Why bother? It takes a lot of energy and time to start a new habit. This blog post is the first in a series on mindfulness exploring challenges, how to get started, and how to find a practice that works for you. This blog explores some of the evidence for the benefits of a regular mindfulness practice.
Years ago I was in a high-pressure job, stressed, constantly busy and not very happy. Someone mentioned mindfulness and I thought I would give it a go. I did it for six weeks, saw amazing benefits (I was less stressed, less reactive and slept better). But then I gave up, going back to my ‘old’ ways.
There is now a wealth of research on the various benefits of mindfulness practice. So much so, it’s really hard to ignore how beneficial a regular mindfulness practice can be. So naturally, I talk about mindfulness quite a bit with my clients.
In this section, the links will take you to various research papers. Of course these only give a snapshot of the research so if you would like to know more, send me a message and I will signpost to more resources.
But to bust one common myth straight away: mindfulness is not about emptying your mind. It is a technique for building present-moment awareness that is incredibly useful in supporting the work of counselling and psychotherapy.
Potential mental health benefits:
- Reduced anxiety
- Improved brain function
- Improved focus (feeling less distracted)
- Feeling more in control of challenging feelings (quicker to get back to a more regulated state)
- Less reactive
Other health potential benefits:
- Better sleep quality
- Managing chronic pain
- Lowers blood pressure
- Reduced risk of high cholesterol, hypertension, diabetes, stroke and coronary artery disease
Here are some guided practice suggestions (and it is worth checking with your employer, health insurer or gym to see if there is free or discounted access to these):
- Headspace (paid but currently you can try it for free)
- Calm (paid but currently you can try it for free)
- Balance (currently free for a year – but make sure you unsubscribe before the end of that period if you don’t want to continue)
- Free Mindfulness Project (free)
Starting new habits – even if you know they are great for you – can be really hard. There may be some psychic furniture that needs to get re-arranged to make way for the new habit and here therapy did me a world of good. So please be gentle with yourself if you struggle to stick to it -you may benefit from some therapy support.
I help people find clarity and calm, cope better with change and say no when they want to. Through therapy, I can help you get to know yourself better and support you in making meaningful changes in your life. Get in touch.