What is mindfulness?
Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that mindfulness means knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.
"An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment. That might be something as simple as the feel of a banister as we walk upstairs.
How mindfulness helps mental wellbeing
Becoming more aware of the present moment can help us enjoy the world around us more and understand ourselves better.
When we become more aware of the present moment, we begin to experience afresh things that we have been taking for granted.
"Mindfulness also allows us to become more aware of the stream of thoughts and feelings that we experience," says Professor Williams, "and to see how we can become entangled in that stream in ways that are not helpful.
"This lets us stand back from our thoughts and start to see their patterns. Gradually, we can train ourselves to notice when our thoughts are taking over and realise that thoughts are simply 'mental events' that do not have to control us.
"Most of us have issues that we find hard to let go and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively. We can ask: 'Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just getting caught up in my thoughts?'
"Awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and helps us deal with them better"
Mindfulness is recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) as a way to prevent depression in people who have had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past.
- Calm App
Mindfulness meditation app Calm is offering resources for free to help people who are feeling anxious and uncertain at the moment.
From soothing meditations help you manage anxiety in the moment to sleep stories which will help to calm your busy mind at the end of the day, these free resources are a great way to ground your mind in this unprecedented time.
To access all the free resources, just follow the link to their website.
- Headspace app
Headspace is another mindfulness app and has also released free content during this time to download via it's app.
Covering content including navigating change, reframing anxiety, at-home workouts, focus and advice for tough times (such as impermanence and change), the series is designed to help us safeguard our mental health and wellbeing during this time of heightened stress.
To access the free content, simply download the app and get listening, or go to the Headspace website.
6O Second Breathing Excercise for anxiety