Mind the “well-being” Gap

Often there’s a gap between us and the sense of wellbeing that we crave. 

Practicing mindfulness is one of the single most powerful things you can do for your well-being. Why?  Because the 2 major sources of chronic stress we suffer today are:

1. Being preoccupied and worrying about what’s going to happen in the future

2. Reliving the past, rehashing painful experiences and ruminating (“I can’t believe they said that”… sound familiar?).

The three truths we need to accept in order to have a happier life are:

1) we cannot control the future

2) the past is gone, we can’t change it

3) the only opportunity to be happy is in the here and now. 

Our brains are happiest when our mind and body are in sync, meaning that we’re consciously present and paying real attention to what we’re doing. Right here, right now. 

Mindfulness is the opposite of being on autopilot, automatically going through the motions of your day-to-day routine, without really registering, feeling or enjoying any particular moment.  It is a powerful habit that you can cultivate; with practice, we can train our brains to bring our attention back to what’s happening here and now, effectively training ourselves to be present.

Here are my top ten tips for how you can bring mindfulness into your day:

1.    BREATHE – When you first wake up resist the urge to grab your phone, and instead, take a minute to give thanks for waking up, breathe and appreciate where you are right now.

2.    BE – Wherever you are, BE all there. If you’re in the shower, BE in the shower.  Don’t take your body into the shower and let your mind drive up the motorway into the office and start frantically attacking your inbox.

3.    MEDITATE – throughout the day take a few minutes to be still, ground yourself and connect with your breathing. When you breathe in say to yourself “I am breathing in” and when you’re breathing out say to yourself “I am breathing out”.  It’s simple and it works.

4.    WALK – and instead of checking texts simply look up and around with curiosity, you’ll notice things you haven’t before, pay attention to how your body feels as you walk. 

5.    EAT & DRINK – instead of mindlessly eating or drinking while working or watching TV, consciously slow down, taste and enjoy your food.

6.    PAUSE – create space between finishing one task and starting on the next and acknowledge small accomplishments throughout the day.  When you get home at night, take a moment to be grateful you made it home. If something annoys you during the day, simply pause and breathe before you respond.  As Thomas Jefferson said

“When angry, count to ten before you speak. When very angry, count to a hundred,”

7.    ACTIVELY LISTEN – be present in your conversations at work and at home.  Put your phone down when you’re talking to someone, give them your full attention and show them they’re important.  Avoid multitasking – studies show only 2% of us can do it – so most of us are terrible at it (including me!).

8.    INDULGE YOUR PASSION – What do you love doing?  Running? Cycling? Painting? Chilling with some music? Whatever it is, and however hard it is to find time, build it into your day.

9.    WATCH YOUR THOUGHTS – when you catch yourself worrying about the future or reliving the past, consciously bring your attention back to what you’re doing right now and enjoy that.

10. TRAVEL – being somewhere new forces you to be mindful because everything you’re seeing and experiencing is new. If you can’t travel, then mix up your daily routine. Take a different route to work, go somewhere different for lunch, run a different route, read a different magazine.  Do different – feel different.

Nicky Thackray is the Founder of My Zendays, a movement created to help combat stress and inspire people to take radical responsibility for their own lives and happiness. Nicky spent 20 years in a number of senior leadership positions in companies including Procter & Gamble, IBM, Balfour Beatty and Sky, where she saw first-hand how stress was becoming more and more of an epidemic, so left the corporate world to teach the principles of mindset, mindfulness and meditation to help people live happier and more fulfilled lives. You can find My Zendays on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and www.myzendays.com