To coincide with World Mental Health Day, we’re sharing daily tips for improving mental health and managing mental health conditions. Recent evidence suggests five key areas are instrumental in supporting mental wellbeing. Those areas are:
Every day this week we’ll be focusing on a different area. Today is all about mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is one of those buzz words that we hear a lot these days. But what does it actually mean? Essentially it’s all about being present and in the moment. It’s about consciously shifting our attention to the present, and knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves at any given time.
When people practise mindfulness, they are better able to acknowledge, accept and cope with their thoughts or feelings. Mindfulness also helps people experience life with renewed excitement, as they notice things forgotten or taken for granted.
You might think of it as breaking the monotony or ‘auto-pilot’ effect that people can fall into. People may find this can happen due to sameness, routine and even the frenetic pace of life dominating their time.
Why is mindfulness important?
There’s significant evidence to show that mindfulness helps people manage anxiety, depression, and generally cope better with the stresses and challenges of day-to-day life. Mindfulness can also help improve sleep quality and encourage greater self-kindness. Mindfulness can help you see yourself and the world around you very differently.
How can we practise mindfulness?
Many people find their minds crowded with a million things as soon as they stop doing a task. For this reason, mindfulness can be difficult. Achieving mindfulness doesn’t happen overnight, as it’s essentially an exercise in redesigning your mind. But the results will be well worth the investment.
Assign a timeframe
When beginning mindfulness, it is impossible to implement it across your entire day. Instead, aim to be actively mindful for shorter periods of time, like 15 minutes or half an hour.
Mindfulness begins with constantly reminding yourself to notice things around you and within you. It’s easy to remain on auto-pilot, but without taking notice you can miss out on the day-to-day pleasures of life.
While taking notice of the things around you and within you, try to do so without judgement. We’re used to making quick judgements and labelling things, but try to notice things without judging them. During your period of mindfulness, there is no such thing as good people, bad smells, and annoying noises- there is only things around you that you notice without judgement.
Where can I practise mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be practised in many daily situations, like when you’re on the train, preparing dinner or making a cup of coffee. What you’re doing isn’t important, but rather how you’re doing it.
Is it difficult?
Like most new activities, mindfulness will take a while to get the hang of. And it’s a lifelong exercise. It’s important to be kind to yourself as you’re learning, and remember that it’s normal to become distracted. Unless you’re meditating, a completely clear head is not the goal of mindfulness- it’s more about being in the moment and not allowing yourself to be pulled away from it.
You can start integrating mindfulness into your day today. Perhaps spend the duration of your shower practising mindfulness, or be mindful while you brush your teeth. Maintain this small daily habit, build upon it as you feel ready, and enjoy all the benefits of mindfulness!