By Lucy Wyndham
When I first began to experience anxiety, I had no idea how on trend I was. A recent Women’s Health Survey of 15,000 Australian women found that just over 46% have been diagnosed with anxiety or depression. We’re the women who are trying to be good friends, partners, mothers, daughters, citizens and employees; and we’re putting ourselves last. In my case, overcoming anxiety meant finding ways to restore and re-balance myself, without feeling that I was being self-indulgent or neglecting my roles elsewhere. For me, the “point” of mindfulness was the way in which it gave me back my peace of mind.
Mindfulness is a technique which helps you to focus your awareness on the present. It’s noting the moment, accepting it, and letting stresses or worries pass. It doesn’t require specialist gear or being in a certain place, which is why it’s perfect for me. I can pause while hanging out the washing, pushing my daughter on the swings or listening to my son practice his spellings. I try to model it to them too; in fact, the first Mindfulness Curriculum has recently launched in schools to try to help disengaged and stressed out kids. Studies have shown that it’s a tool that everyone can use, regardless of age.
Breathing in the everyday
One of the most common physical symptoms of anxiety is shortness of breath. When I felt particularly anxious, my heart would race and I’d feel myself over-breathing until I felt almost dizzy. For those situations, I learned to practice breathing techniques which help to restore calmness and could help me get quickly back to a steady rate. It might feel strange at first to focus on something we do automatically, but there is a real benefit to developing good breathing habits for everyday life. Work on them whenever you get a few minutes’ peace; you may find that your shoulders become less tense, your jaw less rigid and your heart a little lighter.
Meditation in minutes
For a busy parent, the idea of taking time out to meditate may seem like pure luxury but it can be squeezed into life more easily than you might think. Many CEOs and industry leaders now embrace meditation, and I can certainly vouch for its power to help me manage my anxieties and juggle family life more effectively too. Meditation helps to clear the mind of niggling worries and brings the positives into focus. Just five minutes a day can really help to establish the habit; for me, setting my alarm just before everyone else gets up is the only way to fit it in. Friends of mine have found they can meditate whilst walking the dog or in that perfect peace once the kids are in bed; find your window and use it to clear your mind.
For those of us who experience anxiety, practising mindfulness and meditation is a really powerful tool. It’s free, flexible enough to fit in around life, and highly effective in clearing the mind and lowering stress. It’s a brilliant gift to pass on to your kids too.
Find your five minutes a day and enjoy the peace it brings.