Jo-Anne Hawthorne, Programme Manager Grenfell Health and Wellbeing Service was first introduced to mindfulness when she reached out to a therapist because she felt overwhelmed.
“The first thing I learnt was how to breathe properly,” says Jo. “Breathing sounds like a basic human instinct but I realised that when I was stressed I was holding my breath. At one point, I almost lost consciousness on the motorway because I was forgetting to breathe properly while stressed, driving at night.”
Mindfulness is a form of meditation where you concentrate on your breathe. As a result, you’re encouraged to focus your energy on the present moment, rather than getting caught up in thoughts of the past or the future. Studies have shown that people who practise mindfulness regularly experience lower levels of stress and an increased ability to focus on the present moment.
In this short video, Jo explains how the technique has allowed her to improve her stress levels.
“One of the things you do is the chocolate test,” she says. “Put a piece of chocolate in your mouth and let it melt without chewing it. (The test) is about experiencing things, rather than taking them for granted.”
Does Jo have any tips for others trying mindfulness?
“Use the body scan method. Notice how your body is feeling. If you’re anxious or stressed – how does that feel in your body? What are the signs? Mindfulness is about identifying that you are not your thoughts. It’s okay to feel ‘like this’ and you can let go. It’s not about the past, it’s not about the future. It’s now that matters, and it’s how we cope with ‘now.’”
If you’re looking to improve your wellbeing why not try ‘Every Mind Matters.’ It’s a free NHS approved tool which will allows you to build an action plan to manage your own mental health.