Take time to be mindful: 5 strategies to improve your life


Emotions are fickle things. Sometimes we can be happy, other times we can feel so angry and upset that we don’t want anything to do with the world. Everyone experiences these ups and downs in their mood; it’s a natural process. However sometimes it can all get a bit too much to handle. There is a possessive nature to emotions – not only in the way that we feel them, that they belong to us as we experience them, but also in how emotions themselves can take over our whole mindset and control us.

Of course all of this is easier said than done, right? Maybe not. Through a few simple techniques, both physically and mentally, you can learn how to channel your emotions in a different direction and find clarity within yourself. This technique is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness, according to Reach Out Australia (http://au.reachout.com/what-is-mindfulness), is “a special way of paying attention that can help with how you cope with everyday life or deal with tough times”. Both mental and physical benefits can be seen thanks to the power of this meditative technique.

Mindfulness exercises

  1. Mindful breathing

    Be still and focus on your breathing for one minute. Slowly in, and slowly out. Focus on the movement of your chest as you breath. Don’t control this movement; just be aware of the natural rise and fall.

  2. Mindful observation

    A powerful exercise to focus the mind on the present. Find a natural object in your surroundings and just ‘observe’ for a few minutes. It could be the passing clouds, and insect, or leaves moving in the wind. Centre your focus on just this one object.

  3. Mindful listening

    This exercise is about opening your ears to new ideas and sounds, in a non-judgmental way. Find a piece of music you haven’t heard before, close your eyes, and become lost in the sound and lyrics. Forget about who the artist is or any news about them in pop culture. Focus on the sound and they story within the melody.

  4. Mindful Immersion

    Alfred James, a mindfulness writer, explains “The intention of this exercise [mindful immersion] is to cultivate contentment in the moment and escape the persistent striving we find ourselves caught up in on a daily basis. Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.” Focus in on the action of the task, become aware of every step of the process.

“Rather than anxiously wanting to finish an everyday routine task in order to get on with doing something else, take that regular routine and fully experience it like never before.” (Alfred James)

  1. Mindful appreciation

    Take notice of your surroundings, whether it objects or the people in your life, and create a list of the things you appreciate about it/them. It could be anything from the colour of the flowers in your garden, to the creativity of your child’s drawings on the fridge. Be grateful for these things in your life, and appreciate their worth.

Claiming emotions by saying, “I’m anxious”, “I’m sad” or even “I’m furious” adds fuel to the fire within. This is even true with exercise. Think about whether or not these phrases are familiar to you:

“I’m not a morning person.”

“I’m not a runner.”

“I’m not an exerciser.”

If you say it, even in passing, you may not be truly thinking about the damage being done. Be mindful of what you say, even in your mind, and the impacts of these expressions on your daily life.

To better manage your emotions and feelings, one must first recognise that those feelings do not make us who we are. We simply experience them, and should not let them overtake our lives. We just feel them, and we have the power through mindfulness to change this.

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