The modern world can be a minefield for mental health. Anxiety and depression are prevalent, largely due to overworking and an inability to deal with day to day stress in a positive, meaningful way. It is so easy now for people to get trapped into a spiral of overthinking. Worries over the uncertainty of the future and regrets over past decisions and actions can lead to lack of sleep, significant dietary problems and seriously inhibit social skills.
That’s where mindfulness comes in.
Although it can be a tricky subject to define with clarity, mindfulness can be loosely defined by subjectively observing the world in the moment you are living in. It is the practice of trying to focus on the internal and external stimuli you experience, as opposed to living in your head and letting your thoughts overwhelm you.Practising mindfulness can develop a closer link between your mind and body, and can start with the smallest of things, even noticing the feel of the cold tap on your hand. Although it is in essence a philosophy, maintaining the practice is scientifically proven to reduce stress and maintain good mental health.
The origin of mindfulness can be found in old religious practises, Buddhism in particular- shifting mental preoccupation towards a holistic view on life. Now more than ever, the lessons that can be gained from mindfulness can have hugely positive results.
Mind and Body, the benefits of mindfulness.
Mindfulness can have a massive effect on your mental well-being, helping you become acutely aware of in-the-moment sensations. It can help people put things into perspective and enjoy the smaller, usually unnoticed joys of life. It can help you hone your attention onto situational tasks and builds up strength when dealing with hostile situations. It can help you to forgo constant worries relating to past events and uncertainty over the future, and can help you build rapport with your peers.
Mindfulness meditation can be effective with addiction, depression, anxiety, OCD and eating disorders. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) endorse practising mindfulness as a treatment for people who have experienced depression three times or more.
As with your mental health, mindfulness can also make dramatic improvements to your physical health as well, the stress alleviation leads to a healthy heart, reduced blood pressure, lessen body pain and aches and have a huge effect on stomach difficulties.
How do I ‘do’ mindfulness?
You do you!
Mindfulness works by taking a holistic approach towards the stimuli faced in life. In other words, you take the good and the bad into account, rather than taking a reactional approach by avoiding stress-inducing experiences. Consistency is your friend. Dedicate a consistent and fixed time in the day for mindfulness. Start your morning off with an hour of just trying to take in the experiences around and inside your body and mind. Give yourself some variety in life! Try a new place for lunch or a new route to work in the morning. Move your room around and experience your life from a new perspective each night.
We recommend activities such as gentle walks, yoga, and tai-chi to help you to be mindful of your breathing. The following techniques can be a great starting point.
Mindfulness meditation. Just focus on breathing. When the thoughts enter your head, take in the experience without labelling them good or bad. Then gently return your focus to breathing.
Take in your sensory experiences. Notice the stimuli affecting each of your senses; sound, sight, smell, and touch.
Feel the sensations your body is experiencing. Notice itches and tickles and feel them fade unaided. Try and give mind to the individual experiences in sequence from your head to your toes.
Emotions. Take in the occurrence of each emotion and learn the value from each one. Don’t let them consume you as you gently focus back on the now.
For people struggling with addiction. Notice the cravings and the sensations your body experiences without giving in to temptation. Slowly but surely you will start to realise the cravings will pass as you take the lessons from each time it happens.
Analyse the working of your mental process; the thoughts, emotions and sensations. Don’t pigeonhole them as negative or positive, take in the external stimuli related to your senses to build up your in-the-moment experience.
Don’t give up!
Whilst this process is often not relaxing (sometimes quite the opposite) persistence and resilience with the practise can herald profound long term results. Be kind to yourself, notice the tangents your mind takes, take them into account and gently refocus yourself in the here and now. Persistence and resilience is key. If you fail, just start again!
Let us know if this helps!
Here at Street Panda Clothing, we think this philosophy is really cool but mindfulness is an individual thing and you have to do it in your own way! Our real passion in life is helping others to achieve happiness.
Hopefully, this article can help you start your own mindfulness journey. Why don’t you email us with your experiences and the ways in which you maintain a mindful approach to life?
About the Author
Bryn Jones is a history graduate with a background in traditional and digital marketing. Specific areas of interest include music, sports, current affairs, food, drink and all things mindful and positive.