19 Feb 2019
Employee Assistance Programme Focus: Learning to be more mindful
We can often find ourselves juggling multiple things in order to accomplish tasks.
Our busy lifestyles can lead us to lose connection with the present moment, meaning we can miss out on what it is we are actually doing, thinking or feeling at the time.
Mindfulness is a practice that helps us to focus our attention on what is happening in the here and now.
Studies have suggested mindfulness provides a number of benefits:
- Improves our wellbeing – by focusing on the present moment, you are less likely to get caught up in worries about the future or problems from the past, reducing stress.
- Helps our mental health – many psychological services in the UK now incorporate mindfulness-based therapies, especially individuals who experience anxiety or depression.
- Improves our physical health – studies suggest practising mindfulness can treat heart disease and reduce blood pressure and chronic pain.
If you would like to know more about mindfulness, the University’s Employee Assistance Programme has a range of guides, videos and podcasts available via the website (accessible using code ‘lborowell’). There are also lots of material to help those who may be struggling with symptoms of stress and anxiety.
So how does mindfulness work?
It encourages you to be less judgemental of your experiences, and instead become more accepting, avoiding us to react in ways which can only further our problems.
The goal is to become more aware of the present moment, focusing your attention on sensations internally and externally without judgement.
Many practices involve focusing on your breath, whilst allowing busy thoughts to enter through your mind and then be let go of by refocusing your attention back to your breathing.
There are numerous mobile phone apps available to download which can help you on your mindfulness journey.
Below is a basic mindfulness meditation you may wish to try:
- Sit on a straight-backed chair or cross-legged on the floor
- Focus on an aspect of your breathing, such as your belly rising and falling as you inhale and exhale
- Once you’ve narrowed your concentration to this, begin to widen your focus – be aware of sounds, sensations and your ideas.
- Embrace these and consider it without judgement. If your mind starts to feel distracted, return your focus back to breathing, and then expand your awareness again.
The EAP is an independent service and initiative that is part of the University’s commitment to provide support for staff wellbeing.
It offers help and support for a number of common life challenges. More information can be found on the website or via the confidential 24/7 helpline (0800 111 6387).