Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention on 'purpose'. Being mindful means having the intention and purpose of staying with your experience. Whether it’s focusing on walking down the road, your breath, or a specific emotion, it means you're actively managing your mind. 

Mindfulness

Mindfulness can be practiced by anyone at any time. By working with your mind in this way, you can live with improved health, less anxiety and a better sense of wellbeing.

By being more present with your thoughts or actions, it puts you in a calm state of mind, which has many positive effects on your physical and mental health.

How can mindfulness help?

Research shows that mindfulness has many physical and mental benefits, including:

  • Improving our brain’s ability to process information
  • Reducing brain-related problems in old age
  • Strengthening our immune system
  • Lifting our mood and reduce stress
  • Alleviating chronic pain
  • Reducing chances of coronary disease due to lowering stress
  • Reducing anxiety and depression
  • Helping with sleep problems such as insomnia
  • Balancing emotions.

Because mindfulness allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience, we can gradually train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over - and that they don’t have to control us. This is great for balancing your emotions.

It can help you deal with daily life challenges. For example if you’re experiencing a difficult relationship with someone, being mindful can help you deal with your emotions and keep calm, which can then improve your relationships.  Awareness of our emotions can help us spot signs of stress and anxiety earlier, and helps us to deal with them better.

Being mindful

1. Try bringing awareness to your usual daily activities, for example paying more attention when washing, doing household chores, eating your meals, or walking. Tune into the sight, taste, smell, sound and feel of these activities – and you might find these routines more interesting than before. 
2. Practicing mindfulness when you wake up in the morning has a good influence on the rest of your day. Start with sitting still and tuning into your feelings and observing your thoughts, for 5 to 10 minutes, and you can gradually increase this over time.  
3. Pay attention to, and focus on the flow of each breath, in and out of your body. 
4. If you feel your mind wandering and being busy, that’s ok, it’s normal.  Noticing that your mind has wandered, and then non-judgementally bringing it back, is a part of being mindful.  Observe those thoughts from a distance, and when you’re ready, you bring them back to your mindful state. 
5. Many people find it easier to calm their over-busy mind when doing gentle movement, such as yoga or walking.  6. Situations that can be irritating can be the perfect moment to practice mindfulness and relax you - practice while you’re waiting in long queues, or a traffic jam.

You can learn to practice mindfulness in a variety of ways, whether it’s by doing a one day workshop, attending a local class, using an online course or going on a retreat.

 

Useful contacts:

Mental Health Foundation
Address: Colechurch House, 1 London Bridge Walk, London, SE1 2SX
Phone: 020 7803 1100
Web:www.mentalhealth.org.uk