Stress Wellbeing

Mindfulness 101

Looking for a way to destress that doesn’t involve time, money or even leaving your room? A way to decrease your anxiety, stress and irritability? Mindfulness may be the solution you’re looking for. It’s a practise that’s thousands of years old but is still relevant to modern times. Furthermore, it’s started to catch the attention of the scientific world as more research is being made into the outcomes of long term practise. So keep reading if you want to discover what mindfulness is, how it can benefit you and an easy routine.

What is mindfulness?

Many people confuse mindfulness with yoga, or think that it’s a religious activity. In fact, it is simply a form of mental training. There is no such thing as success nor is there failure, this reduces the pressure to attain a ‘perfect’ session every time. By being aware of your thoughts, positive or negative, you are able to regulate their effect on your everyday life. Recognising and observing your own thoughts and behaviours without criticizing yourself is the essence of mindfulness.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Mindfulness has an overwhelming number of benefits to both your body and mind. Here are my top 3:

  1. Decrease levels of anxiety, stress and depression by modifying underlying brain patterns to recognise them quicker. It’s also shown to reduce your pain perception by almost 50% compared to the average person.
  2. Improves mental and physical stamina, regular practitioners have a faster reaction time than the average population. This is due to higher levels of gyrification, this increases the surface area of the brain. No wonderregular practitioners also show improved creativity and problem solving!
  3. Boosts your immune system by helping to combat the cold and flu.

How do I get started?

There isn’t a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way to practise however for a little guidance here is a simple framework for meditation:

  1. Find a comfortable space, preferably free from any distracting stimuli like noise or bright lights. Close your eyes and keep your shoulders relaxed.
  2. Keep your attention on your breathing but don’t alter it, just focus on breathing in and out.
  3. If you mind begins to wander, acknowledge these thoughts and lay them aside. Your awareness of your distraction and subsequent return to the exercise is the core principle of mindfulness.
  4. Maintain this cycle for as long as you like, sometimes it helps to set a timer to regulate your practise.
  5. Gradually bring your awareness back to your surroundings. Wiggle your fingers and toes and gradually open your eyes

Routines don’t have to be more complicated than that. The framework can easily be modified depending on how much time you have to spare. Apps such as ‘Headspace’ or ‘The Mindfulness App’ are great for beginners. They provide timed guided meditations as well as progress trackers and community spaces to share your progress or document your journey. Even a minute everyday has its benefits!