This guest blog has been written by Suzie Poyser, a counsellor running her own private practice.
After setting up my business last year, I know only too well how easy it can be to be consumed by work, with ever present thoughts about everything I need to do and everything I want to achieve personally and professionally. Personally I have found this totally overwhelming at times and as a therapist and mindfulness practitioner, I am quick to notice when I’m feeling overwhelmed, ensuring that I practice what I preach!
It can be very tempting to miss lunch breaks, start early, work late and even go to bed with work on the mind, but with some of these simple mindfulness techniques you can practice slowing down and calming the mind. In doing this you will reap the rewards, creating space in your mind, which will help with your creativity and productivity.
Starting the day right
When that alarm goes off in the morning it’s amazing how quickly the mind can switch in to ‘doing mode’. How we start the day can have a massive impact on how we feel for the rest of the day. Try taking the focus from your thoughts and onto your breath. Taking a few deep breaths, as you breathe in deeply for the count of five, notice the air filling the lungs and the energy it creates and as you breathe out imagine all the tension leaving your mind and body.
Taking a mindful break
It can be very tempting to work right through without a break, or when we do take a break our mind is still whizzing over the list in our head. By taking mindful breaks you’re really giving your mind the down time it needs. A mindful break means doing something and giving it your full attention. This might be as simple as making a cup of tea or eating your lunch. If you’re eating your lunch leave your desk and mobile phone. Focus solely on eating your lunch, really notice the smell of the food, the texture as you start to chew and be aware of how the food tastes.
Try to get outside if you can
Spending time in nature is great for clearing the mind and the positive impact of nature on mental health has been researched and evidenced. Step outside, even if just for a couple of minutes. Notice your surroundings, feel how different the air feels as you breathe it in. By taking this time and paying attention, you are taking your mind off the mental chitter-chatter that can create stress.
Switching off in the evening
How do you switch off in the evening? Lots of us are using our phones and laptops until the moment our head hits the pillow. Try turning off appliances an hour or so before bed time. We can struggle to sleep when our mind is in ‘doing’ mode at night. We can end up analysing our day and can become self-critical.
The body scan technique is great for relaxing the mind at night, by focusing your awareness on your body and each muscle within it. Breathing slowly, starting with the feet, tense and relax the muscles and proceed to do this through your whole body. This should make your body feel heavier and as you start to sink into the mattress you should be beginning to fall asleep.
In taking the time to include some or all of these techniques into your day, you’ll really feel the benefit of a tidier and a more productive mind!
Suzie Poyzer works from a variety of locations around Manchester with small businesses and individuals.