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Library Service Blog

Wellbeing Wednesday - M is for Mindfulness

by Carl Lomax on 2022-07-20T15:31:26+01:00 in Library | Comments

Welcome to Wellbeing Wednesday in the Library!
Each Wednesday, we will be blogging about different aspects of wellbeing and connecting you with books or web-based information to help support your wellbeing. This week M is for Mindfulness.

What is it? 
A definition is “Mindfulness is learning to pay attention moment by moment, intentionally and with curiosity and compassion” (Jon Kabat-Zinn, 2004). So, in other words, mindfulness is about being fully aware of the present moment, not looking back at things that have happened in the past or worrying about things that may be coming in the future. Mindfulness is a natural state that all human beings are capable of - there is nothing mystical or complex about it. This means that anyone can learn how to do it. 

What are the benefits? 
The benefits of a regular mindfulness practice include reduced stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, better sleep, enhanced focus and attention, increased empathy and better communication, better relationships, and more peace of mind.

For students then, mindfulness can offer a relatively easy and free way of improving your wellbeing. Research has found that just 10 minutes of mindfulness meditation by complete beginners can start to bring improvements in focus (Norris et al., 2018). Also, if you listen or read mindfully you are more likely to take in the information and retain other new, relevant information on the same topic (Ching et al. 2015). This could really benefit you in understanding the course material and writing your assignments.

If you struggle with perfectionism, mindfulness may be particularly helpful for you – this is because mindfulness involves deliberately accepting things (including yourself) just as they are, without judgement. Over time this can help you not to be so hard on yourself reduce emotional pressures of having to be perfect all the time.

More broadly, mindfulness can help you to develop better social and emotional intelligence. This is because basic mindfulness practices improve your awareness of your own and others’ emotions. This can help you address your own emotional challenges and be more compassionate and empathic towards others, thus improving the quality of your relationships.

Some people will practice mindfulness regularly for a few minutes at a time, either every day or a couple of times a week. For other people, mindfulness can become a way of living. I’ve been practising mindfulness regularly for a couple of years now. What I really value about it is the few minutes of space and calm it brings me – and now that I’m more practised I find I can quickly drop into that calmer state of mind whenever I need to. I’ve also noticed a greater appreciation of the world around me especially nature and this has really benefited my wellbeing generally. In one of my work roles we start all our meetings with a few brief minutes of mindfulness – just focusing on our breathing or sensations in the body and it really helps me bring calm attention and focus to my work.

How to do it?
You will probably find it easiest to start by following a guided mindfulness mediation where you will be talked through step by step how to use techniques such as observing your breathing or opening your senses up to small details through a body scan where you bring attention to different parts of the body in turn and just notice what they feel like. You just need a quiet, comfortable space where you can sit, stand, or lie and where you won’t be disturbed for a few minutes.

It is completely normal to find your attention wandering when participating in these sorts of mindfulness practices – the key is when you notice that your mind is wandering, you gently bring your attention back to the present moment. As soon as you notice your mind is wandering then you are being mindful – because you have observed what is happening in that very moment. With regular practice you will begin to see benefits in stress levels, concentration and focus, mental clarity.

Resources.
You can find more information and a wide range of guided mindfulness resources at Sheffield Hallam Wellbeing page here: https://www.shu.ac.uk/wellbeing/topics/mindfulness-and-meditation
Or you may want to try out apps like Calm or Headspace.

You could head over to the Wellbeing Reading List to find lots more recommended books on mindfulness including Mindfulness for Students by Stella Cottrell (available online). 

Finally, check out What’s on in Wellbeing to find activities such as Yoga which incorporate mindfulness. 

References.  

Ching, Ho-Hoi & Koo, Malcolm & Tsai, Tsung-Huang & Chen, Chiu-Yuan. (2015). Effects of a Mindfulness Meditation Course on Learning and Cognitive Performance among University Students in Taiwan. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. (7): 1-7. 10.1155/2015/254358. 

Available in Library Search 

Kabat-Zinn, J. (2004). Wherever You Go, There You Are. Piatkus 

Available in the Collegiate Library 

Norris, C. J., Creem, D., Hendler, R., & Kober, H. (2018). Brief Mindfulness Meditation Improves Attention in Novices: Evidence From ERPs and Moderation by Neuroticism. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 12, 315. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2018.00315 

Available in Library Search 

Our wellbeing levels can differ at different times and it is OK to ask for support. Each of us may prefer to get support in different ways. Reading or researching around an issue, connecting with a group whether it be in person on online or speaking on a one to basis with a trusted ally.  

Find out more about Student wellbeing, support and activities at: https://www.shu.ac.uk/wellbeing/whats-on-in-wellbeing 

 


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