Mindfulness, me and Scientific Studies
The first few weeks of lock-down were tough for me, my anxiety hit an all-time high, I have never experienced anything like it before and it all become too much, the pressures and expectations came crashing down and I lost - me.
I was now expected to be Mother, Teacher, Student and Business owner. Expected to run my business (one that relies solely on bookings and physical customer footfall) from home, uncertainty looming, that we will ever see the other side of the COVID pandemic, with no income, horses still to feed and care for and bills to be paid. University assessments creeping to the deadline and having to juggle the kids home schooling between work-work and university work and on top of all that my computer broke and had to be sent off for repairs. I think that was the tipping point.
Such mere things to be worrying about when there are doctors and nurses on the front line and people losing their lives to the virus daily, and the thought of all that, the guilt for feeling hard done by, just added to the pressure and things reached a point where they were now debilitating, all-consuming and completely overwhelming. I couldn’t focus my mind on one thing or on anything and nothing got done. Many hours were spent laying on the couch binge watching ‘Veronica Mars’ in the pits of unproductivity. I spent days thinking all my hard work at uni was for nothing, because surely this was it, I had to drop out, I was never going to make the deadlines - was it worth it if it was making me so ill?
Then one night it hit me, while I was sitting down with the kids, filling in their ‘big life mindfulness journal’ (something we regularly do together), I realised what I already knew, I had the techniques there, I just had to implement them. I just had to quiet my mind and be present to allow myself time to think clearly – and find me again.
Sometimes it’s easy to forget to help yourself when you’re so use to helping others, it’s easy to overlook things we do every day, important things that have amazing benefits. Mindfulness helped me focus, brought me back from feeling so overwhelmed from the expectations I had set for myself and reminded me that my feelings were valid, and I shouldn’t feel guilty for experiencing them at all.
1 step at a time, 1 day at a time I put my plan into action. Little breaks of mindful meditation, silence, presence And things got done! – deadlines were met, home schooling took a back seat to allow me to focus on one important thing at a time and my amazing business partner took care of all work-work tasks – and I found me!
Mindfulness is an amazing thing and during our EFL session we use these techniques to instill calm and focus, to reduce anxiety and stress in our clients, it promotes presence and inspires self-care.
There is a strong evidence base for the positive impact on a wide range of mental health conditions, including social and emotional skills, wellbeing, and cognition. There is also good neuroscience evidence from brain imaging scans that indicate mindfulness alters the functions of the brain which improves the quality of thought and feeling. These imaging scans showed increased grey matter density in the hippocampus, which is responsible for learning and memory functions, as well as structures associated with self-awareness and compassion.
Interventions for young people have been shown to reduce stress, anxiety and reactivity as well as improving sleep patterns and self-esteem. It allows for greater calmness and increases the ability to manage behaviour and emotions.
Those who participate in mindfulness tend to experience greater well-being, develop greater cognitive and performance skills, be more focused and effectively use their existing knowledge in more innovative ways.
These are all great ways in which mindfulness can improve and aid mental wellbeing, some past studies into mindfulness techniques in school settings has significant positive results.
Napoli, Krech & Holley (2005) conducted a study on mindfulness which included 225 children between ages of
8-8 years old who experience high anxiety regularly. The study was conducted over 12 sessions each lasting 45 minutes. Results indicated a drop in anxiety and ADHD behaviours and increased attention.
Wall (2005) outlined a programme to teach MBSR and Tai Chi in a mainstream school to children ages 11-‐13 year, Wall reported benefits such as improved wellbeing, calmness, relaxation, improved sleep, less reactivity, increased self-care, self-awareness, and a sense of connection with nature.
This comes to show the power of mindfulness, I have seen the benefits and benefited from them myself, to find myself. I see t
he benefits in our client’s and science has proof that our minds can be trained to be happy, let sadness be a thing of the past, teach and spread happiness and presence and hope!
--> Video of Annalese doing some of our kids movement & mindfulness activities <--
Napoli. M, Krech, P.R, &Holley, L.C. (2005) Mindfulness training for elementary School students. Journal of applied School of Psychology, 21(1), 99-125
Wall, R.B. (2005). Tai Chi and mindfulness-based stress reduction In a Boston public middle school. Journal of Paediatric Health Care.19(4), 230-237