Mindfulness has of late evolved as a counter-measure against anxiety with the internet savvy populace finding online mindfulness programs resourceful in combating anxiety issues. A study conducted by the Oxford University and UK Mental Health Foundation has found the online mindfulness courses to be as effective as their in-person version.
A remarkable improvement in perceived stress levels was first observed by the researchers studying the efficacy of online mindfulness courses. An online mindfulness course offers its students the flexibility of completing the course at their own pace with no scheduling problems and other hurdles. These courses have been designed by experts to help individuals deal with anxiety, depression and stress in a familiar setting they find themselves comfortable in.
Structure of an Online Mindfulness Course
A mindfulness course designed by experts at the UK Mental Health Foundation and Wellmind Media is at par with their 8 week in-person mindfulness course. The course has been divided into 10 sessions along with automated email reminders and guided meditation videos. The participants are made to fill out a questionnaire at the onset of the course to assess their self-perceived levels of stress and anxiety. This is followed by a self-evaluation at the completion of each week’s session with a minimum of 4 weeks required to complete the course.
The core techniques of sitting meditation and mindful movement are used to instruct the participants while focusing on informal mindfulness practices like mindful eating. The participants are instructed to have a disciplined approach and to meditate on their own on a daily basis throughout the week. A remarkable improvement can be observed by the participants themselves as there is a marked reduction in their levels of stress, anxiety and depression as they complete the eight week course on schedule. Although people with higher levels of anxiety issues grapple with the meditation techniques, they gradually find the rhythm even though it takes constant practice to adjust to the routines of the mindfulness course.
The Role of Mindfulness in General
Mindfulness has its origins in the Buddhist practices which appreciate the larger perspective of life rather than dwelling on the mundane. The cultivation of mindfulness has been found to be a key element in the happiness a person experiences in their life by focusing on the present moment and accepting it without any judgement.
Mindfulness helps an individual improve their levels of engagement as they focus on the here and now instead of worrying over what the future holds. This creates a healthy level of concentration in the work at hand and increases a person’s capacity to deal with adverse events in their life. Individuals suffering from substance abuse, eating disorders, personal conflicts and other anxiety disorders benefit greatly from mindfulness meditation techniques as they learn to accept their painful experiences and self defeating emotions.
This acceptance of emotions followed by letting them pass instead of avoiding them on the whole is cultivated through concentration meditation techniques combined with activities like tai chi and yoga. The online interventions have played a major role in spiraling the popularity of the concept of mindfulness in a short span of time. It has proven to be an accessible and non-stigmatizing method of improving the mental health of individuals looking for a cost-effective mental health support system.