The concept of anxiety has been around since the dawn of humankind; the body is programmed and hardwired to protect itself from imminent danger. Wild grizzly bear on the loose? Best to run. Tidal wave surging over the horizon? Probably best to head in the opposite direction. The “fight-or-flight” reaction is humanity’s innate alarm system to warn the brain that something is terribly wrong and that it must escape or dominate.
The modern lifestyle evolves at a rapid pace; innovative technologies become necessities, our careers are evolving into new professions and the pace of contemporary life quickens daily. We work 35-40 hours a week, and between this, we must exercise, we must socialise, we must raise families, we must be role models for our loved ones – the list goes on. Whilst the prospect of a developing modern lifestyle is exciting, it’s unfortunate that our bodies cannot physically evolve to keep up with all these new innovations.
1-in-4 people suffer from a mental health disorder at some point in their lives, which could include two of the most common conditions: generalised anxiety or depression. The need for mental health support services is perhaps more prevalent now than ever before, and with government slashes to budgets, the strain on the NHS is immense.
Mindfulness is the concept of being present. It is an important part of cognitive behavioural therapy (the widely studied and often the therapy of choice for those with mental health disorders). Mindfulness is a learned skill and sometimes frustratingly elusive to those practising, but nevertheless a great skill to learn. It teaches the intention of calming yourself in a potentially stressful situation. It is a scientifically proven way to come out of your thoughts and back into the present moment.
To be mindful is to understand one’s thoughts non-judgmentally and without criticism – to step back from the traffic and watch the cars whizz past.
Here are five ways you can be mindful during your daily life – to help towards pulling you out of those stressful or hopeless moments we all experience:
- Waking: It can be easy to grumble and roll over when getting up in the morning. Try to greet the day with curiosity: do you feel tired? Where in your body do you feel tightness? When you stretch, observe the muscles as they loosen up. Attempt to observe the first thoughts rushing through your head – without judgment.
- Walking: Whether a long walk to work or a short dash across the office, pay attention to your legs and feet. Feel the pressure of the ground as you walk, the bend of the knee, the stretch and tightening of your muscles.
- Showering: Ever get into the shower and half way through think to yourself: how did I get here? Come out of autopilot, take a step forward and observe the temperature of the water, how each stream feels against your skin, the sounds from the jet and as it splashes onto the ground.
- Making a drink: Stop worrying about getting back to your desk as quickly as you can to jump back into whatever stressful situation it is you just came away from. Listen to the kettle boiling, listen to the clink of the mug or glass as you put it onto the counter, listen to the spoon against the sides of the cup whilst stirring.
- Listen: When someone talks to you – listen. I don’t mean politely nod your head and think about how you’re going to get away from the situation. Listen with your full attention and notice when your attention slips away: mentally say to yourself “I’m not listening” and come back to the conversation without punishing yourself. The human brain is designed to think, so don’t punish yourself for doing just that.
Safeline work to support those who are have suffered or are at risk of sexual abuse and rape. Offering a helpline service six days a week (Monday to Saturday) regardless of age group, gender or sexual orientation, callers can explain their issues and receive advice and information.
Mindfulness and other interactive therapies are used to help those suffering as a result of such abuse.
Safeline aims to prevent abusive situations from occurring in the first place. Our helpline and online services are available by contacting our specialised advisors via text, instant messaging, chat, email or phone. Get in touch here