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Graduate Goodness: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a technique that helps draw our attention to the present moment, in the hope that this will reduce stresses and anxieties about the past and future. Likened to a form of meditation, this form of self-reflection can help us become more content with our everyday lives and better appreciate our surroundings. Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, describes mindfulness as being “about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives”. Others emphasise the way in which mindfulness practitioners emphasise observation without criticism and learning to be more compassionate and forgiving of yourself.

Also of importance is the strengthening of the mind-body connection through mindfulness – an important technique that can help manage our mental health and physical wellbeing. Interestingly, mindfulness isn’t just about reducing stress and anxiety: The Independent reported just a couple of weeks ago that your sex life can be improved as a result of mindfulness’ emphasis on self-awareness – a win-win situation for anyone hoping to engage more intimately with their partner. In this way, practicing mindfulness can help alert us to our needs and desires, and thus help us decide how best to conduct ourselves in our daily lives.

(Photo credit: www.health.harvard.edu)

Moreover, Beth Cabrera, writing for the Harvard Business Review, went so far as to claim that women need mindfulness more than men due to their tendency to multi-task. Whilst all sexes can profit from meditating and self-reflection, she suggests that women stand to benefit more due to their tendency to juggle multiple responsibilities at once. Especially for young women at University, it is extremely important to take the time to relax and switch off from the pressures and stresses of daily life, as both our mental and physical health is at stake.

All of this sounds great, but how do you even begin to practice mindfulness? As someone whose concentration wanes even in a 45-minute yoga class, it can be difficult to know how to effectively incorporate mindfulness into our daily routines. A great place to start is with smartphone apps and – luckily – forums advocating mindfulness have already rated and reviewed the best ones.

Here are the mindfulness apps that made Health Line’s top 5 list:

· Buddhify

· Calm

· Headspace

· MINDBODY Connect

· Mindfulness App

Unfortunately, mindfulness isn’t a cure for mental health problems, but it has been shown to reduce the effects of anxiety and depression in mild sufferers. With the stresses of University threatening to overwhelm us, the promise of lessening our emotional baggage should be enough for any sceptic to give mindfulness a try. By taking the time to appreciate both ourselves and the world around us, we can learn to be more mindful, compassionate and understanding: essentially, becoming better versions of ourselves.

 

 

Sources

https://bemindful.co.uk/

http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety- depression/pages/mindfulness.aspx

http://franticworld.com/what-is- mindfulness/

http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/love- sex/sex-life- tips-mindfulness- help-advice- sexologists-counselling-psycho- sexual-krystal- woodbridge-a7573941.html

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/drugs- and-treatments/mindfulness/#.WK19ZxLyi1s

https://www.bustle.com/articles/113549-7- tips-to- practice-mindfulness- reasons-why- you-should

https://hbr.org/2016/06/women-need- mindfulness-even- more-than- men-do

 

Third year history student at the University of Bristol.
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