mindfulness: is it an effective stress management strategy? #mentalhealthawarenessweek

More and more children around the UK are regularly practising ‘mindfulness’ in the classroom to help them understand more about their personal mental, emotional, social and physical health – and to be calm and focused for lessons which in turn enhances academic performance, but what exactly is ‘mindfulness’ and what are the benefits? Jade from polkadotfrog discusses below:

Definition:

Mindfulness as a whole is defined as: ‘a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique to be present and be in the moment.’ The roots of actively practising mindfulness can be traced back to Buddhism and Hinduism, but the act of prayer and meditation also plays a part in the foundation of most religions.

Benefits:

The practise of mindfulness can be used to alleviate stress, improve emotional regulation and decrease anxiety. For those who have difficulty concentrating, have a frantic and restless mind, and suffer from sleep deprivation, mindfulness can help.

By inducing a state of relaxation and clearing the mind, once can achieve a variety of benefits such as:

–        Lowered heart rate and blood pressure

–        Increased clarity in thinking, perception and making rational decisions

–        Experience of being internally calm

–        Increased attention, focus and lowered anxiety levels.

–        Self-compassion and an increase in empathy towards others.

In one particular study, office employees who participated in an 8-week mindfulness course experienced lower levels of work-related stress, greater job satisfaction and enhanced job performance and well-being (Shonin, Van Gordon, Dunn, Singh & Griffiths, 2014).

Amazingly, neuroscientists have found that the long term practice of mindfulness has been proven to positively alter the function of the brain, improving overall quality of both feeling and thought.

Where to start:

If you’re unsure of where to begin, or don’t fancy signing up to your local yoga class, here are some easy, straightforward steps you can take to get started on your own that will help you to focus your attention and de-stress.

Basic meditation: Unlike most stereotypical impressions of meditation, you don’t have to sit cross legged, with your thumb and forefinger pressed together murmuring ‘ommmmm’ – although if that’s your preferred method, go ahead. Simply sitting quietly and focusing on solely on the elements of your natural breathing will help you to take the first step in clearing your mind of thoughts.

Be in the moment: It’s easy for life to pass us by – personally I find that the more mundane a task is in my day to day life, the more I have a habit of putting myself on ‘autopilot’ mode and thinking about other things. Instead, try pausing for a moment and then proceeding with the task slowly. Engage your senses and be aware of every intentional movement that you make. Paying attention to your surroundings and what is happening around you will help you to focus on being in the present and being calm.

At polkadotfrog we pride ourselves on our consultative, compassionate approach to both candidates and clients alike. If you require any advice or would like to know more about the services we can provide, please contact your local branch.