What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about bringing our attention to the present moment. Life can be hectic and full of pressures, and our minds often race on autopilot between anxieties about the past or future. Mindfulness uses techniques like breathing and meditation to bring us back to the present, to help us notice our thoughts, feelings and physical sensations, so we’re more able to manage them.
With depression we often judge and criticise ourselves very harshly. Over time we can spiral in to the depths of negativity and anxiety, until things become unmanageable. Mindfulness isn’t about blocking out our thoughts and feelings or changing them. It’s about noticing them, as if from a distance, and accepting them for what they are. Just thoughts, that don’t have to control or overwhelm us. Mindfulness can also help us to appreciate and savour the more pleasurable moments we experience, to boost our overall happiness and wellbeing.
Mindfulness techniques can help to,
- Relieve stress
- Improve sleep
- Lower blood pressure
- Reduce chronic pain
- Improve our self-awareness
What can I do?
There are lots of ways we can all practice mindfulness in our daily lives to achieve a state of alert, focussed relaxation. A walk at lunchtime, the food we eat, and our journey to work are all opportunities where we can take a few moments to notice what’s going on inside and outside ourselves. Setting aside time for more formal mindfulness practices such as yoga or meditation can also be helpful, and there are many online courses and apps to explore. Mindfulness can be enjoyed by everyone, but it’s less suitable for those with severe depression so it’s best to talk it through first with your GP.