You may have heard the term mindfulness and be wondering what it means. Here are some basics behind the concept.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a form of self-awareness training which has been adapted from Buddhist mindfulness meditation, and it refers to paying attention to and being present in the current moment.
How can practicing mindfulness help me?
Practicing mindfulness helps you enjoy life as it happens, and can have a positive impact on your mental health. It can also help you cope with everyday life and deal with difficult times. It can help if you have trouble focusing, if you are often stressed or worried about things, or if you want to improve your mental and physical well being.
The theory behind mindfulness surrounds focusing on the present and living in the moment, meaning and you don’t dwell on the past or worry about the future.
Mindfulness is used for many reasons, and there is evidence to show that it can help you to:
Clear your head and slow down your thoughts
Be more aware of yourself, your body and the environment
Slow down your nervous system and aid your sleep
Cope with stress, depression and anxiety
What are some ways to practice mindfulness?
Mindfulness can be practiced during everyday activities such as eating, walking, driving or even while brushing your teeth! Try it, just focus on the task you are doing and really focus on the task at hand, instead of reciting your to-do list, or thinking about the meeting you have at work. Just focus your mind and feel the benefits.
When trying to be more mindful, here are some simple tips to follow:
Focus only on the present moment. Ask yourself what is happening to you right now? Are you breathing fast or slow, are you tired or hungry?
Concentrate on what is happening around you. Do you feel hot or cold? What sounds can you hear?
Try not to be judgemental about anything you notice
There are a number of phone apps available to help you practice mindfulness, including Smiling Mind (http://smilingmind.com.au/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIlpKjq7uz1QIVjgQqCh11MQc7EAAYAiAAEgL9R_D_BwE ) and ReachOut Breathe (https://au.reachout.com/tools-and-apps/reachout-breathe ).
Mindfulness can also be translated to your everyday activities to help you reduce stress and anxiety.
What if I’m finding my practice hard?
Becoming more mindful involves training your brain, so will take time to master. Remember that when you are just getting started, it will be difficult to hold your focus for a long period of time and it is normal for your thoughts to wander. Try to practice a little every day, and increase the amount of time each day to improve your practice.
If you have any questions about mindfulness or are concerned about stress and anxiety in your life, please discuss this with your GP. If you feel that your emotions are getting to a crisis point, please call Lifeline 13 11 14.
ReachOut Australia 2017, ‘How to practice mindfulness’, ReachOut.Com, retrieved online 31/7/17, < https://au.reachout.com/articles/how-to-practice-mindfulness >
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