I don’t know about you but here at Inova, the summer months offer a bit of respite from a very busy schedule and this has gotten us thinking about how we can make use of this quieter time to our best advantage.
Whether you’re planning a beach holiday somewhere hot or will just be using the longer, warmer days to get out to the Peak District for a bit of walking, how can you use this time to reconnect, reflect and prepare for the busier months ahead?
Practice being ‘Mindful’:
Mindfulness teaches us to reconnect with the simple moments in life in order to reduce stress and find a new sense of calm. Today, stress is the single biggest cause of sickness in the UK and the Health and Safety Executive reported that 11.3 million working days were lost to it in the year 2013/14. Those of us in small businesses or working alone just can’t afford this time off, so we need to start taking better care of ourselves now to prevent it in the future!
Mindfulness exercises are now recommended by the Department of Health and NICE (National Institute for Clinical Excellence) as an effective intervention to combat stress and these quieter months are the perfect time to start practising some simple techniques to help you cope better throughout the year. So next time you have a few minutes, why not try this short exercise and begin reconnecting with the world again?
Dr Patrizia Collard offers this 5 minute exercise in her book, ‘The Little Book of Mindfulness’ and its aim is to help us to simply experience life as it unfolds, staying present and calm and letting go of worry and stress for a few moments.
- Find a special spot in a quiet place either at home or outside
- Sit and gently close your eyes
- Begin to focus on all the sounds around you, letting them enter your awareness as they pass by.
- Listen to the sounds but let go of labelling them – a car, bird etc. As soon as we label we begin to get involved in stories which trigger our thinking brains, Instead, just be present to the sounds. You may notice that your hearing becomes more focused and other thoughts move into the background of your awareness. At other times, you may find other thoughts arising – this is natural as the mind tends to get busy even if we don’t want it to. When this happens just acknowledge this, then let the thought go and return your awareness to simply listening.
Dr Collard offers a range of similar exercises in her book so I encourage you to get hold of a copy and try some out if you find this one useful!