It can be easy to rush through life and not enjoy the moment, but we can improve this by being more mindful. Increasing our self-awareness and being more present in our own environment improves our psychological well-being. So, what is mindfulness? How can it benefit us? Does it actually work? This blog will give you an insight into this fascinating concept.
WHAT IS MINDFULNESS?
Mindfulness is the art of reconnecting our bodies with the feelings and sensations it experiences. If we can live in the moment, we can start to truthfully understand what is going on inside our minds and outside our body.
According to the NHS, mindfulness has the ability to let us tap into our thoughts and feelings we might experience. It can even allow us to identify helpful and unhelpful beliefs, which we explore in our blog.
Mindfulness helps us to gain perspective. It allows us to understand our thoughts and feelings in a way that trains us to figure out our patterns and subsequent behaviours. In doing this, we can then accept that our thinking biases are really just events that happen in our brain and shouldn’t control out actions.
LOOKING AT THE RESEARCH
Research has shown that mindfulness encourages self-regulatory behaviours and allows users to experience more positive mood states by tackling and suppressing negative thought patterns. By training our brain, mindfulness helps us to deal with things we find hard to let go in our lives. Ask yourself “am I becoming tangled up in my own thoughts?” or “can I deal with the situation in a better way?”.
In a study of 593 participants, mindfulness helped reduce the risk of depressive behaviour by up to 34%. In a follow-up test the reduction rate was increased to 43% when participants had participated in mindfulness more than twice.
So, do people actually like it? In a study of 155 men and women, 74% of the mindfulness users said they would use it again in their everyday routine. This can show how when it’s done well, people enjoy it and benefit from it. So, can it be used in schools?
An ongoing study has shown promising signs to suggest, when delivered correctly, mindfulness in schools can be both cost effective and most importantly, effective for learners
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
We need to be careful about the way in which we address the benefits of this useful intervention We need to remain vigilant of the evidence pool from which we draw upon. It is simply not the answer to everyone’s problems.
This is particularly evident in teenagers and it could be down to the fact that the millennials are incredibly cynical. Research has suggested that mainstream teenagers might not have had enough life challenges to benefit from an intervention like mindfulness. These results could be explained by the fact that mindfulness may be moving too far away from its origins and it is often misunderstood.
The NHS state that whilst mindfulness provides promising evidence for its benefits in health, education, prison rehabilitation and workplace interventions, it is important to understand that research is nevertheless ongoing.
HOW CAN WE BE MORE MINDFUL?
1 – BUILD – build relationships with the people around you like your friends, family and team-mates. Often talking to someone about your problems can take the weight off of your shoulders and allow someone to give feedback that might change your perspective. See our blog on building a team around you.
2 – BE ACTIVE – by staying active you can release any stress that may have accumulated over the day at school, college or university. Exercise is a great way to wind down and regain control. Let your body do the work for you. See our blog on the benefits of exercising.
3 – NEVER STOP LEARNING - learn every day. Keep learning and aiming to achieve new things. By gaining more knowledge and adapting your skills, you can help yourself by developing your own coping strategies to make you more resilient.
4 – BE GENEROUS – help the people around you like they help you. If your parents need help around the house, do the washing up or set the table for dinner. They do a lot for you and giving them a helping hand can really show them you care. Parents can even help improve your grades.
5 – JOURNALLING – write down your thoughts and feelings. Spend some time understanding those experiences. By making sense of your cognitions you will be able to reflect on your past and constantly improve. Here are 6 reasons to keep a diary.