How can mindfulness improve our mental wellbeing?

Mindfulness has become much more popular in that last few years, but what is it?

The founder of Mindfulness- Based Stress Reduction Training, Kabat-Zinn, says “Mindfulness is the awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

Mindfulness uses all our senses to notice what is happen right now. Not dwelling in the past or fretting about the future. It also emphasises that the present moment is constantly changing. It is important to remember the principle of being non-judgemental. Mindfulness does not assume that things are idyllic all the time. There is also an expectation that our thoughts will naturally wander, and we will need to choose to bring our focus back to the here and now.

It can be helpful to think of mindfulness as a skill. The skill of being able to control the focus of our attention. This could be focusing on our breathing during a specific mindfulness exercise or notice what is around us as we go through our day to day life.

Key principles of mindfulness:

There are many ways practising mindfulness can improve our mental wellbeing:

  • Observing – Purposefully paying attention through our senses or to our thoughts. We are controlling our attention, not the content of what we might notice

  • Describe – Put your experience into words. Either out loud or in your head. Describe what you observe, not how you think it should be.

  • Participate – Throw yourself into the current moment. Think of a time where you enjoyed something and weren’t thinking of anything else. In the same way, be fully involved in the current moment

  • Non-judgmental – Avoid labelling things as how they “should be” or whether is it good or bad. Don’t judge your judgements either. Acknowledge them, and then let them go

  • One-mindfully – Focus on one thing at a time

  • Curiosity and kindness – No-one starts as an expert. Try and be kind to yourself and curious about what you notice around you

How can mindfulness help my mental health?

  • Noticing the good moments – our minds are often on the look out for risk. This means we are more likely to replay mistakes in our minds. We then forget the good moments. Taking time to notice even the small, good moments can help boost our mood

  • Grounding during difficult moments – this is about bring our focus to what is around us. What can I see? What can I hear?

  • Breaking down difficult challenges into smaller steps. Taking it each moment at a time

  • Improving our self-awareness


Resources to support your mental health and emotional wellbeing

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