Why is mindfulness useful?
Mindfulness is the skill of being able to control where your attention is directed and becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings as they happen. Mindfulness is an important part of the treatment of many mental health challenges including anxiety and depression, but can also be useful for anyone to relax, relieve stress and focus your mind.
One of the key values of mindfulness is keeping your mind engaged in the present moment. People spend a huge proportion of their waking lives daydreaming or worrying about the future, or else going about their day on autopilot without being fully engaged in what is happening. Learning to focus your mind on what you are actually doing and learning to “let go” of negative or unhelpful thoughts as they arise is one of the key skills in mindfulness. This frees you from wasting time and energy on pointless daydreaming and keeps your mind from wandering into worries or negative rumination, while also improving your focus and productivity.
Central to mindfulness is the idea of noticing things around you without labelling or judging them. Often we become stressed or worries when we experience negative emotions or sensations and try to block them out, which ends up making them harder to get rid of. Learning to notice and accept these things without trying to force them to stop actually helps you process and recover from negative experiences more quickly.
Like any skill, mindfully engaging your brain requires regular practice to master. The benefits of regular mindfulness include reduced stress, reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety, faster recovery from illness, increased capacity to learn a general improvement in mood and general wellbeing.