This could be useful if:
- You have trouble focusing
- You often find yourself worrying about things
- You want to relax
Why being mindful is useful
When you’re mindful, you’re able to pay attention to the present moment, and not get swept up thinking about the past or worrying about the future. It means you get to enjoy every little moment of life as it happens, and the impact of this on your mental and physical health is really positive.
How to be mindful
There are a lot of different things you can do to help yourself be more mindful. Some of these things are easy and you can incorporate them into everyday life, others require a bit more time and some training.
- Mindfulness meditation involves you sitting quietly and focusing on your breathing or a word or phrase you repeat quietly. Allow thoughts to come and go and try not to judge these moment to moment experiences – the point is to ‘notice, and let it be’.
- In mindfulness meditation you learn to remain aware of what is happening and what you're feeling in that moment. Sometimes you like it, sometimes you dislike it, or are confused about it, but mindfulness meditation helps you recognise passing thoughts and feelings without identifying with or owning them. As you become more and more mindful you’ll start to notice what your mind focuses on and if you start to worry or wander, bring it back to the present moment.
For more information on meditation, check out the Smiling Mind
app in our Apps and Tools section which gives you a guided meditation to help you get started and build up your skills.
Other ways to build mindfulness
- Savouring. Take time to enjoy and appreciate an activity you are doing. It could be any experience - food, conversation, checking out a good view. The point of it is to pay really close attention to the details – be aware of smells, tastes, sights, sounds, and things you can feel.
- Mindful breathing. Take a couple of minutes to focus on your breathing. When you’re mindful of your breathing you need to pay attention to what breathing feels like, what happens to different parts of your body, and the sound of your breath. If your mind wanders off, it’s not something to worry about. Just bring your attention back to your breathing when you can.
- Mental photography. Try taking mental photos of interesting things you find as you are out and about. To take a mindful photo, think about what details you’d like to capture in a shot.
- Look at the world through a new lens. Imagine you are seeing everything for the first time and pay attention to little things that wouldn’t normally get noticed.
- Progressive muscle relaxation. This is a type of relaxation training; try to focus on tensing and relaxing different parts of your body.
What if I’m finding it difficult?
Becoming more mindful involves retraining your brain, so it’s something that does take a bit of time. It can be quite difficult to focus for long without your thoughts wandering off somewhere else, and it’s also difficult not to get frustrated when that happens.
However, the key here is really perseverance. The more you practice mindfulness, the better you will become. Most people really struggle at first. When you’re building how mindful you are using a particular strategy, get into the habit of practicing every day –even if it’s just for a few minutes. Find a time and place that works for you and eventually, you should start to improve.
If you’re really struggling with a particular strategy, try a different one. Everyone’s different, and some strategies may be easier for you than others – the point is to try a few out and find one that works for you.