Why mindfulness is an important part of life
We asked Cherish PR’s mindfulness coach, Stuart Hillston, to write about the importance of mindfulness and its proven effectiveness for alleviating stress and depression. Over the years, Stuart has helped upskill and train the team on how to become more mindful – both in our personal lives at work as colleagues and in our private lives.
Why mindfulness is an important part of life, in and outside of work?
In August 2021, the Mindfulness All-Party Parliamentary Group published a report entitled “Mindfulness for Home, Work, and in Our Communities”. The publication includes a curated list of resources to help everyone practice Mindfulness as part of a cognitive approach to preventative therapy. There are several hundred members of parliament practicing Mindfulness regularly, and promoting its use in schools, businesses and for individuals. The Mindfulness Initiative, whose guidance is accredited by the NHS, refers to a report from McKinsey claiming, “well-being in Europe is now at its lowest for 40 years”.
So what is mindfulness? Mindfulness is a 2,500 year old Buddhist tradition and is currently an established medical practice. Mindfulness is not just about meditation. It is a way of living and working which reduces your stress, making your life more enjoyable and less stressful. It is secular (non-religious) and proven through scientific research to have positive impact on individuals and now there’s recent evidence that it’s even more effective in groups.
The scientific approach has developed a body of research and evidence that is so compelling that the NHS recommends Mindfulness for patients who have suffered from depression and are suffering from stress.
Where does stress start?
The human brain is a remarkable thing. Contrary to popular belief it can grow, change, add and remove cells based on regular activity. This is the basis of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to change and adapt right through our lives.
At the centre of the brain are the elements that have been with us through human evolution. This is called the limbic system and sitting within that is the amygdala. Do you know that feeling when someone cuts in front of you in a shop, or your boss chews you out? That sudden flush of adrenalin, the increased pulse, the flash of anger? The impulse to act.
Say “hello” to your amygdala, controlling our emotions at their basic levels, the fight, flight or freeze response. In a flash you react, and sometimes regret it afterwards. Stress is substantially about our conflict between that emotional reaction and the circumstances. You may want to run away, or hit someone, but you don’t. You suppress the reaction which in turn affects the psychological and physiological effect on the mind and body which accumulates over time, so we’re more likely to react next time.
If there was a way to choose how to respond rather than react, diminishing the impulsive response and reducing your stress, would you be interested?
Banish dark days and eliminate your stress
Mindfulness training, particularly for the “variant” called MBCT (Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy), will reduce your stress, reduce your chances of recurring depression, make your life feel more manageable and make you a better workmate. If all the people in your team develop Mindfulness skills, your productivity, effectiveness and satisfaction of working together will dramatically increase.
Mindfulness will not make everyone like you – or you like everyone else. It will put you in control of your interactions with other people so you become more real and genuine. Not only will your work life improve, you will find that your personal relationships will improve too.
Isn’t that something you should be thinking about?
Stuart Hillston is mentor, mindfulness coach & counsellor to entrepreneurs.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis or you’ve been affected by depression, positive well-being advocate and UK charity, Mind, advises to contact your local NHS urgent helpline which is open 24/7. Click here to find your local tel number.
Stuart Hillston is a certified Hypnotherapist and Mindfulness Teacher who has been a successful software entrepreneur, professional investor and mentor/coach around the world. His sole focus now is to help others live happier lives.
He is co-founder of Cobalt Mental Health and runs a private client practice teaching Mindfulness and using Hypnotherapy to improve his client’s lives . Visit his podcast series about mental health in the workplace at www.youarenotalone.fm.