Your brain is packed with intrusive thoughts and it’s driving you nuts. They enter from every direction and refuse to go away. You’re anxious and even anxious about being anxious. Your sleep is interrupted, leaving you tired. You can’t focus.
It’s time to practice mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is getting your mind to focus on one thing, and that’s the present moment. Mindfulness is about breathing, relaxing and stabilising yourself. It instils a sense of clarity, calm and concentration because it turns off the anxiety switch we all have.
So what techniques should you use to practice mindfulness? Here are some ideas for beginners:
- Accept that anxiety is part of life; it’s not a problem that just bothers you. We all have anxiety at different points and to different degrees. It’s how we deal with it that makes or breaks us.
- Accept that mindfulness takes practice. You can’t just plunk your body in a chair and tell it to be mindful. Start with what you can manage, working up to at least 10 minutes a day.
- Sit in a quiet spot, get comfortable and focus your attention on breathing. Slowly inhale through your nostrils (three seconds), hold your breath (two seconds) and exhale through your mouth (four seconds). Don’t stress. Just practice.
- Don’t get upset if thoughts swirl around in your head as you practice. This is natural. Just gently redirect your brain back to your breathing.
- Use mindfulness tools. Download an app from a reputable organisation that incorporates academic research for support. I use these mindfulness-related apps: Headspace; Smiling Mind; and Mindfulness Coach. Do your own research and select your app carefully, remembering that many apps claim to be mindfulness-related, but are not. They are guided meditation apps, timers, or reminders.
- Book a session with an accredited career coach, who can help you learn more.
I can vouch for mindfulness. It’s simple but helps me park anxiety to the side and make room for other things. I started it after I had a car accident but not before I was convinced by the science. Once the science became clear, I committed to mindfulness. While it won’t address all of your problems, it does have significant health benefits.
Want to learn more? Here’s a great non-technical explanation.
Important note: If you have a serious condition that affects your physical or mental health, only practice mindfulness under your GP or psychologist’s guidance.