Over the past couple of years my outlook on life has changed drastically. I don't want to give you a massive background on how I used to be because, as I have learnt, there is no point what so ever in dwelling on and churning over the past.
Safe to say, this time two years ago I had a very dim outlook. I suffer from anxiety and depression down to a chemical imbalance I have and this has, in the past, has led me to making some very bad decisions. These decisions were reached not so much out of choice but more through, panic, fear, confusion (as my brain sometimes doesn't think straight) but mostly through not knowing what I wanted or putting myself first.
Things are now very, very different to the past and I put
this down being more mindful. Mindfulness is something that you hear banded about a lot at the moment, but what does it really mean?
The NHS says mindfulness is 'Awareness of ourselves and the world around us.' 'The psychological process of bringing ones attention to experiences occurring in the present moment' is the definition that you will find on Wikipedia.
For me mindfulness is using a range of different techniques that engage my brain and allow me to make well informed decisions and observations of both myself and situations going on around me. Through the techniques I have learnt I now know what I want from my life and can make the right decisions to get me there. They have also made me appreciate every part of my life, made me more confident in myself and my decisions and I am much more fulfilled.
I am not an expert psychologist or councillor and I cant claim that the words I write here are fool proof plans to happiness. I can however share with you a few of the mindful techniques that I have implemented into my life.
LIVE FOR THE MOMENT
You see this everywhere and people are shouting about it. "I live for the moment!" screamed someone on Instagram on the shoulders of their boyfriend at a festival! But how do you really do this on an everyday basis when its a rainy Monday morning and you have to get up for work.
What this means is taking the time to appreciate what you have got. For example, when you are having a shower, appreciate how nice the hot running water is, the smell of the shower gel. How nice it feels to have this moment to get clean and fresh. How many people get in the shower and think about what they need to get done, what they are going to cook for tea, what they need to do at work? Taking this five minutes can help reduce stress and anxiety and improve your happiness. Do this at various points in your day and you're living for the moment. Other examples are when you're eating, take the time to really enjoy your food, listening to music and really enjoying the lyrics or really taking the time to listen to someone when they are speaking to you.
Another really important aspect of living in the moment is to get off your phone!! How can you really be fully in the moment of enjoying a firework display if you're sharing it on snap chat? Can you really be fully living in the moment at a gig if you are filming a video for Facebook? That one is self explanatory.
I use the HEADSPACE App. Meditation is not sitting on a cushion with your legs crossed going Ommm....
Meditation teaches you to focus your mind on your breathing rather than thinking about the everyday worries of the moment. Ten minutes is enough for me if I'm feeling stressed. It refocuses my brain on what's important. The app explains the rest. There are other apps out there. Its not always easy at first but the more you do it the easier it is. Eventually you will be able to use this as a place to relax and bring clarity to things that before the meditation seemed unclear.
Often my mind gets overwhelmed because I feel like there are so many things that I want to get done and my brain just goes to mush and I can't work out what I need to do or why its so important to get there things done. This is when I use meditation. After a break I can see more clearly what I need to do, if anything at all.
In summary these techniques above, along with quite a few other tools I have picked up over the last few years by choosing to help myself mean I am now the happiest I have ever been. They have enabled me to focus on what I need to do to make myself happy. And indeed, as I heard many people say but didn't believe in the past, once you are happy with yourself everything else just falls into place.
Despite being in a happy place there are always issues and hurdles to jump and always ways to improve. An issue that I found over the last four years while having the shop is that time is going by way too fast. I always felt like I was chasing my tale and never really has enough time to do everything I wanted to do. And I was always too tired. However, only half way through January and I feel like I have managed to stop time by implementing a few tiny changes.
1. No procrastination. Do things that need doing right away instead of putting them off by putting them on a list.
2. No day sleeping. This was one of my new years resolutions and some of you may be shocked at this. I get tired around 4pm when I finish work so I come home and have a nap....day sleep! This had to stop. No matter how tired I feel I do something when I finish work and I get a shower and get out of my work clothes. Its like starting the day again. so instead of wasting away five hours of my day after work I have loads more time to do things. The best thing about this is, after doing something other than work, by 5pm I'm not tired anymore.
3. Stop worrying. At work if its not busy I worry (this has been covered in my blog an honest thank you). So now I don't worry. I sit in the shop and chill out and have a coffee. I find that I'm less tired through lack of worrying. Worrying doesn't help situations anyway.
4. Getting my life garden in order. I asked for (and got) for Christmas last year a book called The Art of Stopping Time by Pedram Shojai. Funnily the first chapter really resonated with me and has made a massive difference. I'll share with you a summary. Imagine your life as a garden and in it there are several plants. These are the things that are important to you (family, friends, work, exercise). You then need to allocate water to each of these plants to help them grow. This water is your time, you only have a limited amount of water. You may be wasting your water on weeds, so you need to stop watering the weeds and use it on your plants.
I found that this has really helped me to prioritise the things that are important to me and where I want to focus my time. By getting rid of some weeds and watering important plants I feel like I am getting more out of my limited time.
Four simple changes and I have magically stopped time! In my opinion adopting mindful techniques can only been a good thing. So what are you waiting for? Get started right now!
If you have found this interesting and would like to hear more of this sort of thing on my blog, please comment and let me know. Its something close to my heart and I have a lot more helpful tools that I can share.