Work/life balance: The importance of mindfulness
Life is hectic and stressful. Everyone is so busy and faces so many pressures. But it is important to try and create a sense of a good balance between work and life - to try and manage stress - because otherwise, we can start to struggle with anxiety, low mood and memory problems.
In this blog we aim to look at some of the simple things you can do to feel more relaxed, in control and balanced.
Mindfulness is all about taking time out of your daily life. Time when you stop running on auto-pilot and try to notice what’s going on around you, in your head and in your life.
One thing that many people fail to allow themselves is a break, time out or even a proper day off. Indeed, any time we are not at work generally tends to be filled quickly and easily. Even if this is with pleasurable and sociable outings, there is rarely time during or after these events to appreciate them fully before we charge off to do something else.
The idea behind mindfulness practice is to allow yourself some time each day where you just stop. You breathe. You relax. You pay attention. You check in with yourself.
TAKE TIME... JUST FOR YOU!
Many people would claim that they do not have the time to do this. They are too busy!
This may be true, but, it is ONLY true BECAUSE of our failure to stop and find time for ourselves.
Failing to find the time to stop - just for 10 minutes each day - causes us to feel tired, stressed and overwhelmed. This in turn tends to make us irritable, emotional or down. It also makes us less productive.
Imagine your brain is like a computer - every activity, event and thought that you encounter through the day is a like opening another program on your computer. Each time you open a new program, the whole computer runs slower - until it feels like it is almost at a standstill. The best way to get the computer running efficiently again? Close some of the programs that are running. And the best way to achieve this? Stop occasionally!
TRY BREATHING EXERCISES
The following is a simple breathing and relaxation routine. If you do nothing else, just doing this each day, to relax yourself properly, will help you feel more relaxed and in control.
1. Find a quiet place to sit or lie down - get comfortable.
2. Place your hands on your abdomen and bring your attention to your breathing.
3. Breathe in through your nose for a count of 4
4. Breathe out though your mouth, slowly and carefully, for a count of 8.
5. Repeat 4 or 5 times.
If you lose concentration at any time during this, or your mind wanders off, don’t worry. Don’t get stressed, and do not think ‘this isn’t working’ - just bring your attention back to your breath.
This exercise is not about breathing deeply, it’s about breathing in a controlled and calm way. It can be done very quietly, and subtly, and once you have gotten good at it – in any place. This type of breathing is very calming and soothing for the brain and can help to control anxiety.
LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR STRESS BUDGET
Most of us are no strangers to budgeting money. Knowing that our finances are limited, we look at what we can afford and (hopefully) ignore what we cannot. This is because we KNOW that our money is limited.
What we often fail to appreciate, is that our ability to deal with stress is limited in the same way: so, we should really be looking to manage the things we are wasting our ‘stress budget’ on.
Creating a stress budget allows people to step back and look at what is really important. It encourages us not to waste a limited stress budget on things we cannot change, things which are not important, and things we do not need.
Recognizing that it is within our power to exclude things from our stress budget – to literally refuse to allow certain things to upset us or create stress and learning to say no to things we do not want to do - makes a huge amount of difference to how well we deal with all the other issues in life.
SUPPORT YOUR SYSTEM
Believe it or not the bacteria in your gut have a huge role to play in health and happiness - including how well we deal with stress; how happy we feel; and our level of anxiety. This is because these bacteria play an important role in the production of the brain chemicals which calm us down and cheer us up!
Scientists have now discovered that certain strains, particularly Lactobacillus acidophilus, Lactobacillus casei, Lactobacillus rhamnosus and Bifidobacteria bifibum, will help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression. Combining these good bacteria with B vitamins and magnesium, which are known to support the nervous system and boost energy levels, would be the ideal way to create the perfect balance for body and mind.
Written by Jenny Logan DNMed(Jenny is a nutritional therapist who has worked with clients in health food stores and private clinics for over 20 years.)