Be mindful of your wellbeing

July 15th, 2016 by The Mag Editors in Features

As the popularity of mindfulness continues to grow, we speak to our peer mentors in Southampton about what it is, how it helps and how you can use it in your everyday life.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the practice in which you bring your attention to the present – focussing on your internal experiences (such as bodily sensations), and external experiences (such as noises that can be heard around you). Peer mentor, Stephano van Rensburg explains: “Mindfulness is a practice which needs to be developed, as it can take a little time to get the hang of it. But once you do, it can bring many benefits to your wellbeing.

“This method originated from Buddhist traditions and meditations, and has become popular enough to be used by psychologists within the NHS due to its effectiveness. This is why at Natalie House, we took the opportunity to make it a part of our clients’ lives.”

Many different types of mindfulness have been developed due to its effectiveness, and these have become very popular within the United Kingdom. Some forms of mindfulness include:

  • Mindfulness meditations
  • Mindfulness colouring 
  • Music Mindfulness
  • Mindful listening

Stephano tells us why it is particularly important to some of our clients. He said: “Mindfulness is an important part of recovery since it’s very helpful when identifying triggers and emotions which may lead to becoming unwell and therefore it is a major part of the work that the Peer Support Workers have been doing at Natalie House. It allows the client to clear their mind and discover any bodily sensations while remaining relaxed. This type of mindfulness has been proven to be highly effective, and is commonly used within the NHS for the recovery of those who suffer from mental illnesses.”

Mindful walking is an activity that clients at Natalie House have enjoyed. It is a fun activity that builds on mindfulness skills, as well as encouraging exercise which is also helpful in maintaining good mental health. This has become popular among clients as it isn’t as formal as the mindfulness meditations, and the clients can do this by themselves whenever they feel like it.

So, how do you do it?

Our peer support workers at Natalie House share their tips:

  • For mindful walking, pick a sunny day, take a stroll and notice all the sensations around you – the breeze, the smells and the sound of distant traffic or birds singing.
  • Soak up what you see – looking at the plants or flowers around you, how the trees move or the outlines of buildings.
  • Notice any internal sensations you may experience – focus on your breathing, feel your chest rise and fall. Perhaps you can feel the sun warming your skin, or notice how the soles of your feet feel in your shoes or sandals as you walk.
  • If your mind wanders, don’t worry. It is natural for your mind to wander from time to time and mindfulness can take a little practice. If you notice your mind wandering, just bring it back to the present and focus on the external or internal sensations again.
For further information, look up ‘Headspace’ in the app store. This app will allow you to access a free ten day trial, taking you through some mindfulness techniques and tips to get you started. Remember, mindfulness can be practiced anytime, anywhere – and best of all – it’s free.