As much as many of us choose to overlook it, there is a lot wrong with the way most of us currently live our lives.
We sit in chairs all day long gaining weight, we eat processed foods and we face constant stresses from work, from our relationships, and from our finances.
What’s more, we are constantly in demand and constantly ‘plugged in’ and ‘stressed out’. Our phones are always ringing, texts are always coming in, we get a new e-mail every two minutes… And even when most of us aren’t working or being bothered, we have a near addiction to technology that means we’re still unable to really decompress.
And while our attention spans are not really shorter than a goldfish, it is not surprising that our attention has become more demanding. We are always demanding to be entertained as we flip from one video to another or one app to another.
And all this amid a raging pandemic.
Is it any wonder that mental health problems are skyrocketing?
Using mindfulness to escape modern stress is probably a big part of the reason that mindfulness is so popular right now. Mindfulness simply means directing attention in a purposeful manner. Sometimes this will mean focusing on our thoughts (in an objective and non-judgmental way) but in other cases, it will mean simply being more present and focusing on our breathing and our environments.
Either way, the idea of mindfulness is to enjoy calmness and stop the incessant chatter of our minds. Instead of being completely engaged with the world around you, we need to learn to disengage with your thoughts, providing you with relief from stress and from fear and allow you to simply relax and recover.
The opposite of mindfulness is mindlessness. How many times have you realized you devoured the entire bag of potato chips while binge-watching your favorite Netflix series? Or how many times have you suddenly asked yourself “where did my day go”? Often before bedtime, we can’t even remember what we did with our time during the day.
I realize the damaging toll the pandemic has made on our lives. Everyone has suffered in some way. How are we coping? For many, we have tried to escape the reality of it all through overeating, binging on Netflix, or staying glued to our phone or iPad screen.
There is a better way.
It starts with being aware that we are not being aware.
Boiled down to its essence, mindfulness is the observation of one’s own thoughts and emotions. In other words, it means stepping back and then simply being aware of what you’re feeling, what you’re thinking and what you are experiencing. This can then, in turn, be used to help treat a wide range of different psychological problems and to generally improve your psychological health.
The reason for this is that it brings more attention to the way that we handle various different events and to how our thoughts and emotions normally control us. This then in turn allows us to anticipate them, to deal with them, and ultimately to prevent them.
Mindfulness is a broad tool to be used in a number of different ways. In almost every scenario though, the true end goal is to be aware of the present moment and to find an inner calm that often eludes us.