How practising mindfulness can help with arthritis
In simple terms, mindfulness is the psychological practise of bringing one’s mind and attention to what’s happening in the present moment. It allows you to take time away from the madness of everyday hustle and bustle, calm your thoughts and appreciate the surroundings. Mindfulness is about focusing on ‘the now’ rather than worrying about what’s happening next or has already happened in the past. Learnt through practise of meditation and other forms of training, mindfulness has been shown to improve mental health such as stress, anxiety and depression as well as also having a positive physical effect.
The ability to practise anywhere at any time has allowed mindfulness to take the world by storm, so we would like to show how a happy mind can help with the struggles of arthritis. We’ve collected 4 simple daily mindfulness tasks, as well as the best mobile apps, to help get into mindfulness.
1. Morning breathing
Studies have shown that most stress hormones are typically released from our bodies minutes after waking up. So instead of letting that get the better of you and your arthritis at the very start of each day, spend a few minutes checking in with your breathing. If your thoughts start to wander, let them go and return to focusing on your breathing.
2. On the go awareness
Whether you’re on the train, in a park or having a hot brew in a cafe, taking a few minutes to practise full sensory awareness is a great way to identify how you’re feeling. Try to become aware of everything your senses are picking up. You may feel overwhelmed, anxious, perhaps you’re arthritis is playing up. Keeping track of your emotions is one of the most important parts of mindfulness and will allow you to learn more about yourself and even your arthritis.
3. A calm mind is a calm body
If you’re body is particularly aching and sore, try lying on the floor with your knees bent. Support your head with a thin cushion to keep your spine straight and spend five minutes breathing slow and deep. Calming your mind is a great way to calm your body.
4. Candle meditation
When you’ve got a moment to yourself, find a candle and a darkened room. Sit, watching the candle and focusing on the flame. Avoid overthinking the candle, and instead try to think of nothing but noticing the flame in a simple way.
Mobile apps are another great way to practise mindfulness with further step-by-step guidance. Here are the top free apps worth downloading:
The ideal app for beginners, Headspace initially offers 10-minute meditation exercises called Take 10. With a personalised progress page, reward system for consistent practice and a system for yourself and friends to help each other stay on track, this app has it all.
Whether you’re after three-minute or 25-minute guided meditation sessions, Calm has it covered. Or why not try out their Daily Calm 10-minute program allowing you to practise just before your day begins or is about to end. And if none of that tickles your fancy, how about over 20 sleep stories, breathing exercises, unguided meditation and over 25 soothing sounds to help you get to sleep.
This app includes a five-day guided meditation practice, meditation reminders, personalised meditation offers, and timers for keeping you on track. This is the gold standard app for anyone serious about the practice of meditation.
Accessible for all, Smiling Mind provides content for a variety of age groups including children as young as seven. Sub-accounts can be made within the app, encouraging families to meditate together.