Do you ever feel stuck in a rut, angry and scared, or just overwhelmed with the feeling that you can’t change things? Theresa Fowler discusses how becoming more mindful opens up a wealth of possibilities.
How focused can we, as individuals, be in the present when we are surrounded by so many distractions? What’s the first thing that you normally do when you wake up? Is it check in with how you are grateful for being alive? Or do you instead pick up your smartphone to check your emails and social media interactions? Or perhaps you switch on the TV or radio? Are you immediately lost in your thoughts, already worrying about things that may never happen? If your answer is yes, then I’m not surprised, because I used to do exactly the same things.
These days it is very difficult to stay focused on the present while surrounded by so many distractions and overwhelmed by the continuous flow of information coming from all directions — TV, radio, advertising, newspapers, billboards. This is why most people reach out for any kind of distraction to escape the stress of their reality. The pressures of modern living make it difficult for many of us to cope. In fact, each day in the UK alone, 250,000 people miss work because of stress, and most illnesses and disease are known to be stress-related.
Stress-related absence cost UK employers around £12bn in 2010, according government figures, while increasing demand on workers has a negative impact on their health. Even the NHS agrees that mindfulness is important and when times are hard, as they have been for much of the population in recent years, it can sometimes be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Mindfulness, which is the allowing of yourself to become more aware of your thoughts, feelings and emotions in the present, provides an accessible way of paying attention to the present moment for all of us. By using techniques such as deep breathing exercises, guided meditations, emotional freedom technique (EFT) and yoga, you are able to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, so that instead of being overwhelmed by them, we become much better at managing them.
Why is being in the present so important? Well, because when it comes down to it, the present is all we have. Most of us spend far too much time beating ourselves up about things that have already happened that we cannot change (in the past) or worrying about things that haven’t happened and may not even happen (the future). How many hours have you wasted thinking about problems you need to solve in the future and worrying about their outcomes? How much time have you wasted going over things that have already happened that you can’t do anything about now?
By practising mindfulness, you will get a much better insight into your emotions, which in turn can boost your concentration and attention, and improve your relationships. Research published by the University of Oxford in November 2013 shows that mindfulness is also proven to reduce anxiety by more than 50%, as well as lower stress, and relieve depression and addictive behaviours. It can also have a positive effect on ailments like chronic pain, high blood pressure and heart disease.
“Pain is how you react when you believe a stressful thought.” – Byron Katie
If you’re at a crossroads in your life and don’t know where to turn…If you feel like you’re missing out on something, but don’t know how to get it…
If you want to find out what your passion in life is…
Then it’s time to start practicing mindfulness. My new live online course starts on Tuesday, 3 February 2015 and runs over the next three Tuesday evenings at 7-8pm, GMT — if you can’t make the live event on Tuesdays, there will be an option to watch the replay the following Thursdays at 8-9pm, GMT. Make the time to invest in yourself so that 2015 will be your best year yet. Click here to join me.
Theresa Fowler is the UK’s Only No Diet, No Calorie Counting Real Food Expert, author of Feel Like Sh*t? How to Stop Being Fat and founder of fitand40plus.com. Having lost 100lbs herself, she coaches women 40+ who have a history of yo-yo dieting to lose weight, feel better and look younger, all without counting calories. Theresa is also a reflexologist, EFT practitioner, public speaker and broadcaster.
Follow Theresa on Twitter at @sizedrop or join her on Facebook.