How to be Mindful
The busy times that we live in can sometimes cause clutter in our minds. This can quite often lead to stress, anxiety and depression. Sparing a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness can help to combat these cluttered and negative thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness is a form of meditation that came from Buddhist practices and is the act of changing the way we think, feel and respond to our experiences, especially the stressful ones.
Why is mindfulness important?
Mindfulness and the practice of it, is also now a very common method taught by counsellors and practitioners of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Which is a system used for the treatment of mood disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse, stress, anxiety and depression.
This is a mixture of cognitive and behavioural techniques which deal with conflicting and emotional conditions, training our brains and the way we deal with our emotions at the time of heightened stress or negative situations.
How to become more mindful
Basic Mindfulness practices can be as simple as being aware of the present moment.
Noticing sights, smells, sounds and tastes and being aware of, but not controlled by our thoughts and feelings that can occur. This can be practiced whilst undertaking daily activities, that don’t require your full concentration.
To use mindfulness in a physical capacity, try walking slowly down the street. Concentrate on each step, what does your foot feel like in your sock? How does it feel inside your shoe? How does your foot feel on the pavement? What can you see, hear or even taste?
Whilst practicing the same exercise, become aware of thoughts and feelings that occur in your mind. Don’t try to change the way that you feel or try and fix anything. Think about these thoughts and feelings as though you were an outsider, which after practice, can allow you to see the present more clearly.
When we do that we start to understand ourselves better and appreciate the world around us more. This leads us to a state of mental wellbeing making our lives fuller and helps us manage stress and relieve anxiety.
Top tips for practicing mindfulness
Here are some tips that you can take into consideration when starting out.
Be comfortable - ensure that you're practicing mindfulness in a space where you're unlikely to be distracted.
Have a routine - shorter periods of mindfulness tends to work better than longer sessions. It could be that setting aside some time each day to practice a couple of exercises works well for you.
Establish "anchor habits" - small, core routines that are gradually ingrained within your routine. This will help you develop habits that will bring you back to the centre when your mind drifts. Start off small when establishing your anchor habits, this could be getting outside for a few minutes each day, drinking water first thing in the morning, take a break from screens, meditate for 5 minutes, going for a walk or connecting with friends.
Patience - like any new activity, it can take a while before you start to feel comfortable with mindfulness. Therefore, it's important you don't set unrealistic targets or this may put extra pressure on you.
What if mindfulness doesn't work?
Some people may not find mindfulness as helpful as others. One key thing to remember is that just because one technique works for someone else, doesn't mean it's right for you. Taking time for yourself and looking after your mental health can be a challenge. But with time and the right balance of support and self care you will begin to feel better.
How we can help
A Benenden membership offers a range of mental health services for members suffering with anxiety and depression and other mental health concerns. Our 24/7 Mental Health Helpline is available for our members to call 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Learn more about our affordable private healthcare today.
Medically reviewed by Llinos Connolly on March 2023. Next review date: March 2024.