We look at mindfulness and if it can help with worry and anxiety. So how do you do mindfulness? Have a look at these simple starter tips.
The 10th October sees the return of World Mental Health Day, a day for global health education and awareness to fight the social stigma attached to mental health. It was first celebrated in 1992 and has gone from strength to strength, year on year, raising more awareness with the introduction of social media and high-level personalities throwing their weight behind the effort.
This year’s theme is suicide and suicide prevention.
Tragically, close to 800,000 people worldwide take their own life, with many more attempting suicide. It’s the leading cause of death among young people aged 20-34 in the UK and leaves lasting effects on the families, communities and the people left behind.
Mental Health is an issue that needs to be talked about more and great work is being done to erase the stigma related to the issues.
At Secure For Life protecting your loved ones is paramount to us a company, but protecting yourself is equally as important. That’s why we have put together some helpful tips about mindfulness and wellbeing for at work or at home.
Nothing heavy, but taking time for yourself is important and these handy tips can be a good starting point to reduces stress, worry and anxiety that can lead to fatigue, which is a symptom of depression.
One way to restore our energy levels lies in being in the present moment, and for that, we can turn to mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a technique you can learn which involves making a special effort to notice what’s happening in the present moment (in your mind, body and surroundings) – without judging anything.
Mindfulness has been found to improve concentration and mental clarity, improve working memory, increase self-control, and enhance kindness and compassion towards others.
It has roots in Buddhism and meditation, but you don’t have to be spiritual, or have any particular beliefs, to try it.
It aims to help you:
- become more self-aware
- feel calmer and less stressed
- feel more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings
- cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts
- be kinder towards yourself.
- Many people find practising mindfulness helps them manage their day-to-day wellbeing,
How does mindfulness work?
The way we think (and what we think about) can affect how we feel and act. For example, if you think or worry a lot about upsetting past or future events, you might often feel sad or anxious.
The theory behind mindfulness is that by using various techniques to bring your attention to the present (usually focusing on your body and your breathing), you can:
- Notice how thoughts come and go in your mind. You may learn that they don’t have to define who you are, or your experience of the world, and you can let go of them.
- Notice what your body is telling you. For example, tension or anxiety can often be felt in your body (such as in a fast heartbeat, tense muscles or shallow breathing).
- Create space between you and your thoughts, so you can react more calmly.
When anxiety and worry builds, many people find mindfulness helps them to keep calm by becoming more in touch with the situation.
Some quick tips on how to practice Mindfulness
Being mindful, you want to focus on the present and engage with any of your 5 senses. Our senses are always working, but we rarely notice them because we are either focused in the past or the future.
You can start by:
- Taking in what you see
- Noticing what you touch and how it feels against your skin
- Being aware of what you smell
- Take note of what you taste in your mouth
- Focus on what you hear
We can then apply these in a practical manner, whether you are at work or at home.
Now try these exercises
Focus your breathing
Notice how you are breathing, how it feels, focus on how your body feels when you breathe in and out. You’re always breathing but never notice it. Pay attention to it and how your chest raises to the feeling of the breath through your nostrils. You can do this at your desk at work, at home or even on a park bench when out for a walk.
Be mindful when walking or moving
Pay attention to how your body feels and moves when walking to the photocopier at work or going to make a cup of tea at home, even walking up the stairs. Feel the movement of your legs, the different strides and steps your taking. Feel your arms as you stretch, your fingers as you type or the breeze against your skin when walking, noticing the different smells as you go.
At lunch break or dinner at home, focus on how your food tastes, what colours you can see, the texture of the sandwich as you eat it or how the cutlery feels in your hands. Savour the taste and how it smells when cooking and eating your meal. Feel the differences between eating and drinking at mealtime.
Undertake tasks as if it’s your first time doing so
When we’ve performed a task many times over we tend to drift into autopilot. Try performing tasks like it’s the first time in doing so. It will feel different and you’ll have heightened awareness of what your senses are telling you.
Feel as you touch different objects
Notice how objects you take and use for granted feel with their different textures and if they’re warm or cold to touch. Putting on your clothes in the morning, opening doors, putting spaghetti or rice in a pan. You’re oblivious to everything you touch and hold throughout the day, take notice and pay attention to how they feel.
Open your eyes & your ears
Name objects as you see them instead of labelling them at a glance. Pay close attention to details, colours, or the lines of objects you’re looking at. Look up and around on your way to work or to the shops and listen to the different sounds. So often you are absorbed in your bubble of the past or the future, take it all in and feed your senses in the present.
Sit quietly and focus on your thoughts, the sensations in your body, your breathing and the things you can hear around you. If your mind starts to wander, try and bring your thoughts back to the present. Put aside 2 minutes a day and then increase as you learn to focus yourself.
Different things work for different people, if you don’t find one exercise useful, you can always try another.
There are excellent resources available if you wish to delve further into mindfulness:
or wish to learn more about World Mental Health Day
Keeping healthy is one part of looking after your family and yourself. A life insurance policy that fits your individual needs and at the right price is another. Why not talk to us about your life insurance and pension options. It’s free and you’re under no obligation.