For anyone with a busy schedule, whatever that looks like for you, time is something that is scarcely plentiful. Adult life throws a whole host of responsibilities at you from all angles whichever route you take. These can constantly drain at your resources and energy, whether its work, family or relationships. Everything you do takes time, not just physical time, but mental time too. Chances are that a large proportion of decisions you make, you spend time thinking about first. If you are anything like me, a natural overthinker, then you probably spend more time thinking about something than it takes to actually do it.
A good example is those days when you drive into work and have no recollection of the journey when you get there. This happens to us all and it is because we aren’t really mentally in the room we are deep in our thoughts. When we live in this way, constantly projecting ourselves into the future we are not living. We are running scenarios for events that may not ever happen, if this was a physical activity we would definitely brand it a waste of time. We waste now, worrying about tomorrow or next week. These moments we spend concerned about what may or may not happen end up draining the life out of today.
There is also an element of anxiety that comes alongside this way of life, if we focus on things that may happen we are emphasising negative thinking and looking for mitigation and ways to manage outcomes. Although these events haven’t happened, the mind still feels the same as we think about them as if they did. The mind is a powerful tool and that’s why it’s important that we take care of it as best we can and find useful tools for corking that overactive thought process. I am not suggesting you don’t take time to think, or don’t worry about things (as good as that would be) but if it’s something you do more often than you feel you should, then perhaps a touch of mindfulness could be the answer.
If you read my post around Intentional Living you will recall I noted mindfulness as one element that can help you to be at one with your intentions and more present in your life. Mindfulness can be a really powerful tool to help you reduce the amount of time you spend projecting into future events/scenarios, and to pay more attention to where you are now, today, in this moment. Mindfulness originates with buddhism but the fundamentals can have a huge impact on a busy mind.
In the main, mindfulness is about being aware of what is going on around you, in your mind, your body and your environment. It is about noticing things you would normally pass by, being more in tune with yourself and noticing your thoughts and feelings and how they impact your life. Mindfulness tools aim to help you to live in the moment but also to create some distance from your thoughts, to acknowledge feelings and emotions but not to be so heavily influenced by them that your mood is altered.
There are many guided meditations online and apps available that talk you through the processes but like anything, it requires practice to refine. If you want more information on the science behind Mindfulness check out The Oxford Mindfulness Centre About Us – Oxford Mindfulness Centre
There are loads of useful resources on the internet around mindfulness techniques and things you can do to help feel more present. Here are a few that I personally find helpful.
We often tend to find ourselves in the same environments most days and with that comes a degree of auto pilot and the ease to check out of reality and into our thoughts. Try to look at your environment as if you are seeing it for the first time, you will be amazed at the small things you notice that you haven’t ever seen before. Doing this simple exercise actually helps focus your mind on where you are and what you are doing – you are more present already!
Take a Walk
I often find that being outside in nature really benefits my mind and keeps me in the moment. There is so much more to see that it’s hard to do anything other than observe your surroundings. Exercise has always been recommended as a ‘go to’ when you are feeling overwhelmed, so why wait!
This one is quite simple, pay attention to when you start to spiral down the rabbit hole of overthinking. When you realise this is happening simply pause and take a breath. Focusing on your breathing can actually help to bring your mind into the present moment.
Regularity is Key
Try to practice your mindful moments as often as you can but certainly everyday. You don’t want to end up having lived your whole life deep in your thoughts, every experience overshadowed by overthinking and worrying. Regularity builds a ritual and will naturally change your behaviour over time.
Sometimes it can be helpful to have time set aside to work through things that are on your mind as it helps to clear thoughts out. I sometimes use a journal to write down thoughts and feelings, the process of writing them down often results in me spending less time thinking things over.
Time to Think
We all need time to think and process things, being mindful doesn’t mean we remove thinking time altogether. It just means we take more time to enjoy life, to be in tune with our thoughts, feelings and environment. That when we take up an activity or spend time relaxing, we are present in those moments and can actually enjoy them, rather than spending the time projecting ourselves into future unknown scenarios.
I hope you have found this useful, Mindfulness is a tool to help you to live better and fuller. Remember, the moments of your life belong to you so make them count, you wont get them back once they have passed.