Guest blogger Fay takes a deep breath and focuses on mindfulness this week.
Mindfulness has become a popular topic in recent years, but what is it and why does it matter?
Kabat-Zinn, a professor and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic, refers to mindfulness as ‘paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgementally’. This renewed, active focus allows people to ‘build on the strengths they already have, and… to do something for themselves to improve their own health and wellbeing’.
Essentially, this means tuning into the world around you in detail – really checking in to what’s happening in the present moment without distractions or assumptions. Mindfulness can be a key part of self-awareness, consciousness and self-reflection, helping us to consider the world around us differently. It may seem an intimidating idea at first, but with practice it can become easier and more rewarding.
Recovering from a compulsion or addictive behaviour can be a slow process and needs effort, determination and a deeper knowledge of oneself. It takes time to understand our thoughts, feelings and desires, plus it also takes effort to change our thought processes and behaviours to help us make more positive decisions.
Self-awareness is key to the recovery process. Sometimes the way we think about a particular situation or circumstance can be biased by past experiences, and these go side by side with the ways that an addictive behaviour can distort our perspective over time. Changing the automatic reactions we have towards something can help us find balance and make better connections to the world around us.
A few techniques for practicing and experiencing mindfulness on your own are sitting meditations (attending to your breathing, sounds and thoughts), movement mediations (walking meditations and self-monitoring) and informal mindful activities of simply being aware of the moment you are currently experiencing (mindful eating/ driving/ reading).
Combined with practical steps such as removing access to gambling activities where possible, techniques like mindfulness can support the work you do through GamCare’s treatment programmes, or with our self-help resources. GamCare support and treatment dedicated to helping you move past harmful gambling behaviour, whether you are the gambler or not.
If you need to talk, or would like more information about GamCare treatment near you, our Advisers are available through the National Gambling Helpline every day, and you can connect to others in similar situations through our Forum and daily chatrooms too.