Have you ever arrived home with plans of pure relaxation and instead found yourself on the couch caught in a social media vortex? You’re not alone.
Or maybe you’ve suddenly noticed the skirting boards need a clean or your clothes need organising, and all plans of rest and recovery are forgotten.
A lot of our everyday behaviours are automatic, performed out of impulse or even addiction. Mindfulness training is an effective way of empowering us to act not out of impulse, but out of conscious, considered choice. Through strengthening our ability to be aware in each moment, we can break impulses and rewire our brains so that somewhere between having the urge to check Instagram or WhatsApp, we’ll instead pause and ask: “Do I really want to be doing this right now?”
Here are five ways to become a master – rather than a slave – of your own mind and reclaim back your relaxation time.
1. Put down your phone
With invisible cords connecting us to our devices 24/7, many of us have developed what Dr Edward Hallowell – a psychiatrist specialising in ADHD – calls ‘Attention Deficit Trait’. He describes it as “a condition induced by modern life, in which you’ve become so busy attending to so many inputs and outputs that you become increasingly distracted, irritable, impulsive, restless and, over the long term, underachieving”. Why not set conscious boundaries around your relationship to technology? You could delete addictive apps, commit to sleeping without your phone in the bedroom, or have a curfew on phone time in the evenings.
2. Create a calming nook or two
For many of us, our home is a sanctuary to retreat to and escape from life’s chaos. What if you created a nook in your home where you could go to relax and connect, read a book, write in a journal, or take time out to read your child a story? Create a place in your home – wherever you have space – that is always there and accessible when you need a quick recoup.
3. Tune into your tastebuds
Mindful eating helps you savour your food and make the pleasure last longer. When you eat, whether it be a snack or a meal, turn off the TV and tune into the senses of your dish. With each mouthful, notice the texture, the flavours, the taste and its position on your tongue.
4. Practise ‘mindful listening’
It’s easy to get lost in unhelpful thoughts about the past or the future, but doing so pulls us from being present with whatever we’re doing. One way to reconnect with reality is to practise mindful listening. Consciously tune into sounds around you. What sounds can you hear? The washing machine, air conditioner, birds chirping outside, cars driving past? Listen attentively to your family. Give them your full attention. This practice can free you – even if just for a few minutes – from the mental clutter of your mind.
5. Meditate your way to sleep
When we’re stressed the last thing we want to do is stop and meditate, but research shows that just 10 minutes can help you be more focused and effective. Before you tuck yourself into bed for the night, aim to do a quick 10-minute sleep or body scan meditation. After the 10 minutes is over, you will feel relaxed and ready for a rejuvenating sleep.