You may have heard of mindfulness, a concept that has starting to become far more popular in recent years, but do you know what it actual is. And, how it can help you and your health?

Here’s our mindfulness for beginner’s guides, which answers the most common questions about mindfulness and how you can get started this year.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, your thoughts and emotions, and the world around you. It’s thought that it can help you enjoy your life more, understand yourself and even help your mental wellbeing.

Being mindful or mindfulness is something we all naturally possess. But, it can become easier if you practice it on a daily basis.

Mindfulness Activities

You may want to start practicing mindfulness on a daily basis, but you might not be sure how. Here are three ways, or activities, you can incorporate into your daily life to start being more mindful.

  1. Mindful eating: we can all be guilty of not paying attention to what we’re eating, whether that’s because we’re watching TV or playing with our phones. Why not incorporate mindfulness eating during one meal a day to start with. This involves paying close attention to the taste, sight and textures of what you eat. For example, if you’re having breakfast pay attention to the crunch of the cereal, or the temperature of the milk.
  2. Mindful meditation: Many of us have heard of meditation, perhaps you’ve even tried it. But, if you find you can’t completely empty your mind try mindful meditation. Try to sit quietly and focus on your breathing, the sensations in your body and what you can hear around you. If your thoughts wonder, try to bring them back to the present. Some people find that yoga helps them concentrate, so you could always combine the two.
  3. Mindfulness Colouring: Something that has been popular in recent years, is mindfulness colouring books. Why not take some time out of your day, remember your inner child, and enjoy the simple pleasure of colouring. Focus on the shades you are using, and the sensation and sound of the pencils or pens you are using against the paper.

Mindfulness apps:

There are many apps out there that can help you with many things, including keeping in touch with your friends, getting active and getting your where you need to be. But did you know there are also apps to help you with being more mindful? Here are three apps you could try:

Headspace

This free app, with an optional subscription of £9.99 a month, uses animations to teach you the basics of mindfulness and meditation. The free version will give you access to the basic package, which includes 10 days of guided meditations and some smaller exercises including a one-minute breathing exercise. If you do decided to opt for the subscription, you would unlock 550 hours of extra content including topics on productivity and pain management.

Calm

Much like Headspace, Calm has a basic programme which is free to download then an optional subscription of £9.99 a month which unlocks more content. The free download has a variety of voice-led meditation exercises, including a seven-day beginner’s programme to help you get started with the world of meditation and mindfulness. They also cover basics such as mindful breathing, and have a selection of calming music and sleep stories to help you if you have difficulty sleeping.

MindFi

Perfect for those who don’t have much time in the day, MindFi is designed to fit into your daily routine. It includes short mindfulness exercises tailored to key points during the day, such as your commute or meal times. For example, there is a five-minute exercise dedicated to mindful eating. Sessions last for 10 minutes and are led by a meditation coach.

Can Mindfulness help with depression?

Being more mindful in the present can help you enjoy the world around you more, understand yourself better and help you gain a new perspective on things.

Professor Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, says that “most of us have issues we find hard to let do, and mindfulness can help us deal with them more productively”. He also states that “awareness of this kind also helps us notice signs of stress and anxiety earlier, and helps us deal with them better.”

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also recommend mindfulness as a way to prevent depression in people who have had 3 or more bouts of depression in the past. These will normally be in approach called mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MCBT) through courses that last for 8 weeks, with two-hour sessions per week led by a trained MCBT practitioner.

For more information about depression, here are the NICE guidelines about how depression should be treated.