My Journey to Mindfulness
I’m sure you’ve all heard it before… “mindfulness is a great technique to improve your mental well-being”. For me, I most recently heard it from my GP, so I was on a mission to give it a go. I’ve been one of those people that downloads all the apps, but I never opened them after the first week. I decided that starting Monday I’ll attempt guided mindfulness meditation sessions with good old trusted YouTube.
Monday came around and it was a stressful day, I knew I had a workout session planned and that would help reduce the anxiety and stress. But I wanted to commit to more, I wanted to take time out of my day to do my guided mindfulness session. I planned the session for a time when I thought I wouldn’t be disturbed; but I had no idea what to expect. I found an introduction video on YouTube that was 10 minutes long and of course I thought “10 minutes is nothing!”. I was very wrong.
During the session I had many different thoughts going through my mind, mostly reflecting on my day. I couldn’t get myself away from those and pick up on about all the little noises I could hear around me. About 5 minutes in, I stopped the session early. I felt calmer and less anxious than before, so I thought “that was great and so what I didn’t finish the full session”.
After my first session, I knew I wanted to do better and put 100% into my sessions. I spent some time looking online for tips on how to maximise the effectiveness of mindfulness. I got some great tips like use earphones to block out distractions and to experiment to find a time that suits me best.
It took some time for me to give mindfulness sessions a go again. In my next session I used the app “Calm”, and I tried the techniques mentioned. I experimented to find perfect time in the day for me and I used earphones to block out distractions. Did it help? Yes. Was it a perfect session? Definitely not. I attempted their 7 days of calm course and set up daily reminders so I would have no excuse to not get it done. Saying that, it did take me 14 days to finish a 7-day course…
After about a month of trying, I found I wasn’t able to stick to a routine with mindfulness. I did like the sessions but was I excited for my mindfulness time? Not really to be honest. I decided that instead of trying to force mindfulness into my life, I would be better off trying other techniques to improve my mental health and finding what really worked for me.
What I have learnt through-out this journey so far:
- It’s okay to admit when you don’t like an activity.
- Be open to getting tips and advice from people with a similar experience.
- If something worked for someone else and not me, try something different. After all, we are all individual.
- Routines take a long time to build, and don’t feel guilty when it’s not going 100% to plan.
- Just because I didn’t get into a routine with mindfulness, doesn’t mean I didn’t benefit from it. But also, I can try it again in the future. My journey hasn’t finished, it’s constantly evolving.
Things to try to improve your mental well-being.
Mindfulness – I used the free apps “Calm” and “Headspace” or if you’re looking for an alternative try YouTube.
Journaling – A beginners guide for you to read
Gratitude – You’d be surprised how much you do this without even trying https://www.lifehack.org/articles/communication/40-simple-ways-practice-gratitude.html
Walking – I found walking in a park was so much more relaxing than walking on a busy road.
Take a break from work/personal life/technology and enjoy a conversation with the people around you.
Get advice and tips from people with similar experiences. You’d be surprised how many people can relate to what you’re going through.
Try something new – you never know what you might end up loving. https://www.todaysparent.com/family/activities/fun-things-to-do-at-home/
Ask for help if you need it. Single Point of Access, West London Trust have a 24/7 phone number for mental health advice and information. Their phone number is 0800 328 4444.
By Hemali Manek
Mental Health Advice Caseworker
Posted on: 4th December 2020