Mindfulness

15 December 2015
Put simply, mindfulness is a mind-body based training that uses meditation, breathing and yoga techniques to help you focus on your thoughts and feelings. Mindfulness helps you manage your thoughts and feelings better, instead of being overwhelmed by them.
Woman thinking

FACT: Mindfulness meditation can help you improve your performance at work and relationships at home.

How does mindfulness work?

Mindfulness therapy encourages you to change the way you think, feel and act. You learn techniques to help you become more aware of how you respond to stressful situations. Paying attention to the way you think and feel about your experiences means you can learn to break your negative thought patterns. It helps you change the way you behave by building up positive thoughts and ways to deal with different situations.

FACT: Your physical and mental wellbeing is affected by the way you think and the way you handle your feelings.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness meditation enables you to deal with thoughts and emotions in everyday life in a more balanced way. When practiced regularly, it can help improve your health and wellbeing.

Research has shown that mindfulness meditation improves concentration, reduces feelings of stress and anxiety, and can help you take better control of addictive behaviour. Mindfulness can even have a positive effect on physical problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease and chronic pain.

If you have bouts of depression, a treatment called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy can help reduce your chances of becoming depressed again. It combines mindfulness techniques with elements from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) to help break negative thought patterns.

FACT: Many health professionals believe mindfulness meditation would be helpful for people with mental health problems.

Being mindful

Being mindful means learning to live in the present. This means being more fully aware of what is around you – what you can see, hear, touch and taste. It’s also about being aware of your thoughts and feelings as they are happening. People often find mindfulness harder to do than it sounds. But once you’ve learnt the basic techniques, you can use them whenever you need to calm yourself or refocus your energy and attention. Here are some activities to help you focus on the present moment.

  • Close your eyes and observe what you see in your mind.
  • Observe and describe an object in the room.
  • Observe taste and sensation while eating a strawberry
  • Observe your thoughts and emotions that you experience when listening to a particular poem or music.

 

Want to learn more?

Mindfulness is becoming better known and more practiced. There are courses and classes that can help you learn more about it. For more information about mindfulness speak to your doctor or take a look at one of the resources below.

 

Headspace

This tool describes itself as gym membership for your mind using meditation and mindfulness techniques. You can start off with free 10-day introduction to meditation and then choose to subscribe for access to more exercises covering a range of topics. You can use it on your phone or computer, depending on what suits you best.

Be Mindful

This website-based mindfulness programme is made up of 10 30-minute modules for you to do at your own pace. It teaches mindfulness techniques to help you manage stress or simply to try to live a happier, healthier life. The programme uses audio clips, text-based information and a library of resources and exercises, and you can track your progress as you go along.

Mental Health Foundation

The Mental Health Foundation is a charity that carries out research and offers information about many areas of mental health. Increasingly, mindfulness is being recommended as a treatment for mental health conditions. Read more here about different types of mindfulness and the range of people who can benefit from it.

 Mind

The charity Mind has information to support people with a mental health condition and those who care for them. Here a blogger writes about her experience of a mindfulness course and a professor of clinical psychology explains what mindfulness actually is. And you can read more about practising mindfulness yourself.

 

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