Hello! I’m Amy over from Living with ME and I’m going to be talking about mindfulness; what it is and how it has helped me with various aspects of my life!
I came across mindfulness when I was 17 (I’m 21 now) when I was in sixth form, and basically a teacher had started a mindfulness group for students who had some sort of difficulties, which in my case was the fact that I’d had glandular fever the previous year and I had never properly recovered from it. This group ran for 6 weeks, each week doing something different with mindfulness, with the idea being that we would be able to use mindfulness at home when we wanted to.
I must admit, before doing mindfulness, I had never really done any form of meditation or anything similar, and so naturally, I was a little bit sceptical at first. I questioned how it would actually help me, whether I would enjoy doing it, whether it was worth my time, but I decided that for 6 hours of my life, it was worth learning about it on the off chance it was something that I did want to use.
And lo and behold…I did!
I use it ALL THE TIME now, and it helps me so, so much when I’m feeling particularly anxious or stressed. So here begins, the 6 ways that mindfulness has helped me, and could help you!
1. Relieves Stress
Mindfulness has this wonderful way of helping to relieve my stress, and if you knew me, you would know that I get stressed very easily. When things get too much and I start to feel overwhelmed, just taking a few moments to practice some mindfulness is exactly what I need to calm down and think clearly again.
2. Helps Sleeping Patterns
I have made it a nightly routine to practice mindfulness, especially when I am feeling particularly stressed and anxious, or when I have a lot on. This helps me to unwind from the day and relax before trying to fall asleep, making it easier for me to then fall asleep. It also helps me to sleep all the way through the night, and I’ve noticed that on the nights I’ve done mindfulness, I’m much more likely to sleep through the night than when I don’t do mindfulness!
3. Calms Nerves And Anxiety
I am someone who gets very worked up about things, and find myself on the verge of being an emotional wreck more times than I’d care to admit, and this usually happens when I get particularly nervous about something, whether that be an exam, or an assignment, or even just a night out if I’m feeling anxious. When I can sense that I’m starting to feel overwhelmed, I try and take some time to myself to close my eyes and practice some mindfulness and quite often it helps me calm down and feel a lot better about whatever situation I was feeling nervous about. It doesn’t necessarily get rid of that feeling, but what it does is help you calm down enough to think practically and give you enough time to get out of a situation if that’s what you need to do. I’ve thankfully managed to avoid a few panic attacks by using mindfulness, and so if anxiety and panic attacks are something you suffer with, I highly recommend you look into it!
4. Allows Clear Thoughts And Ideas
As I suffer from ME/CFS, I suffer a lot with brain fog, and let me tell you, it is the most annoying, and frustrating symptom I suffer with. If you’re not familiar with it, it basically causes you to forget things, muddle your words, have difficulty finding words, which is quite possibly the most irritating thing but most of all, it can cause you to feel like your brain is nothing but a cloud. You literally can’t form any thoughts and ideas as it is so difficult to think clearly when you head feels like it’s going to explode! So this is where mindfulness comes in. When I’m really struggling with brain fog, I like to sit for 20-30 minutes and just try to clear my mind of everything else. I like to imagine clouds passing by (including the brain fog itself!) and I put each thought and idea into a cloud and let it drift away. Eventually, there’s nothing left and I can usually get back to whatever work I was doing and I am able to clearly think about what I need to. I know this might sound cuckoo – I thought it was when I first tried doing this, but I promise you, it works.
5. Helps Create A Healthy Relationship With Food
Having been on a weight loss journey for what seems like forever, it’s important that I eat mindfully, which means I take time to create something delicious and then take time to enjoy it. Eating whilst multitasking never ends well as you end up eating more than you should, which consequently makes you feel bloated and also guilty. Eating mindfully allows you to really look forward to your meal and really enjoy every mouthful, without eating too much. You don’t have to do a lot to eat mindfully, in fact the whole idea is that you do nothing but eat, and you concentrate fully on what you’re eating, how you’re eating it, and how much you’re eating.
6. Helps With Chronic Pain
OK it might be obvious that mindfulness doesn’t actually get rid of chronic pain, but what it does do is help you relax a bit, and I find if I’m tense, my pain is usually worse. If I can relax a bit and find a position that’s more comfortable through using mindfulness, I always feel better. The way to do this is to lie down, preferably flat on your back if you can, close your eyes, and concentrate on each part of your body, starting with your feet. You take a few moments to think about what you’re feeling in each area, what pain is where, what type of pain it is and how bad the pain is. You do a complete scan of your body in a sense, and by the time you’ve finished, you have a much clearer idea as to what pain is where, instead of just feeling overwhelmed with pain everywhere.
I really hope this post has helped and given you some information as to how mindfulness can help you and how it has helped in me in the past. If you suffer from a chronic illness, like I do, it is definitely worth trying, and even if you don’t suffer with an illness, it is still worth trying as it can help with so many different things; it will benefit anyone. If you do decide to try it though, give it a few tries before making any judgements – it can feel a bit silly to begin with, but after a while you will start to crave your mindfulness practice!
There are also various apps which you can get on your phone which can guide you with mindfulness and meditation, which are listed below:
Thank you for reading this and please feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below!
I am a 21 (nearly 22!) year old UK blogger and I write mainly chronic illness and lifestyle posts over on my blog, Living with ME. I’ve been blogging for nearly 2 years now (has it really been that long?!) and I have just completed my second year at university and other than blogging, my hobbies include singing, walking my dogs and going to group fitness classes such as BodyPump – I love BodyPump!