By Lisa Westbury
Lisa Westbury is a certified personal development and career coach www.lisawestbury.com. She coaches women for clarity, confidence and balance. Together you will create the strategies, tools and results you want.
No, I’m not giving you the excuse to drop exercise. I mean the running that you do in your mind. But, just like exercise, it can become a habit, even an addiction to stress. My own stress addiction is over-planning future events. Some of my clients say they are running a brain race their whole day – re-running the things they wished they hadn’t done, worrying about how much they’ve got to do, looking at their emails over breakfast with their kids, wondering how they will fit everything into their already over-full day.
There is a growing phenomenon which has already proven itself valuable in reducing stress and anxiety in environments such as the NHS and in schools for both teachers and pupils. It has even reached the big tech giants like Google who are using it to improve staff focus and insight. Perhaps you’ve heard of it: mindfulness.
And what is its secret? Spiritual leader and mindfulness teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says it’s to recognise that the answer to happiness is to stop running and stop trying to win. It is about allowing yourself to be present in the moment, with yourself, see the interconnectedness of what’s going on around you, and ultimately spend more time with the people you love. It’s so obvious, that you will probably have wished at least one of these things several times this week. But wishing does not make it so, and the less obvious part is how to do it. My own experience is that you need to find a regular practice which suits you and helps to break the stressful habits you have got yourself into.
It’s about creating your own shortcuts to inner peace. It might be a five meditation on the train, a half hour walk in the park at lunchtime, opening your senses up to what you are eating or really noticing the person you are talking to, a yoga class or simply stopping to observe your breath for a minute several times a day. Physiologically, slowing down your thought pattern helps to calm overwhelming emotional states. And bringing yourself into a state of awareness gives you an opportunity to get a new perspective, or to change that emotional state and allows you to focus.
When I trained as a coach I was told that the only real moment is now.
I remind myself of that when my brain is racing unhelpfully ahead, away from what I need for the moment, creating worry rather than practical solutions. The benefits are an appreciation of the richness of life, new insights and a greater sense of control and even opportunity. In real terms you will be more creative, focussed, sleep better and probably be more pleasant to be around.
What helps to bring you back to yourself, and into the present? Please share your thoughts and ideas below…..
Here is a two minute meditation that I suggest clients do, so that they can achieve a better work life balance.
• What is my head saying?
• What is my heart saying?
• What is my gut telling me?
• Now what is in my heart?