Hi, I’m Jo Round, Mindfulness Teacher and guest blogger. It’s taken me ages to decide on the subject area for this blog. That’s not because I’m indecisive (at least I don’t think I am 😀) but because mindfulness is so far reaching, I could have gone down any one of many different paths.
In the end I chose stress because it’s something we can all relate to so I hope this blog will be helpful. Also, if I look back to what I believe was the very start of my mindfulness journey, it would be an appointment with my GP when he told me I was stressed and his advice was to take my foot off the gas for a little while! Hmmm! Ironically, that sent me into an even greater tailspin. But here I am writing a blog about it as a fully qualified Mindfulness Teacher, so I guess it all worked out in the end.
Let’s talk about stress!
Feeling stress is normal. It’s the body’s way of preparing us to deal with threatening situations (whether real or perceived). You may have heard of the fight, flight or freeze response. This is where the body detects a threat and releases hormones so we can either stand up and fight, run away or be still until the threat has gone, at which time the body stops pumping the hormones and returns to its resting state.
Our stress can come from many sources – the workplace, family issues, financial difficulties. A little stress can be beneficial to get us through a challenging situation – a job interview, that presentation you’ve been working so hard on, even trying to buy your dream home. It’s when the stress becomes so great, persistent and left unchecked, where our body doesn’t adequately return to its resting state, that stress becomes a problem.
Spotting the dangers
Most of us recognise the types of stress highlighted in the examples above. But in the modern world, perhaps the greatest stressor is psychological – coming from our own thoughts and beliefs but so subtle that we don’t realise the negative impact on our wellbeing. Maybe we wish things were different to the way they are or the way we think they should be. Our thoughts and projections about a situation can often cause us more stress than the actual situation itself. We start to believe the negative thoughts in our head “I’m not good enough”, “what will people think”, “I don’t like this”, “why does this always happen to me?” – trust me, these thoughts are not you and they are not reality. Yet this type of stress can be constant, like being on a hamster wheel going round and round and preventing our body from returning to the resting state. The stress continues to build until we start to feel it physically as well as mentally and simple tasks become too much to deal with.
How mindfulness can help
Like I said, stress is normal and we can’t make it go away – life just isn’t like that. But practicing mindfulness helps us to learn how to deal with stress so that it doesn’t have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing. Imagine stress as a fire and every time we have a negative thought or wish things were different or get too caught up in our thinking, we’re adding fuel to the fire and it grows, burns and consumes until we’re quite literally burnt out. In mindfulness we learn to spot the signs, we learn to step back and we learn to watch the fire, as though we were watching it on a TV. We don’t get involved or pass any judgement or think too much about it, and in doing this, the fire dies down on its own and eventually it goes out. Mindfulness isn’t about changing things; it’s about accepting things as they are. When we can do this, things no longer take a hold and we can live our lives with much more calm, clarity and contentment.
If you’d like to find out more about mindfulness, courses or working with me, do pop along to my website www.likeacircle.co.uk or drop me a message through the contact form on the website.
And finally, thank you so much to Kirsty for allowing me to be a featured blog.