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Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW)

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Every year, between 11-17 May, the mental health foundation helps to raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing issues.

Since the first Mental Health Awareness Week back in 2000 they have helped generate public debates around how anxiety, sleep deprivation and exercise can impact our mental health. This year they're talking about Mindfulness.

You’ve probably heard a lot about Mindfulness in the media recently. Perhaps you think it means sitting cross-legged on the floor and meditating.

Maybe you think mindfulness means to simply concentrate on your breathing. You may have even heard that mindfulness means to focus on your bodily sensations? Well mindfulness is all of those things, and so much more. To shed some light on what mindfulness is, how it can be used and why it’s so beneficial we have decided to focus on the theme of mindfulness for Mental Health Awareness Week 2015.

Tell me, what is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is paying attention to the present moment, without getting stuck in the past or worrying about the future.Mindfulness can be practiced standing, sitting and walking. It can be practiced both indoors and out; at home, in schools, at work or simply out and about. You can practice mindfulness for 5 minutes or 5 hours – that’s the great thing about mindfulness, you can tailor it to suit your own needs.

What you may be surprised to hear is that you have probably been mindful at some point in your life and didn’t even know it… Have you gone for a long walk, breathing in the crisp, fresh air and then suddenly realised that four hours have passed? Have you listened so intently to a song that for a moment, you weren’t thinking about anything but how beautiful the melody was? That’s mindfulness!

How can mindfulness help me?

Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness isn’t about emptying your mind of thoughts and ‘zoning out’. It can mean different things to different people. At the heart of it, mindfulness helps people observe the way they think and feel about their experiences, whether good or bad. This can really change the way you manage and react to stressful situations, giving you a valuable tool to stay mentally healthy, and an ever-expanding body of evidence shows that it really works.

Mindfulness is already known to be successful in helping people with mental and physical health problems, from stress, depression and anxiety to chronic pain, eating disorders and concentration, boost our productivity at work, and give us a greater enjoyment of life.

So, where can I learn mindfulness?

Despite its proven successes, access to mindfulness is still limited. We are campaigning for mindfulness practice to be widely available in prisons, schools, hospitals and the workplace. But we have still got a long way to go before we can make this dream a reality. We hope you will join us this year in taking part and raising awareness during Mental Health Awareness Week 2015!

Our Be Mindful Online Course is a 4-week online course is designed to guide you through all the elements of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (CBMT) and Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). You’ll be taught by Ed Halliwell & Tessa Watt, both leading mindfulness trainers from the Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice, Bangor University, UK, and in as little as 4 weeks you can expect to be enjoying benefits including reduced stress, depression and anxiety. If you want to learn mindfulness visit the Be Mindful Online website.

More information

Download our free Wellbeing Podcasts

Watch our Mindfulness Videos on YouTube

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(Site updated 19/05/2015)
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