, don't fret. Just listening to music is helpful too! Calming music is preferable, but any music you can get fully absorbed in will work. Just put the music on, close your eyes and let yourself sink into the sounds.

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5. Colouring

Colouring has the potential to reduce anxiety and help your focus. Adult colouring books are in fashion so you can grab one, or just print out any black-and-white drawing to see the magic happen. Just make sure to turn off all distractions and focus completely on staying inside the lines.

6. Drawing

If colouring is not your thing but you still have a close relationship with art, drawing could be just the thing for you. Drawing can help your mental health and concentration, especially if you draw patterns like circles or spirals. When you draw, try to just draw and focus on your hand movements and lines.

7. Dancing

Studies have shown that dancing enhances mental and physical health, and it's also a great way to exercise, so you're hitting two birds with one stone. Just lose yourself in dance and let the movements and sound take over.

8. Swimming

Doing some laps in a pool or swimming in the ocean can be amazing for your physical health, but did you know that it can actually reduce stress? Just try to focus on what you're doing rather than being as fast as you can.

When it comes to swimming, the recent heatwave is your friend. London is flooded (get it? flooded!) with outdoor swimming pools right now, so just take your pick.

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9. Surfing

Speaking about the ocean, surfing actually has amazing mindful benefits. One study even showed that surfing improves quality of life in veterans with PTSD!

We know what you're thinking: surfing? In England? Our answer is a big, resonating yes! England has some great beaches for surfing, so you can go ahead and close that Skyscanner tab on your browser (or actually… Don't. Treat yo' self!).

10. Walking

Going for a walk while taking in your surroundings has great benefits on your mental health, and was even found to help combat depression. And the best news? We all walk every once in a while, even if it's just on our way to the tube station. Just use that time to walk mindfully!

A great way to include some walking into your busy work-life is to try walking meetings. Instead of sitting at a conference room or at your desk with your colleagues, suggest going for stroll while discussing what needs to be discussed. Take in the scenery, the smells and the sounds while you do and see how you feel reinvigorated when you inevitably come back to the office.

11. Spending time in nature

Even if you don't want to walk, just spending time surrounded by green trees and colourful flowers will help with your health so much. So next time you have your work lunch on your own, consider going to the nearest park and having it there rather than sadly eating at your desk.

We're lucky, because London is 47% green space. So it's not difficult to find some great gardens or parks to retire to after a long day at work.

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12. Journaling

Journaling sounds like something made for 12-year-old girls writing in their pink diaries. But it has real, tangible health benefits, such as reducing stress, managing anxiety and coping with depression. If full-on journaling is too big of a task, you can always start small. For instance, Dr Chatterjee suggests gratitude journaling', where you jot down a few things you're grateful for every day.

13. Cleaning

Generally a hated chore, the repetitive nature of most cleaning tasks can actually help you reach zen very quickly. Think about it - when we fold laundry or do the dishes we usually start daydreaming or fail to notice the time passing after a certain point, just getting lost in our own thoughts. That's good! Enjoy that feeling. This idea is especially good for the busy sceptic - we clean anyway, so why not use that time to practice mindfulness?

Click here to read more amazing tips on wellbeing.

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