People use mindfulness techniques to help themselves become more self-aware, and to try and improve their general wellbeing. But, understanding your body, mind and soul and living in the present is a skill. And just like any other skill, it takes regular practice if you want to master it.

It’s clear the way we feel impacts on our thoughts and behaviours. The idea behind mindfulness and meditation is that it allows you to take control and focus your mind and attention on the daily events you go through. You should then be able to make better decisions and react more calmly.

Studies show that practising mindfulness can help to manage depression, some anxiety problems and feelings of stress. If you feel you may benefit from this type of therapy, the NHS has listed five things to improve your mental wellbeing:

1. Connect With Other People

Good relationships are important for your mental wellbeing, helping you to build a sense of belonging and self-worth and an opportunity to share experiences. You could try the following to help you build stronger and closer relationships:

- Try and spend time daily with your family, and those closest to you. For example, have dinner together.
- Make time for friends and others you have not seen for a while.
- Get away from the screen, all screens, and try talking to your partner, children, friends and so on. Why not play a board game as a family or have lunch with a colleague instead of just emailing?
- Visit a friend or family member who needs support or company.
- If you have spare time, you may try volunteering at a local school or community group. You can join clubs where you’ll find people with whom you share similar interests.
- If you can’t get away from technology, make the most of apps such as Facetime, which offer a more personal experience.

2. Be Physically Active

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness, evidence shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing. It presents different challenges and you feel rewarded when you achieve your targets. Physical exercise causes chemical changes in your brain which can help change your mood for the better.

- Find free activities to help you get fit. Try and find ones you normally enjoy as you progress quicker when you’re having fun while participating.
- Set realistic goals. Attempting a marathon-style run isn’t the best idea for someone who’s not exercised in a few years! Set targets you’re able to achieve as this will keep you motivated and ensure you keep enjoying your activity.
- Try and find activities that fit into your lifestyle. Again, you’re more likely to keep doing it long-term if it’s something easily accessible. Maybe a 30-minute fitness session at your local gym when the kids are at school or you’re on a lunch break?

3. Learn New Skills

Research shows that learning new skills can also improve your mental wellbeing. It can boost self-confidence and raise self-esteem and help you to build a sense of purpose. And, there are different ways you can introduce learning into your life:

- Cook something new! You’re out of your comfort zone and you can even discover healthier eating.
- Take on extra responsibility at home, at work or in a relationship. For example, you can mentor a junior colleague or friend and teach them what you know.
- Take on something new, such as a DIY project, a college course or learning a new language. It can contribute to improving your home, relationships, job prospects - things which will improve your sense of fulfillment.
- Try a new hobby or activity, the possibilities are endless. You’ll feel good as you learn and progress and achieve things, especially when it’s something you enjoy. Plus, it’s also a great chance to meet new people.

4. Give To Others

Research suggests that acts of giving and kindness can help improve your mental wellbeing as it leaves you feeling positive with a sense of reward. It also gives you a feeling of purpose and self-worth and helps you connect with other people. Some simple things you can try include:

- Having good manners. A simple “thank you” or “please” for something done for you or a request.
- Actually listen to people when talking, giving them your full attention and focus.
- Spend time with friends or relatives who need support or company.
- Help someone by offering them your time or skills which they may need.

5. Pay Attention To The Present

Being in touch with your thoughts, feelings and surroundings is what’s known as “awareness”, or mindfulness. This connection helps many people enjoy life more and understand themselves better. It can positively change the way you feel about life and how you approach challenges.

The NHS point out that mindfulness isn’t for everyone. Clearly though, many people benefit from practising these techniques and evidence shows it enhances their wellbeing, leading to happier, more peaceful, loving and productive lives.

There are lots of information about mindfulness and meditation on the internet. Some of the techniques are taught in many of our own retreats we run at Carbon Retreat. You can find more details about these retreats on our Wellbeing page.


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