Mindfulness has become a bit of a buzzword in recent years. We hear it everywhere now, it is backed up by scientific evidence, heaps of mindfulness apps are on the market – it’s great! People are beginning to prioritise their mental health and that is so wonderful to know.
My journey with mindfulness began a couple of years ago but I didn’t take it seriously until I started to have my own mental battles. Since then, it’s been a saviour and my mental state has never been better. My partner, close friends and family have noticed a significant change in my mindset, even colleagues whom I see on an irregular basis have told me that I seem happier and more content.
For this reason, I am a huge fan of practicing mindfulness. I want to share with everyone some of the ways mindfulness has helped me throughout the years. I’ll be sharing a glimpse into my past and current state of mind, some personal demons here and there and how mindfulness has changed my life indefinitely.
1. Anxiety and Stress Management
Anxiety and stress has overshadowed much of my teenage years and early adult life. I was constantly in a state of worry and concern about everything: family, school/uni, work, friends and social life. My mind was preoccupied with the uncertainty of the future and I was never really focussed on the present moment. The habit of overthinking led to a constant state of stress and emotional turmoil. Mindfulness alleviated my anxiety by teaching me to stay in the present. The practice became my SOS helpline whenever I felt stressed and in turn, it built resilience in my character. Anxiousness and stress inevitably still comes up here and there but thankfully, to a lesser degree and I am able to manage it much better.
2. Self-Esteem Builder
Mindfulness has helped me to value myself as a worthy being. My biggest struggle was siding with myself in the wake of undue criticism. Other people’s opinions mattered more than my own and that caused a lot of self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness. However, sitting in solitude, becoming immersed in my own thoughts and self-reflecting has opened my eyes to the absurdity of that belief. If I don’t value myself enough and let other people dictate my life, how am I ever going to live peacefully with my own person and unlock my potential into the world? Building my self-esteem has also made me more kind which I go into detail more below.
3. Mindfulness and Kindness
When we’re happy with ourselves, we’re kinder to the world and the people living in it. As my self-esteem improved, I projected less of my insecurities onto others and became kinder as a result. I also became more self-aware and was mindful to when I was being unkind or if my actions needed some self-reflection. Practicing loving kindness meditation helps me to send affection and compassionate energy to myself, my loved ones, strangers and even to people who may be unfriendly to me. This opens up a new world of opportunities and my conscious became very light and at ease.
4. Slowing Down to be Mindful
My anxiety, desire for productivity and poor relationship with time meant my life was set to double speed. Thoughts were always racing through my mind and I was literally time travelling. It was as if I was trying to escape the present. Practicing mindfulness forced my mind to calm itself and stay in the present. I realised that I was losing my touch to reality; I didn’t appreciate what was happening around me because I was moving way too fast in time. When I finally learnt to slow down and just be in that moment, it was actually life-changing. I started to appreciate the events that were unfolding, little things that were happening and the smaller details that made life much more complete. Funnily enough this actually resulted in me taking a gap year from medical school, a decision which I would never have made with my previous mindset!
5. Improves Productivity
Productivity in my life means making Youtube videos, writing blog posts like these, being part of a medical team at hospital, learning new things in medicine and all the other little things that keeps my life fulfilled. While these tasks do bring me joy, they can also bring upon frustration and stress especially when things aren’t going to plan. Add in the pressure of time, we have a recipe for disaster. I end up being less productive because my mind is cloudy, my emotions are messy and I’m not focused. Yet, whenever I start my mornings with a mindfulness session, I’ve noticed how calm my days are. I feel like I’m floating from one task to another with clarity and ease. If something is not going to plan, I’m able to focus and problem solve. The practice is also a helpline for me in the middle of chaos. Whenever I feel like I’m on the verge of stress, I practice mindfulness and things are much better when I open my eyes.
6. Improved My Happiness
Up until very recently, I was in the very motion of chasing happiness. I had envisioned happiness as a destination, a place where I would finally arrive to once I landed my dream job, car, house, family and everything else that perfectly fell in between. What I didn’t realise was in this exact moment, I was actually quite content and if I dare say, happy.
Mindfulness granted me the ability to see that everything I had in my life was enough to be fulfil my dream of happiness. Learning to appreciate the present moment instilled content in me. The fact that I could drive my car and pick up my friends to go strawberry picking was more than enough. There was no longer that need for a more expensive car or to wear a prettier sun dress or a different, perhaps more exotic location to hang out with my friends. What I was doing in that moment was happiness. The drive home and dropping my friends off at their place was still happiness. I was already living that happiness dream, yet if I didn’t learn to appreciate it, it would quickly pass over me and I would still be fruitlessly trying to chase that dream.
Mindfulness Changed My Life
Unfortunately, as is with the case of mental health, mindfulness can seem like an unusual or bizarre concept to some. It’s not a visibly obvious activity and it’s one that concerns the complexity of the mind. As a result, some people may pass off some stereotypical judgements of the practice or view it as unhelpful. I’ve certainly noticed this when I recommend or encourage my friends and family to practice mindfulness. It’s definitely a lot harder than advising someone to participate in more mainstream self-care activities like exercise or sleep.
But mindfulness has a plethora of scientific literature behind it. Studies have suggested that the practice can alleviate stress and anxiety while improving our happiness levels and productivity. There are a lot of other benefits which I will be posting about soon!
Mindfulness has changed my life for the better and it is my aim to practice it for the rest of my life. I hope we can all experience the wonderful benefits of mindfulness together!
How Can I Practice Mindfulness?
- Meditation and mindfulness guides
- Practicing everyday mindfulness