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Interesting fact…I am writing this around 3am in the morning after less than four hours sleep because I have been stressing over a few business matters that are not currently panning out the way I anticipated. A barrage of ugly, unwanted thoughts looping on instant replay.
You should have finished that last week. You’re an idiot.
Why didn’t you just talk to him about that idea? The opportunity was right in front of you and you totally blew it.
You forgot to give her some money for the play-date…She would have been embarrassed. Ugh, you’re such a crap mum sometimes!
No wonder you can’t sleep…you had coffee and chocolate for breakfast, then green tea and cake tonight….you know that it still has caffeine in it right?…Serves you right. You’re such a pig too.
Welcome to five seconds in my night-time mind!
THIS is one of the reasons I choose to cover the topics that I do. I sometimes have challenges managing my own stress.
I worry, experience tension headaches and on occasion am the princess of nasty self-talk.
I’m not always living the life I want to be living, and some of the things I write are for my own benefit, as much as yours.
Reorganise your mind
One of the first things I do when my brain is on overload is to make a list.
So often, the mind becomes overwhelmed by thoughts of all the things that need to be accomplished. Writing them all down really helps to clear those thoughts, feel assured that you won’t forget something important and enable your mind to relax.
Once you have written everything that is weighing your mind down, categorise tasks into two lists: short-term (things that require action now) and long-term (things that need to be done soon but not immediately), then schedule things into your diary.
If you don’t schedule it, chances are, it won’t get done.
I prefer to schedule by the week – you might be a day-to-day person. Do what suits you and don’t overload yourself with actions. Also, try to complete one big project before moving on to another – its far more gratifying and helps relieve the possible of burden of having five things on the go at the same time.
Handy hint: Keeping a diary or extra notebook and pen by your bedside is great for times when your mind feels bogged down with details or when you have a flash of inspiration. If possible, I would like someone to please invent a waterproof notebook for my shower!
There are a number of psychological techniques and therapies recommended to relieve stress.
I’m going to focus on just one - Mindfulness, simply because I believe it is one of the most effective.
So what is mindfulness and how can it help reduce negative self-talk and stress?
Mindfulness is paying purposeful attention to the present moment. It is not just an awareness of what you are doing and thinking but being completely attentive to the finer experiential details without judgement.
The way your car handles a bend in the road, the physical sensation of sitting in the driver’s seat and the placement of your hands on the steering wheel….This is mindful driving (as long as you are also paying attention to the road!).
The idea is, that left to wander, the mind indulges in many thoughts and emotions which are often negative. These thoughts are then reinforced by our thinking of them, which leads to more stress and suffering.
Mindfulness is a powerful tool for stress release because it directs awareness away from your negative thoughts and towards an “anchor” – something that brings your awareness back to the present. It creates a space between your anxious thoughts and feelings and this can be enough to halt spiraling into stress and help promote a peaceful mind.
How can I increase mindfulness in my life?
Sometimes thoughts are hard to control or change so we need to focus on action instead
Practicing the art of mindfulness can be done almost anytime and anywhere. Whether you are doing the dishes or walking to the mailbox - focus on the activity, engage the senses and be fully present.
Mindful breathing is equally important and something that can be done alone or even with kids.
Yup, we all like to get a little bit Zen together – not such a silly, hippieish thing if you consider that so many of us breathe fast and shallow (especially when stressed).
We all sit cross-legged on the floor with our best ‘ballerina’ posture and inhale/exhale slowly and powerfully. Sometimes it turns into a giggle-fest but just doing this 3-5 times a day, whether together or sitting in front of the lap top is a guaranteed mini-break and stress-deterrent.
It’s also the most basic form of meditation and I feel sure that it will benefit my girls in the years ahead.
So today I challenge you to get some of those negative thoughts out on paper, organise your to-do lists and practice living a more mindful life.
Don’t forget to come back next week for the final post of my ‘Release your stress” series. I will be focusing on the importance of relaxation, specifically targeted to those parents who fail to make themselves a priority in their own lives.
Have a Happy day and please share your experiences and thoughts in the comments section below. We can all learn from one another and you will make me giddy with excitement!