Although many people can benefit from mindfulness, not everyone finds it helpful. Some people find mindfulness can help if you:
- struggle with negative thoughts and feelings that you would like to have more control over
- find it hard to switch off and relax
- worry a lot about events you cannot control
- would like to reduce stress
However, you might find that it just doesn't suit you or doesn't meet your needs. Before you decide to try mindfulness, it might be helpful to think about these questions:
Am I comfortable being aware of my thoughts and feelings?
Mindfulness involves becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which can sometimes make people initially feel worse. If you are concerned about this but still want to give mindfulness a try, you might want to attend a course delivered by a qualified practitioner or check that the practitioner has experience of different mental health conditions.
Sometimes it puts me in touch with feelings I've been pushing away. In the long term that's better but at the time it can be really distressing.
How well am I feeling?
It's not usually a good idea to start learning mindfulness when you're very unwell because it can be hard to get the most out of it, and you may find it distressing at first. If you're currently experiencing a serious episode of a mental health problem, you might want to seek treatment and support for that, then try mindfulness when you're feeling better.
When I'm battling a bad bout of anxiety and depression, the negative cycle that comes with the depression can make mindfulness seem like an infuriating task, thus creating this never-ending cycle.
Would I prefer one-to-one support?
If you're attending a mindfulness course, you're likely to be in a group and there may not be time to get individual support to discuss your problems in detail. You might also not feel comfortable exploring your thoughts and feelings with a group of people. See our page on mindfulness courses for different options.
As I suffer from severe social anxiety, taking part in all the activities in front of other people made my symptoms worse rather than better.
Do I want support for a specific issue?
Mindfulness tends to focus on thoughts and feelings more generally. If you want help with a specific problem, then you might find a more focused treatment is helpful. It is also possible that the person leading the mindfulness session may not have specialist skills or knowledge in mental health.
Am I able to put the work in?
Learning mindfulness can take time. Attending a mindfulness course usually involves committing to practising in between sessions, which can be quite demanding.
This information was published in April 2016. We will revise it in 2019.