Did you know that, in one study, mindfulness led a 57% reduction in depression and a 40% reduction in stress?
Studies have shown mindfulness leads to a significant reduction in anxiety, depression and stress. As well as this, mindfulness can also be beneficial to people with recurring depression. One of the reasons for this is that mindfulness stimulates the part of the brain (the pre-frontal cortex) which associates with positive emotion. If you are looking for a positive change in your life, then mindfulness may be the perfect place to start.
The key steps to mindfulness
Before beginning to practice mindfulness, it is vital that it should not feel like a chore or a task to complete. It should be an enjoyable moment where you recognise that you are in the present moment. Within the present moment, you can find the happiness in you or around you. Forget the happiness of the past, or what you hope for the future; focus on the pleasure of now.
The mindfulness of breathing
The first exercise within mindfulness should be to focus on your breathing. Begin by sitting comfortably and noticing your in-breath and out-breath. While this is very simple, it is very effective. The struggle can be that your mind may drift, every time it does, acknowledge this and return to focusing purely on your breathing. As you progress, look for different breathing techniques to practice.
Be in tune with your body
So often in life, our bodies are present, but our minds are elsewhere. By concentrating on your body, you bring the focus back to the present. Allow yourself to acknowledge every sensation your body is feeling. To start with, the exercise may be easier to start with the tip of your toes and address every feeling you experience as you work your way up. If you notice a tingling, itchiness or ache, note it, but let it pass.
Another great practice for mindfulness is through walking. As exercise releases endorphins, you should feel a level of enjoyment. From there you can direct your attention to how your mind and body feels in the present moment. With every step, you can note how thankful you are for your body and how each breath helps to heal you and improve your well-being. Focus on the joy you experience and how each sense is stimulated.
So often we walk from A to B without allowing ourselves to truly experience it. This is an excellent exercise that offers enjoyment and clears your mind to give you purpose, clarity and joy.
Easy ways to be more mindful
Mindfulness does not have to be a set task. As you practice, you can begin to let mindfulness be part of your day to day tasks. Walking is a common habit that you can do mindfully, but you can apply mindfulness to the simplest of tasks, even washing up! For example, as you put your hands in the water, focus on the temperature, the softness of the bubbles and the shape of the dishes. Furthermore, if your mind drifts to the next task on your list then regain focus on what you are doing.
Another way to help your mindfulness is with the addition of music. To reduce stress, music and mindfulness work as a powerful combination. Start by choosing your favourite relaxing song and simply listen. Consequently, if your mind wanders, gently try and pull it back to the song. As you get more used to focussing on the present, look for new songs and music styles to connect your mind with the healing benefits of listening.
If you would like help and support to reduce your stress levels, then contact me for friendly, helpful advice, where I can suggest the most effective therapies to suit your needs. Ackerman, C. (2017). The 23 Amazing Health Benefits of Mindfulness for Body and Brain (+ PDFs). [online] Positivepsychologyprogram.com. Available at: https://positivepsychologyprogram.com/benefits-of-mindfulness/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  Bemindful.co.uk. (2017). Evidence and research on mindfulness | Be Mindful. [online] Available at: https://bemindful.co.uk/evidence-research/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  Gill, M. (2017). Anxiety, The Brain And The Music That Helps – Hypnotherapy London. [online] Hypnotherapy London. Available at: https://hypnosis-in-london.com/anxiety-brain-music-that-helps/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  Gill, M. (2017). 5 Breathing Techniques That Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety – Hypnotherapy London. [online] Hypnotherapy London. Available at: https://hypnosis-in-london.com/5-breathing-techniques-can-help-reduce-stress-anxiety/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  Helpguide.org. (2017). Benefits of Mindfulness: Practices for Improving Emotional and Physical Well–Being. [online] Available at: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  Krusche, A., Cyhlarova, E. and Williams, J. (2017). Mindfulness online: an evaluation of the feasibility of a web-based mindfulness course for stress, anxiety and depression. [online]| Available at: http://bmjopen.bmj.com/content/3/11/e003498/ [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].  MSU Extension. (2017). Music’s role in mindfulness. [online] Available at: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/musics_role_in_mindfulness [Accessed 26 Dec. 2017].