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What is Mindfulness?
As human beings, we spend a lot of time brooding on the past or worrying about the future. We often find we do things on automatic pilot, acting without thinking about what we are doing, usually because we have done it many times before. Have you ever walked home and don’t remember passing a specific landmark?
Mindfulness is a way of paying attention to, and seeing clearly whatever is happening in our lives at that moment in time. It can improve our mental wellbeing by helping us engage with the world around us more and understand ourselves better. It is a practical way to notice thoughts, physical sensations, sights, sounds, smells – anything we might not normally notice.
Mindfulness helps us to respond to life’s pressures in a calmer manner that benefits our heart, head, and body.
It encourages us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings so that we can manage them in a different way with more positive outcomes.
Although mindfulness may have had its roots in the past, the benefits of mindfulness and meditation are now well understood. Research has positively linked mindfulness and meditation to stress reduction.
What can mindfulness help with?
Mindfulness can be helpful with the following conditions:
- chronic pain
- physical symptoms without a medical diagnosis
- sleep difficulties
- anger management
Who can practice mindfulness?
Everyone can do it and it can be done anywhere, waiting for a bus, washing the dishes, walking the dog, in the office.
The skills might be simple, but because it is so different to how we might normally behave, it takes a lot of practice. With practice, you can learn to work differently with your thoughts and feelings
How can I learn mindfulness?
To learn mindfulness, you can use online courses or apps
See our online resources below
We have more information on how to ‘take notice’ on our 5 Ways to Wellbeing page including activities you can do to practice being more mindful and taking notice of the day to day.
You can also take part in our 5 Days 5 Ways Challenge.
Simple mindfulness task?
This five-step exercise can be very helpful during periods of anxiety or panic by helping to ground you in the present.
Before you start, pay attention to your breathing. Slow, deep long breaths can help you feel calm.
- Notice 5 things you can see around you. It could be a chair, a pen or a picture on the wall.
- Notice 4 things you can touch. It could be the fabric of your clothes, your hair, or a table.
- Notice 3 things you can hear. It could be rain on the window, traffic passing by or music in the background.
- Notice 2 things you can smell. It could be food, the smell of soap on your hands or a smell from outside.
- Notice 1 thing you can taste. What does your mouth taste of – coffee, chewing gum, or your lunch?
If you need further help managing your mental health
If the information, advice, resources and courses on this page have not been helpful and/or you think you need more help, there are many free support services available.
If you are worried about your general mental health, contact NHS Mental Health 111 Option 2. This service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is free to call from a mobile (even when the caller has no credit left) or from a landline. The service will provide immediate support over the phone to help cope with how you are feeling, and if needed, a referral to mental health services will be arranged.
If you live in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board (ABUHB) area, and are aged over 18, you can contact your GP surgery to make an appointment with a Psychological Health Practitioner (PHP) or a GP. PHPs are NHS mental health practitioners, that are available at most GP surgeries in ABUHB area, who provide a free service for people experiencing mild to moderate mental health problems. Appointments can be either face to face, or over the phone.
If you are under 18 or worried about someone aged under 18 and need advice/self-referral to local mental health and wellbeing services in the Aneurin Bevan University Health Board area, contact SPACE-Wellbeing.
Or alternatively contact another approved helpline or service. Some services are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you are an unpaid carer for someone with poor mental health, visit our Unpaid Carers page for more information and advice.
Last updated: 25.09.2023