By Sarah Phillips
How often have you found yourself not concentrating on what you are actually meant to be doing? Have you felt your mind snowball from one thought to the next and in no time you’ve made a mistake or forgotten the task itself?
Stressing over events in the past or giving anxious energy to future problems before they have even occurred is problematic. Have you ever started thinking or fretting about something you need to do for work or texting someone on your phone when you were meant to be listening to your Dad/Mum/brother/sister or friend tell you about their day?
Have you travelled somewhere and not realised how you got there? Hurrying your breakfast or a phone call so you can then speed to work to get as much done as possible before you head to dinner or the gym and by the time you lay down in bed that night the day has disappeared, your mind is still racing and sleep seems forever away?
We often rush through life, creating stress for our present and future selves from nothing. And if you are always racing to the next moment, what happens to the one you are in?
Mindfulness is all about being immersed in the present moment, bringing together your body and mind in a way that allows you to appreciate the moment you are in. It is an area that is currently a hot topic in Western psychology and mind re-training. Mindfulness is a method of paying attention that can help with how you cope with everyday life or deal with tough times. It has great benefits for your physical and mental health and it is being increasingly recognised as an effective way to reduce stress, increase self-awareness, enhance emotional intelligence and effectively handful painful thoughts and feelings.
When you are mindful, you are able to focus on the present moment – you do not think about anything that went on in the past or what might be coming up in future. Your mind does not wander and you can purposely concentrate on what’s happening around you. Mindfulness is a way of clearing your head, bringing us back to experiencing life as it happens.
The busyness of modern life can often take away from life’s genuinely beautiful experiences. Stress, anxiety, depression and general busyness can often leave us feeling drained, tired, sleepless and generally unwell. So how do we become more mindful? What can we change?
Well, the first port of call is actually starting to make some time for mindfulness on a daily basis. Making time is the only hard part, as practicing it is actually not a hard concept. To start, maybe ask yourself how often do you take time off from technology during your day? How often do you put yourself and your wellness first rather than thinking about work, family, friends and other responsibilities? To begin with, for one month, take just 10 minutes every day for some time to yourself. You never know, this may result positively on your life as well as those you come into contact with.
Specific benefits of Mindfulness can be:
- Helps relieve stress
- Help improve sleep
- Helps manage depression and/ or anxiety
- Helps you to be less angry or moody
- Improves memory
- Helps you learn more easily
- Helps you to solve problems easily
- Helps you to be more emotionally stable
- Improves your breathing, reduce your heart rate
- Helps you cope with pain
One Active Life blogger Eloise Smith (Instagram: @oneactivelife) suggests some tips for helping to re-program the mind and create a calmness that allows us to appreciate life’s experiences.
Here they are!
– Meditation: Eloise admits that she doesn’t see herself as the kind of person who can sit in one spot humming ‘ommmm’ in the traditional sense of meditation. She believes stillness can be a challenging form of meditation – everyone does their meditation in different ways and for me, I find long walks in the sunshine does the trick.
– Yoga: Eloise uses Yoga for its flexibility and injury prevention, however has found it to be a useful way to calm the mind. Eloise reports, “I find it is a beneficial way to implement stretching and mindfulness practice in one hit”.
– No more multi-tasking: Eloise advises, “it’s time to stop doing multiple things at once. Trying to multi-task all the time just fuels busyness and chaos. Focus on one task at a time”. This could mean not constantly being on your phone in a social situation, no rushing lunch or breakfast, or no speeding or not letting your thoughts distract you.
– Scheduled “me time”: Like I mentioned before, Eloise schedules time to herself to “chill out and enjoy [her] own company”. She finds it helps her to relax and “realign her energy”.
– Reduce technology use: For an age that is so driven by social media and technology, reducing the time we spend on it allows us to experience our own lives, instead of constantly looking at how others are living theirs. Eloise eliminated social media from 9am-6pm and realised how much time can be potentially wasted on digital devices. It is also left her wondering how much more would get done in a day “if we didn’t have these pocket sized distractions looming over us constantly”.
Try using these tips to help you become more focused and engaged with your surroundings. If you need some more assistance, Extend OT is a Perth based Occupational Therapist that specialises in mindfulness and relaxation. Owner Nia Connop holds regular Mindfulness and Relaxation classes, just down from our Scarborough clinic. Her classes are brilliant and if you feel as though you could use some further strategies to remain mindful, this is definitely for you! Extend OT also runs sessions for businesses and small groups upon request. Nia is contactable via her Facebook or firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor’s Note: Sarah is a physiotherapist at our Yokine clinic. She is able to treat all areas of musculoskeletal physiotherapy but has a keen interest in managing neck pain and headaches, sports injuries, vestibular assessment and treatment and paediatrics. Sarah has also undertaken further studies in Clinical Pilates, dry needling and spinal injury management.