Life can be hectic no matter your age or situation. All of us have things that occupy our time and headspace, and at times it can feel overwhelming. There are also plenty of distractions that keep the internal thought process busy for a while. Several studies have proven that mindfulness can help you to reduce stress and prevent depression and anxiety, among other things. It allows you to focus on the now and become more in tune with yourself. This might all seem a bit woolly, but there are in fact some real benefits. Let’s tell you a little about mindfulness…
What is mindfulness?
On the surface, mindfulness is a fairly simple concept, yet a difficult one to describe. It is the act of being fully aware of yourself, your thoughts, your body, and your surroundings.
With the busyness of day to day life, it’s rare that we get time to really think about the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. Practising mindfulness is exactly this – pausing for a brief time to have awareness of the present moment and reconnecting with ‘you.’
Again, the temptation might be to dismiss this idea as mumbo jumbo and go back to scrolling through social media or playing video games. However, there are some tangible benefits of mindfulness, and not just for crazy cat ladies/gentlemen.
Why can practising mindfulness help?
Student life is often a lot of fun. Whether you’re finishing up at school or just starting at university or work, there’s usually plenty of people around and lots of fun things to do. However, there are also things like coursework, exams, practical tests, and more to deal with. In other words, it can be stressful. Rather than gently weeping in a corner, mindfulness can help you to tackle this stress. It can:
When you’re studying or working hard, things can sometimes feel a little frantic. Mindfulness can have some pretty awesome benefits if you do it regularly, so it’s a useful skill to learn how to practice. Speaking of learning the basics…
Mindfulness: the basics
So, how exactly do you practice mindfulness? There are actually quite a few exercises and techniques you can do, many of which involve focusing your thoughts and sitting (or lying) peacefully.
Because there are so many methods you can use, we’ve chosen one of the most popular ones to outline. It’s a simple mindful breathing exercise that you can practice just about anywhere and takes just 15 minutes:
- Find a comfortable and relaxing position to sit. Choose somewhere you won’t be disturbed (and won’t immediately fall asleep).
- Notice your body and try and relax it. Think about how it feels; the shape and weight of it sat in the comfortable spot. Notice any sensations you feel. Let yourself relax.
- Think about your breathing. Your breath with naturally flow in and out, so pay attention to how this feels. Where can you feel it? What does it feel like?
- As you sit and focus on your breathing, you’ll probably find that your mind starts to wander. This is fine and totally natural. When you notice thoughts cropping up, acknowledge that your mind has wandered. Redirect your attention back to your breath.
- Stay like this for five to seven minutes, focusing on your breathing and steering your attention back to it. After a few minutes, pay attention once again to how your body feels. Let yourself relax even more and notice the sensations you experience.
That’s all there is to it. Although it sounds simple, it’s a great way of getting back in tune with your body and mind, relaxing you for the rest of the day ahead.
To help you on your way to practising mindfulness, we’ve pulled together some resources that can help you learn and understand more about the topic:
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