Not so long ago Mindfulness was something I’d laugh at; I didn’t intend to learn more about it either, but as I started my TEFL course it became something more important, more relevant and incredibly helpful. Luckily enough I got two Mindfulness courses for free!
As soon as I gained an understanding of Mindfulness and the science behind it, my entire opinion completely changed.
I’ve made a brief summary of some of what I think are the most important(or helpful) benefits of practising Mindfulness regularly and how it helps!^^
1. Improved Well-being
Our well-being is extremely important, mental and physical. It’s what keeps us going, how we get things done and how we live our lives to the fullest!
It’s important to look after ourselves in order to keep up our well-being and although there are many proven ways to do so, we tend to neglect it and end up in either mental slump or being constantly sick^^”
By practising Mindfulness regularly your overall health will see a major improvement (you’ve gotta keep it regular to get the most from these benefits!) You’ll learn more about how across the next 10 points.^^
2. Improved Focus
Staying focused is never a simple task, it’s just so easy to get distracted by people around you, maybe your phone keeps going off or you just cant stop thinking about everything else you would rather do instead of the task at hand.( I know I’m always thinking of everything I would rather do^^”)
Regular Mindfulness and Meditation (to my surprise too) really makes a difference!
Practising mindfulness regularly encourages the growth of neural networks and helps create new connections in the brain. We’re basically rewiring our brain to find better ways to react, which helps us handle tasks better and cope with stress and emotions. Reacting Mindfully also helps us to recover from any distractions and bring ourselves back into a focused and working state of mind.
3. Improved Sleep
Does anyone else struggle with getting to sleep most nights or is it just me? I always have a very active mind, I’m constantly thinking about something. Mindfulness helps us learn how to calm our mind and let go of anything that may be troubling us. Not only that but Mindfulness meditation lowers our heart rate and reduces the need for sleeping pills!
There are so many activities and exercises that originate from Mindfulness and meditation that help us with all these things. The Body Scan meditation is one of my favourites before bed! It helps to relax all the muscles that I don’t even realise are tense and it helps to reduce the stress in the mind and body, which in my opinion is a pretty good way to get to sleep.
4. Improved Relationships
One thing that took me awhile to accept is that Mindfulness actually helps relationships. How you ask? well, surprisingly in a lot of ways.
Being able to react Mindfully makes a big difference for a lot of things, we become more empathic, compassionate and by learning to live more in the present moment we become more aware and attentive too!
Not only does Mindfulness encourage these positive emotions and actions, but it also lowers the amount we react negatively and helps us shift unconscious behaviours that can impact our relationships
Whether its friends, family or a partner, Mindfulness helps us appreciate those we care about even more!
5. Improved Leadership
Being in management or leadership of any kind can be extremely stressful, which is why a lot of managers often come across as strict and harsh. A stressed leader creates a negative atmosphere for their employees which can lead to a lot of workplace (and sometimes home) problems.
Practising mindfulness helps manage stress and react more positively to situations, If managers aren’t stressed then it’s more likely that employees wont be as stressed either. It creates a calmer and more positive workplace atmosphere where everyone is a little bit happier.^^
Not only does mindfulness help manage stress but also allows a leader to be more selfless and compassionate to their employees which helps build much stronger workplace relationships!
6. Increased Awareness
We all miss a lot of little things on a day to day basis, we don’t stop and ‘smell the roses’ or appreciate our surroundings. So many people these days are always in such a rush to get to wherever they’re going, but what about the world around us? There’s so much more of it to see right in front of us and all we need to do is stop and open our eyes.
Mindfulness is living in the present moment, even something as simple as a mindful walk can change our entire perspective of things. We notice more and experience so much more with all 5 senses (touch, sight, smell, hearing and taste)
Experiencing things just a little bit more helps us to appreciate more and truly understand something through our senses.
7. Become More Creative
Do you ever feel like you’ve ‘lost’ your creativity, I’ve had that problem a fair few times. You just get stuck and frustrated, wanting to create something but not knowing what or how; just completely lacking ideas and motivation.
Mindfulness helps to enhance creativity by opening our mind and allowing us to relax completely and focus on new ideas.
Distractions are the main downfall to creativity, always being ‘wired’ and stressed out kills creativity and to really create something amazing we need to be able to relax and ‘reset’ ourselves through means such as Mindfulness Meditation.
8. Reduce Anxiety
Regular Mindfulness practise can do wonders for Anxiety and people discredit it far too much. I have personally experienced the benefits on this one, I often have a lot of difficulties with Anxiety in many different situations and it really can become overwhelming^^”
How does it really help though? Well, Mindfulness actually teaches us how to respond to difficult situations and decreases rumination which in turn also helps us to become more calm (Rumination means to continuously think about the same thoughts, which are mostly sad or dark)
Another way Mindfulness practise can help us reduce Anxiety is that it helps us more aware of the present, to focus on what’s around us and to have more mindful reactions.
9. Reduce Stress
Stress has got to be my biggest struggle, I’m really not too sure why or how but its something that effects me a lot, so I can definitely vouch for Mindfulness being genuinely pretty helpful!^^
The way Mindfulness helps to reduce stress is very similar to how it helps with Anxiety, it helps you become more aware of your thoughts and teaches not to react immediately without thinking (Mindless reaction)
Mindfulness is a skill, it can be learned and improved and in order to react mindfully in a stressful situation you need to learn to access that skill. We have what can be called a security guard in our brains(The Amygdala), this security guard controls what thoughts are allowed to access the higher parts of the brain, by passing the Amygdala and accessing the higher parts of the brain you can then start making much more mindful decisions and reactions.
In order to pass the Amygdala you need to learn to stop and breath, then focus on your breathing and allow yourself to take more time to react mindfully in a stressful situation.
10. Decrease Rumination and Worry
I mentioned Rumination previously very briefly and I realise its something a lot of people seem to struggle with and be unaware of. Rumination means to think about the same (usually negative, sad or dark) thoughts over and over and over again, this in turn causes us to worry a lot too. This all probably links somewhere into overthinking things.
In order to combat Rumination you have to be able to bring your attention to the present and find a distraction that works for you.
Somethings on your mind and you’ve been thinking about it over and over? Mindfulness practise allows us to take a breath and look again at these thoughts and to learn how to accept these thoughts and to then let them go, helping us to breath a little better and think a little clearer about a situation.
11. Feel Happy!
Everyone prefers to wake up feeling good and to go to bed in a good mood right? Out of all of the benefits that come from practising Mindfulness regularly, I’d say that the biggest one is the overall improvement of your mood! You feel happy more frequently with less sudden mood drops.
All of the previously mentioned benefits (and of course ones not yet mentioned) all lead up to this one too: learning to relax more, getting better quality and more uninterrupted sleep, improved relationships and less stress and anxiety – they all add up to being happier so to end this I cant see a reason why you wouldn’t want to practise Mindfulness!^^
Have you previously tried Mindfulness, is it something you do regularly now? Is it something you laugh at the thought of or do you simply not know enough about it?
I’d love to hear what you all have to say!^^