Valleys Steps is a health and wellbeing charity providing free information and psycho-educational courses on Mindfulness and Stress Control for the people in the communities served by Cwm Taf University Health Board. Courses are designed to provide people with the tools to understand more about themselves and learn ways to boost well-being.
Trustees, staff and volunteers of the charity have benefitted from the lessons that we have learned from applying Mindfulness and Stress Control techniques in our own lives. We want to share what we have learnt, and benefitted from, with everyone. We do not want to do assessments and give anyone a label. We do not want people to feel under any pressure to disclose anything about themselves. We want to provide a welcoming safe place for learning and reflection.
People experience changes in mood for all sorts of reasons; applying the methods that we teach and share can help with
- understanding what is happening with the body and the mind,
- realising why things happen in our experiences and thinking,
- appreciating what we can do to help ourselves to cope in moments of crisis and difficulty or when we do not feel so good and
- applying helpful methods and habits that can improve resilience and wellbeing.
We recently celebrated our first birthday and asked a course participant to share their experience:
“When we arrived for the initial session, we were both really glad not to be asked to give a verbal account of why we were there, and we were very relieved to find out that we could go along each week and not be expected to speak about our experiences. This also meant there was much more time available to practice Mindfulness and to learn about Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, which we both agreed was an additional bonus.
Mindfulness and ACT are fascinating topics, and both my daughter and I closely related to many of the examples used by the course practitioners to illustrate the themes taught. The practitioners were very open about their personal experience of using mindfulness techniques in their everyday life; and both injected a lot of humour into their presentations, which made the material covered all the more enjoyable and memorable.
As the course came to a close, my daughter was so convinced by what she’d learned from the course and impressed by the work of Valleys Steps that she declared (as soon as she finishes her degree) she would love to become involved in the work of the Charity, if possible.
My experience of Mindfulness in general has highlighted to me how much I’ve missed/I’m likely to miss if I continue to rush through my life at breakneck speed (as I used to do). So, I’ve begun to deliberately slow down in an attempt to notice what is happening within/around me in the present moment (e.g., to allow myself to weigh my options; to deliberate over my decisions; to try to concentrate my energy on one thing at a time). One of the big lessons I’m learning is to let go of trying to control everything in my life, and to make a conscious effort to go with the flow more. In truth, slowing down and letting go are both quite a challenge for me. However, when I succeed, I’m aware that I’m a much more relaxed person and I often get more done, ironically, which reminds me to do both more often.
Mindfulness is teaching me to be less inclined to hang out either in the past or in the future. Instead, I try as much as possible to intentionally focus my energy in the here and now, and on feeling grateful for all that I have. This makes me feel much lighter and happier, generally.”
Valleys Steps received £249,886 of National Lottery funding for a three year project providing an integrated service that aims to break down social barriers and foster opportunities to access non-pharmacological prescription interventions, which provide the means for recovery without accessing mainstream mental health services. For more information about Valleys Steps, visit their website www.valleyssteps.org