Following on from our previous blog all to do with keeping up good mental health in lockdown three, we wanted to talk a bit more about mindfulness, what it is, how it can benefit you and how you can incorporate it into your everyday life.
I think a lot of us, especially at the moment, have a habit of living in our own heads. We focus too much on the past and future rather than being in the now. We rush through life without stopping and becoming aware of our surroundings. Mindfulness helps with this. In simple term, mindfulness relates to making that extra effort to be fully in the present. You make a connection with your mind, body and surroundings without judging anything.
So how can mindfulness actually help you? Well, it puts you in a mindset that makes it easier to appreciate the pleasures in life as they occur. You also begin to notice patterns in your thoughts. Through knowing ourselves better we can then deal with emotions rationally and objectively rather than being overly reactive.
This is an essential skill in current times where an uncertain climate is having a big impact on anxiety and stress. By using mindfulness you can have better control over this stress before feeling completely overwhelmed.
How to practice mindfulness
Like most things, mindfulness is something that takes practice, but there is no one way to do it so everyone should be able to find a way that suits them and their lifestyle.
Anyone anywhere can be mindful through focusing on your thoughts and emotions rather than just going through the motions. It can be done whilst doing daily activities such as walking to the shops, cooking, eating or washing up or can be done more exclusively when seated.
Below is just one way to practice mindfulness;
- Firstly, find a quiet place without distractions. Sit up straight but not stiff, you want to feel relaxed. Allow your head and shoulders to rest comfortably and place your hands in a position that feels natural to you- possibly on top of your legs or at your side.
- Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breathing. Feel the air come into your body, travelling through your airways, expanding your lungs and then feel the air as it leaves and your body contracts.
- With each breathe notice the sensation. From the tip of your toes to the top of your head. Don't focus too hard on the action of breathing, let it be natural. Instead, focus on the way it makes your body feel.
- Whilst doing this it is probable your attention will be taken away by thoughts. Notice these thoughts but do not think into and judge them. Simply notice them and return to breathing, focusing solely on your body and surroundings.
- You may only be able to do this for a short time at first but as you practice this will change. To get the most out of mindfulness you should aim for around 20 minutes a day.
As mentioned this is not the only way to practice mindfulness. You can do it whilst completing simple tasks or walking. All you need to do is focus on reconnecting with your body and the sensations it is experiencing.
We hope this blog has helped you understand mindfulness better and hope you give it a go! Our next blog in this mental wellness series will be all to do with our support of the Mental Health Foundation (MHF) and The One tunic.