Is your glass half full or half empty?
Building a stronger and more resilient mind is so much harder than it sounds, but then, if it were easy, wouldn’t we all be totally in control? Mindfulness is the new term being used for positive thinking, but it is a little more than that. It is also about recognising and dealing with our anxieties and stresses and finding the best-matched technique to deal with the symptoms before our behaviour gets out of control.
There is no magic wand and it is unlikely that the stressors will just disappear. It is also a fact that a small amount of pressure in our lives is good for us, as boredom can be just as bad for your health as stress. However, there is no doubt that if we can find ways to help us deal with life’s challenges in a positive way then we will be happier, healthier and more resilient. Equally important, our loved ones and colleagues will also be positively affected - our behaviour affects that of others and will often be reflected back at us.
So how can we become “mindful” of our inner thoughts, feelings and stresses? There is plenty of guidance out there, including our new Mindfulness courses at RHG, so I will just give a few points on how to get started… don’t worry, meditation cushion not required!
1. Identify your triggers – Todays world can be overwhelming and hectic. There is usually a number of things going on in our lives at any one time that either cause or increase our stress levels - work overload, children, partners and work colleagues to name just a few! These are our ‘emotional triggers’; in order to ultimately control your emotions you must first be able to recognise and anticipate what types of situations are likely to trigger an emotional reaction, only then can you begin to regulate them.
2. Focus on the positives –Are you constantly worrying about the future, or focusing on what went wrong in the past? Don't dawdle on things that you have limited control over or cannot change… Live in the now, not in the past or future.When you are living in the moment and accepting life as it is now, you come to realise, everything is complete as it is. Even if you are someone who struggles to let go of the past, block out your past worries and come back to them in the evening… the likelihood is they will seem far more trivial at the end of the day and it will be much easier to concentrate on the positives.
3. Forgive yourself –Nobody’s perfect! We all make mistakes and we all have weaknesses; it is how we learn from our mistakes and overcome our flaws by prioritising our strengths that matters. Even your road to “mindfulness” won’t always be plain sailing; the important thing is that you are growing and developing as an individual. Mistakes are always forgiveable, if one has courage to admit them, learn from them, forget and move on.
4. Exercise your body and mind –A healthy body results in a healthy and strong mind. Not only does exercise release those ‘feel-good’ endorphins, it also stimulates the activity of the brain’s stress pathways, getting rid of anxiety and boosting the growth of new brain cells to protect the brain from the damaging effects of worry. Just 150 minutes of getting your heart rate going a week, ideally broken up into regular sessions, will reap in the benefits. Too busy to fit this into your daily routine? Not a problem… taking the stairs rather than the lift or some inner core clenches at your work desk will get you on your way to a stronger, more active mind.
5. Practice makes perfect – Not every day will be a perfect, harmonious “mindful” day. Stay positive and stick with it.