Why trainspotting is good for the mind

The most common activities for mindfulness include yoga or adult colouring, but how about trainspotting?

Trainspotting for mindfulness

It’s becoming more and more accepted that taking care of our mental health is just as important as our physical wellbeing. One of the most popular techniques at the moment is mindfulness - a practise that helps us focus on the present moment in time. The idea is that by re-connecting with the environment around us, we’re able to take more control over our worries and thoughts, enjoy the great outdoors and appreciate the time we spend in each other’s company. 

The most common activities for mindfulness include yoga or adult colouring, but how about trainspotting? Dr Saima Latif, a psychologist who regularly employs mindfulness techniques, suggests trainspotting could be just as effective for mindfulness.   

Dr Latif believes that the act of watching trains go by helps our fast paced thoughts to subside and puts our mind at ease to focus on our present movements. The process and rhythm of trainspotting can be just as calming as watching clouds in the sky and can be very effective in helping to disengage from everything else in our stressful lives. 

So the next time you’re feeling as if life is getting on top of you, why not spend a weekend enjoying the Great British outdoors with your family? Studies have shown that the countryside has a calming effect and this is a great opportunity to bring you closer and share some quality time together.  We’ve picked out some of the best places in the UK for the whole family to enjoy trainspotting. 

Dr Latif has revealed four more reasons why trainspotting is good for the mind. 

The Great Outdoors

Whether you’re admiring the Yorkshire Dales or simply  taking in the trains at your local station, the benefits of being outdoors for a length of time are huge. Dr Latif believes that spending time outdoors can do wonders for our mental wellbeing, ‘There is a plethora of research evidence to show the mental health benefits of being outdoors,’ she says. ‘Not only can this keep us fit and healthy, but it can also improve our cognitive processes’. 

Going ‘off grid’

Nowadays, it’s quite rare to have an opportunity to turn off your phone – let alone convince the kids to! The analogue nature of trainspotting means that turning off your phone is encouraged, especially if you wish to use it as a mindful hobby. Removing as many distractions as possible means that it’s easier to reach the ultimate goal of blissful mindfulness - to focus on the present moment and each other, rather than notifications on a screen.

Appreciating a bygone era

Simply telling yourself to focus your mind can be tricky, so having certain prompts that encourage your mind to think about a certain thing can really help to combat this. For example, if you choose to spot steam trains, it can help you focus on a time in history when life was much more stress-free and calm. Casting your mind back to an idyllic time in British history can help your mind reflect this period of calm and allow stressful thoughts to drift away.  

A sense of achievement

Many people enjoy the feeling of accomplishment, even pleasure, when they complete a task. Dr Latif feels that taking up trainspotting is a great way to achieve this, ‘The process of ticking off the train numbers in the data book or writing down the numbers can be satisfying and leads to the feeling of accomplishment which can be emotionally and mentally rewarding’.