Being mindful … in your everyday life

In a recent survey on stress in South Africa, 40% of respondents ranked family as the leading cause of stress; 27% said health was a concern; 17% cited work as a stressor; 16% claimed finances were a major stress factor (The Profmed Stress Index).

“We live in stressful, turbulent times. The pace of life if accelerating exponentially; uncertainty, endless change and countless demands are the norm. These everyday challenges can, and often do, adversely affect our health and wellbeing. In the face of this, it is critically important to realise we have the strength, stability and resilience within us for effectively meeting these challenges. Mindfulness is a way for you to access these inner resources,” says Associate Professor for Medicine and Executive Director for the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society and Director of the Stress Reduction Programme at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Saki F Santorelli.

Mindfulness is about the here and now, being present in the moment. It involves acceptance, meaning that we pay attention to our thoughts and feelings without judgement. When we practise mindfulness, our thoughts simply focus on what we sense in this moment, rather than rehashing the past or imagining the future.

A simple way to practise mindfulness is by counting your breaths, with this merely being a way to be more aware, resulting in less mind-wandering, a better mood and less distraction.

If one or more of these is true of you, you may need to seek ways to manage your stress:

  • You are constantly irritable or have sleep problems.
  • You are snappy and short-fused.
  • You feel anxious or depressed.
  • You are suffering from high cholesterol, high blood pressure, eczema or skin problems.
  • You struggle with concentration, feeling unmotivated or insecure.
  • You have insecure feelings about money, your employment or your relationship.

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