Why I Practice Mindfulness and You Should Too

Modern life is increasingly busy, aiming to get from A to B as quickly as possible, with often little acknowledgement of yourself or your surroundings.

Getting wrapped up in a whirlwind of ‘to-do’ lists and deadlines, I have often let myself become physically and mentally exhausted. For many people, doing this can lead to serious health issues such as anxiety and depression.

So, what can we do about this? Mindfulness has allowed me, and can allow you, to appreciate each moment: acknowledging and understanding your emotions and sensory experiences. Originating in Buddhism, mindfulness has become a scientifically and medically recognised therapy, and can help in all areas of mental wellbeing. In simple terms, it is a practice that helps you to become aware of yourself and your surroundings in the present.

So, how do we do it? There is a lot of information out there on more formal types of mindfulness meditation, but here are a few pro-tips to get you started:

  • Experience your surroundings – notice your senses in that moment. What can you smell? What does a certain material feel like? Enjoy each sensation.
  • Notice your thoughts – keep a watch on the thoughts passing through your mind. Noticing each thought tells you what may be troubling you, and you can then seek help in combating those issues, but try not to let them linger. It can help to visualise them as a moving object passing you by so as not to let them grow.
  • Choose a time – pick a time that is convenient and regular. Before bed is often a good time as mindfulness relaxes you for sleep, but you can practice anytime and anywhere – whatever is best for you. The more you practice, the easier it becomes to reach a relaxed and mindful state.

So how does it help? National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends mindfulness for preventing depression. Mindfulness teaches you how to appreciate each moment, giving you time to notice the positive things in your environment. Learning to focus on the present releases you from preoccupation with the past and future – you can find a break from the problems in the past or worries about the future. This is great for relieving and preventing stress, anxiety and depression. In mindfulness, learning to allow negative thoughts to pass me by has greatly helped me to grow beyond my limitations and develop a resilient mental well-being. Noticing and experiencing each moment has taught me to appreciate small things that make me happy throughout my day. With good practice, you too can use mindfulness to increase your mental well-being and take on your day.

I am an undergraduate BSc Psychology student at the University of Birmingham. I am driven to banish the stigma surrounding mental illness, and to encourage people to better identify and manage their mental health.

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