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Manage your mental health with mindfulness

Last year, 526,000 workers in the UK admitted that they suffered from work-related stress, depression or anxiety, according to the HSE. The most common cause was the rigorous daily demands of the job. Left unaddressed, these mental health conditions can cause:

  • Headaches
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Muscle tension or pain

Experiencing even one of these symptoms can be a nuisance; experiencing several at once can be debilitating. How you choose to handle these symptoms has a significant impact on you.

There are loads of strategies for managing stress, depression, and anxiety—including opting for medication. But you may find a more holistic approach, like mindfulness, to be beneficial.

Mindfulness is an NHS-approved mind-body based approach that helps manage unhealthy thoughts and feelings, and it can be used to treat both mental and physical conditions. The practice is based on meditation exercises meant to focus you on the present to help you process your thoughts and feelings.

One of the strengths of mindfulness is that it can be practised at any time. While there are several different exercises associated with the practice, the simplest are:

  • Close your eyes and focus on your thoughts and your feelings. Identify them. Name them. Then, start to work through how to handle them.
  • Take deep breaths through your nose and focus on how it feels when each one fills your lungs. Then, focus on the sensation as you exhale through your mouth.
  • Notice the everyday aspects of your life. Even something as simple as paying attention to the taste of the food you eat and the sensation of air moving past your body can be enough to jolt you out of your autopilot mode and give you a new, more mindful perspective.

Practised regularly, mindfulness can help ease aches and pains as well as improve mental health. However, like any treatment, mindfulness may not be effective straight away. If you would like to learn more about the practice, talk to your GP or download the Mindfulness App, which provides techniques for beginners, for free.

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