Mindfulness has been found to be particularly helpful in reducing anxiety and managing wellbeing. Mindfulness is the practice of purposely focusing your attention on the present moment—and importantly accepting it without judgment. Observing body sensations, thoughts and feelings… and sitting with them, rather than trying to follow or avoid them. Reconnecting with them as they happen from moment to moment. The challenge is not to latch onto a particular idea, emotion, or sensation, or to get caught in thinking about the past or the future. Just observe, with curiosity… letting these mental events come and go. This lets us stand back from our thoughts and feelings and see that they do not need to define or control us. The aim is to achieve a state of alert, focused relaxation allowing the mind to refocus on the present moment
The basis of most mindfulness approaches is this breathing practice. Have a go and then reflect on what the experience was like for you.
- Sit comfortably and quietly on a chair, shut your eyes and relax any tension in your body.
- Breathe in and out three times.
- Now just focus on your natural breathing for a few minutes, not trying to control it in any way, but just noticing how the breath feels as it enters and leaves your body. What sensations to you feel? Where do you notice movement as you breathe? Focus on how it feels as you breathe.
You will probably get distracted as you try to do this exercise, by thoughts, feelings, sounds or sensations. There is nothing wrong with this – it is totally normal and part of the experience. Each time it happens, just notice you’ve been distracted and bring your attention gently back to your breath.
Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that taking time to be mindful and to reconnect can significantly reduce stress (physiologically and psychologically) and increase wellbeing. If you want to try mindfulness, there are lots of apps and websites with audio-guided practices that you can use (e.g. Headspace; Stop, Breathe, Think; The Mindfulness App; Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic World).
Find out more about Mindfulness here: