The Benefits of Mindfulness

How to Get Started with a Mindful Practice and Stay Motivated

man meditating outdoors

Topics Covered

  • What is mindfulness
  • Benefits of mindfulness
  • How to get started with a mindful practice
  • Tips on how to stay motivated and continue your practice over time
  • In Summary

Mindfulness is a practice that has been around for centuries and it's still going strong. It is a way to train the mind in order to increase awareness, decrease stress and improve concentration. 

The idea of starting a mindful practice however can be pretty daunting. In this blog post, we will cover how to get started with mindfulness, how to stay motivated so you won't give up after just one week, and the benefits it provides for both your mental and physical health.

What is mindfulness

Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment, and focusing on your thoughts and feelings without judgement. When you’re mindful you tend to respond to situations in a more conscious way. Mindfulness can also help you to become more aware of your body and your surroundings.

Some reasons why you might look at a mindfulness practice could be:

  • because you have trouble focusing
  • you don’t like the feeling of being stressed
  • you want to become more aware of your eating habits
  • you want a tool to help manage your chronic pain
  • you want to improve your overall wellbeing

Benefits of mindfulness

So, now that we know what mindfulness is, let’s look at some benefits of mindfulness...

Reduce stress

There is strong, consistent evidence to show that practising mindfulness can help you better regulate your cortisol levels and manage stress. This is because when you are doing a mindfulness practice, you are able to bring your body out of a fight or flight state and into a state of relaxation.

Most people also find that once they become more mindful in their daily lives they feel more relaxed and balanced. This is because it can help you to let go of the past and stop worrying about the future, so it’s a really great life tool!

Improving your ability to regulate stress also has a follow-on effect that benefits many other aspects of your life.

Improve eating habits

Mindful eating is another type of mindfulness that is often practised. When you’re mindful while eating, you pay more attention to the experience of eating and how your body feels. 

You may also notice the thoughts and emotions that are associated with food. This can help you to become more aware of your eating habits. You may find you start to eat in order to nourish your body as opposed to eating for comfort, or because of stress.

Improved symptoms of irritable bowel

Pharmaceuticals are often ineffective for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and so behavioural interventions are generally adopted. Mindful practices and meditation are some of these interventions that researchers have found to help improve symptoms of IBS. 

This is thought to be because of the gut-brain-connection via the vagus nerve which is a two way communication network. Scientists have found that changes in the stomach can often be associated with cognitive behaviours, stress and even emotions, all of which can be improved through mindfulness!

Better heart health & sleep quality

Some studies have shown that people who regularly practice mindfulness have better heart health and lower blood pressure. This again maybe due to better regulation of stress levels. 

It’s also possibly associated to an improvement in sleep quality and duration. There are lots of evidence that links insomnia to an increased risk of heart disease and high blood pressure. 

A mindful practice can be used before bed to help one wind-down and switch off. It can also be used in the middle of the night if you wake up thinking about a problem, worrying, or planning all the tasks you have to do the next day. 

Reduce chronic pain

Chronic pain is a big issue for many people all across the world. It can be incredibly hard to treat and often leads to people taking multiple medications. Using mindfulness as a tool to manage chronic pain has shown to be effective for some people.

It can help you to focus on the present moment and not the pain itself. It can also help reduce the intensity of the pain as well as improve one's coping mechanisms. This may then lead to a reduction in negative emotions, such as stress and anxiety, which are known to further aggravate pain.

How to get started with a mindful practice

In order to get benefits from mindfulness, you have to practise it on a regular basis. It may seem hard at first but as with everything, the more you practice the better you get.

A mindful practice can look differently for different people or at different times in your life. It can be as simple as pausing and taking a few deep breaths, it may be taking a quiet moment to do a bodyscan and check in with yourself, or it may be sitting down and doing a meditation. The most important thing is to find something that works for you and to stick with it.

Our biggest tip to getting started with practicing mindfulness is to start small. If you’re new to mindfulness, don’t try and do too much at once. This might not be sustainable and can be more overwhelming than helpful.

A simple practice you could try is:

  1. Find a quiet space where you can relax
  2. Sit or recline in a comfortable position
  3. Close your eyes and focus on your breath
  4. Notice the thoughts and feelings that come up for you, without judgement
  5. If your mind wanders, gently bring your attention back to your breath and start again.

You don’t have to do this for a set amount of time, you can sit with this for as little or long as you like and when it feels right stop. It may feel awkward at first but the more you practice the more natural it becomes.

Tips on how to stay motivated and continue your practice over time

The benefits of mindfulness are scientifically proven, however it can be really hard to make a regular practice stick. This is because it takes time and patience to cultivate the benefits of mindfulness and to make it a daily habit.

Here are our top tips for how you can make your mindful practises stick:

  • Find a practice that works for you and stick with it. It may take some time to find the right one, but when you do it will be much easier to commit to.
  • Make it a part of your daily routine. This could be waking up a few minutes earlier to do a meditation or taking 10 minutes out of your day to practice.
  • Set some goals for yourself. When you have something to aim for it can be easier to stay motivated.
  • Get a buddy. Practising with someone else can make the journey more enjoyable and help you to keep each other accountable.
  • Be patient!

In Summary

In summary, there are many benefits of mindfulness and how it can improve your health. There are various different mindful practices that you can try and it’s important to find something that works for you, practice regularly and not beat yourself up if you miss a day. Practicing mindfulness takes time and patience but the benefits are well worth the effort.



Medical Disclaimer 

The information provided in this blog post is for general information only, it is not intended as medical advice. For medical advice please consult with a qualified medical professional who is familiar with your individual medical needs.