Making the Most of Self-Isolation
In part 8 of the PTS ‘Making the Most of Self-Isolation’ series, PA to the Directors Steph, tells us how to stay mindful and look after our mental health during lockdown.
#8: Mindfulness and Meditation
My name is Steph and I’m the PA to the Directors at Primary Teaching Services. I have practiced mindfulness and meditation for a few years now. My life and mind used to be full of hustle and bustle, I was always dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. I was approaching 40 and worrying about lots of things that hadn’t happened and worrying about things that I could fix but just wasn’t fixing them. I believed that my life was a mess but actually it was my mind that was a mess and I was letting my mind rule me.
I first stumbled across mindfulness when I heard that it could help me lose weight. I attended a free session of a Mindful Eating course which taught me how to be ‘in the moment’ when eating and to really think about the smell, taste, look, feel and where the food came from. When I started to think about where my food came from, who stacked it on the shelf, who grew it, who drove the lorry to the supermarket, the taste, the smell, the look and feel I started to feel a great appreciation and gratitude for my food. As you think about each mouthful it tends to slow you down and actually observe when you’re getting full and when to stop eating. The course leader went on to tell us that we can be mindful in everything we do and that was my ‘light bulb’ moment.
Mindfulness and Me
I researched mindfulness lessons in my local area and the search brought up meditation lessons at my local Buddhist Centre. I attended with a friend and I really loved the concept of Buddhism and how calming meditation was. I needed to practice as it’s not something that you can just do, so I found an app for my phone called Headspace and I received a free two-week session which really helped me understand what meditation is. The short 10-minute sessions were perfect for a beginner like myself. I mediated every day for 10 minutes and also when I felt that I was getting anxious or my mind was racing with things that hadn’t happened, why me questions, what if questions etc… These types of thoughts are not helpful to anyone as they are negative and unproductive. Being mindful isn’t about removing those thoughts, it’s about acknowledging your thoughts and changing the wording to positive language.
Mindfulness and You
Being positive and present has really helped me turn my life around for the better. The great thing about being mindful and meditating is that you can do it on your own, it’s free and it relaxes you. During this uncertain time none of us can predict the next month, week, day or hour, so embrace the now by being present and positive. If you are a beginner to mindfulness and meditation then here are some great ways to get started:
- Download the Headspace app and complete the free two-week trial or search for beginner mediations on YouTube
- Every morning, write down three things that you are grateful for and say ‘I am ok and today’s going to be a good day’ out loud three times
- When you catch yourself having negative thoughts, acknowledge them and turn them around
– Why me = change to ‘I accept this has happened, I can make today better by….’
– What if = change to ‘Today I’m grateful for……… and I accept that I cannot predict the future’
– I should/could have = ‘Today I can do……….. towards my goal’ or ‘I accept that I did or didn’t do that, next time I’ll do this’
- Go out for a walk and notice all the beauty around you, the trees, the leaves, wildlife, flowers, architecture, buildings, the smell and the sounds
- Reflect on the day by writing down three things that you did that could have been done differently. Come up with a new plan on how to tackle those issues in the future
Be kind to yourself and others.