Importance of mindfulness

Emma Brown - Nutritionist | 30 Jan, 2020

You may think of mindfulness and immediately have thoughts of a yoga retreat – but that is more of an old school view. Mindfulness is something anyone can practice, at any time and in any place.

Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years across the world, but its popularity has increased in recent years. Thanks to the arrival of the wellness movement, mindfulness has started to show up – and people are taking notice.

How mindfulness could help you

So, what's all the fuss and how can you benefit? Essentially mindfulness is about connecting with yourself and your environment, so that you know and understand what you are feeling and how the world around you makes you feel. Incorporating this into your lifestyle can do wonders for your mental health, happiness and overall wellbeing.

Research has shown that mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve our relationship with ourselves and others, help us get more enjoyment out of the world and much more. Practicing mindfulness can help you to better understand what you are thinking and how you are feeling. Paying closer attention to your inner thoughts can help you take note and consider how those thoughts are affecting your mental and physical state.

For example, let's say one day you feel your fuse is particularly short. Ignoring the reasons why could lead you to continue to feel het up – but taking a second to recognise your mood and consider why, can help you better manage these feelings. Maybe you're subconsciously worried about an upcoming work presentation? Take a second to recognise this source of anxiety and think about why you are worried and how you can take action to relieve some of these concerns. Perhaps write down your worries and a possible plan of action. Taking this time to address this feeling can help you manage your feelings better.

mindfulness

5 ways to fit mindfulness into your day

  1. Walk mindfully – go out for a walk to enjoy nature, a park or some countryside would be ideal. Go alone and don't take headphones. Instead, do nothing but listen to the sounds around you – how do your footsteps sound on the ground, the birds in the trees, a vehicle in the distance, the wind in the trees. If your mind starts to wander to thoughts of the day ahead, catch yourself and bring it back to the sounds around you.
  2. Connect with your body – lie or sit in a comfortable place and connect with how every part of your body is feeling. Start at your toes and work all the way up to the top of your head. How do your toes, feet and ankles feel? Can you feel any tightness or aches in any areas? Listen and connect with your breath, noticing how it fills your lungs and the rise and fall of your stomach.
  3. Eat mindfully – try to eat your food without distraction and to pay attention to each mouthful. Consider the smell, taste and texture of the food and appreciate what it is giving you in that moment – nutrition, satisfaction, enjoyment, energy.
  4. Remove distractions – try going for lunch or a coffee on your own and remove distractions such as your phone. Instead, pay attention to the smell and taste of your coffee, and watch the people around you. Focussing more on the world around you and the things you eat and drink, can help you better appreciate these things leading to better fulfilment.
  5. Pay attention to your inner thoughts – try to listen more to the way you talk to yourself in your head. If you make a mistake, do you chastise yourself? If so, take a second to think about what you would say to a friend if they made the same mistake. Often we would be much kinder to a friend, but we should all show ourselves the same compassion.

Think about how you can make some time for mindfulness and see if it can improve your sense of wellbeing too!

Nutritionist Emma Brown (ANutr), MSc Human Nutrition is passionate about how food science applies to the human body, and how the nutrients in what we eat affect us and ultimately have an impact on our health.