How often do you feel overwhelmed? Most of us do occasionally, but for some, it occurs almost daily. And it doesn’t matter where you are or what you are doing either. If you allow your mind to head into the future or the past, you cannot be present to enjoy the nicest beach, the best summer holiday you’ve ever had, or some quiet time with your loved one.
This is where mindfulness comes in. I’ve been focusing my efforts on mindfulness for some time now, and while I don’t claim to be an expert, I can say the instances of overwhelm are far, far less now than they used to be. So, allow me to introduce you to four ways this technique can help reduce that feeling of overwhelm you might currently be struggling with.
YOU CAN LEARN TO BE PRESENT IN THE MOMENT
This is what mindfulness is all about. Focusing on each moment as we experience it. After all, this is the one moment we have, isn’t it? Learning to stay in the present means you can begin to focus your energies on that one moment.
If you are at work, you can ensure your best efforts are applied in that moment. If you are enjoying a hobby, you can focus more readily on it and let your mind empty of all thoughts related to other things. Mindfulness can be used in every moment of your life, and I suspect you will agree it is a powerful technique to master.
YOU WILL FEEL LESS STRESSED OVER THE PAST
Do you ever wish you had done things differently? Perhaps you wish you had said something to someone, or refrained from saying something that had a negative outcome.
Yet while you may have these thoughts, you cannot do anything to change the past. It has happened, it is complete. By letting go of things in the past, you can focus on the moment you are in now. This is the only moment you have total control over. It takes practice, but practice really does make perfect in this instance. And if you decide in this moment to speak to someone to rectify what you did or didn’t do in the past, so much the better. But you are still focusing on what you are doing now. Do you see the difference?
YOU WON'T FEEL AS WORRIED OVER 'WHAT IF'S'
How often do you find yourself worrying about what may or may not happen in the future? It could be tomorrow, next week, next year… many of us find ourselves focused on some imagined event or happening that takes our mind out of the moment and leads us to worry about something else.
Most things we worry about never come to fruition anyway. But that doesn’t stop thousands of people every day from worrying about them. Maybe you do the same. I was guilty of this once, and even now, worries can creep into my mind if I allow myself to focus too deeply on the future.
It is good to look forward to the future, of course, but this pulls us out of the mindfulness frame of mind. And we cannot remain in the moment while thinking of the future – or the past, as we have seen.
MINDFULNESS ERADICATES THE 'MONKEY MIND'
Have you ever heard of the monkey mind? This is the term given to an uncontrolled mind, if you will – a mind that heads off in all directions at once, or at least it tries to. It worries about next week’s doctor’s appointment, it frets over the bills. It worries about how best to organise that cupboard, or find a new job, or resolve that argument. When you think about how the monkey mind invades our lives, it’s no wonder we feel so tired and drained all the time.
Calming the monkey mind is one of the best things you can practice if you want to ease the feeling of overwhelm that is in your life. Try this for the rest of today (or tomorrow, if it is already late) – every time your mind starts to think forward, or back, or about anything that takes you out of the present moment, stop. Make a conscious effort to pull yourself into the present and to take note of the world around you, and of how you feel. Do you feel calmer, more settled, for being in the moment and calming your mind? Most people do.
Introduce mindfulness into your life and reap the benefits - Mindfulness reminds us that we can only ever be certain of the moment we are living right now. Try focusing on this moment – the one you can be sure of having now. How quickly does that feeling of overwhelm leave you when you do?
AUTHOR: LEANNA DOOLIN
Co – Founder of holistic skincare brand, Pure Thoughts and advocate for women finding pause in their day to breathe deeply, give thanks and reconnect to what matters. Loves early mornings, dogs and books that you can’t put down.