Mindfulness is a useful tool which helps to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. In simple terms, mindfulness means paying attention on purpose and with self compassion. This helps to increase awareness of our thoughts, feelings and experiences and in turn gives us choices and can help to lessen the critical voice we often have of ourselves.
Mindfulness encourages us to live in the present moment, rather than living in the past (which generates feelings and symptoms of depression) or future (which generates feelings and symptoms of anxiety). By coming off of autopilot we can become increasingly aware of the beauty of every day life, for example we may use all of our senses when we eat mindfully or take a walk in nature. Research has shown that practising meditation for half an hour a day for 8 weeks can significantly reduce the size and structure of the amygdala, the part of the brain associated with fear, therefore enabling us to respond more calmly to situations.
Using mindfulness in combination with therapy can be particularly helpful, as you will in time be able to bring awareness to your thoughts, feelings and body experiences which for many clients can give a sense of control and understanding. Some clients have difficulty with the thought of getting through the next 24 hours. What mindfulness does is encourages us to live moment by moment instead of living so many hours or even years ahead of ourselves, therefore making life seem more bearable, less stressful and more enjoyable.
Below I have added some free mindfulness meditations to get you started, which you may find helpful.
Downloadable Meditation Exercises
For an exercise in developing self compassion, download Self Compassion
For a 15 min body scan meditation, download Body Scan
For a short mindfulness exercise, download 3 minute mindfulness
To develop awareness of your feelings, download Feeling Your Feelings
Sleep For Children:
For a simple sleep meditation for younger children, download Thought Catcher
For a sleep meditation for children, download Floating On a Cloud