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What is mindfulness and how can it help me?

Mindfulness is a practice that has gained significant attention in recent years, particularly in the context of stress reduction and mental well-being. Its roots lie in ancient Buddhist meditation techniques, but nowadays it is used across various disciplines, including psychology, medicine, and education. But what exactly is mindfulness, and how can it benefit us in our fast-paced, modern lives?

Mindfulness is about paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity, and non-judgment.

It involves intentionally directing our awareness to our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the environment around us. In essence, it’s about being fully present and engaged in whatever we are doing, whether it’s eating a meal, walking, or having a conversation.

Some benefits of practicing mindfulness include:

Stress Reduction
Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress levels by helping individuals develop a more balanced and compassionate relationship with their thoughts and emotions. It helps us de-stress as we learn to be in the moment, like pressing ‘pause’.

Improved Focus
By training our attention to stay in the present moment, mindfulness can enhance our ability to concentrate and focus on tasks, keeping anxious thoughts at bay.

Better Emotional Regulation
Mindfulness can help us become more aware of our emotional states and responses, allowing us to manage them more effectively.

Enhanced Well-being
Studies have found that regular mindfulness practice is associated with greater life satisfaction and overall well-being. Using apps mindfulness apps like Calm or Headspace can be very helpful in making mindfulness a habit.

Supporting Rest and Relaxation
Mindfulness can also have positive effects on your nervous system, allowing you to develop restful moments and relaxation.

Okay, so now that we have a better idea of what mindfulness is, how can we practice it?


5 Practical ways to practice mindfulness

If you’ve worked with me you’d now that I’m a big advocate of simplicity when it comes to practical ways to support ourselves. I believe life is complex enough so here are some simple practices that can help you incorporate mindfulness into your daily life:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Take a few minutes each day to focus on your breath. Notice the sensations of breathing in and out, and when your mind wanders, gently bring it back to your breath.
  2. Body Scan: Lie down or sit comfortably and bring your awareness to different parts of your body, starting from your toes and moving up to your head. Notice any sensations without trying to change them.
  3. Mindful Walking: Pay attention to each step as you walk, noticing the contact of your feet with the ground and the movements of your body. Wiggle your toes when you are at work or simply notice the sounds your shoes make when you walk. It’s about noticing the little things!
  4. Mindful Eating: Try to eat slowly, savouring each bite of your meal. Notice the taste, texture, temperature and smell of the food. It’s about pacing yourself and enjoying every moment.
  5. Mindful Listening: When someone is speaking to you, give them your full attention. Notice not just their words, but also their tone of voice and body language.

Lastly, I want to leave you with this Tedx video that I found very interesting, I hope you enjoyed learning about mindfulness:

Disclaimer:
These tips are only to be used as ideas and suggestions. If you have any specific concerns about your mental health, please do not delay seeking medical advice or treatment for your mental health because of the information on this blog. If you’re unsure, do contact your GP or book a counselling appointment so we can discuss your needs in more detail.

If you’re experiencing severe anxiety or have thoughts of self-harm, please contact a trusted person in your life immediately or call SAMARITANS 116 123 (free from any phone) 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also email  jo@samaritans.org

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