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Guest Blog Mind #9: My Mindfulness Story: How Mindfulness Changed my Life

Updated: Aug 17, 2021

By Annette Young

We often live in a distracted way of being with life taking undulating twists and turns, perhaps unexpectedly. Life can become unpredictable or stressful on a regular basis. Extra pressure leads to longer hours at work or trying to juggle outstanding tasks and if like me, you may find that time goes against you with little time to spend doing the things you want to do. This can lead to feelings of resentment, #anger or #unhappiness. When you are #stressed, something must give and although we may try to keep on going along the conveyor belt of life, the risk of burnout is never far away. When you realize that you are living to work and not working to live well, you have to start making changes but that can be difficult when you feel physically and emotionally exhausted. These are two of the symptoms of #burnout. It should never be ignored as is a state of chronic #stress and dangerous. For me, mindfulness was the resource that helped me to find space to breathe and to clear my mind. It gave me time and eased the pressures from my shoulders. When I discovered mindfulness, it was life changing.

Anger #Anger may be a natural emotion, but it is often destructive and can escalate an already difficult situation. It increases volatility and heightens reactions at times when a clearer approach would be better. Anger and stress combined are a lethal combination. You may have experienced this yourself when confronted with any situation that is just not fair or is untrue and thoughts or feelings are voiced in the heat of the moment. Anger turns off the control switch within and words said in anger can never be taken back. Then, you live to regret those moments. As I began to practice mindfulness, I was less likely to say the wrong thing when a situation was explosive. I could step back, breathe and buy myself a few extra seconds of time before anger took over. This helped to alter the outcome. In fact, studies into this resource specify that mindfulness enables a cooler response to volatile situations in comparison to those who live in an unmindful way. Certainly, a clearer perception can lead to a less fractious outcome.

Stress #Stress is a key part of life these days. I thought I was on top of stress, that I managed it but that wasn’t the case. Eventually, when my health began to suffer and as I careered towards burnout, I realized a little too late that my life was out of control. I was tired, unwell and irritable. I never got the chance to switch off and relax. I constantly felt the weight of pressure weighing me down. It was always there. I stopped enjoying life and my thoughts were always on the next challenge or stressor. When I practiced being mindful, I did it a little at a time. It was difficult to hold my attention, but this became easier quite quickly. The benefits? Not reacting in an emotive way to a difficult situation.

Noticing the little things When you are more mindful, you focus more. You notice the small stuff and you embrace it. You live the moment. When you do this, you detract from the stresses of life and instead, you feel happier and more in control. You also become aware of what is happening inside. You spot the red flag of rage or, recognize those dark shadows of fatigue and depression and can manage them more effectively. Equally, you can embrace moments of contentment or happiness. That’s important. You are in tune with yourself.

Boosting physical wellness We tend to notice the physical body more so than our mental health. We feel fatigued and become irritable. When the first symptoms of a cold manifest, we notice and yet, we don’t always notice when we are under severe stress. With mindfulness, we notice all these aspects more quickly. This means we can resolve any stressful situation before health is truly impacted. Headaches are often a sign of tension and stress and tight muscles of the shoulders and neck can be painful so rather than learning to live with it, you become aware of what is happening in your life. You listen to that early alarm system and adapt and improve by exercising, meditating, or, simply, breathing the stress away. You tune into your body and appreciate this enhanced connection.

#Awareness like this can be the catalyst to make important changes in your life. It can save lives too. As you start to improve, you notice that the headaches have stopped, that your neck and shoulders are no longer tight from the perils of stress and you smile again. You connect on a deeper level than your physical health too. You engage with that core you, the essence of self. It’s a natural part of the mindfulness journey. You understand who you are and all that you desire. You feel each moment.

Increased confidence #Mindfulness aids workflow. It’s an employer’s dream because workers are more efficient, but it aids time spent in the workplace meaning you can complete projects more effectively. You stop procrastinating or avoiding certain tasks because they are more difficult. Your mind is clearer, so difficult tasks are doable. You create a plan and you focus upon it. You channel your energy and commitment and you complete projects more efficiently. This boosts confidence. Work becomes less of a strain. You push back against distractions; you remain in the zone for longer. At the end of the day, you feel less fatigued which enables more quality you time. A study into mindfulness in the workplace concluded that the practice improved clarity of mind but also enabled people to listen more deeply, to become more thoughtful and to not have to struggle at work as previously. This is important because many of us spend a lot of time in the workplace.

Mindfulness and business When I started up my own business, I realized it was easy to feel overwhelmed or to overload myself. I didn’t have a big company and people to delegate to. The buck stopped with me. I had to deliver on time and once again, taking a deep breath, I cleared my mind. Utilizing mindfulness was a gift as I felt less stressed. I appreciated the journey towards business success. I stopped fearing it. Achieving all you want in life #Mindfulness is far-reaching and enables you to know and to train the mind. By doing so, you learn to free it too. When I started to be more mindful, I achieved more. My work/life balance improved. There was greater pleasure in my existence. With additional time, I felt ready to push beyond my own boundaries and my mind was clear and open, so I could feel confident and trust my judgement. I was ready to learn and to stretch myself. That was life-changing because previously I had been too busy just trying to cope rather than to step outside my own boundaries.

Mindfulness is non-judgmental. I stopped feeling frustrated when I failed to do something, I just recognized the emotion. When I achieved, I experienced the emotion in full. Life became more balanced but with greater dimensions. I accepted life and felt gratitude for it. It may be something of a buzzword these days, but the reality is that mindfulness works. You start off by practicing it, but then, it becomes an integral part of who you are.

Annette Young is an experienced freelance writer, author and editor specializing in health and self-improvement at Train Back. She is a qualified stress management, relaxation and addiction therapist and in addition, has studied anatomy and physiology, psychotherapy, yoga and meditation. Annette has worked in the publishing industry for 17-years and is currently residing in Spain.

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