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What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness isn’t just about being in the present moment, it’s also about observing your thoughts from a distance. Being aware of the thoughts that are arriving in your mind from a distance, as in : Oh, I see I am catastrophising right now by thinking I might lose my job and become homeless.
Acknowledging thoughts without accepting them or ‘buying into’ them can reduce anxiety and stress. Mindfulness allows us that little biy of distance between ourselves and our thoughts. It is possible to see your thoughts as separate from you. Just because we have a thought doesn’t mean that we must pay it attention.
We have approximately 80 000 thoughts per day. We would be exhausted if we focused on and analysed every thought that entered into our minds. Mindfulness allows you the space to choose your thoughts wisely.
I am not saying that is is easy, mind you. I struggle with mindfulness. Life is so busy and we all tend to feel there aren’t enough hours in theday to get things done. Trying to be mindful and stop for a while when we have a large to-do list can seem virtually impossible.
The thing is, mindfulness will make you more efficient in the long term. When we take time out to assess and check that we are prioritising correctly and not getting worked up over small things, we end up getting more done.
A quick mindfulness technique that I use is the 5-4-3-2-1 technique.
During the day, I stop myself (especially if I realise I am getting stressed or overthinking) and look around me for 5 things I can see, 4 things I can hear, 3 things I can touch, 2 things I can smell and 1 things I can taste (where possible). When we engage our 5 senses, our brain doesn’t have the capacity to worry as well. Being mindful gives our exhausted bodies and minds a little time down. Think of mindfulness as a tea/coffee break for the brain!
Mindfulness is a great skill and one of the important strategies we can all use (it’s free!) to stay sane and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Mindfulness is great for mental health and I am working harder on being more mindful every day.