On a global level, 2020 has taken a toll on mental health.
According to data from Panadol, the introduction of social distancing has significantly affected our mental wellbeing, with 51% admitting they’re more stressed and find it hard to switch off.
Money and job security were also flagged as areas of concern, with 60% of people saying COVID-19 had caused financial difficulty.
June is Mindful Month with Smiling Mind, the mindfulness app, and given the recent stresses, Smiling Mind — with support from Panadol — has made the entire app free for the month of June, in order to encourage Aussies to create a sustainable mindfulness practice.
If you sign up within the month of June, you’ll be given 30 days of content for free and you can start this at any point during the month.
This content includes daily mindfulness exercises that can help reduce worries, anxiety and distress, create a sense of calm and help you relax and better manage your emotions.
If you haven’t experimented with mindfulness or meditation before, the practice of mindfulness is “paying attention to the present moment with openness, curiosity and judgement,” says Smiling Mind.
While this might sound simple, when was the last time you felt truly present without distractions of technology or thinking about something that needed doing on your neverending to-do list?
Research into mindfulness is ever-expanding, with 1449 studies on mindfulness published in peer-reviewed scientific journals last year alone. According to Smiling Mind, the practice of mindfulness can increase happiness and compassion, improve attention and memory, increase innovation and creativity, improve immune function and lead to growth in areas of the brain related to wellbeing.
Before you begin your mindfulness practice, here are a few things to remember:
— Mindfulness can be uncomfortable: Much like starting a new workout routine, embarking on a mindfulness regime can be confronting and uncomfortable at times as you explore new areas of your mind. You’ll definitely want to quit at one point, but keep pushing through as it’s worth it.
— You’re not ‘turning off’ your thoughts: Many people (especially those with busy brains) can be intimidated by mindfulness because they must ‘switch off’ their minds to master this practice. But, you can’t turn off your thoughts, as that’s what your mind is programmed to do. Instead, mindfulness will teach you the thoughts to focus on.
“It’s in these moments that you can choose where to place your attention; to come back to the present, to your breath, your body, the sounds around you,” says Smiling Mind. “Doing this over and over — focusing, losing focus, re-focusing — is what builds your mindfulness muscle.”
— It’s about patience, not perfection: Everyone’s mindfulness practice will look a little different as it’s a completely personal experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself in the early days of mediation and mindfulness — it’s all a process and you’re learning.
To sign up for 30-days of free content for Mindful Month, head to the Smiling Mind website.