The Importance of Mindfulness- Savannah Collis

It seems that mindfulness and meditation and being more mentally reflective is a large talking point in social media, articles and podcasts. Googling the word ‘mindfulness’ alone gets 283,000,000 results, but what does it actually mean to be mindful and why is it important?

Well according to mindful.org ‘Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.’ The website also suggests that mindfulness isn’t something you have to acquire, we all have it, you just have to come to learn how to access it.

Mindfulness is characterised by being in tune with our mental and physical self, learning to be in the moment and increased awareness of your thoughts and feelings. This means that you can interpret your emotions without interruption in a relaxing and distraction-free environment in order for you then to be able to process those thoughts and feelings.

The benefits of mindfulness:

Practising mindfulness has a range of benefits listed a below are a few of the many:

  • Reduces stress
  • Can boost your immune system
  • Increases focus and concentration
  • Enhance performance
  • Makes us more aware of our own mind and other peoples
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Can prevent depression

To name a few!

Common misconceptions:

  • Your mind should be free of all thoughts and your mind should be clear while you’re practicing mindfulness (i.e. meditating). 

It’s completely normal to have thoughts flooding your mind when you sit down to meditate, mindful activities allow your mind to relax and have a chance to think about all the thoughts you put off during the day. So, if you can’t quiet the ‘voice in your head’ don’t panic it’s very normal and your meditation still “counts”.

  • You have to be experienced and regularly do yoga etc to start meditation and practicing mindfulness.

You most definitely do not have to be the ‘Instagram perfect, green tea drinking, 6am yoga class, meditating machine’ in order to practice mindfulness (if you are one of those people that’s okay too!). You can start practicing mindfulness right now as a complete novice so don’t feel overwhelmed by the jargon of the mindful aware.

  • Meditation is the only thing you can do to be mindful.

There is a multitude of activities you can do to practice mindfulness not just meditation. Going for a walk and appreciating your surroundings is mindful, putting your phone down and engaging in the now is mindful and other activities.

What can I do to be mindful?

A Bupa month of mindfulness calendar you can try!

You can essentially make anything you do a mindful activity providing you stop to think about it, for example you can eat mindfully, just stop to think about what you’re eating, what went into putting that meal on your plate, appreciating every mouthful and so on.

Below are a few suggestions of mindful activities you can do:

  • Guided meditation or just meditation
  • Go for a mindful walk
  • Stopping to appreciate small things in life
  • Doing a small act of kindness
  • Breathing exercises
  • Yoga
  • Tai-chi

For more information on mindfulness you can look at the websites below to get you started:

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs-and-treatments/mindfulness/about-mindfulness/

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