Are you feeling stressed or irritated? Are you about to scream out loud or pull your hair out? Then try this little mindfulness trick to re-centre and re-balance.
Whenever you feel like you can't settle down to get anything done, whenever you feel bothered and irritated but can't quite put your finger on why, whenever you can't shake that horrible mood you're in, just stop and ask yourself exactly what is bothering you.
Maybe you're anticipating something bad happening, maybe you think an argument with a work associate is on the horizon, maybe you're worried about something more than you care to admit, or maybe you're just very tired!
The first step to mental peace is to stand still for a moment and try to understand what the issue is. You need a moment of clarity, because the more you try to suppress your feelings the worse you are likely to feel.
Now get a pen and a piece of paper. Make a note of everything that's on your mind. You'll be surprised that by simply stopping still for a moment and “awarenessing”, just how many related feelings and emotions come to surface that you weren't aware were infecting your space.
The reason for this is that thoughts have a tendency to rapidly spiral out of control, so much so that the original reason for thinking a certain way pales into existence as it is replaced by a galaxy of distantly related thoughts. This isn't a bad thing when these thoughts are happy and our imagination is taking us on a wonderful journey through the valleys of possibility. But when these thoughts are negative or too challenging for us to deal with at the time, it causes us mental suffering – and often a headache!
During this exercise you'll be amazed at how quickly your mind centres and reorganises itself; thought spirals will stop and be replaced by categories pertaining to subject matters – thus making it far easier for you identify what it really is that's bothering you and how you might approach solving the issues at hand. The key here is not to be scared of honesty. Don't second guess yourself, simply allow yourself to offload how you feel onto paper. You are literally emptying your head.
For example, you might write down a list like this:
- I am worried about my mother's operation next week.
- I have so much to get done yet everyone expects too much from me.
- I am not happy about these recent changes at work.
- I am tired, I feel out of shape and a bit sorry for myself.
Now work through the list you have written down and see if you can tick these mind-irritants off your list and clear some space in your head.
Ask yourself questions similar to those below to create solutions to the things causing you stress:
- Make a quick phone call to someone close and tell them you really care?
- Arrange a meeting with your boss or friend to say what's on your mind?
- Apologize to the person you just snapped at?
- Make a firm decision to go to bed early tonight and make that spin class at the gym tomorrow?
- Be kind to yourself and take a 10-minute walk to clear your head.
This mindfulness exercise is simply about stopping everything you're doing and addressing those feelings of stress, irritation and worry. It's about shaking off that annoying, niggling feeling that just won't let you feel comfortable in what you're doing.
It's about truly noticing what's wrong and taking positive action to deal with it, right now. And if there's nothing you can do about the things you've written down, just rest in the new-found awareness that circumstances are as they are in this moment, and know that things do have a funny way of working themselves out for the best.
I call this a trick because it really is a magic cure for taming the moody mind that just won't let you get on with being productive and happy. Done often enough, this is great training for teaching yourself to be fully present with what's happening right now. Through the sheer power of awareness, we come to accept life as it is in the present, not for what we think we would like it to be like in the next moment, and the moment after that, and the….you get where I'm going with this.
Once your list is complete and you've been through each item one-by-one to see if there's any possibility of being able to make an immediate positive change, take a big, deep breath, smile, shrug your shoulders a few times to shake it all loose and go about your day feeling lighter and rejuvenated.