A lot of people have been talking about mindfulness recently, and I’m sure most of you guys are still unsure as to what exactly mindfulness is. As someone that’s been practising mindfulness for years now, I can confidently tell you that it is the simplest thing in the entire world. Mindfulness is simply being aware of the present and calmly acknowledging and accepting your own thoughts and feelings. We practice mindfulness every day to some extent, without really realising it. I use mindfulness to keep my mental health in check and to keep my mind and body in tune with one another.
So what exactly are the benefits of mindfulness? Apart from staying in tune with your body and mind, it offers a selection of calming and positive effects on oneself. Staying in tune with your mind and body is penultimately the most important thing you should be doing. If your mind is going at 100mph and your body is just stuck in a zapped of energy state, this will only do more harm than good. By giving yourself a check-in every now and then, you’ll hopefully be able to relax and pin point exactly where you’re getting anxiety from, and think of possible solutions to prevent that from continuing.
Another extremely important benefit of mindfulness is that it encourages you to physically and mentally relax. No stress, no worrying, just being in the moment and checking out how your body is feeling and how your mind is working at that current moment. The many different ways to practice mindfulness are relaxing and cause you to forget about what you ‘should’ be stressing about. Many people use mindfulness tricks just before a job interview or finding out some important news. Some do this by noticing their breathing pattern. Others focus on the feeling of their feet on the ground to help them feel more grounded. Mindfulness helps you stay calm and relaxed. It gives you that time to really think and to gather yourself in order to be the best person you can be in that moment. Pretty handy if you’re constantly feeling anxious or worried about things, right?
One thing I personally have found mindfulness to is, boost my focus and helps with mental clarity. It may sound silly, but some days I literally cannot focus on one thing at a time so I end up just lying in my bed, stressed and tired and eventually, exhausting myself until I feel sick. By practising mindfulness, my focus has gotten so much better! It’s what helps me attempt to keep a decent blog schedule as to reduce my stress about it, and from going completely potty trying to finish a book I just can’t focus on. I think we could all use practising mindfulness every now and then, especially when we feel zapped and unable to focus.
Not only does it help you focus, but it reduces anxiety and any negative feelings and emotions. I found this out after reading author and comedian, Ruby Wax’s book Sane New Word: Taming of The Mind. At the time I was thinking that was probably not a long-term feeling, and that eventually the negative thoughts and anxiety would come back. And they did. So I kept practising, and practising and practising mindfulness, and my wellbeing has never been better. When I feel a dark episode coming on, I practise more than I do usually, and it really does help. It’s like I’m the one in control, not the mental illness. And that’s something we all need from time to time, even if you don’t suffer with mental health, it’s always handy to control the anxiety and negativity.
Mindfulness triggers us to practise a form of self-love and kindness from within. We’re often very critical of ourselves and put ourselves down if we don’t reach our goals and targets we’ve set. By practising mindfulness, it will cause a nicer, more positive and caring reaction towards yourself. Since starting with mindfulness, I’ve learnt to accept myself and slip-ups I’ve had, and move on from them instead of dwelling on the past and hating myself for making a simple mistake, something which all humans make. Self acceptance and self-love are so hard to come by, but by putting some effort into practising mindfulness, you do eventually get there.
The last benefit I’m going to talk about in this post is a more scientific one. Mindfulness helps have more cognitive flexibility. Now what does that mean? If you’re anything like me, and are always unsure what scientific terms mean, then, allow me to simplify things for you. Cognitive flexibility basically refers to the brain’s ability to transition from thinking about one thing to another. The quicker you are able to switch thinking from one dimension, (for example, the size of a dog) to another (the colour of its collar) the greater your level of cognitive flexibility. This is such a handy to be able to do. It helps you switch your focus from one thing to another, which would be highly beneficial if you’re stressed out over something small and needed to relax.
Those are all the benefits I’ll be talking about today, but I really hope you enjoyed learning about mindfulness and why I practise it for my own mental health and wellbeing. Let me know if you’ve ever tried it before and what are some of the benefits for you! So, until next time, have an awfully big mindful adventure!