Mindfulness – A Powerful Wellness Tool for Anxiety and Depression.
Mindfulness – A Powerful Wellness Tool for Anxiety and Depression
Mindfulness is the ability to pay attention to what you are experiencing moment by moment without drifting into thoughts about the past or the future. This can be beneficial for the following reasons:
- Mindfulness allows us to cope better with anxiety and depression by enabling us to focus on what we can do in the present, rather than dwelling on unhelpful thoughts which may not be true.
- By allowing our thoughts to come and go without hooking into them, we ruminate less and are able to carry on with valued activities which increase our enjoyment of life.
- Mindfulness allows us to accept negative or painful thoughts without judgement for what they are (just thoughts!) without avoiding them or pushing them away. This gives us the psychological flexibility to recover more quickly and focus on doing positive things in the present moment.
I was first introduced to the concept of Mindfulness on a twelve week course run at St Catherine’s Hospital. During the course, I was taught to practice different mindfulness exercises using audio resources and then to reflect on my experiences.
For example, we listened to a 15 minute audio exercise from Russ Harris which focused on dealing with unpleasant emotions. Initially, we were told to focus on our breathing and then bring to mind an unpleasant situation and the associated thoughts and emotions. We were told to scan the body and locate the unpleasant emotion in the body and give it a shape and texture. I concentrated on its physical presence and not the thoughts associated with it. I noticed, that initially the unpleasant emotion generated a number of unpleasant thoughts, but when I located it in the body, I felt that it had a definite form that I could contain, and I was no longer fighting against it. It was no longer a big unpleasant emotion, it was just a knot in my stomach which I could easily cope with.
With a bit of practice and persistence, we can all learn how to become more mindful in our daily activities.
Some tips for becoming more mindful in our daily life:
Take 3 minutes to focus your attention on your breathing. Acknowledge your experience in the present moment – what can you see, hear, feel and touch? Acknowledge your thoughts but don’t buy into them.
Focus attention on your daily activities e.g. eating your food – really taste and smell the food and chew every mouthful slowly. When washing up really feel the warmth of the water and pay attention to washing every dish. Pay full attention to each activity e.g. brushing your teeth, putting on your clothes.
When you are out and about practice mindful walking. Notice how you are holding your body, and the sensations of putting your feet on the ground. Expand your awareness to your surroundings, what can you see, feel, hear and touch? What are you thinking while you are walking, notice the thoughts but don’t judge them.
If you would like to learn more about mindfulness then talk to your care-coordinator for details about the next course. If you haven’t got a care-coordinator, there are some useful mindfulness resources on the web: