Chief Science Officer at Headspace, Dr Megan Jones Bell, reveals the pros of meditation

Finding it hard to feel at peace during these strange times? You’re certainly not alone. Whether you have two minutes to spare or 20, regular meditation could help put your mind at ease. This age-old relaxation technique can bring a whole range of benefits, and, luckily for you, there’s an app to help you master it. Often referred to as “a gym membership for the mind”, the Headspace app is packed with guided meditation sessions suitable for newbies, veterans and everything in-between. With no chanting and no incense, this is meditation, but not as you know it.

What is mindfulness & meditation?

In its simplest terms, mindfulness is the ability to be present and free from distraction with an open mind and kind heart. Living more mindfully, by focusing your attention on the present moment and without judgement, is a great way to help ease stress and anxiety, while creating a sense of peace. Dedicating just a tiny fraction of your day (even as little as 10 minutes!) to meditation can have a huge impact.

Positive effects of meditation

Manage thoughts & emotions

This is a stressful time for us all, and it’s completely normal to feel anxious or overwhelmed. As we take steps to protect our and our loved ones’ physical health, it’s important to take care of our minds, too. That’s where meditation comes in. Meditation and mindfulness can help us to manage difficult emotions and lessen anxiety and worry. Using our breath as an anchor, we can feel connected to the present moment, rather than worrying about the uncertain future. We’re all guilty of that sometimes!

Manage stress

We all know that managing mental wellbeing when we’re stressed can be tricky. When we’re feeling overwhelmed, meditation can help as a tool to reset our mind and physiology. The simple act of steadily breathing in and breathing out can help us unwind, reset and step away from our worried mind. Why not give the 'Stressed' Headspace single meditation session a whirl? It’s a great tool to help re-frame stressful times.

Help rest & sleep

Sleep plays a huge role in maintaining a healthy immune system, mind and body. Healthy sleep is all about quality of rest, and quality of rest has a lot to do with our quality of mind. Considering this, we shouldn’t be stimulating the mind late at night – running around doing last-minute jobs at home, scrolling social media, answering emails – and then expect to nod off as soon as our head hits the pillow. Try cutting down screen-time and steering clear of caffeine or alcohol in the evening. 'Sleep' by Headspace offers a bunch of content designed to help you drift off and stay asleep – a useful tool to help us disengage from a hectic day and unplug. There’s even 'Doze' sleep music and a 'Sleeping' single meditation. Sounds great, right?

Promote self-care & compassion

While it’s normal to get caught up in the news cycle, it’s important to take a step back and prioritise our own wellbeing. Think of it like being on an aeroplane – you must put your own mask on before helping others. Rather than simply reacting, try to take moments to pause and check in with yourself. This will help you to be intentional in every interaction and make better decisions from a place of awareness and clarity. Practising self-compassion during this time is also important. Try to be open and honest about how you’re truly feeling. Honesty is always the best policy!

Improve focus & productivity

Whether you’re working from home or on furlough, it can be hard to maintain focus outside of your normal routine. Cabin fever can amplify this feeling and distract us from our goals or even our work. No matter what you’re doing, it's important to step away from your desk and take a break. There’s this toxic idea that taking breaks or taking time for yourself is a form of slacking off at work. But there's great value in investing in your mental health, and allowing for this could make you more productive. It's a win-win for everyone, really. If you’re struggling to focus, why not try Headspace’s 'Focus' single meditation? This session can help bring clarity during these strange and stressful times. Determined to practise a little extra self-care? Perfect the art of meditation with the Headspace app and start reaping the benefits today.