Mindfulness aims to alleviate stress, reconnect us with ourselves, feel more attuned with our emotions, and generally more aware of ourselves both mentally and physically. Mindfulness is a specific way of paying attention to what is happening in our lives in the present moment, without judgement. It doesn’t eliminate the stressors of life but, with practice, it can help us take notice of negative habitual reactions to these stressors.
The most common form of mindfulness is mindful meditation, but mindfulness can take many forms such as yoga or Tai Chi. These activities help us to take a step back, acknowledge the noise in our minds, and to observe it without judgment.
While we can all practice mindfulness on our own, those with mental health concerns such as anxiety and depression may benefit from a more structured therapy that incorporates mindfulness, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction or mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) aims to help people cope with stress by using mindfulness techniques such as mind-body exercises, gentle stretching, and meditation, to offer clarity on what is happening in their minds. This can also help you to identify the triggers to your stress and to deal with them productively.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was originally designed to help those predisposed to recurring depression. MBCT combines mindfulness exe4rcises with elements of cognitive therapy to help break negative thought patterns. As well as helping those with depression, MBCT has also been known to help with a variety of issues such as anxiety, addiction, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, chronic fatigue syndrome, insomnia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Mindfulness aims to help individuals do the following:
- recognise, slow down or even stop negative, habitual reactions
- see situations with more clarity
- respond more effectively to situations
- enhance creativity
- feel more balanced at work and home
- reduce anxiety levels
- improve their sleep quality
- experience fewer negative feelings
- and improve physical conditions such as chronic fatigue and psoriasis.