Okay, we’re really in it now – buckling in for the mid-December onslaught of festive commitments, shopping marathons, event planning and crying in the supermarket car park (or is that just us?). We think it’s high time for the third instalment in our silly season stress management series. Today, let’s focus on mindfulness.
This can be a tricky one, because it’s not so easy to find time for mindfulness when you’re stressed out, overcommitted and under-resourced. But take our word for it - now is probably when you most need to practice it! Recent studies suggest that mindfulness meditation can ease psychological stressors like anxiety and depression, so don’t you think it’s worth a shot?
Mindfulness is the practise of being fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. In our modern world, it takes practice to be able to master this skill. How can we start practising?
Try practising mindfulness first thing in the morning by setting your alarm 10 minutes earlier. Open a window, listen to the sounds, feel the texture of your bedding, and focus on your breath in and out. Resist the urge to reach straight for your phone or start making mental lists of all the tasks you need to achieve. Make time to let the hustle and bustle of the world recede, so you can just be.
Incorporate mindfulness into meal times. Sit down, set a pretty table with a vase of flowers. Use your favourite china. Turn off distractions like phones, tablets and TVs. Take small bites, chew slowly, smile. Turn inward and really taste the food, and notice all the sensations as it moves through your mouth and down into your stomach. Is it crunchy, crisp, refreshing, warming, comforting?No one can be mindful all day every day. In fact, our brains respond better to bursts of mindfulness. So practising mindfulness several times a day is more helpful than a lengthy session or even a weekend retreat. While 20 minutes seems to be the gold standard, starting at a few minutes a day is okay, too.