Life has been feeling a little bit like a rollercoaster ride this last couple of weeks. I got to a point when I felt I was going full speed on the Oblivion at Alton Towers. I was then whisked away to France for the weekend to spend some much-needed quality time with two of my best friends.
Whilst the French wine and cheese were in abundance (and I very much enjoyed it all), I still had an unsettled feeling in my stomach that I knew I needed to do something about. I was so busy doing the useful ‘I’m fine’ routine and not really addressing what this tell-tale sign meant and how it was affecting me.
What made me get back on track was the ability to be present in the moment. I’m not going to lie, this takes a lot of effort on my part, but I know that it helps me immensely.
Often like so many, I find myself racing through the day to get to the next, feeling that if I only get this or that done things will be okay. This I know, is not an effective use of my time and it doesn’t make me feel that I am being good Mum, wife, colleague or friend. So I know when I get a barrage of thoughts bombarding my mind creating anxiety and confusion, I need to stop and take stock.
I have in recent years began to practice mindfulness which has improved the quality of my life greatly. After some news last week that could have put me back on a bumpy ride and send my negative self-talk spiralling, I reminded myself of every mindfulness practice, hint or tip that I have taught myself and immediately began to reap the benefits. Memory muscle in the mind is so powerful. Awareness, then taking action is also crucial.
My weekend away was very much needed and I started to take in the comfort of my friends’ beautiful home and the surroundings of the French countryside, the taste of home cooked food and breathing in the French air, it was medicinal. I began to relax and regain perspective. Using all of my senses to connect with my environment I started to feel like me again, not this wired woman who was high on emotion feeling like she had butterflies in her tummy!
It is still important to acknowledge the emotion that you feel at times of stress or change, because ignoring it will manifest eventually. It pops up in all sorts of places. For me it’s my dreams. If I suppress emotions, I often find that I dream odd (sometimes scary or sad) things and I have a nervous feeling for a few days. It’s a sure-fire signal that I wasn’t done processing what is going on, so I take more time to accept and be present with that emotion without judgement, mindful practices help with that process. For others it may manifest itself in stress or anger perhaps. These unhelpful thoughts bypass our conscious attention and leave us with a negative emotion or state such as; feeling unwell, exhausted or tearful. Its amazing how interconnected our minds and bodies are. The more we learn about both, I believe the easier and more peaceful life can become.
Mindfulness techniques allow us to focus the mind on the activity that the body is doing, so for example whilst washing up I notice the warmth of the water, the sounds of the plates and the movement that my hands are making. I focus on engaging with all my senses, taking in what is around me.
Mindfulness is now being examined scientifically, it has many benefits including stress reduction and an improvement in overall happiness. The effects of mindfulness are what you want them to be – the more you do the more you will notice the effects. Its not a quick fix, it takes practice, however even a few minutes a day will help. I aim to do a guided mediation for 10 minutes every morning and the rest I am learning to incorporate into my everyday life. I know it has significantly improved my mental health and relationships with others.
Having a weekend away gave my head the space to process, to feel grounded and take in the love from my friends. Now that I am back in the real world, being mindful, exercising and choosing to be around positive people has set me up for a challenging few months ahead. I am now a much happier person and can relax my mind with ease so that negativity does not take over my positive thoughts. These are mine for keeps.