Mind Your Mind

April 10, 2024

Are you Paying Attention to What You’re Paying Attention To?

Do you find yourself on auto-pilot most times? Days, weeks, just whoosh by and you’ve done things, but what have you done? Can’t remember? Me too. I’m not certain that it’s that those things weren’t important, it’s just hard for them to shout and be heard above the constant noise in my head. There is so much stuff swirling about in there, that even a simple thing like picking up my phone to make a call can get derailed and one-hour later, I’ve checked my socials, watched 4 ridiculous TikToks about why the internet has turned on J Lo, done a click-and-collect grocery shop, enrolled my child into a activity for next week, lost all my lives in Candy Crush – and still haven’t made that phone call. In fact, I don’t even remember that I have forgotten about that phone call.

Our brains have become so used to having infinite access to information, stimulation, entertainment, and distractions that our attention spans have been affected and, thus the increasing focus on mindfulness practices to declutter our minds has become an important part of our wellness.

What is Mindfulness?

Mindfulness really just means paying attention to the present moment. This can translate to meditation practices, or just learning how to quieten all of the your thoughts and focus on what you are doing in the moment. Even if that is nothing.

Mindfulness can help reduce stress and anxiety, improve mental health, enhance relationships and communication and improve sleep.

Practice

Asking your mind to just focus on the right here, right now takes a little focus, which seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? But really there are some simple things you can do to train your brain and get some clarity and balance back in your day.

  1. Wake up mindfully
    When you wake up, be it from a bleating alarm clock or your body’s internal body clock, take a moment. Pause. Fully awaken, stretch and get feeling into your muscles. Take some good, deep breaths and tell yourself what kind of day you’re going to have. This is loosely setting an intention, but I find that saying, ‘I’m going to have a great day,’ is a better start than, ‘not this again.’
  2. Eat mindfully
    This is a biggie. Pay attention to every chew, every swallow. Eating with intention and attention has so many benefits, the least of which is not, actually chewing your food properly for digestion. Bonus points, you get to actually taste and enjoy what you’re eating and register satiety when you’re actually full, not ten mouthfuls down the track.
  3. Walk mindfully
    Whether it’s a walk to the station or grabbing a bite to eat at lunchtime, or even better an actual planned walk for exercise, make sure you’re doing it head up, looking around your surroundings and pay attention to your steps as you take them. The trick is to have an open and wide scope of awareness and enjoy the walk for the walk itself rather than looking into your phone for external stimuli or letting your other thoughts overrun what you’re doing.
  4. Break mindfully
    When you’re taking a break, focus on something other than all the things swirling around in your mind. Do something that requires a little bit of concentration and that will shift your mind into focus. In the Index office, we have a selection of lovely colouring books and felt pens that make for a really useful way to gather yourself and recalibrate. Using a colouring book has proven to change heart rates and brain waves. It has a calming effect while allowing the brain to focus on simple productive tasks. Colouring not for you? Find what works, be it a jigsaw puzzle, a crossword or sudoku puzzle, gardening or even going for a scenic drive.
  5. Exercise mindfully
    We’re no strangers to the benefits of yoga in the wellness corner. Exercises like yoga and Pilates are actually designed to ground you by focusing on breathwork and staying in tune with your body’s responses to stretches and poses. Introducing one or two sessions of one of these disciplines into your exercise routine has a multitude of benefits.
  6. Go to bed mindfully
    End your day as you’ve started it. Take some deep breaths and instead of ruminating over all of the unfinished tasks in your mental inbox, give yourself some big praise for all of the things you accomplished that day. Well done you! Finish off with a little gratitude and positive self-talk and forget about all the tomorrow stuff until tomorrow. It will still be there and there’s nothing you can (or should) do about it in your sleep.

If you’ve heard all of this before, and you probably have, we know we’re not reinventing the wheel here. But, we all need a little reminder now and again to pull us back into focus.

Bernadette Liparota

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