At the end of this module, you will:

  • Learn more about the benefits of mindfulness practice

  • Learn about thinking styles and anchor points

  • Learn more about mindfulness and fatigue

Core components of mindfulness

Mindfulness isn’t about being in a perfectly controlled environment or needing to set up a dedicated room to practise! It can be practiced anywhere and can be of any duration from a few moments to a more extended time. What is most important, is understanding the key elements of mindfulness:

  • Intention – choosing to cultivate your awareness
  • Attention – giving your full attention to the present moment (internal or external) sensations in the body, thoughts in your mind, surroundings/immediate environment, a focal sensory input
  • Attitude – being gentle, curious and non-striving (just be with yourself, right here, right now)
  • Redirecting – gently redirecting or ushering your attention back to where you intentionally would like to place your awareness
  • Describing – the focus is on observing and describing the experience in a direct way more like a commentator (i.e., round, soft, textured = mandarine, naming the instruments you can hear in a piece of music, rather than judging it like/dislike, pleasant/unpleasant, good/bad)

Separation from thoughts – we can’t stop our mind from thinking it is part of continuous consciousness, you aren’t trying to achieve a quiet mind, rather you are try to step back and move away from thoughts

Benefits of mindfulness

  • Weaken unhelpful thinking patterns

  • Help focus on the present moment

  • Break circular thinking (rumination)

  • ‘Buy into’ thoughts less, so feel less distressed

  • Fully engage and participate in everyday life – being aware of ‘auto-pilot’ mode

  • Helps us to ‘punctuate the day’s events’ to reduce levels of activation and mental tension and fatigue

  • Help us during times of sensory overload

Barriers to being mindful

  • Being Human – problem solving machines

  • Dealing with a life-threatening/life limiting illness         

    – living with uncertainty

    – feeling on edge or in a state of threat/ overwhelm

  • Levels of fatigue and neuro-fatigue, pain or other physical effects of treatment

Types of thinking styles

These are all the very clever things that we can do with our minds! These thinking styles or skills help us to navigate through our complex lives, solve problems (or help us avoid them to start with) and they help us achieve and excel in our work and life. 

However … there is no ‘off switch’ for the mind and the mind wants to be in thinking mode all of the time (because it helps us feel safe and in control) which can interfere with our ability to connect, let go and be present.

  • Planning
  • Organising
  • Evaluating
  • Comparing
  • Problem Solving
  • Creative/Imaginative
  • Learning
  • Memory
  • Visualisation
  • Decision Making
  • Judging
  • Self-Reflection
  • Reminiscing
  • Ruminating
  • Projecting(future)

Looking for ‘anchor points’

There are various focus points or ‘anchors’ in mindfulness, this is how we are reminded to keep returning to the present moment (over and over) and how to stay with the moment

Anchors might include – Coming back to your breath, locating a sound in your environment or tuning into your 4 other senses. It will depend where you are getting stuck with your focus for example if you are experiencing a lot of physical physical and your focused on this, you might try to shift your focus to anchoring to your breath and steadying your focus here- Square Breathing Technique Link visual here or with instructions here

Finding your anchor and remembering to come back to it is definitely a practise rather than a skill. The aim isn’t to be able to remain in the present moment rather how to be aware of attention, where it goes and continually bringing oneself back.

We are so automated in thinking, judging, planning, projecting into the future, we aren’t sure how to lead the mind, we just tend to follow it around wherever it wanders off. 

Mindfulness as ‘punctuation’

It is important to ‘punctuate’ your day! But what do we mean by this? 

  • After we start our day it is generally one continuous series of activities (physical and mental) from early morning right the way through to 10pm! Without realising it, we are often mentally and physically “on” for anywhere from 12-16 hours a day.  
  • We can get into fatigue and mental exhaustion without recognising it, but it may impact the quality of our mood (edgy, irritable, short), influence the food choices we make (salty, snacking, take-away), nudge us into drinking alcohol, the quality of our interactions with our loved ones, the activities we engage in or don’t (mindless scrolling, binge watching, not exercising) and most importantly the quality of our sleep!
  • We can incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine in simple ways to optimise physical and mental performance. Think about it like using your punctuation- we all know it is impossible to read a book that has no punctuation. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be about finding 30-40 min. But placing it 3-5 minutes in your day and evening routine can make a significant different to your emotional and mental performance across the day. 

ACTIVITY:  Mindfulness as emotional punctuation 


  • S tep back and create some space between the trigger and your response
  • T ake a breath- breath a little deeper, slower
  • O bserve what is happening and label it (fear, frustration)
  • P ull back/Put in some perspective
  • P ractice what works and proceed in your valued direction (choose a response rather than react impulsively)

Learn about the STOPP Technique here

Mindfulness and fatigue

  • Sensory sensitivity or overload is also associated with fatigue and includes; inability to ignore loud sounds, strong smells, other competing sensory input, a sense of discomfort or overwhelm, irritability, loss of focus, feeling of stress or restlessness.
  • Reducing your sensory input using a mindfulness exercise that focuses on one sensory input (smell/sound whilst closing the eyes) can help reduce cognitive and sensory load and promote a reduction in stress even when practiced for < 5 minutes.
  • A basic full 1 minute mindful of breath exercise can help refocus the mind, engage a different pathway in your brain and activate the parasympathetic nervous system to promote clearer thinking (i.e., oxygen levels). Try it out, it is harder than you think to focus on just 30 seconds!
  • You may consider incorporating a 5 minute mindfulness activity after every 4-6 hours of activity (sustained cognitive load, over-stimulation, concentration), after participating in a stimulating activity as an alternative to rest/sleeping or instead of ‘pushing through’.
  • Mindfulness in the evening is best placed 1-2 hours before bedtime rather than once you are already in bed. Try a short practice after the evening routine before you watch TV

TIPS: Mindfulness based activities

  • There are many Apps out there and it can be overwhelming to be presented with so many options. Mindfulness is something that your Doctor or Team is likely to have suggested but often people don’t know where to start or don’t have a good first experience! The challenge is we need to match the mindfulness activity to our cognitive capacity, anxiety/agitation or pain level.
  • Start small! Keep the activity to 3- 5 minutes building up to 10-15 minutes. Focus on an activity such as mindfulness of the breath or mindfulness of sound. Work your way through different activities and build your practise up over time
  • Match the mindfulness activity with your level of fatigue, if you are experiencing a high level of fatigue try focusing on an activity that doesn’t have too many instructions (i.e., mindfulness of sound).
  • Try to avoid your first attempt when you need it (i.e., feeling exhausted or anxious) and practise at a time you have a better capacity.
  • If you notice a worry or thought that keeps recurring during practice write it down. Try to differentiate a problem that needs attention/solving at a separate time from an intrusive thought (loop) that you can step back from.

TIPS: Recommended brief practices 

Controlled breathing – 3 minute breathing or body scan

Mindfulness of sound Use music that is instrumental only

Controlled focus and attention exercises



Activities that promote Mindfulness:

  • Gentle Yoga practice (Restorative, Ashtanga Vinyasa, Hatha)
  • Tai Chi 
  • Massage (can promote pleasant touch and reduce sensitisation in the body)
  • Mindful walking – be aware of sounds, colours, ‘natural’ things
  • Mindful shower – redirect thoughts of the day, focus on the sensation of the water, select a botanical body wash you use just for this practice
  • Incorporate mindfulness into a gentle stretching routine

Choosing one small activity you perform each day and bring a quality of mindfulness and full attention to this;

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