National Play Day - Raising awareness
July 24 2018Read more
The past three months has seen the lifting of a large number of COVID-19 restrictions and daily life slowly regaining normality. Many people have now returned to the workplace after periods of working from home or furlough, and our weekends and evenings are once more filled with social activities.
With our lives getting busier and busier, it’s natural for our brains to be whirring with hundreds of thoughts surrounding work, social plans, deadlines and expectations – none of which help keep our minds in the present.
Therefore, it’s more important than ever to take the time out of our daily busyness to practice mindfulness, slow down our flurry of thoughts and bring ourselves back to the here and now.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention solely on the current moment.
When we are ‘mindful’, we are paying attention to the ‘now’. This is achieved by relaxing, concentrating on sounds and thoughts and accepting the present moment without judgement.
Why should I practice mindfulness?
Research carried out by the University of Surrey found that practicing mindfulness could reduce stress and anxiety by as much as 40-58%.
Why should workplaces encourage mindfulness?
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) found that mental health conditions were one of the four most common reasons for sickness absence at work.
It doesn’t matter how much an employee loves or is capable of doing their job; it is impossible to be immune from deadlines, workloads, early starts or late finishes all of which can contribute towards stress and anxiety. Practicing mindfulness can help reduce this.
We know that mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety, but this isn’t the only benefit to exercising the mind. When done correctly and consistently, mindfulness can also contribute to:
How can I practice mindfulness?
There are countless ways to bring the mind into the present. Mindfulness exercises can be as short as 60 seconds or as long an hour – it is complete personal preference. Taking just a minute out of your day can help ground you in the present.
Here are some examples of mindfulness exercises which are simple, effective, and only take a few minutes:
It might sound too simple, but breathing exercises are one of the easiest and simplest ways to refocus the mind and reduce stress and anxiety.
There are hundreds of breathing exercises available but here are some examples to get you started:
Mindful body scan
Instead of focusing on the breath, mindful body scans focus on sensations within the body. By directing your attention to how each part of your body feels, you can better manage pain, stress and anxiety and improve on sleep, self-awareness, and self-compassion. Follow our easy steps to mindful body scans below.
The 54321 Grounding Technique
A very simple but powerful technique which is recommended to help with anxiety and stress if you are feeling overwhelmed, or just need to bring your mind back to the present.
The trick is simple and relies on the five senses of the body to refocus the mind:
This exercise can be repeated as many times as necessary. There are no right or wrong answers, it is all about breaking the cycle of stressful and anxious thoughts and centering the mind.
Mindfulness tips and breathing exercises are accessible for all Health Assured customers within the My Healthy Advantage app, available for apple and android devices.
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