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In its basic form, mindfulness is about being completely in touch with the present moment and observing experiences as they come. Mindfulness has been around for centuries, and mental health professionals are acknowledging that mindfulness can benefit both your everyday experience and people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression. Mindfulness consists of a number of skills you can practise to become more aware and relieve stress that takes over your mind. Learn how to focus your attention on one thing at a time, stay present. Consciously stop yourself during the day (set your watch as a reminder) to become aware of all the things that are going on around you.
If you are at your desk, stop and listen to the conversation around you. Can you hear the tap, tap, tap on the keyboard in the cubicle next to you? Go for a walk at lunch and just listen to your surroundings (birds, cars etc. ) Feel the breeze as it moves or the sun as it warms you. The point is to observe your exterior environment and crawl out of your thoughts for a time.
Practise looking at your experiences in a non-judgmental way. Rather than jumping into the rants and lectures your mind has ready to go at any given moment, simply look at things in an objective way. Don’t label things or experiences as good or bad, they just ‘are’. Try being a curious observer to the happenings around you. Part of mindfulness is being in touch with the present moment as opposed to being caught up in thoughts about the past or the future.
Avoid going over past experiences with the thought of how you would have done or said things differently and don’t worry about the future and what you cannot control. Become an active participant in experiences instead of just being stuck in your same old routines. To shake things up, try to do things a bit differently. Brush your teeth or eat with the opposite hand. When you put you shoes on, start with the opposite foot.
Drive a different route to work. If you change things slightly, your mind will not be able to slip into ‘auto pilot’. You will be present and conscious of what is happening. Being open to new possibilities is a skill of mindfulness. It also involves observing or looking at things as they truly are, as opposed to what we think they are or perceive them to be.
For example, going into a situation with a preconceived notion of how things will play out can obscure your experience. This can prevent you from getting in touch with the true nature of the experience. Mindfulness takes practise. Some people may put aside time to formally practise mindfulness, such as devoting time to practise meditation or conscious awareness of their breath or thoughts. The easy thing about mindfulness is that you can also practise it at any point throughout your day.
You can bring mindfulness awareness to many of the activities you often do without thinking, such as eating, washing dishes, cooking, taking a shower or bath, walking, driving in the car, or listening to music. Starting today, as you go about your day, try to find as many opportunities as you can to practise mindfulness. The more you practise, the easier it will become to bring mindful awareness to your life experiences which will result in lower stress and anxiety as well as a sense of peace and calmness.