Mindfulness – what is it and why do we need it?
What does wellbeing mean to you? When we talk about wellbeing, most people will straight away think of having a healthy diet, drinking lots of water and doing regular exercise. These are all extremely important aspects of keeping healthy, but we all commonly underestimate the importance of looking after our minds!
In a world full of technology it can be really easy to rush through life and not stop to notice what is going on around us. Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the present moment, listening to your thoughts and feelings and taking time to notice what’s happening in the world around you.
The former Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, Professor Mark Williams said, “It’s also easy to lose touch with the way our bodies are feeling and to end up living ‘in our heads’- caught up in our thoughts without stopping to notice how thoughts are driving our emotions and behaviour”.
So, why is mindfulness so important? By paying more attention to yourself and your surrounding you can improve your mental wellbeing; it can help you to enjoy life more and understand yourself better. By becoming more aware of the present moment, you’ll find that you’ll begin to experience things that you previously took for granted!
Mindfulness can also enable you to become more aware of your thoughts and how certain experiences make you feel. This will eventually allow you to stand back from your thoughts and notice when they’re taking over in a negative way. Having this awareness will help you to start noticing the signs of stress and anxiety earlier on, which will in turn help you to deal with it better.
Start thinking about some of the activities you can do to be more mindful. These are some of the things the University of Birmingham Aimhigher Plus team like to do:
- Lucy enjoys knitting, along with 4.5 million other people in the UK, and says that anyone can pick up a pair of needles and a ball of yarn! Knitting has been shown to reduce stress, improve focus and memory and gives you a well-deserved release of dopamine. Lucy says you can make a whole load of different times, including cosy blankets and cute headbands. We’ve attached some of Lucy’s favourite knitting patterns you can copy, and if you’re stuck there’s plenty of YouTube tutorials to follow online!
- Kerys’ favourite mindfulness activity is colouring. Colouring has the ability to relax the fear centre of your brain (the amygdala). When you are colouring your brain enters a state of meditation and reduces the restless of an anxious mind! There are lots of different colouring books you can buy online, the one Kerys’ is colouring at the moment is under the sea themed! If you don’t want to buy one there are plenty of colouring apps for your phone/tablet and we’ve attached some free print outs to this page!
- To be more mindful Chanté likes to sew. Sewing has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, this is because whilst you’re concentrating on sewing you can’t focus on any other stresses that may be bothering you. Chanté also says it is an easy and cheap way to upcycle clothes; she has been making hair scrunchies from old clothes! You will also find after you have finished making something you’ll get a sense of accomplishment which can boost mental health and improve your immune system!
By taking part in one of these mindful activities you’ll bring awareness to the here and now and prevent your brain from releasing stress hormones! Get in contact with us through Instagram (@aimhigherwm) and tell us what you’ve been doing to be more mindful!
For more advice on being mindful visit the NHS website: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/mindfulness/
Don’t struggle with mental health. Birmingham City Council have recently commissioned a free online mental health and wellbeing service for you people in response to the coronavirus crisis. This service is called Kooth and you can find out more about it here: https://www.kooth.com/
And remember, be kind to your mind!