Southampton staff Amy Spencer (Sports Psychologist) and Dr. Greg Clarke (Clinical Psychologist) unwrap the concept of mindfulness, and the role it can play in helping people through this difficult time...
“Mindfulness means paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, without judgement, with qualities like compassion, curiosity and acceptance.”
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness allows one to be fully present in the moment and enjoy life rather than worrying about the past or being concerned about the future. The past lives in the past and cannot be changed.
The future is yet to come and is unknown. The present moment allows us to truly experience the moment that is happening now, and mindfulness allows us to integrate that true awareness into our everyday lives.
How could it help me?
Mindfulness can have huge benefits. It may help to decrease stress and anxiety, or even increase focus, concentration or general happiness.
With the way the world is at the moment, we could all do with less stress, less fear and worry.
Being free from distraction and judgement, particularly in light of the COVID-19 outbreak, is vitally important. Mindfulness can help us with practical ways of not allowing negative thoughts and feelings to swamp our minds.
We all have the ability to train our minds to be able to become aware of these thoughts and feelings, and crucially, have the ability to let them go. In training ourselves to be present, we are teaching ourselves to have more kindness and compassion towards ourselves.
By training our minds and developing these skillsets, we're setting ourselves up to deal more effectively with adversity, when it comes along.
in training ourselves to be present, we are teaching ourselves to have more kindness and compassion towards ourselves.
Mindfulness is not a tool that will make all of our worries disappear. Mindfulness is a way of life.
It allows us to have the ability to recognise challenges that may arise, and then to be able to take a step back and temporarily detach ourselves.
By training our mind to have more awareness, it allows us to have more ownership over how we should tackle a challenge.
It gives us the power to address the difficulties that we are faced with, and have a choice over how to handle them in that moment – this should lead to a clear head for rational thinking.
Mindfulness into practise
A way to practice being mindful is through formal meditative practice. This does not mean that you have to sit crossed legged, like a Buddha and chant.
What meditation allows us to do is practice that state of being in the present moment. Like out on the pitch in training sessions, we, as a club, have to be able to practice set pieces, patterns of play and styles of formation.
The same applies to the mind. To be truly in the present moment, we have to practice ways in which to achieve this; we’ve found the best way to be formal meditation.
How might I benefit?
1. Reduction in stress levels or an improved ability to manage stress
2. Increased in focus, or the general ability to pay attention and concentrate for longer
3. Improved emotional regulation, or a reduction in impulsive behaviour (driven by emotion)
4. Increase in emotional intelligence or a better ability to resolve conflict
5. Increase in empathy, respect and understanding of self and others
6. Increase in resilience and a better capacity to overcome challenges
7. Improved physical wellness by appreciating physical activity
Amy Spencer (Sports Psychologist) and Dr. Greg Clarke (Clinical Psychologist) have put together a short podcast (above), centred around demystifying mindfulness. It’s a great place to start!