Feeling stressed? Under pressure and a bit worn out? Sometimes the change of season can be unsettling and we can find that things affect us more than usual. Also September can be a stressful time for some people, maybe starting university and leaving home, children starting school for the first time, also the relentless build up to ‘that day’ in December seems to start earlier and earlier.
So if you find your mind is whizzing around, that you are stressed and unable to cope with things, it’s good to try and set aside just 5 minutes of your day paying attention to what your mind is doing. When you pay attention to the mind two things happen. One is you notice just what a busy place it is! Sometimes thoughts last less than a second before you’re off on the next thought. The other interesting thing about observing your mind is that you realise that if you can observe your mind you can’t be completely controlled by your mind. And if you can’t be controlled by your mind, you can choose what goes on in there. And if you can choose what goes on in there, you’re able to slowly nudge it from any patterns you may have that are less than helpful, towards more helpful patterns.
You may be negative, or angry, or critical, or low in confidence for example, and your thoughts tend to be centred on these sorts of ‘bad’ states. By watching your mind and seeing these thoughts, you can then see that they’re just thoughts, they do not have to control you, and that you can replace them with more positive, helpful and calming thoughts.
This breath and mindfulness technique below will help you start the awareness process.
- Sit comfortably, ensuring the body is relaxed. Close or half close the eyes. Breathe normally.
- Then, inhale, exhale, and count 1. Inhale, exhale and count 2. Repeat this process as you count each breath until you reach 10. If you reach 10, go back to 1 and begin again.
- BUT, if in between thinking ‘inhale, exhale, number’ you lose count of what number you’re on, go back to 1. If, in between thinking ‘inhale,exhale, number’ other thoughts flit into your mind, go back to number 1.
- Don’t worry if other thoughts come in! They will. Just think to yourself ‘oh, more thoughts, back to number 1’ and begin again. It’s actually very hard to get beyond 2.
- Do this for about 5 minutes.
This is a simple form of mindfulness or meditation for general awareness of your mind. It can be helpful to bring some stillness to the mind, helping you let go of tension.
This technique is on my de-stressing handout which you can download for free.
PS some people have said they got annoyed with the counting and it was winding them up having to go back to 1 all the time and they felt like they weren’t progressing. Not every mindfulness technique suits each person and so if it doesn’t work for you after a few attempts, find a different technique. There are several in my handout.