I cant ‘stress’ enough how taking 5 minutes out of your day (which can be accumulative) can really change your health, both from a physical and mental perspective. Talking of stress, we have so much more in our lives now than we did even 20 years ago. Stress from our jobs, from relationships, family, stress from social media, we’re getting bombarded with it left, right and centre.
Everything must be done now or preferably, yesterday.
The key is to notice what your body is telling you. For example, tension or anxiety can often be felt in your body (such as in a fast heartbeat, tense muscles or shallow breathing). But being ‘mindful’ doesnt mean you have to do some kind of weird and wonderful yoga while chanting “om” (though actually the breathing method used to say “om” in the correct way is beneficial).
Sorry, I digress.
What I’m saying is, we all want simple little tricks that can be done without too much effort, right?
Well then here you go my friends. Simple little things which you can make into habits.
Most of us do the first one anyway, that first little stretch after you’re reached over and fumbled around for your phone to stop the alarm blaring. But try and extend this so you stretch fully, get up if you need to and reach up then take some deep breaths in and out (making sure the ‘out’ is the same duration to prevent carbon dioxide build up in the body).
Top 3 Priorities
Write down your priorities before you start work. This means doing it before you check your email or get wrapped up in building a lego mansion with your kids. Once you know what you have to get done, it will be a lot easier to focus on those tasks rather than getting caught up in all the insignificant stuff. And believe me it IS insignificant, you’re just finding stuff to do (aka procrastinating).
No, not like when you were 12. Either at the start or the end of the day, write down your reflections of the past 24 hours. Then after 7 days take a look over the past week. Is what’s written a fair reflection of your life and how you want it to be? You can then make adjustments and also see your achievements in written form.
Through the belly, rather than just raising the shoulders up and down. This should be something you do as a matter of course but it’s particularly helpful to do this before and after a conversation. Doing it before helps you prepare so you are fully present and doing it after allows you to process what was said and move forward and clear your mind.
It’s all too easy to get caught up in what we don’t have and what’s not going right. However, practising gratitude and re-framing something really helps you be happier. You’ve dropped your phone and won’t switch on? At least you didn’t sell your old one so you have a spare while it’s being fixed/replaced. Went out for a meal and it wasn’t very good? At least you got to spend time with your family/friends/partner.
Practice “transformational” listening. Transformational listening stimulates oxytocin—the feel good, bonding, safety hormone which promotes the desire to collaborate and be sociable. Listening without an agenda or while being distracted means you are in the moment and of course, focussing on what the other person/people are saying. This will build the relationship more so than “transient” listening.
Don’t eat your lunch at your desk. Nothing is that important that you can’t take 10-15 minutes to eat either outside/in a different room or in a designated area away from where you do your physical work. Not only does this give your brain a rest and you focus on what you’re eating, this also aids in digestion as you are not sitting in the place where you get stressed i.e your work chair in front of your screen.
Tell someone you appreciate them for something they did or just for generally being there for you. Tell them you like how they’ve done their hair or you love the new trousers they’ve bought. They may be surprised at the comment but will likely really appreciate it and it may even be the first time anyone has said that to them. It will make you feel better as well seeing their reaction.
Keep all electronic items such as TV, smart phone, laptop, out of the bedroom at night. The blue light emitted messes up your circadian rhythm therefore interrupting your sleep. If you’re waking up feeling a bit groggy, this is one thing which is easy to do straight away and you should see some level of benefit quickly too.
Don’t Over-Think It
Don’t dwell on things in the past that havent gone well or that you wish were the same. Don’t worry about what ‘might’ happen in the future. You cant change the past, you can’t (necessarily) control the future. If there’s something you want, take steps to ensure you get to whatever goal you have rather than wishing it will happen. But always remain present in the here and now.
Don’t assume anything about people. You don’t know how their past experiences have brought them to this point and you don’t know what they’re like as a person. They could dress like what you may think is a homeless person or with tattoos all over them but regularly volunteer at a homeless shelter. Expand the way you look at people and situations before making assumptions.
Go Phone Free
Don’t worry, I’m not talking about doing this for days!
Try an hour without your phone on/put it in a drawer on silent. You may be surprised how well your cope and it will allow you to fully engage with other people in your household. Which they will definitely appreciate. It also means you could do something productive in that time as well if you live alone.
There are a few key points to remember when practicing mindfulness. Remember it’s about being patient with yourself. We are all different so if you don’t get on with an exercise or you find it difficult not to let your mind wander (which they tend to do!) just try and bring yourself back to whatever you’re meant to be doing without being critical. Notice the sensations in your body or the emotions you are feeling and simply observe them without judgment.
It may help to set aside some time to practice mindfulness. People who are new to this may find shorter sessions easier to do twice per day (say 5 minutes each), rather than trying to do one 30 minute session and getting disheartened when you aren’t living up to your own expectations.
Make sure you are comfortable. Both in terms of sitting position and also the environment you are in. Try to ensure the noise and the people in the area you\re practicing are kept to a minimum and switch your phone to silent.
The point of practicing mindfulness is to alleviate some of the chaos we experience on a day to day basis and to become more self-aware and a result, kinder to ourselves. It also helps you to deal with difficult thoughts and process them, as opposed to pushing them to the back of your mind.
This may not work for everyone, but persevere and see the difference it can make to your wellbeing.
If you would like to know how OJay Health can help you on your health journey, message us here.