Using mindfulness as an antidote to worry

Wow what a scorcher – in some parts of the UK today it is 30 degrees – super warm for our normally cool and cloudy country. If you’re in it, I hope you’re enjoying it.

So I came across this brilliant talk by Ruby Wax at the School of Life. 

Ruby talks about the ‘fear’ or ‘worry’ part of our brains. She highlights that no-one is immune to worrisome thoughts and shares how such thoughts have a physiological impact on our bodies.

For a few reasons right now as I write this email I can feel tension in my stomach, I have worries and I can feel the impact on my body. I must be releasing cortisol and adrenaline, and I know those hormones are in no way serving me right now, I don’t need to run away from a lion, I don’t have to avoid being hit by a bus, I’m not delivering a presentation. And yet, I still feel under threat.

As Ruby shares there are many things in our lives that lead us to feel under threat, and as I’ve mentioned before our own brains can make up stories and create fear and worry for us when externally everything is actually safe and ok in our immediate world.

So basically, this is what the human brain does, it gets fearful. And one of the most effective tools for tackling such fear is mindfulness. I just stopped typing, checked in with my body, noticed where I was feeling tension (most often I hold my stomach in and don’t breathe very deeply) and relaxed. That’s a form of mindfulness, and you know what, as I do that, as I pay attention to my body and let the tension go my brain cannot worry at the same time. As Ruby Wax shares our brains cannot do both things simultaneously, so engaging in mindfulness literally pulls your attention away from worry.

And you know what when you pull yourself away from worry, and bring your attention to the present you step into a place of clarity. And from that place of clarity it is easier to identify the most important tasks, the ones that will truly serve you. I notice now I am breathing more freely, I can see three key to-dos I have for the day and I feel like my brain has space for the creativity I need right now in my work.

So I encourage you to try mindfulness when you are feeling tense or stressed or worried. Here are the brilliant Leveys with a few more mindfulness strategies. 

As ever with love, Hannah

PS We will be practicing some mindfulness strategies on retreat in October. Book your place here to come and join a small group from the non profit and public sectors re-energising and self-caring. 

*Image by Simon Schmitt www.unsplash.com 

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