With Mental Health Awareness week (14 – 21st May) and World Meditation Day (May 15th) coming hot on the heels of Stress Awareness Month in April, there has been a lot of discussion recently about mental health issues. If you’re one of the 1 in 4 people in the UK each year who suffers from a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or stress, then the practice of mindfulness could be just what you’re looking for to help you lead a calmer and happier life. Indeed, mindfulness can be a powerful tool for all of us when it comes to feeling more in control and content.

What is mindfulness? Woman practicing mindfulness

Mindfulness is all about being present in the moment. Although this sounds simple, it is deceptively difficult to achieve. How often have you become distracted during a conversation with a friend or struggled to complete a task at work because you are worried about something or are unable to stop yourself mentally replaying an argument from yesterday? Yes, we all have moments of stress, but all too often the anxiety we feel in our everyday lives is all about events that are either already over or have not yet happened, so may not even happen at all! Most of the time our concerns aren’t about what is actually going on right now.

How do I learn mindfulness?

There is no shortage of books, apps and websites on the subject of mindfulness, so it is easy enough to find a resource which resonates with you. However it’s important to remember that although anyone can learn mindfulness and it can be practised anywhere and at any time, it isn’t something that can be mastered in a morning. Learning to become truly present in the moment is a skill that takes a lot of time and practice to master. And as with most things, some days you will find it easier than others.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Practicing regular mindfulness techniques such as guided meditations and breathing exercises and applying their principles to daily life can have great results in the reduction of anxiety and stress. Sitting down to do a 10-minute mindfulness meditation may not provide instant results and sometimes you’ll find your mind wanders, but the simple act of committing to this daily act will pay rich long-term dividends in the form of improved emotional and psychological wellbeing. You may also benefit from physical improvements such as reduced blood pressure. Regular practitioners of mindfulness report both an improved quality of life and a better ability to manage the difficult situations that life throws at all of us from time to time.

What if my problems are more than day-to-day gripes?

Of course mindfulness is not a magic wand that can cure mental illness or make sources of stress vanish into thin air. However, whether you are suffering from a minor case of anxiety or dealing with a much bigger issue, the practice of mindfulness can help you stay more in control and deal with the issue at hand while also empowering you to recognise and enjoy calm moments without emotions like worry or regret creeping in. For example, just taking the time to breathe deeply for a few seconds can help you stay calm in a fraught situation or cope with the stress and physical pain of receiving an injection.

Mindfulness in Market Harborough

To help you unlock the many benefits of mindfulness, Archway Health Hub runs a series of 6-week mindfulness courses. Find out more here.