Contemporary life is lived at a pace that is most certainly not conducive to mental well-being. Most of us do not even notice the clutter in our minds. We are so used to having a million thoughts racing around our minds that this has become the norm. We have forgotten how to relax, to be in the moment. We are a nation of habitual thinkers, driven by our egos.
Seldom do we pause and focus on just one task. Seldom do we allow ourselves the opportunity to feel gratitude, to appreciate the moment, to just be.
How many meals have been quickly eaten in order to rush to the next task, often not even remembering what we have eaten?
How many conversations have washed over us, as we give the cursory nod without paying attention to what is being said?
How many times have we started a task, forgetting half way through what or why we are doing it?
So caught up are we in the hectic lives we live that we forget what is important. We are constantly drawing on our reserves of strength to get us through the day without allowing time to digest and rest. Our sympathetic nervous system is being overly used, keeping us in the state of anxiousness and often the ‘fight or flight mode’ for extended periods of time that are detrimental to our health.
So what can we do?
- We can just be.
- We can stop and be kind to ourselves and others,
- We can use mindfulness to take control of our para-sympathetic nervous system and allow our minds and bodies to rest, be calm and be in the moment.
- We can gain back control
We have this powerful tool at our disposal that will impact massively on our well-being but for the majority of us this is not used.
Just think about our physical health for a moment, if someone said to us that we could change our fitness levels, or influence eating habits or weight, with the act of mindfulness, how many of us would step right up to give it a go? Yet, so often, we do not afford our mental health the same luxury. We do not seem to have the same priority for our mental health as our physical health. We make the excuses that we do not have time, but our bodies are not in two pieces, we are one whole person and our health is holistic. Physical and mental health are dependent on each other and are so intrinsically interlinked that we cannot possible look at them separately, or weight the importance we place on each differently.
I have been practicing Mindfulness for some time now, but I will admit I was guilty of neglecting my mental wellbeing prior to this. The benefits of mindfulness have been amazing and have certainly exceeded my expectations. I have been able to reflect on my feelings and my relationships and have learnt to let go of the things I am unable to control. The impact on my relationships both at work and at home has been massive. As with anything this has taken practice, like any other muscle my brain has taken some training to be able to strengthen neuro pathways and allow me to benefit from mindfulness. Having said that, I have not had to run a marathon, nor climb a mountain, I have just had to be kind to myself, allow myself some space to live in the moment, to think before I react, to have an awareness of myself and to some degree of others. I have not had hours in the gym, but moments in the bath, precious moments of quiet and solitude that have afforded me with renewed energy and greater insight.
Being a mindfulness practitioner has meant that I am able to deliver sessions to both children and adults and the results are wonderful. Watching the children grow in confidence, have greater self-esteem and seeing them build a bank of tools they will have for life is truly rewarding. Adults report being calmer, more self-aware and have reported benefits both in their personal and work lives, they have said they are less anxious and stress levels are reduced. I feel it is a privilege to be part of this and cannot express how much I think mindfulness is key to well-being.
I challenge you, give it a go, be kind to yourself and reap the rewards!
About the Author
Author: Jayne Rowlands
I work within the mental health sector, in a school for adolescents aged 12-18yrs. I am also the mental health lead for the school. I have a
BSc with Honours in children and young people and a PGCE teaching qualification. I am also a certified practitioner of mindfulness and deliver classes to children, young people and adults under the trading name of Kids in Mind (firstname.lastname@example.org). I have found mindfulness to be a powerful tool both in my personal and working life and have been privileged to be able to share my knowledge in both a professional and personal capacity. Hearing the positive feedback and knowing that people are able to use the skills they have learnt to improve their wellbeing is immensely rewarding.