7 Day Challenge: instructions for all 7 days

(In case any emails go missing)

Mindfulness challenge: Day 1

Welcome to the 7 day mindfulness challenge.

You recognised the need to do something about issues that stress you at work. This is a starting point, so that’s a good decision.

The challenge we’re setting is to do at least one simple exercise every day, at work or at home. We’ll email you at the start of each day.

The first one is on breathing, and we suggest you do this one every day this week. The others you can repeat if you find them useful. Breathing exercises are one of the bedrocks of mindfulness training, and can really help you to calm and clear the mind.

Instructions – Breathing to calm the mind

This exercise can be done anywhere – at the desk, in a traffic jam, anyplace where you can safely pause and focus on your breathing. It takes just 2 minutes.

You can play or download this MP3 file to help you.

Sit upright, so that you are relaxed, but alert.

Bring your attention to your breathing, without making the breaths any longer or shorter. Notice the natural rhythm of the breathing.

Now deliberately lengthen the out-breath, so that it’s about 1.5 x longer than the in breath. Stay with this for at least 5 breaths.

When you finish, notice any difference in your stress levels and outlook. See if you can easefully maintain this state of mind.

Mindfulness challenge: Day 2

It’s day 2 of the mindfulness challenge.

Today we focus on the body. This body scan technique helps us to recognise where we store tension in the body. As we get more familiar with our patterns, they can provide an early warning system for stresses arising.

Please also try to fit in the breathing exercise today.

Instructions – Body scan 

This can be done in a chair, or lying down on your back. Whilst this is another short exercise, you will benefit if you get a chance to extend it to say 10 minutes – just take longer but keep to the same sequence.

Bring your attention to the top of the head. Imagine an MRI scanner is slowly moving down your head, to your neck, shoulders, down the arms, then back to scan down though the torso, bum, groin and legs.

You are the scanner. What are you feeling in each part of the body? Make a particular note of where you feel tense or uncomfortable, but just notice it, without judgement.

You can play or download an MP3 file to help you.

Mindfulness challenge: Day 3

It’s day 3 of the mindfulness challenge.

Today we focus on Doing and Being. In ‘Doing’ mode we keep ourselves busy and distracted, or operate on autopilot , and never really stop. ‘Being’ mode is when we take a break, however short, to centre and regenerate.

The exercise today is simply to recognise the mode we’re in (or have been in without noticing).

Please also try to fit in the breathing exercise today.

Instructions  – Doing and Being

At the end of each half of the day, give yourself a few minutes to reflect on how you’ve spent your time. 

Have you kept yourself busy, either with work or by distracting yourself eg web browsing, social media etc.? How often have you been on autopilot – doing tasks in a routine way and maybe thinking of other things (driving is a common one). 

How many minutes have you taken to just chill out and be fully present with yourself?

Try just Being, doing nothing for say one minute; just being aware that you are alive right now, with your body’s amazing physiology keeping you breathing, regulated, and nourished. How does that feel?

If it helps, here’s an audio file to keep you on track.

Mindfulness challenge: Day 4

It’s day 4 of the mindfulness challenge.

Today we focus on Pausing. Having become more aware of Doing mode, today try to schedule in some pauses.

Please also try to fit in the breathing exercise today.

Instructions  – Pausing

Try to schedule in, or find several times when you can pause for even 30 seconds. This might be between tasks, or you could use something as a trigger such as each time you put a new hot drink on the desk.

In these pauses, aim to do anything that you know refeshes you. You might do a quick breathing exercise or a tune in to the body, stretch or walk around, or simply stare out the window at the sky.

A simple desk yoga exercise would be to raise one leg and place your ankle on the other thigh, then lean forward a little with a straight back, and repeat with the other leg.

When you’re at the end of the pause, check in to whether this has made some difference. 

Mindfulness challenge: Day 5

It’s day 5 of the mindfulness challenge.

Today we focus on Kindness. It’s a strange fact that being kind and compassionate makes us happier. This exercise is less prescriptive: to do one simple kind or generous act.

Please also try to fit in the breathing exercise today.

Instructions  – Kindness

You’ve maybe heard the phrase ‘do one random act of kindness today’. 

So you can choose to be random and just follow your heart when you can see that you could help someone (where you’d normally walk by), or you could be more measured, and decide that this is the day you’re going to pay someone a compliment, make them a coffee, or give them 5 minutes of your time to just listen fully to their problem.

Notice the effect this has, not just on the receiver, but on you. If it’s positive, why not do one thing like this every day?

Mindfulness challenge: Day 6

It’s day 6 of the mindfulness challenge.

Today we try being mindful in a daily chore. Whether at work or home, you can practice this whenever the opportunity arises.

Please also try to fit in the breathing exercise today.

Instructions  – Being mindful with daily chores

In this exercise, you choose one task that has to be done every day. It could be brushing your teeth, putting out the rubbish, cooking your dinner, or whatever. The difference is that you do it slowly and mindfully, bringing your full attention to every moment of the task and carrying it out with patience and interest. 

Perhaps it’s the washing up, and by doing it mindfully you notice the rainbow colours of the bubbles for the first time. Make it an exploration.

Mindfulness challenge: Day 7

It’s day 7 of the mindfulness challenge. Congratulations if you’ve managed to carry out all or most of the exercises.

You’ve had a taster of most of the core practices in a mindfulness course. I hope that you’ve found the mindfulness practices simple and fun, and that even small acts of mindful practice can have a positive effect.

Today is about Reviewing what you’ve done and where you’re at. By writing down your experiences, you embed the learning further.

Instructions – Review

Note your experiences of each of the 6 practices. Which have been most valuable? How can you maintain these practices – is anything stopping you, and if so, what can you do to address it or work around it?

If you’re excited about doing a full course,
read more about it,
or you can sign up now:
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