We’ve all heard the phase mindfulness – but what does it actually mean?
Mindfulness above all is a technique that teaches you to fully observe what is happening in the here and now, within your body, mind and environment. When you take time to stop and observe in life it can help manage and prevent feelings associated with depression, stress, anxiety, or general unhappiness.
Does mindfulness actually help, and how?
Multiple studies show that practising mindfulness can help common mental health problems, but how? After practising mindfulness you’ll find yourself becoming:
- More self-aware.
- Less stressed.
- Able to reflect and respond to feelings and thoughts quicker.
- Able to deal with difficult or unsolicited thoughts.
By developing these skills and boosting your awareness you will be able to notice signs of stress or anxious feelings earlier. Becoming reactive to these feelings helps us figure out the triggers, how to deal with them better and how to avoid them.
Practising mindfulness can not only help with any mental health problems you may be experiencing but also can boost attention and concentration in your everyday life and help improve relationships with others.
Ways to practise mindfulness:
Considering mindfulness is thought to stem from Buddhism, it will come as no surprise that meditation is one of the best ways to practise mindfulness. Sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing, sensations in the body and your thoughts. The end goal being to be more focused on the present moment and to stop your mind from aimlessly wondering. Working meditation into your life can be as easy as setting aside five minutes each day. However, the more skilled one becomes (sitting still can be harder than it sounds!) the longer one can meditate with stronger intentions.
YouTube have a host of different guided meditations available for free. You can also find lots of FREE specialist Apps.
Similar to mediation, yoga has its roots in Buddhism and again aims to quiet the mind. By focusing on breathing and on the way your body is reacting to the stretches and poses. Setting positive intentions whilst doing yoga and meditation can be another great way to add further focus to your practice.
Introducing yoga into your routine can be as easy as setting 15 – 20 minutes aside each day to take time for yourself. Alternatively, as gyms are opening up there are plenty of yoga classes around the country at various levels. Again you can find lots of guided videos on Youtube or specific apps that range from difficulty levels and time if you are unsure of how to get started and can’t get to a class.
Mindful journaling is a practice that allows you to fully reflect on any emotions or situations you’ve experienced. It can help with processing your feelings and delve into what triggers certain emotions allowing you to work on them. You should always try to speak up about any issues you’re experiencing. However, journaling allows you to fully reflect on what’s going on inside with zero third party opinions and influences.
Journaling is often assumed to be a writing exercise but you can also create visual journals with sketches, doodles etc. It is your private journal so you can fill it as you please. You can purchase specific “wellness journals” that are filled with prompts to help you fill them in. Alternatively of course you can always choose a regular notebook if you wanted something more discreet.
Does taking on a new skill feel overwhelming? Feeling completely hopeless over your situation? You might need more treatment and support in place before you start.