Although anyone can try it, being mindful isn't always easy to do. It can take practice, and might not be right for everyone. It might help to consider:
- How do I want to learn mindfulness? There are lots of ways to learn mindfulness, and they won't all suit everyone. (Our page on where to learn mindfulness discusses different options.)
- Am I prepared to notice my difficult thoughts? This could make you feel worse at first. If you find the exercises distressing then it's best to get advice from a trained professional.
- Am I able to put the work in? Learning mindfulness takes regular practice. If you're attending a mindfulness course, you might also have to travel to weekly sessions, which can be demanding.
- Are all the exercises safe for me to do? Some may involve sitting still for long periods of time and focusing on your breath, which might not be suitable for everyone – for example if you have mobility issues or breathing problems. Talk to your GP or a trained mindfulness practitioner if you have any concerns.
- Is mindfulness the right tool for my problems? Mindfulness tends to be quite a general wellbeing tool. If you want to work on a specific issue then you might find a more focused treatment more helpful.
- Am I well enough to start something new right now? If you're feeling very unwell trying to learn a new skill might be overwhelming. You might need more treatment and support in place before you start.
Sometimes mindfulness 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.
What if it doesn’t work for me?
Although some people find mindfulness helpful, not everyone does. If you've tried something and it hasn't helped, it's important not to blame yourself.
Looking after your mental health can be really difficult, especially when you're not feeling well. It can take time and may not be straightforward. But many people find that when they find the right combination of treatments, self-care and support, it is possible to feel better.
See our pages on looking after your wellbeing and seeking help for a mental health problem for other options you could explore.
When I'm in a particularly unwell state mindfulness is not beneficial, as I cannot bring myself into the present at all.
This information was published in June 2018 – to be revised in 2021. References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information see our page on permissions and licensing.