28 Feb Mindfulness to Enrich Our Lives
Do you sometimes feel like your life is a roller coaster? Has this turbulent ride left you feeling frazzled, dizzy and stressed? Many of us feel like this, especially with the daily demands of life in practice. So, in this and our regular e-newsletters to follow, we’re going to talk a lot more about mindfulness and explore how easy it can be to integrate a few simple mindfulness strategies into your daily routine. We will show you how quickly it can become a natural and healthy habit, to conquer those nauseating ups and downs.
Ok, we know that stress is simply our body’s response to a physical, mental or emotional pressure or ‘threat’. We also know that in small doses, stress can be a good thing, a warning, preparation for a required response. However, too much stress or having it on such regularity that it becomes a constant, can bring physical consequences to our health and mental well-being. Before we look at what mindfulness consists of and the benefits it brings, let’s first look specifically at how we can identify stress.
How do we identify stress? The early symptoms can be subtle. Signs include sweating, palpitations, headaches, shortness of breath, loss of appetite and losing the ability to concentrate. Spotting these signs early, and taking a preventative approach will ensure your hormones remain balanced so they can concentrate on serving you best. So, be aware of things like:
- Drinking or smoking too much
- Overeating or craving unhealthy foods
- A racing heart, rapid pulse or palpitations
- Shaking, chills or hot flushes
- A tingling sensation in your arms or legs
- Indigestion or heartburn
- Muscle tension or pain
- Dizziness or shortness of breath
- Poor sleep
How do we react to stress? Everyone reacts differently to the causes of stress and how we react may also differ from one day to the next. At times, you might breeze through holding a difficult discussion with a client about their lack of treatment compliance. While at other times, you may sense the stress severely or even delay or put off doing it at all. Perhaps the prospect of speaking to a colleague about their regular pattern of lateness seems impossible today, whilst tomorrow it wouldn’t phase you. But wouldn’t it be reassuring to know that whatever everyday life throws at us, we can cope – calmly and stress free?
Ready to demystify the myths around mindfulness?
- Recognising feelings without becoming caught up in them
- Identifying yourself as who you truly are – not by your feelings or mistakes
- Living more in the moment and less in the past or the future
- A way to cultivate happiness that’s suitable for all
Mindfulness is not:
- Emptying the mind or stopping thinking
- A relaxation technique – though it will make you more relaxed as a natural by product
- An escape from personality – instead it reveals to us our personality
- A charter for living life without planning – you can plan in a mindful way, just as you learn mindfully from the past
Now let’s look at the benefits of mindfulness
Achieving mindfulness in our everyday life is vital and can help make us calmer, more centred and improve our physical wellbeing and performance.
The health benefits of mindfulness range from the alleviation of stress, pain relief and improved sleep patterns to a greater likelihood of breaking out of depression or addiction. Specifically, they help us to:
- Reduce anxiety and stress
- Aid resilience to fatigue
- Reduce levels of pain
- Relieve depression
- Strengthen the immune system
- Improve heart and circulatory health
- Improve the quality of sleep
By controlling how you respond to stressors, your physical state of mind can be improved in the following ways:
- Better concentration and decision making
- Improved memory
- Quicker reaction times and mental processing
- Stronger mental stamina
- Enhanced brain function
Highly effective self-awareness and lifestyle skills make every aspect of our everyday lives more rewarding and provide:
- Better self-knowledge and mastery of emotions
- Freedom from habitual responses
- Increased resilience in adversity
- Better communication and listening skills
- Better self-reliance and increased confidence
- Increased empathy and emotional intelligence
Five steps to improve wellness immediately:
- Be with people around you. By connecting with family, friends, colleagues, pets and neighbours, at home, work or in your local community. Think of these as the cornerstones of your life and invest time in them. Besides the obvious gains from spending quality time with those you care about, it also increases the production of oxytocin – a very important ‘happy’ hormone which is usually blocked by stress.
- Be active. Go for a brisk walk or a run. Step outside, cycle, play a game, garden, dance – anything you fancy. Just do it! Daily exercise is the most effective and natural way to boost serotonin levels, which will do wonders for your mood.
- Be present! Observe the small and beautiful things; listen to your curious nature; remark on the unusual; notice the changing seasons; focus your attention on one thing at a time and just savour the moment – be IN the moment. Practice passivity, acceptance, non-engagement and non-judgement.
- Be you and grow. Try something new. Rediscover an old interest. Sign up for that course you want to attend but never get around to. Take a different responsibility at work; learn to play an instrument, a new sport, or speak another language. Learn to cook a new meal. Set yourself a challenge that you will enjoy achieving. You’ll really raise those dopamine levels with a sense of achievement!
- Be kind to others. Thank someone; smile; volunteer your time or join a community group. Look out as well as in. Besides making a difference to others, our connection within the wider community can remind us of our value and self-worth. Most importantly – remember to be kind to YOURSELF too!
If you found this article interesting, look out for more over the coming months, as we go deeper into mindfulness strategies and tips to help you develop your own mindfulness programme and feel the benefits every day.
By Debbie Robinson