Are you feeling stressed out or overwhelmed in your day-to-day life? Maybe you have constant worries about the future and thoughts about the past taking over your mind. Practising mindfulness can help to reduce worries and stress, boost mental well-being, improve concentration, and give you a better outlook on life. Mindfulness is an ancient practice that utilises awareness of the present moment to calm your mind and allow you to tune into yourself. It is important to understand that there is a distinct difference between being mindful and finding mindfulness, which is why it can be difficult to establish this practice in your everyday life.
We approached Vanessa Anthony, one of our BACP registered counsellors here at Talens Health Support Services, and asked her to share some insights into how to get started with finding mindfulness. We are pleased to be able to share her valuable insights with you.
Defining Mindfulness – What is the difference between being mindful and finding mindfulness
Vanessa Anthony says:
"As we travel through life at sometimes amazing speeds, do we ever stop to say “how am I today?” “was what I did today purposeful, motivating, make me smile, make me think?” I am guessing most of us say no or not as much as we would like to, to be mindful of what we do is powerful and helps us keep focussed but to find mindfulness we need to experience a new sense of self. So you are asking how do I reach mindfulness…. Slowly and meaningfully and enjoy the journey!"
Mindfulness is a term that is often used, but not always clearly understood. Being mindful means being fully present in the moment and paying attention to thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations without judgment. Finding mindfulness is the process of intentionally practising this state of mind with the goal of improving both mental and physical health.
It's important to note that mindfulness exercises are not about clearing your mind or eliminating all thoughts. Rather, it's about acknowledging your feelings and thoughts without letting them control you. Developing mindfulness may take time and effort, but it can lead to benefits such as reduced stress, improved relationships, and increased self-awareness. Remember, mindfulness is a journey, not a destination, and compassion towards yourself is integral to the process.
But, how do we find mindfulness?
"The first steps to mindfulness are to stop, embrace ourselves, ground ourselves, and step back from life for a few minutes and see its impact. How do I do that you ask? Step by step, breath by breath and taking hold of our inner self to learn who we are and what we want. When exploring my own journey of mindfulness, I truly believe if I don’t find my direction to find myself how can I suggest to others how they start their voyage? I began by searching for what centres me, what grounds me, what stresses me and what confuses my aims and thoughts. You can find some of the simple techniques I have found that I try for myself and then suggest to others in the next section"
Vanessa's three ways to practice mindfulness and improve your mental wellbeing
It's important to start small and set achievable goals. Incorporating short bursts of meditation or thoughtful breathing into your day, such as during your morning commute, can make a big difference to stress reduction over time. Try to cultivate awareness of your thoughts and emotions without judgement. This can help you recognise patterns and triggers, and respond in a more mindfully measured way rather than simply reacting.
As an expert in mindfulness practices, Vanessa offers these three tips on how to find mindfulness in your daily life.
Exercise 1: Breathing Exercises
"Breathing when we sit or lay down and just hear and feel ourselves breathe deep and purely, we discover that by just feeling that feeling and motion we go back to the simple things in life that teach us just to be," says Vanessa.
Exercise 2: Mindfulness Meditation
"Another technique is the four-minute mindfulness audio of the five senses, there are different approaches but the one I turned into audio looks simply at each sense we have, hear, see, taste, touch and smell and just feel in the moment how that makes us be and experience the joy of just being present."
Follow along with the four-minute mindfulness meditation audio of the five senses in this video:
Exercise 3: the clench unclench method
"Lastly and there are many other ways to experience joy in relaxing and allowing ourselves to find a balance even just for a while, I suggest the clench unclench method, this one definitely needs to be laying down maybe a last thing of the day or late afternoon so that we can find a way to release some tensions of the day.
This starts with clenching (gently don’t hurt yourself) all we have, toes up to eyebrows and then breathe in take fresh oxygen in and then let all that tension go in one outward breath. Let everything release and relax letting all the tension, pain, hurt and anger go. Repeat a couple more times and then feel how that frees you of the day."
Follow along with the clench unclench method in this video:
Self-help, meditation and mindfulness practices are great ways to bring your attention to the present moment. If you find these methods helpful and would like to expand your mindfulness with advanced methods and deeper understanding, you can book a course of sessions with Vanessa starting from only £25 per session. The support and guidance of an experienced counsellor or therapist can be invaluable in deepening your practice and cultivating a more mindful way of being.
Reducing Stress Levels Through Awareness of Your Thoughts and Feelings
The mental and physical toll that stress takes on our bodies and minds is undeniable. Chronic stress can lead to a host of physical and emotional problems, from headaches and digestive issues to anxiety and depression. One powerful way to combat stress is by becoming more aware of your current mindset. Taking the time to tune into your inner experiences can help you recognise patterns of negative thinking and self-talk that contribute to your stress levels. By learning to reframe your thoughts and cultivate a more positive mindset, you can reduce the impact that stress has on your life. This process of self-awareness and self-reflection is not always easy, but it is an essential step towards achieving greater peace of mind and a more balanced way of being.
All in all, mindfulness is a powerful tool for reducing stress levels and creating balance in your life. With awareness, we can learn to observe our thoughts and feelings without judgment and begin to develop an understanding of the triggers behind them. By implementing the three tips for finding mindfulness that Vanessa has suggested, you can start to create greater peace and clarity in your life. If you find yourself still struggling to find mindfulness, we encourage you to seek out help from Talens Health Support Service. Our experts are ready to guide you to continue this journey towards inner peace. Your first session is free, so why not give it a try and see if you can take one step closer towards achieving mental well-being?
At Talens Health Support Services, we believe that mental health care should be accessible and affordable for everyone. That's why we offer private counselling and therapy in a way that is convenient for you, no matter where you are. We understand that taking that first step can be daunting, which is why we offer your first session for free. Our compassionate and knowledgeable counsellors are BACP registered and ready to support you on your path towards better mental health. We are here to listen, help you explore your thoughts and feelings, and work with you to find solutions that fit your individual needs. Let us be a part of your journey towards a happier, healthier you.