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Your monthly digest of health and wellbeing information that matters to you!

November: Mindfulness

Mindfulness is a way of thinking and promoting positive mental wellbeing, helping us to acknowledge and manage our thoughts and emotions. Mindfulness can help us to notice what is going on around us, encouraging us to enjoy the quality of our leisure time rather than trying to cram personal, family and leisure activities amongst a repetitive routine of eat, sleep and work without stopping to enjoy or appreciate these various components.

When we experience negative feelings and emotions, our thoughts can sometimes focus on something that has happened in the past, or what might happen in the future. Mindfulness is the practice of focusing your attention on the present moment, using all of the senses to draw the mind back to now.

The webinar below explores the origins of mindfulness, how it can help you in daily life and includes a short mindfulness exercise.

Take Notice

At some point, most people are exposed to situations that may promote feelings of anxiety, anger, stress or upset. If we fail to adequately acknowledge or manage these feelings, we may find that normal daily activities are negatively impacted upon, such as sleep, leisure activities and time with family and friends.

Incorporating mindfulness activities into our daily routine can help us to take notice of these negative feelings and promote positive mental wellbeing, paying more attention to the present moment and the world around us.

Connect

Connecting with the body is a mindfulness technique that can be used to help us increase concentration, focus and build self-awareness. A ‘body scan’ is a method of reconnecting with the body, being aware of the body breathing in and out, noticing touch and pressure where the body makes contact with the seat or the floor, sensing the temperature of the body and surroundings.

By consciously focusing the mind on the body, we can recognise when the mind has wandered, and learn to pull the focus back to the body. By accepting that the mind has drifted and gently pulling the attention back, rather than trying to resist it or force change, we train the mind to cope with the emotions we feel.

Our 3-minute breathing exercise is a short mindfulness exercise you can complete at home or at work, allowing you to focus on the present and take time for yourself.

Give

Practicing self-compassion is an important part of mindfulness. By being self-compassionate, we recognise that experiencing negative feelings, making mistakes or facing difficulties is an inevitable part of life. By excepting this, we are able to avoid the resulting feelings of frustration, anxiety or self-criticism.

It is important to be kind to yourself especially when you are faced with difficulty, when you make mistakes and when you wish to encourage others to be kind to themselves. Often the people who are hardest on others are even harder on themselves – by being kind to yourself you can be kinder to others. Tuesday 13th November 2018 is World Kindness Day – try to perform an act of kindness for yourself, a friend or colleague and a stranger. Showing gratitude benefits not only those around you but yourself too.

The Health Assured video below covers the importance of being kind to ourselves.

12th-18th November 2018 is Self Care Week – think about what you can do to show self-compassion. It could be going on a relaxing lunchtime walk, having a catch up with a friend or taking time out of your day to be mindful.

Keep Learning

The first step to mindfulness is reminding yourself to take notice of your thoughts, feelings, body and the world around you. By following the below steps you can learn to incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine.

Notice the Everyday

Once a day try to slow down and focus on your surroundings; the laughter of a friend, the petals of a flower, the clouds outside your window.

Keep it Regular

Choose a regular time to be aware of your surroundings, perhaps on the way to work or during a lunchtime walk.

Name your thoughts

It can be helpful to give a name to the thoughts and emotions you feel – this could be as simple as recognising “this is anxiety” or “this is frustration”.

Stay in the present

It is helpful to realise that you are in the present – try not to relive past problems or predict future worries.

Be Active

Some people find that an over active mind makes it difficult for them to practice mindfulness – as soon as they pause from what they are doing, thoughts and worries crowd in. Whilst we shouldn’t try to force these feelings to go away, it can often be easier to cope with an over-active mind whilst doing a gentle activity such as yoga, Tai-Chi, Pilates or walking.

To try these activities, you can book on for free via the Juice Platform. Throughout the month of November we will also be running mindfulness sessions – to find out more and to book your place please click here.

If you wish to take part in a lunchtime walk, our Juice Walking Group meet every fortnight for short walks in the local area – for more information please click here.

Alternatively, we have developed a booklet containing short, scenic walks around campus. To receive a copy, please email Juice@sheffield.ac.uk.

Back Care

It is important to look after your body as well as your mind.  With around 80% of people experiencing back pain at some point in their life, we have put together a guide to preventing and managing back pain, which includes a webinar from Remedy Physio Ltd and some NHS recommended exercises to strengethen the lower back.  To view the full guide please click here.