Relax your mind with mindfulness

By Pippa Thompson

You’ve got your tax return to file, your son’s Bar Mitzvah to plan, the in-laws are coming to stay and the dog ate your new handbag. Annoyingly there’s no remote to control it all with, but there are ways to press pause on that Tetris game building up in your head!

The remedy
Mindfulness is trending for a reason. Ruby Wax teaches it, the NHS praises it and stressed out heads everywhere are going wild for it.

It’s an anxiety busting approach that teaches you to concentrate on the present moment and become aware of your thoughts. Being mindful brings you back to the here and now, without panicking about that work deadline or how much your winter gas bill is going to cost.

Keeping active, staying connected, giving to others and learning new things will strengthen your mind and release some magical endorphins to keep your moods from falling too low.

Focused breathing
Start by controlling your breathing with the 4-7-8 trick; breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold for 7, and breathe out through your mouth for 8. Repeat this three times and continue concentrating on breathing slowly. This brings your attention to the actual sensation, and will stop your mind from wandering. You’ll feel energized while your heart will be relaxed because all your happy cells are full up on oxygen.

Mindfulness meditation
Step 1 – Visualise something you want to let go of. Picture holding it in your hands and feel it dissolving through your fingertips until it’s gone.

Step 2 – Think of something you want to make space for in your life. What is it worth to you? Take a moment to understand its purpose.

Step 3 – Think of something you are truly grateful for. Take a moment to appreciate all that you have, all that you love and be all the brilliant things you have done.

Write your three steps on separate pieces of paper and stick them in places you’ll notice at times in your day. You can think of other positive affirmations (everything fabulous) about yourself and post these around the house too. It might feel silly at first, but chuck that modesty out the window and try being your own best friend for the day!

Brain training
Cognitive behavioral therapists teach the theory that ‘what you think is what you feel’. If you tell yourself something enough you will start to believe it, so use this to your advantage and talk yourself happy. A lot of us are more than capable of handling stressful situations, but a constant juggle can become too much and come crashing down without your control. Don’t beat yourself up, remind yourself to think positively and your brain will start to do as it’s told.

Care for number one
Treat yourself how you would treat a small child. Feed yourself healthy food, spend time out in fresh air and get plenty of sleep. Don’t say nasty things to yourself or put yourself in danger – your head and your heart are still incredibly delicate!

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