Student sat on a chair in her home reading, surrounded by houseplants.

The benefits of mindfulness

A short talk that provides a light touch guide on aspects of mindfulness, exploring its benefits and providing suggested activities to try out every day.

Hello and welcome, our presentation on mindfulness aims to guide you through aspects of what mindfulness is, its benefits and ways to approach being mindful. So let's start with what it is and what we mean it to be. Mindfulness is a term that many of us are now fairly familiar with and has been on the radar for quite some time. But I want to take a moment to just reflect on what we mean by mindfulness and being mindful. It has been defined in varying ways, but it holds key aspects at its core. And these are being aware of our own thoughts, emotions and feelings. Being accepting and not judgemental, not overreacting or being overwhelmed by what is going on around us, it's about being present in the moment and focussing your awareness on this, it's important to be aware that it doesn't always suit everyone, but it is about trying out different ways to be mindful, to get a feel for what you may like. Like anything get better at it takes practise and it's a very personal journey to work out what works best for you and what suits you. So what are the potential benefits, although mindfulness has its roots in Buddhism and meditation, It is not to say that you have to have any particular beliefs to try it out. The aims of mindfulness are to help you with becoming more self aware, feeling calm or less stressed, feeling more well equipped with how you respond to your thoughts and your feelings, feeling more able to cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts, being kinder towards yourself and boosting self-esteem. Remember, this is something new to you and you are aiming to find out what suits you. Whatever happens, whatever you experience, it just is what it is. Try and see if you can keep any judgements or criticisms at bay and just be open to trying new things and working out what helps you. Everyone is different. So you have the chance to try things and think about what you like. Start small and try to tune into the world around you and be present. Look at ways to build things into your daily routine rather than it becoming an additional thing that is on your to do list. And remember to take the time to check in with yourself, see how you are doing and reflect on the day you have had. It's important to make space for ourselves and our busy lives, even if it's just a few minutes sometimes. So here are just some suggestions of exercises and activities you may wish to try out. Breathing exercises can be undertaken at any point of the day, and different ones can be used for different reasons. They allow you to focus on your breathing, clearing your mind of any other thoughts, and just focussing on your in-breath and then your out-breath focussing on the rhythm of your breathing and the way the body moves with each in-breath and out-breath. There is no particular statement necessarily needs to be achieved as such, a body scan exercises could take from three minutes to 30 minutes. You may wish to start your day in bed with the body scan exercise or stop and check in with yourself throughout the day. They allow you to focus on one part of your body at a time and move from the top of your head right down to your toes. Good examples of these can be found at Guided audio meditations of different varieties are available, and a lot of those are free of charge. Taking a bath before bed can provide great sleep hygiene and be part of a bedtime routine to aid sleep. Going outside is an important part of interacting with the world. Be in your garden or even looking out the window is important to interact with the natural world you see around you. Undertaking gentle physical activity such as yoga can be a way to exercise gently. But also allows you to tune in with your body and do what suits your level, again, lots can be found online for free, with many available on YouTube, such as yoga with Adrian. Mindfulness colouring is also an option you can print out in colour or find colouring apps on your phone, whatever suits you. But it's nice to remember to take a break from screen time. You can find links to some of the useful websites suggested on our resource hub. So some tips to well being number one connect. There is strong evidence that shows that feeling close to and value by other people is a fundamental human need. Positive social relationships are key to our well-being and can provide support with our mental health. With this in mind, try to do something different today and make a connection in whatever way you can, talk to someone instead of sending a message, make a phone call, perhaps video or connect with people. Put five minutes aside to find out how someone really is, our second one. Be active. Regular physical activity is linked to lower rates of depression and anxiety across all age groups. It releases endorphins which make you feel good and it also ties your body out, to give you a better night's sleep, it doesn't need to be anything particularly intense for you to feel its effects. You can follow an online exercise class or just head outside for slower paced activities such as walking. Going outside will also give you the benefit of social interactions, even if at a distance, as well as engaging with the world around us and providing some level of exercise. Here are a few ideas to help you be more physical. Go out for a walk at lunchtime, do some gardening, get involved in a hit class on social media, or go for a walk in a new place. Thirdly, take notice, remind yourself to take notice and strengthen and broaden awareness, being mindful or aware of what is taking place in the present directly enhances your well-being. Enjoying the moment can help to reaffirm your life priorities and recognise achievement or fulfilment. Heightened awareness allows you to develop yourself understanding and can lead you to make positive choices based on your own values and motivations. Take a moment and notice yourself and your environment around you. A few ideas are, have a clear out of any clutter you might have in your workspace or room decluttering your environment can also be a decluttering of your mind, and feel cathartic. Pay attention to how your friends or family might be feeling or acting. Try out a new recipe for dinner. Then we come on to learn, we continue learning new things throughout life, be it a new topic in your chosen subject, a new job, utilising different skills, environments changing around us, actively continuing our learning through life, can enhance self-esteem and encourage social interaction and a more active life. It allows us to meet new people and also recognise skills and attributes in ourselves and achieve goals. The practise of setting goals, which is related to adult learning in particular, has been strongly associated with higher levels of well-being. So what could you learn today? Sign up for a class in something you've not done before? Following a video tutorial of how to make something, read a book or article, download an app to learn a new language, learn new word every day and try to use it in a conversation you have with someone. And lastly, we come to give, being an active participant in your community, your social circle can be key to your wellbeing. Individuals who report a greater interest in helping others are more likely to rate themselves as happy. Research has shown that undertaking actions that promote happiness and committing acts of kindness once a week over a six week period is associated with an increase in well-being. See if your neighbour needs anything from the supermarket on your next trip. Give someone a call that might need some social interaction. Make dinner for the family. It's important to take the time to check in with yourself and be in the present. Take time throughout your day and week to recognise where you are and what you have achieved. Start small by looking at one thing you can do every day and then try to build up to bigger things or doing it more than one day. Some examples of what you could do before you get out of bed. Take one minute to lie completely still, focus on your breath and nothing else. Open the curtains and take a look out of the window. Have a look around, tune into your surroundings. Do you notice something that you usually don't pay attention to and think about using all of your five senses, other things, maybe having a water bottle with you and drinking regularly throughout the day. Every time you take a sip, reflect and notice how your body feels, you may also want to eat your lunch with no distractions. So turn off your TV and leave your phone in another room, focus on your plate and enjoy what you're eating. Or perhaps at the end of the day, before you go to sleep, lie in bed and think of one thing specifically that you are grateful for from that day. So here you'll find we've created some checklist that you can use to check in with yourself as you go throughout the week, you can find these on our Instagram page or on the resource hub as well. But have a think about focussing on checking in at the start of week, what you want to achieve that week, what are your aims and set that in your mind. Then you can move forward into midweek, check in and just reflect on how you are progressing, what's working well, what's not working, maybe what you might need to do to change things. And by the end of the week, think about what you have achieved, reflect on what's gone well, and think about where you need to recognise those achievements and where maybe you might not have achieved things. Be OK about that. Set yourself challenges, this is going to be really useful for thinking about what goals you want to achieve every day, because all the little things will add up to create something big, set yourself aims and goals for the day or the week. These could vary from small achievements to large jobs to be completed. They can have varying focuses, but the aim is to create a positive impact on your well-being. So it might be that you want to aim to drink two litres of water every day to ensure you are healthy and hydrated, to setting a bad time and sticking to it, to reducing your screen time on your phone, to completing a big assignment. It is rewarding to set goals and acknowledge that we achieve them. This creates a positive impact on us. It is also important to remember that we don't always achieve every single goal we set, and that's OK. Sometimes the goal we have set may be too big to achieve in the time frame set or just that something else unexpected came up. It may even be that you didn't set your measures for success. We can use time to reflect and readjust. Revision could be a goal, but think about how that might look as a goal. You want to think about how you'll feel, the success, you could set small goals of 10 minutes every day or 20 minutes per subject every week, these can be small goals, add up to a lot over a whole term or year, and it is easy to recognise when you've completed them to goal is measurable and easy to see when you have done it. If you haven't done 10 minutes every day, why not are some days just too busy? Then re-adjust and set your goal to 10 minutes per day on Monday to Thursday. Make sure you are realistic with your goals and they match what is going on in your life. Mindfulness works for many people in many different ways, it's about working out what works for you or even if it does, the important thing to take away from it is that you've given something a try, and doing something new is positive and rewarding in itself. Here you can see we've created a 30 day mindfulness challenge. Try it out to experiment with all the different ways of being mindful and take away the techniques that work for you. Again, you can find this on our Instagram page or on the resource hub to download. Thank you for joining us today and a brief presentation on some of the benefits of mindfulness.