What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a practice which can help you reach a mental state that focuses your awareness on the present. Using this therapeutic technique has potential benefits that may help to reduce anxiety, lower stress, and decrease depression.
Paying more attention to both the inside and outside of ourselves allows us to reconnect with our bodies and notice how our thoughts which usually go unnoticed, may affect the emotions and behaviours which we put out. There are many quick and easy mindfulness practices which can be easily added to your daily routine and help you achieve a clearer mind.
How can mindfulness help my mental well-being?
Using mindfulness as a tool to manage your mental well-being can be a great way to be more aware of your thoughts and feelings instead of being overwhelmed by them. There are always times when people experience feelings of stress and feel down in themselves, but practising mindfulness can help to reduce the chances of these feelings.
Grounding in mindfulness
Grounding refers to one’s ability to be able to return attention to the present moment. Mindful meditation.
There are several techniques which can be used when completing mindful activities which can help to ground yourself. These are:
1. Choosing an object to focus your attention on whilst practising – this can be internal or external, anything that may be useful to you at that moment.
2. A body scan – This is intentionally focusing on different parts of your body, for example, you may focus on your feet connecting to the floor or your body touching the chair.
3. Become aware of your surroundings and external stimuli – Holding something that could be your focus, what is the texture of the object? What is the shape of the object? Or what is the temperature of the object?
A straightforward exercise to help ground yourself is to press your heels and feel the connection of your feet to the ground. Spread your toes and press them onto the floor, displaying equal pressure from the big toe to the little toe and notice the connection to the floor from the front of your foot to the back of your heel. Feel the connection to the ground and recognise the way the ground also exerts pressure back towards your feet.
This practice can take place anywhere at any time and is one of the simplest ways to complete a grounding exercise.
How can I be more mindful?
Being more mindful can come in simple ways and trying to remind yourself to take notice of your thoughts and feelings whilst also thinking about the world around you can be the first helpful step towards mindfulness.
Here are some tips for getting started towards a mindful life!
Trying something new: Even if it is something as simple as trying a new restaurant for dinner or lunch, or taking a new route on your usual walks, can help you to notice the world in a new way.
Naming thoughts and feelings: A way to develop an awareness of feelings and thoughts can be to name them. Whether this be silently naming or saying out loud, recognising the emotion that you are feeling is a helpful way to reconnect with yourself and take more notice of how you are feeling in that present moment.
Watching your thoughts: It can be very difficult for some people to practice mindfulness as it can be hard to stop unwanted thoughts or worries to creep in and take over the calm mind which is trying to be achieved.
Free yourself from the past and stop worrying about the future: Mindfulness is a practice which can occur anywhere but realising times when it could be particularly helpful to try a mindful approach to life can help prevent from living through issues which occurred in the past or having worries about the future.
When practising mindfulness, it is important to be aware of drifting thoughts and take notice of what your mind is doing. If you are not aware of your mind drifting or if you are to lose your train of thought, it can prevent the basic techniques required to achieve mindfulness.
If you find that your mind may be wandering during practice, you may find it helpful to try the following:
- Take notice and observe the thoughts which are drifting.
- Try not to judge or over think the thoughts which are drifting. It is a normal thing to happen and does not mean that you cannot achieve mindfulness.
- Use the techniques listed to ground yourself whilst you practice mindfulness.
Many of the techniques listed here can be implemented into daily life and can happen in many settings which means that the techniques are easily adaptable to better suit your lifestyle.
Mindfulness is a great way to counteract negative feelings or emotions which can come with anxiety and stress. Head to the Mindless Mag for more on mental health and well-being!