Mindfulness and Mental Health

Mindfulness is about focusing on the present. Being mindful means paying full attention to what is going on in you and outside you. In fact, mindfulness is important for mental health increases happiness and compassion, improves attention and memory and increases innovation and creativity. Plus, it also improves immune function and leads to growth in areas of the brain related to wellbeing. No matter what a person’s age, mindfulness is a vital part of mental health.

What Being Mindful Means

Sometimes, it can be confronting and uncomfortable to observe think about what is going on in your mind. But just like gymnastics, practice makes perfect! Mindfulness doesn’t mean turning off your thoughts. Unfortunately, that’s not actually possible. So, when you find you are distracted during mindfulness practice that’s just part of the process.

When we are mindful, this helps us get better at recognising and understanding our own personal signals that tell us we’re close to our tipping point. Mindfulness is like a personal ‘fear and anxiety thermometer’ helping us get to know our own warning signs of when we’re fearful or anxious.

Examples include:

  • irritability
  • losing patience
  • a sense of urgency
  • difficulty sleeping
  • inability to focus
  • catastrophic thinking
  • eating or drinking more than usual

Mindfulness Tips

If you feel any of the feelings above, it might be your brain telling you that it needs a break. You might find one or more of the following suggestions useful.

Exercise and Movement

Doing physical exercise is great for relieving stress. Of course, we’d say that doing gymnastics once or more a week is a great outlet. However, it could mean putting on some music and dancing around the house!

Breathing

Stop what you’re doing, and slowly take three deep breaths. Then try to breathe in a rhythm so that breathing out takes longer than breathing in.

Engage Your Senses

Try splashing cold water in your face, hugging your pet, smelling a pleasant smell like lavender or roses. Or you could follow one of the short, guided grounding exercises from the ‘Stress Management’ program in the Smiling Mind App.

Sleep

We have a whole page with information about how you can improve your sleep, get more sleep, or sleep more deeply. Read more about how gymnasts can benefit from good sleep hygiene.

Connect

Although being able to see other people in person is difficult right now. In fact, depending on when you are reading this it might not be legal. But these days there are many ways to keep in contact with people, thanks to technology! The best way to communicate is by using an app or program that lets you see the faces of the people you’re talking to.

Read More

The following resources were referenced to provide the information on this page: