Mindful in May is a growing social initiative that provides tools for people to learn the practice of mindfulness while fundraising for social causes. But what exactly is mindfulness? And how can it help our families caring for children with high support needs? We took the opportunity to discuss mindfulness and how it can help our families to reduce stress and anxiety and improve their own mental health.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of bringing your full attention to the experiences occurring in the present moment, of being fully aware of where you are, what surrounds you and what you are doing. Practicing mindfulness is a tool for managing mental health and wellbeing.
But of course mindfulness can be challenging and we’re all prone to letting our minds wander from the present moment. Have you ever reached the end of a conversation with a friend and not quite been able to recall the details of what your friend had to say? Because although you thought you were listening at the time, your mind was on a million and one other things too.
How does mindfulness help?
As mentioned, the aim of mindfulness is to be fully present in the here and now. So that you are less likely to be worrying about what has happened in the past or what may happen in the future which can increase anxiety and stress levels. It is increasingly recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, raise self-awareness and overcome negative thoughts and behaviours.
How can I be mindful?
Mindfulness can be learned through techniques such as meditation. If you are new to meditating, there are lots of free guided meditations available online. Check on YouTube, some are as short as a few minutes if you can find the time. We know that sometimes even finding five minutes can be challenging (or remembering to allocate five minutes!) Practising mindfulness can also be as simple as “taking a moment”, a short micro-break in your day (if it’s all you can manage) to gather yourself and take a breath.
When taking care of loved ones, often the first thing forgotten is how to take time for yourself. Being mindful in May is one way to remind yourself that you need to take care of you too.
For further resources on mental health including mindfulness: