As restaurants, shops and gyms begin to re-open, some of us are likely to experience anxiety and increased pressure linked with busier schedules and going back out again.
According to Anxiety UK, 17% of 900 respondents expressed that they are anxious to return to “normal” life after enjoying more time at home during the Coronavirus outbreak.
What is mindfulness and why is it important?
Life is often fast-paced, and we are so constantly being overwhelmed with new information, that we rarely give ourselves time to switch off. The pandemic brought a new perspective to everyday life and enabled us to reflect and switch off. As we transition into post-pandemic life, mindfulness is a useful tool people can use to better manage stress, difficult feelings, and situations. Mindfulness involves “paying attention to the present moment in a non-judgemental way”. This is an important practice because it can help us find clarity in our thoughts.
How can we practise mindfulness?
Our brains are extremely malleable to change, meaning we can train them to adapt to new processes. With this in mind, if we treat our attention as our most valuable resource, then we are likely to protect it more. For example, instead of reaching for your phone during a busy moment, you can think about what might bring you more clarity in that moment. Using your phone now could cause increased stress and is likely to give you even more to think about. Instead, consider taking yourself away from work and give yourself time to reflect with no distractions.
As a new reality hits, we are living with more ambiguity. Most of us are constantly planning future events rather than trying to live in the present moment. Instead, we can practise a form of “grounding”. This uses our five senses to focus on the sensations we feel in the present moment. For example, name three things you can hear right now, three things you can see and three things you can feel. If we learn to do this when we are stressing about future problems, we can ground ourselves in the present moment and alleviate stress associated with feelings of uncertainty.
Reminding yourself that your attention is valuable is likely to cause you to rethink what you invest your time into. With practise, you can pause and become more aware of where your attention is being directed.
- A long walk in nature is always a good idea. Not only does this expose us to fresh air and exercise, but it also gives us the chance to experience and admire the beauty in nature that we can sometimes take for granted.
- Taking long deep breaths is an excellent way to slow down your heart rate and regain focus! A tip when doing this is to make sure your exhaled breath is longer than your inhaled breath.
- Remember that your wellbeing is your biggest priority!
- If you are a beginner, remember to be patient with yourself when you are focussing on the present moment. Practising mindfulness is the best way to learn and you are likely to be easily distracted to begin with.
- Go easy on yourself. By avoiding the inclination to judge your thoughts, you are reminding yourself that it is ok for your mind to wander.
A few benefits:
- Helps to alleviate stress and anxiety
- Improves memory, concentration and performance
- Helps with emotional reactivity
- Helps to create and sustain relationships.
To find out more about methods of mindfulness, follow this link: Mindfulness: 5 Practical Methods for Your Daily Life | HuffPost Life. Most importantly, remember to check up on your family, friends, and colleagues, you never know who might be suffering in silence!