What does mindfulness mean to you?

The concept of mindfulness might sound a bit flighty and hocus-pocus, but in reality it is very down-to-earth and simple. At the core of the concept is the aim of being less stressed, and feeling more balanced. Most of us could do with that, I reckon.

It’s really about being present in a particular moment.

Mindfulness can help switch your brain off from the gazillion thoughts and worries all competing for your attention. Even if it is for a few short minutes, that sometimes can be blissful relief.

How the blinking heck do I do that, you may ask?

Depending on where you are and what you are doing, it could be something like noting how your feet feel on the floor. Or, you could pay attention to the smells and sounds around you. You could notice all the details in a flower, or appreciate the texture of an object.

Mindfulness is not a cure for any ills. The concept is sometimes misrepresented in the media as the magic cure for mental ill health, which of course it is not. However, practising mindfulness can make things feel a little easier.

I discovered mindfulness during therapy to help manage grief and post-traumatic stress disorder following the death of my son, Hugo. Mindfulness has helped me accept the emotions that can be so all-encompassing and frightening, rather than try to fight them. Fighting those emotions is exhausting – and it makes them worse.

Some of my favourite mindfulness techniques include:

  • Taking photos for my Instagram account – it is my favourite social media. I like keeping an eye out during the day when I am out and about for interesting things to photograph, and to do that I need to be present in the moment.
  • Exercise – I do a lot of body weight/resistance exercises which require focus to ensure I am doing them correctly (and to avoid things like dropping a kettle bell on my foot – ouch!). The added bonus is that exercise in itself is a stress release.
  • Breathe! I mean really breathe, with intention. Breathe deeply from your tummy. Place a hand on your tummy and feel it expand.Or – and this is a favourite one when I am feeling overwhelmed.
  • Create – whether it is doing grown-up colouring, or doodling…creating for the sake of creating can feel calming and because I tend to be absorbed in what I am doing, I can forget about worries and recharge my brain.
  • Gratitude: at the end of every day, I try to write in my journal at least one thing that happened that I am grateful for. It can be something as simple as having a really good cup of tea, or a kind word from someone. Gratitude can be especially helpful at the end of a crappy stressful day – reflecting that the day wasn’t all bad can help stop you taking those crappy stressful feelings home and infecting everything – that really doesn’t benefit anyone!

It’s important to remember that mindfulness is often called a practise because it requires lots of it. The practise is pretty contrary to our busy, stressful, modern lives so changing our mindsets and giving pause amongst the go! go! go! will undoubtedly feel strange.

But give it a go. A bit at a time, and in a way that is relevant to you. Persevere. Try different things.

You will feel the benefits, I promise.

If you need a bit of help along your mindfulness journey, there are loads of books and websites. I love this book – How to Be Mindful, by Anna Barnes. Full of pretty pictures, quotes, and ideas, it’s the perfect item to dip in and out of. There’s no particular structure to it – it’s one of those books you can just open at a random page and see where it takes you.

I have a copy of this beautiful book to give away!

It retails for £9.99 – all you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is enter via the Rafflecopter below (UK only, please).

Good luck!

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8 comments on “What Is Mindfulness, and How Can It Help You?”

  1. Love this post Leigh. I have been working on mindfulness and my favourite tip is to visualise the breath coming into my mouth and nose, down my throat and into my lungs, making sure it goes right down into what feels like the soles of my feet!

  2. I practice mindfulness every day using the Headspace app, I too learnt about it during my CBT during post natal depression/anxiety and I have found it to be beneficial in lots of ways I couldn’t have factored in before. For example, the other day I was in a situation that would usually bring about anxiety and I just breathed in and out properly and felt instantly calmer, and the fact that I mindfully recognised the difference too was very telling of how much it’s benefited me and therefore those around me. #sharethejoy

  3. Mindfulness is a big focus for me this year – adding lots of yoga and meditation to my practices. Also the big one is putting down the devices – and being PRESENT! We are slowly introducing habits into our daily routine that help us get closer to being mindful and in the moment. Thanks for sharing this post #sharethejoy

  4. For me I find children can teach us a lot about mindfulness as they experience lots of new things that we may have taken for granted. #sharethejoylinky

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