Support Wellbeing

Taking notice – what it is and how to do it

It sounds pretty straightforward, right? These words suggest that you’re paying attention to what’s happening around you – what you’re doing, the space you’re moving through, how this makes you feel.

While it may seem trivial or obvious, we can often take for granted these details as we rush through everyday life on auto-pilot. Our mind takes flight, we lose touch with our body, and pretty soon we’re caught up in racing thoughts and imagined situations rather than reality. Taking notice allows us to become grounded in the present moment and regain focus on what is really in front of us.

Taking notice is fundamentally about remaining present from moment to moment. But what exactly does ‘being present’ mean? We’d suggest that you try it for yourself, because it works a little differently for everyone.

Below are some ways that you could start taking notice in your everyday life, and don’t forget to keep a look out around campus this week for some inspirational quotes going up in our library spaces!

Focus on the senses

If you feel your thoughts run away from you, focusing on your senses can be a great way to bring your attention back to the present. Here’s how to do it:

Notice five things you can see

Notice four things you can touch

Notice three things you can hear

Notice two things you can smell

Notice one thing you can taste

Try mindfulness meditation

Chances are that you’ve already heard of mindfulness meditation, and a lot of you may have already tried it too. Although a decade ago mindfulness wasn’t widely used in the UK, in recent years it’s become a central part of wellbeing practices.

There’s plenty of apps available to guide you through a mindfulness practice, such as Calm and Headspace. You can also find lots of different free sessions on YouTube.

If you don’t feel like doing a structured sessions, try this technique for a few cycles of breath:

Breathe in for four seconds

Hold your breath for four seconds

Breathe out for six seconds

Doing these things can help us become more focused on the present moment. Becoming aware of where we are and what we’re doing means that we’re less likely to get overwhelmed or caught up in what’s going on in our heads. A moment to pause, tune into our emotions and choose to move away from negative thoughts can be so valuable in our day-to-day lives.

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