We all spend our lives planning for the future; whether it’s saving up money for retirement, or long-term career plans, it’s often the case that there’s very little time left to enjoy living in the moment. But did you know that by continually placing far off goal posts on your enjoyment of life that you’re actually likely to be adding to your anxiety levels, which in turn creates mental and physical stress, and is actually likely to be damaging to your future health, as stress has been proven to be the factor lurking behind a number of series illnesses, including heart disease, plus strokes and accelerated ageing.
Emma Kenny, a British psychologist who runs the lifestyle website, Make Your Switch, tells Lumity that learning to relax in a healthy way is crucial to combat stress and worry:
Emma says, “From a very young age we’re encouraged to worry about the future: exam results, career choices, paying bills, mortgages and the pressure of buying a house: It’s very easy to become overwhelmed and dragged down by it all.
“The key is to focus on there here and now and you can use ‘informal mindfulness’ for this. That is doing activities like gardening, washing dishes, painting or going for walks, so you’re focused on one act and fully engaged with the world around you.
“It is one thing to plan, but if you’re too future-focused you’re hinging your happiness on something that’s impossible to predict and might not ever happen, while never really appreciating the here and now.
“It’s essential to learn how turn those negative thought patterns around and be able to create your own happiness and contentment from within.”
Several handy smartphone meditation and mindfulness apps are very proving to be useful for people who suffer from anxiety and depression.
Emma explains: “These apps are what we call, ‘formal mindfulness’ – which is where you’re sitting or lying down and being taught how to live in the moment and relax your body and your mind to bring yourself into fully appreciating the present moment and combatting the stress of modern life.”
Headspace claims that it is, “like a gym membership for the mind” and guides its users through meditation and mindfulness in just ten minutes as well as sending reminders for short breaks throughout the day to “come back to that quietness” of mind.
Emma Kenny approves: “People become too reliant on outside sources for their happiness; whether it’s shopping, drinking alcohol, food or imagining that they’ll only be content when they buy that new car, house, or must-have handbag. But the joy is fleeting and ultimately makes them feel empty or let down because it’s never as good as they imagined it would be. So then they want something else and it becomes a vicious circle.
“Anchoring your thoughts and appreciating the here and now is a far more healthy way to live.”