You may have heard about mindfulness, or you may have given it a go yourself already. It seems to be a popular up-and-coming technique used more frequently recently to help people gain a bit of perspective if they are feeling stressed or anxious.
In a nutshell it means taking a time out as part of your daily routine to relax the mind and body by just “being present in the moment”. It’s a kind of meditation and it means that you sit or lay somewhere you’re unlikely to be disturbed for a few minutes to concentrate on each part of your body, how you are feeling, listen to the quietness around you, focus on your breathing, and clear your mind.
Mindfulness encourages you to allow thoughts to simply pass through your head rather than dwelling on anything, and encourages you to slow down your thinking and effectively reboot your mind, so that when you finish, you should be significantly more relaxed than when you started.
To be honest, being a stressy and anxious person myself, I thought this sounded like a load of tosh that I didn’t have time for. However, after being encouraged by my friend to give it a go, I actually found it a very useful technique during times of moderate stress, and has in fact helped me to sleep better and gain a bit of perspective. Although just a beginner, I have started practice mindfulness often these days; in the bath, on the sofa, on the train – wherever and whenever I need a moment of calm out of my day.
So how do you get started?
I started by using an app on my phone called “Headspace” and find it excellent. It is basically just a guy with a calming voice talking to you and telling you what to think about and what part of your body to concentrate on or what sense to focus on during each stage of the session. Each session lasts for 10 minutes but you can repeat each session more than once if you feel like you’re not quite relaxed enough after just one. It’s an app that you have to pay for, but it’s quite cheap and they often to free trial runs so you can test it out for a few sessions before committing to a monthly payment of a few quid.
Other benefits of mindfulness supposedly include improvement of memory and an improvement in relationship satisfaction too, but since I am just a beginner I guess this comes later with more practice.
If you haven’t tried it yet, I would suggest giving it a go. What is there to lose! Everyone’s different and it is possible it won’t work for everyone, but I would be surprised if you wasn’t even a little bit more relaxed after doing a session, and if anything it’s nice to just be able to take 10 minutes out of your busy day to just relax and gain a bit of perspective.
So go on, have a little bit of “me” time, wherever you are.