Monday, 12 June 2017

Mental Health Mondays #4 : Some thoughts on Mindfulness

Here's a little personal life update before I jump into this week's post:
In my first MH post "Mental Health and Me" I explained that I was on the waiting list for a Clinical Psychologist. Not long after sharing that post I was finally contacted after months of waiting and I started to get help.
I've now had four appointments and I'll be honest, it's really tough, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this but talking about my difficulties in this kind of setting is much more difficult than I ever found the previous counselling I received.
Anyway, in my appointment on Thursday we were talking about how I could deal with stuff over the summer as moving 250 miles back home to the middle of nowhere for 3 months could be good or bad, that remains to be seen. My psychologist brought up the concept of mindfulness, suggesting that I might find it helpful. I've been giving it some thought over the past few days and I thought it might be a good idea for me to write this week's post on my thoughts, feelings and what Google can tell me about mindfulness. Basically what you're about to read is me processing what I've been asked to try out and rambling about what I think about it, enjoy...

My initial thoughts:
Okay honesty time, my first thoughts when my psychologist mentioned mindfulness was "oh no" because I've given it a little bit of a try in the past and it's just not been helpful. As far as I know it's meant to help you focus your attention away from the thoughts you're having and stuff but I've found the quiet is anything but helpful doing that. Having said this, I've maybe tried it three times in total over the last three years of battling my mental health difficulties and I appreciate maybe I've not tried it enough to truly say that it doesn't work. Maybe I've just been doing it "wrong" anyway who knows!

What does mindfulness even mean though?
After giving it some thought it dawned on me that I wasn't even sure what mindfulness really was. I know from my degree that it's something which has a growing place in the psychological field but I didn't really know much besides this. My psychologist recommended I try this three minute breathing exercise on YouTube as a starting point and I'll admit I've not yet had a look into it. But is that all there is to it? Just learning to breathe to help you?

Several minutes of aggressive googling later...
Following some research I have reached the conclusion that mindfulness is a state which is achieved by focussing on the present moment, acknowledging and accepting your feelings. The NHS informed me (not personally I mean like, I went on their website) that I can become more mindful by:
  • regularly noticing and paying attention to everyday stuff
  • trying new things - initial thought is that I have tried a lot of new stuff in the last 3 years and it hasn't helped my mental health in a way I can see anyway, hmm.
  • watching your thoughts -interestingly the top quote about this is referring to how some people find it really difficult as the "thoughts and worries crowd in" as soon as they stop, aka me? Does this mean it won't be helpful for me or that I'll just have to get past the initial difficulty?
Mindfulness can be achieved through practices such as mediation or yoga, which I kind of already knew but it's cool to have it confirmed. As well as the breathing exercises etc. that I mentioned earlier

But is it for me?
It's certainly an interesting concept but even after my research I'm just not convinced if it's the sort of thing that will benefit me. I know a lot of people swear by it but I just know how difficult I can find it to shut out my thoughts and I really don't know if doing Yoga is going to help me with that or not?
I suppose I can't really form an opinion until I really try it so perhaps I'll try and commit to some sort of mindfulness practice several times a week for a while to see what happens.
I'm interested in the idea of mindfulness journals which I know are something people use so maybe this is a form of mindfulness I could try out and that I might be more inclined to engage in.
The thing I'm most unsure about regarding mindfulness is whether I'd actually be able to actively get myself to sit down and to do it? Because focussing on my feelings and stuff sounds pretty difficult so I'm not sure how I'd get on with it. But as I say until I try I won't know I suppose!

Perhaps I'll get on with it and give this mindfulness thing a try and give y'all an update on how I get along in a later post, we'll see what happens!

Have you tried mindfulness? Anything I've not mentioned that you think I should know? Let me know in a comment below if you'd like!

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