Welcome to Week Seven of Reset Button's Online Mindfulness Course.
Week Seven: Notice Your Life. Nourish Your Life.
Do you ever get so engrossed in your to-do list that you forget what you are actually doing in the moment?
Have you experienced the feeling of being ‘run ragged’?
Do you ever find yourself wishing that you had more time to enjoy the small things in life?
The society in which we live makes many demands on us. We have to fulfill many roles, worker, boss, parent, partner or friend. We have many tasks to complete and pressures to complete them well, whether they are external or internal. This can lead to a lot of stress. When we feel stressed, we tend to give up some of the more enjoyable and nourishing activities in order to be able to get everything done. Through doing this, we find that we have less and less balance in our lives and move more and more from stress towards exhaustion.
It is natural to see these more nourishing activities as "optional". However, what actually happens to your ability to manage your life effectively when you feel tired, frustrated, lacking in energy or motivation? These are all symptoms of what happens when we become over-stressed and exhausted.
The existence of stress itself is not the real problem. It would be impossible for us to not have any stress in our lives, especially considering how we are set up as human beings to react to things. If we didn't have a stress reaction to situations we would not have survived in caveman days when we had to be alert to dangers such as woolly mammoths. The issue is how we deal with stress and what happens when stress becomes chronic.
First of all, let's just take a look at what a stressor is. It is anything in the outside world that throws us out of balance. For example, at it’s most simple level a change in temperature from warm to cold. When this happens our body reacts by trying to rebalance its own temperature. A stressor can also be the anticipation of something, or even thinking about potential stressors. We can even turn on our stress response by thinking about potential stressors that may throw us off far in the future. Our bodies do not know the difference between a real threat and an imagined threat so react in the same way.
So what happens when we react to feelings of stress by applying the ‘doing’ mind and trying to solve them? By having thoughts such as, ‘if I can just get all of this done the stress will go away’. Or, ‘if I don't do this then I will be letting people down’. The problem is that we rarely achieve this feeling of completion, of all tasks being done.
Mindfulness can help us to take a different approach to stress. We can try turning towards the sensations that accompany it, by seeing it for what it really is, a normal reaction to change, or to factors in our external world that are pulling for us to react. We can try to nourish ourselves more, to bring balance back into our lives by appreciating the small things that give us pleasure. Those that make us feel relaxed. We can try to allow a feeling of completion to wash over us after each task even though we haven't completed everything. When our mind pulls away to thoughts such as, "I'll be happy when I get there", we can turn towards the present moment and see that we are complete and whole just as we are.
Practices for Week Seven:
Choose one of the meditations you have done so far because you felt it gave you some appreciable nourishing benefits, such as helping you to relax or simply making you feel good about the world.
Choose another one because you felt that you didn't fully get to grips with it first time round, because it was difficult in some way or because you feel that you'd benefit from repeating it. Do both of these daily for 6/7 days.
After meditating choose to take action that will nourish you. You have three options:
1: You can do something pleasurable.
2: You can do something that will give you a sense of satisfaction or mastery over your life.
3: Or you can continue acting mindfully.
Choose three things that you find nourishing and do them this week.
It could be anything from doing an extra meditation that you enjoy to taking a walk or making your favourite meal or having a lie in.
Want to share your experience? Use #habitreset on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter and share your pictures or feelings. Let us know any thoughts or questions on our forum. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM
How to make stress your friend.
Psychologist Kelly McGonigal urges us to see stress as a positive, and introduces us to an unsung mechanism for stress reduction: reaching out to others.
IN YOUR JOURNAL
1: Write five things that you have noticed this week.
2: Make a list of activities that you carry out in one day. Make sure you break them down. For example, work could be broken down into a set of tasks such as emailing, meetings, writing a proposal, taking calls etc.
3: After each item, write an N for nourishing or a D for depleting. If an activity is neither or both then write that. See what you notice. Do you have a balance? Try not to judge yourself. It is common for us not have balance at times. But consider adding some more nourishing activities if this is the case for you.
4: Write three things that you are grateful for.
REMEMBER: Q&A FORUM FOR WEEK SEVEN - WE WILL CHECK IN AT TIMES THROUGHOUT THE WEEK AND REPLY TO YOUR QUESTIONS. CLICK HERE TO GO TO FORUM