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What is mindfulness?

Find out what mindfulness is and how it helps people to look after their mental wellbeing


Written by SpunOut | View this authors Twitter page and posted in health


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Mindfulness can be a helpful tool for looking after your mental health and your general wellbeing. The idea is to focus on the present moment and what is happening around you rather than getting caught up in your thoughts.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is about becoming more aware of what’s going on in the present moment. It aims to help you manage your thoughts and feelings, so you don’t become overwhelmed by them.

You can practice mindfulness throughout your day. Mindfulness is a skill that you can work on and improve in. Like any skill the more you work on it, the better you become at it.

Mindfulness takes practice and you might not feel the benefits of it straight away. Try to give it time.

It is generally recommended that you don’t introduce mindfulness during a time that you are experiencing a mental health crisis. It is best to consult with your doctor first.

Mindfulness is about more than calming down

You might think mindfulness is about calming down but it’s not. Practising mindfulness may help you calm down, but it’s really about becoming more aware and tuned into the world around you. However, as a result, you might feel calmer and less overwhelmed.

How to practice mindfulness

You can practice mindfulness anywhere simply by bringing your attention to what you are doing and focusing on each individual task. Your mind will always drift away but this is normal and nothing to get annoyed about - just keep bringing it back; it’s like a puppy that can’t sit still!

Techniques

You can use certain techniques to help you with mindfulness. As you are doing a particular daily task, for example walking somewhere, focus on the task you are doing. Feel how your feet feel as you take each step, if it is sunny see how the sun feels on your skin. If you find your mind begins to wander try to observe your thoughts but not engage with them and then try to refocus on the present.

Breathing

Focusing on your breathing can help to bring you to the present moment too. Breath deep into your belly and imagine your body filling with oxygen. Breathe slowly when doing this exercise as fast, deep breathing can make people nervous.

Another breathing exercise is to notice the breath in your nose. This helps to concentrate your awareness and to relax you. It also helps if you tend to wake up during the night because it takes your mind away from your worries.

Mindfulness resources

  • Have a look online for more information
  • There are a number of apps that can help with mindfulness like Insight Timer 
  • A podcast might be helpful to guide you through mindfulness
  • There are mindfulness classes and courses that might help you to develop your technique

Benefits of mindfulness

The benefits of mindfulness will always differ from person to person. Some of the benefits you might experience include:

  • Help you appreciate what’s going on right here, right now
  • Improve your concentration levels
  • Help you to focus
  • Improve your memory
  • Reduce stress and anxiety
  • Help deal with depression
  • Give you a better understanding of your own emotions

There’s lots of research to show that mindfulness is good for our mind. Many studies show that mindfulness helps reduce anxiety and depression and has other mental health benefits too. Don’t panic if it doesn’t work straight away. And if it doesn’t work out, don’t despair. You can always talk to your doctor about alternative methods and treatments.

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Published Novem­ber 21st2014
Tags mental health mindfulness health
Can this be improved? Contact editor@spunout.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.

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