March 22, 2023

Mindfulness made simple: Easy ways to reduce stress and feel happier

I'm Ash montgomery
Counsellor & Therapy Dog Handler
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Mindfulness: The mental health buzzword that might actually make your life a little bit better.

mindfulness, woman sitting on couch, gradient background

Have you ever found yourself worrying about stuff that hasn’t happened yet, or dwelling on things that happened in the past? Like…constantly worrying that you’ll become unwell and it’ll devolve into something really really bad (cheers, Google). Or maybe ruminating on exactly why that one person didn’t like you seven years ago and coming up with a dozen reasons in 2 seconds flat that refuse to leave your brain.

It’s really easy to miss out on the present moment when this kind of thing happens. That’s where grounding into the present moment comes in. It’s all about focusing on the here and now, and it has a bunch of positive outcomes like lower stress, increased happiness and sustainable relief.

In this article we’ll chat about what exactly this looks like and how to easily introduce it into your everyday life.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness means paying attention to what’s happening right now, without getting judgmental about it (Kabat-Zinn, 1994). When we’re mindful, we’re more aware of our thoughts, feelings, and what’s going on in our bodies, which helps us deal with all that stuff in a healthier way. Research shows that being more mindful can help us feel better mentally and even reduce anxiety and depression (Keng et al., 2011).

There are loads of reasons why mindfulness is good for you, like:

  1. Less stress: Studies show that practicing mindfulness can help you relax and handle stress better (Chiesa & Serretti, 2009). This means that when life’s shit moments hit, they won’t hit quite as hard or have as harsh an impact. You’ll feel more capable, resourceful, and peaceful. (I’m sure you can think of a bunch of times in the past when that might have been really helpful!)
  2. Feeling better in general: Being mindful regularly can help you be kinder to yourself, better at managing your emotions, and just feel good overall (Keng et al., 2011). This means you’re more likely to have a higher number of good days.
  3. A brain boost: Mindfulness can help you concentrate better, remember stuff, and think more flexibly (Moore & Malinowski, 2009). In summary, this can help with learning new things, navigating work and study, and generally going through the daily motions.

Easy tips for everyday life

  1. Focus on your breath: A super easy way to start being more mindful is to concentrate on your breathing. Close your eyes, take a deep breath, and really feel the air going in and out of your body. It’s a great way to bring yourself back to the present moment. Give this a try when you’re feeling a bit panicky or bleh and see how it feels.
  2. Use your senses: Take a sec to notice what’s around you—what you see, hear, smell, taste, and touch. Focusing on your senses can help you feel more connected to the here and now.
  3. Eat mindfully: Instead of rushing to finish your food, try eating slowly and really savouring each bite. This can help you enjoy your food more and support your relationship with food (Farrow et al., 2017).
  4. One thing at a time: Instead of trying to juggle a million things, focus on doing one task at a time. It can help you feel more in control and get more done. (A tall order…I know!)
  5. Make everyday stuff mindful: You can practice mindfulness doing everyday things like brushing your teeth or washing the dishes. Just concentrate on the sensations and the process, and you might find joy in the little things.

Summary

Remember, mindfulness is something that takes practice, so be patient with yourself as you learn. If you want to know more about mindfulness or how it can help your mental health, feel free to reach out to our team at Golden Thread Therapy. We love chatting this stuff through and we’re all about how to make it easy and accessible in everyday life.

References

  1. Kabat-Zinn, J. (1994). Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life. Hyperion.
  2. Chiesa, A., & Serretti, A. (2009). Mindfulness-based stress reduction for stress management in healthy people: a review and meta-analysis. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 15(5), 593-600.
  3. Goyal, M., Singh, S., Sibinga, E. M., Gould, N. F., Rowland-Seymour, A., Sharma, R., … & Haythornthwaite, J. A. (2014). Meditation programs for psychological stress and well-being: a systematic review and meta-analysis. JAMA Internal Medicine, 174(3), 357-368.
  4. Zeidan, F., Martucci, K. T., Kraft, R. A., McHaffie, J. G., & Coghill, R. C. (2014). Neural correlates of mindfulness meditation-related anxiety relief. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9(6), 751-759.

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