During Mental Health Awareness Week (10-16th May) I am launching my new website and coaching business. My own journey with mental health has led me to this point and as I reflect back on a particularly dark period in my life I also have much to be grateful for. As is often said there is a positive that emerges from our negative experiences, although it might take a while to see it! My self awareness has grown so much since those times and I am a very different and happier person now.
Here in the UK as we slowly reappear from the most recent, and hopefully last, lockdown, the world has shifted and is now very different. There is a part of me that feels a little nervous about returning to ‘normal’. There was a certain peace and tranquillity about endless days of unscheduled diary time. To have a weekend stretching ahead, full of choices about how to spend the hours ahead. I must admit I wasn’t as productive as I could have been, I learnt a lot about what motivates me, my drive to do things can range from powerfull to frankly, dismal!
Already my diary is filling with various commitments and social meet ups, don’t get me wrong, it’s lovely to see family and friends, but one thing I have learnt is I personally need some time that is unscheduled, where I am not ‘booked’ to be here or there, doing this and that. Evidence is mounting that we need times of inactivity, rest and immersive activity that allows our brains to slow down and switch off. Because when we pause amazing things can happen.
Self Awareness & it’s role in Mental Health
So back to Mental Health Awareness week, what do we mean by ‘Awareness’ and how is it useful? We could also use words like realisation, consciousness, and recognition. There is often something in our lives that’s in the background, making it easy to ignore, we can continue to keep doing and thinking in the same habitual way, steering away from what might feel uncomfortable, and like the proverbial ostrich, bury our heads in the sand, hoping it will go away. The problem when we avoid things, is they rarely disappear, in fact they sit, lurking in the background, niggling at us, like a damp patch on the wall behind the wardrobe! 🙂
I recently attending a course, ‘Relational Mindfulness for Coaches’ run by the lovely Emma Donaldson Fielder. The sessions began with theory but most of our time was spent practically applying the techniques, working with other participants. In simple terms it involved bringing mindfulness into our relationships with others. One of the first steps in this process was to ‘pause and allow’, to take time to become present and set aside all the thoughts that swirl around our brains most of the time. As a coach I am trained to listen actively, attentively, but as a result of this work the quality of my self awareness, listening and ability to be present has advanced to an even deeper level.
Self awareness is the first step of change, but you need to be prepared to give it space and time to bubble to the surface. Once awareness arrives, things start to shift, often imperceptibly. Our brains were not designed to be absorbing and doing things constantly, so maybe the good that has come out of the epidemic is that many of us have learnt to slow down and ‘smell the roses’ appreciate what we have now, connect with nature, our thoughts and feelings. Once we face what is lurking in the background we can begin to address what is troubling or limiting us.
Raising Self Awareness Through Mindfulness
You may have never tried meditation or tried it and felt you ‘failed’ but like all things it takes practice and often feels strange to begin with. You definately don’t have sit for hours, cross legged in lotus pose! Just a few mintues can help to find calm and begin to develop a daily practice is all that is needed. I admit it’s something you hear a lot about these days but that’s because more and more research is showing what a profound affect it has.
Why not just try 2 minutes a day, if possible, at a regular time of day. Sit comfortably, preferably with an upright back, taking gentle deep breaths and focus on what each breath does to your body. Two minutes, just 2 minutes and see how it makes you feel. Another option that you might find handy is to have a mindful walk, choose your favourite colour and then see what you can spot with the same colour. I would love to hear how it goes?
If you are seeking change but struggling to make it happen, please call me for an obligation free chat about my coaching services
If you are struggling with your mental health, please reach our for help either via your local health services or the great charity, Mind.