All too often in my work as a Consultant Psychiatrist I hear my patients describing a life of stress and the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Modern life is becoming increasingly hectic, full of demands, deadlines, stresses and frustrations.
Many people are weighed down by too much head traffic. They spend a lot of time regretting the past, trying to deal with the present, and worrying and anticipating the worst about an event or situation in the future (that may or may not happen).
Overwhelming stress (when you feel outside of your comfort zone) is seldom a good thing. It can affect your mood, your relationships and your quality of life, and lead to plethora of mental and physical health problems.
I aim to help all of my patients achieve their ‘best lived life’, right here, right now, and to change their way of thinking that “my life will be better when I get X, or achieve X.”
We can all benefit from learning and practicing mindfulness – children, teenagers and adults alike. It’s something you can practice anytime, anywhere. I cannot stress how much the benefits will only enhance your mental and physical well-being.
In essence mindfulness is about mastering present moment awareness – living in the moment, for the moment so that you don’t worry about the past which you cannot change or the future which you cannot control. Mindfulness is about slowing down, noticing and seeing what is really happening in front of you in this moment, without the anxiety of expectation or the haze of regret.
A healthy body and a healthy mind is the goal; good nutrition, plenty of exercise and quality sleep are the building blocks for this.
So here are some simple practical tips on how to be mindful:
- Focus on developing your concentration. Concentrated breathing is an easy way to start
- Find a form of meditation that works for you
- Tune into your environment and your senses. Smell your food, focus on its texture and taste
- Spend time in nature. Try and empty your mind by concentrating on your breathing; fill your lungs with air and then slowly exhale while soaking up the beauty of nature, whether it be the sunrise or sunset, the ocean, or the trees in the park
- Walk mindfully – soak up every aspect of it – the sound and feel of your feet on the ground, the cold, the rain, the wind and of course the sun – they can all feel good if we allow them to be
- Enjoy doing nothing. Just be
- Just listen. Hear what people have to say without making judgements. Listen to nature because when you do sounds can be cathartic if you allow them to
- Spend as much time as possible with animals. They have perfected the art of mindfulness
- Be authentic. Accept your thoughts for what they are; you don’t have to act on or react to them.
- Don’t give your thoughts too much power. They can imprison your mind.
- Love life in the here and now Don’t
- Practice being kind rather than right – Sometimes a patient heart that listens achieves more than an intelligent mind that speaks
- Have fun. Do fun things as often as possible
- Keep a journal Write in your journal to capture your reflections on your purpose and how you’re continuing to show up for that. Over time, you’ll create a record of your life that will provide valuable perspective
- Start a grateful jar with your family. Fill it with spontaneous notes and dedicate time to go through it together once a week and rad out others’ grateful notes
- Make time for the people you love. Enjoy your family, your friends and your community
- Be kind to yourself. Nobody is perfect, but you are special
- Be spiritual. Find a way that works for you.
- Be vulnerable. Vulnerability is really about is the willingness to truly be ourselves
- Be connected. Social connections benefit our mental and physical health – so embrace the intimacy and vulnerability required to become truly connected. Be willing to expose your feelings and ask for what you need. Be open and honest.
By integrating your body, mind and soul, by keeping it simple and doing the basics properly, you really can lead an enlightened life. Stop regretting the past, stop worrying about the future and enjoy the present – it’s where the karma is!