What is Mindfulness?
With the devastating effect, Covid19 has had on health and wealth in this country, ever-increasing reports of people struggling with their mental health problems are circulating. If you are one of these people what can you do to help yourself?
One suggestion is practising mindfulness. Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment.
It is easy to stop noticing the world around you and lose touch with the ways your body is feeling and to end up living in your head caught up in your thoughts without stopping to see how those thoughts are driving your emotions and behaviour.
An important part of mindfulness is stopping what you are doing and concentrating on reconnecting with your body and the sensations you experience such as breathing fresh air as you go outside, savouring something you are eating, or appreciating the comfort of your bed at night.
How mindfulness helps mental well being
Becoming more aware of the present moment helps you experience fresh things that you have taken for granted. It will also help you become more aware of your stream of thoughts and feelings and see how you can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.
You may have issues that you find hard to let go and mindfulness can help you deal with them more productively. You can ask “is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts”.
By practising mindfulness regularly, you may be able to control your thoughts and become less anxious and calmer. However, there are other things you can do to help your mental health and wellbeing.
” The most important thing is to enjoy your life – to be happy, it’s all that matters ” Audrey Hepburn
5 Steps To Mental Wellbeing
- Connect with other people because it will help you build a sense of belonging and self-worth. It also gives you an opportunity to share positive experiences, provides emotional support and allows you to support
- Be physically active. This is not only great for your physical health and fitness. It can also improve your mental well-being by raising your self-esteem, helping you to set goals and achieving them and causing chemical changes in your brain that can help to positively change your mood.
- Learn new skills as this will boost your confidence and raise your self-esteem. It will also give you a sense of purpose and help you connect with
- Give to others because it creates positive feelings and a sense of reward, which will give you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and help you to connect with other people. Simple random acts of kindness like saying thank you to someone for something they have done for you or offering to walk someone else’s dog, help with DIY or a work project all
- Pay attention to the present moment which brings us back to mindfulness and the fact that it can help you enjoy life more and understand yourself better. You can learn more about mindfulness by going to the NHS website and look up stress/ anxiety under the list of conditions
Frequently Asked Questions about Mindfulness
What is mindfulness? Knowing directly what is going on inside and outside of ourselves, moment by moment.
How does this help mental wellbeing? It helps us to enjoy the world around us and understand ourselves better.
How do I practise it? Stop what you are doing for a few minutes at a time and concentrate on what you are feeling both physically and mentally.
How else can I improve my mental wellbeing? Connect with other people, be physically active, learn new skills and give to others.
What if I have no friends or family? Offer to volunteer at a local community centre, charity shop or hospital, join a club, start evening classes.
Why is connecting with other people important? It helps you build a sense of belonging and self-worth, provides an opportunity to share positive experiences and provides emotional support.
How do I incorporate more exercise into my life? Start walking a little further than you normally would go, go upstairs more often, start swimming or cycling, set yourself a challenge like couch to 5k and get sponsored.
What should I do if I become less keen on exercising? Try to choose an activity you enjoy like dancing or tennis or offer to walk somebody else’s dog.
How will learning a new skill improve my mental wellbeing? Because it boosts your self-confidence, raises your self-esteem, helps you to build a sense of purpose and connect with others.
What shouldn’t I do? Don’t rely on technology or social media, don’t spend hours in the gym and don’t feel you have to get qualifications if you take up a new skill
To improve your mental wellbeing there are certain things you should not do:
- Don’t rely on technology or social media alone to build relationships
- Don’t feel you have to spend hours at the gym. Instead, find activities you enjoy and can become part of your life
- Don’t feel you have to learn new qualifications or sit exams if this does not interest you