Mental Health Spotlight
By Tim Hoopmann
Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. Mindfulness can help you feel better and reduce stress. It is a useful technique that can help you deal with difficult emotions and situations.
Mindfulness is paying full attention to what is going on in you and outside you, moment by moment, without judgement. It means you observe your thoughts, feelings, and the sensations of taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound. You are also fully aware of your surroundings.
For me mindfulness is a time when I can disconnect from the busy world in which I live and work. Switch off, refocus and be at one with myself.
I love sport, especially swimming and running. Here are two activities I thoroughly enjoy. Swimming disconnects me from my busy life and allows me to relax, centre myself and practice mindfulness. The same applies to running. I am at one with nature and I make sure I am present for every stroke or every stride. In these activities I find I can relax and be present with my surroundings. This was a great revelation for me. I could continue to do activities I love and practice mindfulness at the same time.
While holidaying in Florida a few years ago I went paddle-boarding. After a few days and a few hours of paddling I discovered this was another activity where I could easily switch off and disconnect. The stillness of the lake or bay and the peacefulness of the surroundings was a great way to unwind. I continue to paddle board on a regular basis. An early morning paddle really calms me and sets my day up for success.
To bake takes concentration and focus to ensure all the ingredients come together with the correct amount of heat. To some this can be quite stressful. I have baked for many years and find it relaxing and joyous to prepare treats for friends and family. It gives me great comfort and joy. When I thought further about it, I discovered it was another mindfulness activity that suited me perfectly.
All these activities provide relaxation and a complete disconnect from my everyday life and work. They are activities I love, and therefore makes it easier to practice mindfulness. It provides a different sense of purpose and achievement. It is my time to slow down and switch off.
The activities I have mentioned work for me. I recommend to friends and family they find the activities that are best suited to their personality. Perhaps sitting listening to calm music could be your mindfulness activity. It may take time to try different activities and assess the impact on your stress levels. With determination you will find the ones that provide the best result for you. If not, then keep trying. Once you find the right activities the results are amazing.