What exactly is mindfulness?
The term ‘mindfulness’ is being used more frequently these days; there’s even people that teach mindfulness for a living. But what exactly is mindfulness? Before I researched it, I always presumed it was just sitting, cross-legged with your eyes closed—like in films. In reality it is so much more, it’s a lifestyle.
Mindfulness, in fact is a type of mental state one can reach through becoming focused on the present moment whilst accepting one’s feelings and thoughts. It is a therapeutic technique that is on the rise in popularity as a way of coping with stress, and managing depression and anxiety. In essence it is a way to train your brain to direct attention outwardly and not on the internal monologue about what we did in the past that we cannot change or what may happen in the future that may not go well for us. There are a variety of techniques that can be practised in order to achieve mindfulness including typical meditation (which can be done in different ways), deep breathing exercises, progressive deep muscle relaxation, art (including colouring), yoga and more.
Being mindful is said to be a lifestyle that requires no new skills, it simply call for you to practice and strengthen skills you already have. Mindfulness is not based on beliefs, but evidence. Both science and experience shows the benefits mindfulness can have on a person’s life; whether it’s their mental health, work stresses, home life or even money problems. It is a different, helpful way of perceiving life.
For those who would like to attempt mindfulness, here are 6 tips to help you get started:
Notice what you are doing when you lose concentration and zone out, for example when you are driving and you can’t quite remember how you got from A to B. Concentrate on being more aware when you are next doing this activity—focus.
Savour things—whether it’s a taste, a feeling or looking at something beautiful. Focus solely on that, the present moment. Try to do this at least once a day to begin with and try to spend at least 3 minutes doing it. You can then slowly build up the number of times and the duration of the experience. Some people do it many times per day for long periods of time, but once a day for 10 minutes is enough to get benefits.
Do one thing at a time. Try to prevent multi-tasking if you can help it. This will achieve focus purely on that task and allow you to complete it to the best of your ability with no distraction. Ensure to not rush this either, you’ll finish it quicker if you focus properly and you won’t need to go back to it to correct issues.
Let the past and the future be but focus on the present instead. By concentrating on the present moment, instead of of focusing on the ‘could have’s of the past or the ‘if’s of the future, you will feel more at ease..
When talking to somebody, make sure you are fully present. Do not let your mind wander off, ensure you are really listening to what the other is saying. Don’t think about what you want to say next, really listen to the other person. They will be grateful for it and you will find that the conversation flows more naturally.
Practise mindfulness techniques such as meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, deep breathing and more. ‘Feel Stress Free’ is an app, created by psychologists and psychiatrists that uses clinically proven techniques to build resilience, prevent and to help manage stress, anxiety and depression—allowing you to find your inner peace.