Top Reasons to Practice Mindfulness
In recent times, “mindfulness” has become a real buzz word. As more and more of us begin to realise that investing in our health means taking care of our mental health too, we are turning to techniques and practices which aim to give us a greater sense of control over our lives, clear our minds, and relieve feelings of anxiety and stress. But, while many of us appreciate that mindfulness shows great results in those who practice it regularly and well, how many of us actually understand what mindfulness is?
As your private GP London Doctors Clinic explains in this article what mindfulness is, and how developing a regular mindfulness practice can benefit your life.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness, you might be surprised to hear, is an ancient practice linked to Buddhism, but most people who practice it today in the Western world are not Buddhists. At its simplest, mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment, which we can often achieve by noticing and following the pattern of our breath. If we consider that much of depression is linked to rumination (turning past events, problems or regrets over and over in our heads without ever moving forward) and much of anxiety (or stress) is linked to living in the future, then remaining in the present moment would be especially useful in terms of helping us to feel happy and settled.
You can begin to learn to practice mindfulness immediately, by becoming aware that you are breathing, walking, driving, running, or cooking a meal and so forth. When you have thoughts, notice the thought and come back to awareness of what you are actually doing. When you are emotional just notice the emotion –not trying to push it away – and come back to awareness of what you are doing.
The benefits of mindfulness are many and varied; we have already mentioned some of them earlier in this article. But if you’re not quite convinced yet, here are some of the main reasons you might want to introduce a regular practice of mindfulness into your daily (or weekly routine):
- Mindfulness helps you get more enjoyment out of your happy times, and leaves you better able to cope with your bad times
- Mindfulness helps you get in touch with your senses
- You will be able to become more aware of your personal “habits” – for example, if you react rather than respond to situations, making almost all scenarios more stressful than they need to be
- We become more compassionate towards ourselves – when we become aware of our thought processes, we might recognise how hard we are on ourselves sometimes, and we can learn to silence our harsh inner critic, rather than engage with it
- Mindfulness practice can help you to cope with many physical problems, and often people who suffer from painful or chronic conditions report that they find relief from these problems through practicing mindfulness regularly
- Mindfulness can help you sleep better! Using the special breathing techniques that often form a part of mindfulness practice at night as you lie in bed can really relax your nervous system and quiet your mind, allowing you to drift easily off into a peaceful slumber
- Research has shown that regular mindfulness practice shifts brain activity from the right side to the left side, which indicates a transition to more positive emotional states. Simply put, mindfulness practice leads to happiness!
- Studies show that mindfulness practice can enhance your immune function and leave you looking and feeling younger for longer
- There is a correlation between practicing mindfulness and growth of a part of your brain called the pre-frontal cortex, which is responsible for focused attention and regulating emotional responses
So, if you’re ready to make a change for the better and try something new, why not consider learning a bit more about mindfulness? Most areas will have a local class, and attending a class offers you the chance to get some guidance and support from a qualified teacher, and make some new friends into the bargain too!
And if you would like some health regarding mental health treatment, all our GPs at our 12 LDC locations are available to help.