How often do we ask ourselves “how am I feeling right now?”. For many of us the answer is “never”. Our lives are so busy. It’s easy to get caught up in all the stress. We worry about everything. Are the children okay? Will we have enough money to get by? How am I getting on with my partner? Am I doing well enough in work? We have so many roles to play, and so many people to please. It’s no wonder we often put our own needs at the bottom of the list. However, neglecting ourselves for too long can often create an emotional time bomb that leads to anxiety and depression. We may find that we become increasingly irritable, anxious or lacking in energy.
So what is mindfulness and how can it help us learn to take better care of ourselves?
Mindfulness is a term that is used to describe the practice of regularly checking in with ourselves to become aware of how we are feeling and what we are experiencing in the present moment. Many of us spend much of our time dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness teaches us to bring our focus to the present moment. This can be a simple as taking a few minutes to sit and focus on our breathing while we notice what we are feeling in the here and now. Are we tired? Are we feeling sad? Are we anxious? Is there something that we want or need?
Using mindfulness to tune into our feelings can help our mental health in a number of ways:
1. Taking a moment to slow down can allow us to really tune in to what we are feeling. Sometimes when we are busy we push emotions aside and bury ourselves in practical tasks. Over time this can lead to a backlog of unprocessed feelings that can start to weigh us down and often leads to anxiety and depression. By connecting with our emotions we give ourselves the opportunity to acknowledge, accept and release them.
2. Mindfulness helps us stop and take a step back. This allows us to put a space between ourselves and what we are experiencing. Many people fear becoming overwhelmed by feelings or situations. By objectively observing what is taking place in the moment we are more able to separate ourselves from what is happening rather than being controlled by circumstances around us.
3. Increasing our awareness can help us better decide how we would like to respond to challenges in our life. Often we can act instinctively with automatic thoughts and actions that we have developed over time. But these automatic responses are not always the most helpful for us. Taking a moment to really consider and observe what we are facing can allow us to make choices that better reflect our needs and wishes.
4. Developing our ability to focus on the present can help us become better listeners. This can have a really beneficial effect on our relationships. Often we mishear or misinterpret what those around us are saying. By taking time to really focus on their words and body language we can become much more skilled at understanding what is being communicated.
5. Mindfulness helps us truly connect with our life and experience. When we spend so much of our life living in the past or future we miss many amazing things that are happening right now. This can lead to us feeling disconnected and unfulfilled. Giving your full attention to an experience or a moment in time can give a powerful sense of being alive and present in your life.
Remember that small changes over time can make a big difference. Although we may feel we don’t have time it only takes a few moments to check in with ourselves and notice what we are thinking and feeling. Learning to care for ourselves in this way can have a positive effect on our overall mood, energy levels and self-awareness. For tips on how to live more mindfully see my article Simple Ways To Achieve Mindfulness.
I’m always happy to talk about how life can be better. Make a change today.
Have a great week,
Newbridge, Co. Kildare.
Portlaoise, Co. Laois