Mindfulness is a technique you can learn to be fully present and engaged in the moment without judging anything. It can help you manage your thoughts, feelings and mental health.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness exercises are ways of paying attention to the present moment using techniques like meditation, breathing, and yoga. Training helps people to become more aware of their thoughts, feelings, and body sensations so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, they’re better able to manage them.
The Oxford Mindfulness Centre has more information on how mindfulness works.
What are the benefits of mindfulness?
Mindfulness can help you:
- understand your emotions better
- cope better with difficult thoughts
- feel calmer
- boost your attention and concentration
- improve your relationships.
Studies show that mindfulness-based approaches can significantly reduce the symptoms of anxiety and depression. They can also help people who have been depressed several times to stay well and avoid relapsing.
Who can practice mindfulness?
Anyone who wants to improve their day-to-day wellbeing can practice mindfulness. While it has roots in Buddhism, you don’t have to be religious or spiritual to practice it.
However, you may not find mindfulness helpful if you’re very unwell and would find it too overwhelming to learn a new skill. You also need to be prepared to notice difficult thoughts, which could make you feel worse at first.
People with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) should be aware that mindfulness could make their trauma symptoms worse. If you’ve experienced trauma, paying close attention to yourself in mindfulness exercises can trigger flashbacks, intense emotions or dissociation. Make sure your teacher is properly trained and able to adapt the exercises for you if necessary.
If you’re not sure, talk to your GP or a trained mindfulness practitioner before getting started.