Do you find that you spend your days in a sort of hunched over slightly leaning forward position with your arms just in front of you and your thumbs poised for glass-tapping action? You're not the only one. Take a look around any train, waiting area or cafe and you'll see eyes everywhere fixed on a little compound of metal and glass and light held about a foot away from the starer's face.
With anxious and busy lives and this little thing in our pockets demanding our attention constantly we are a society that is profoundly NOT taking notice of the present moment. Often, we are anywhere but the present, going through mental to-do lists, worrying about a comment a friend made on social media, berating ourselves for not looking how we'd like to, not being the kind of person we'd like to be.
This way of living takes its toll on our mental health but thankfully it's quite easy to reclaim your brain. The fifth way to wellbeing is to Take Notice, and this blog post is going to suggest a few ways of quickly returning to the present and taking notice of the fascinating, complex and beautiful world before our eyes.
Part of the reason that we fail to take notice of the things around us is because we tend to do everything at such speed, especially if you live in an urban area. Making a conscious effort to walk slowly, feeling the ground beneath your feet and taking in the things you see is a great way to return to the present. This will take some deliberate effort but with practice you'll soon find yourself noticing more without making a conscious effort to do so.
This one is my favourite! I attended a day long mindfulness session when I was at university in Manchester and we ate lunch 'mindfully' - eating slowly, noticing how the food feels in our mouths, noticing the flavours, textures, smells. I remember that I'd brought with me the saddest looking cheese sandwich in the world that day but using the slow eating technique made it the most incredible thing I'd ever eaten. I've honestly never experienced a sandwich so exceptional. Give it a go!
This is a really quick and easy way to bring our attention down from our worries and into our bodies. First, take note of 5 things that you can see: a tree, a bird, a bag, a keyboard, a cup of tea. Next, notice 4 things you can hear: a car, a fan, the heating stirring up, the wind. Notice 3 things you can touch: the warmth of your mug of tea, the smoothness of the desk, the dryness of your own hand. Then notice 2 things you can smell: your new deodorant, the milk in your tea. Finally, 1 thing you can taste: the tannin of the tea. Use this technique for a quick 5 minute time out whenever you need to de-escalate your anxiety and re-centre.
Share this with your friends to spread the word about the 5 Ways to Wellbeing.