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It’s vital to STOP and be CALM

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Keisha Allen-Smith of Target Learning

The fast pace of today’s world, the promotion of multitasking and the increase in technology-based distractions have caused a marked increase in the number of people suffering from anxiety. It also causes people to be tired and stressed. Life has unfortunately become so busy, and so routine, that we spend very little time taking care of ourselves.

Do you struggle to find a balance between work and home? Do you have dreams or goals that you put off due to fear or lack of time? Do you play more than one of these roles: spouse, mother, employer, employee, caregiver? Do you spend hours binge watching Netflix or playing online games? For most of us, the answer is yes to one or more of those questions.

Around the world, there’s an upward trend in the number of people suffering with mental and physical ailments. This is partly due to the fact that our bodies and minds are being overworked. It’s common for us to focus on our physical health, by exercising and eating healthy, but we forget about maintaining our mental health. We find little time to just STOP and be CALM.

When we do slow down, our minds tend to keep going. We’re either worrying about what transpired in the past, or thinking about what will happen in the future. Very seldom do we enjoy just being in the present moment.

Lao Tzu said: “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

There was a time, when I would lay in bed after an exhausting day and have trouble falling asleep. My mind would overflow with thoughts and ideas. In the stillness I would hear my heartbeat and feel its rhythm as it raced with my thoughts. This nightly occurrence began to have a negative impact on my wellbeing. However, my sleep habits improved once I began to practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is an exercise for the mind that focuses on the present moment and promotes mental health.

Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and emotions in the present moment, without judgement. It is a great tool that can help us ground and find balance during our busy and often stressful lives. Studies show that practicing mindfulness on a regular basis has both physical and mental health benefits.

Mindfulness teaches us to STOP when we feel stressed, overwhelmed or when we are about to react negatively to a situation:

S – Stop: Pause in awareness when you notice yourself feeling stressed or triggered.

T – Take a breath: Use 1:2 breathing to help clam your nervous system. For example, inhale for two counts, then exhale for four counts. Repeat as many times as needed.

O – Observe: Notice how the breath naturally regulates and brings balance to your body. Also, observe what is happening in the present moment.

P – Proceed: Now that you are in a mindful state, you can choose an appropriate response to your current situation instead of reacting to it.

In my daily travels, I often hear people complain about feeling “on edge,” restless, or irritable. If you ever experience any of these symptoms of anxiety, remember to STOP. This acronym has proved to be helpful for those of my students who suffer from test anxiety because it regulates their nervous system and allows them to focus and complete the exam.

Mindfulness also encourages us to develop habits that support a CALM lifestyle.

C- Clear the clutter: When our minds are cluttered we cannot perform at our best. This clutter is often reflected in our homes, our purses, and other parts of our lives.

A – Accept things as they are: Acceptance is the first step towards recovery, healing and peace.

L – Let go of what does not serve you: Release people and things that drain you, and embrace people and things that elevate you.

M – Maintain a mindful lifestyle: Include mental and physical exercise in your daily routine. Mindful meditation, prayer, journaling, walking, and yoga are all great options to choose from.

Mindful living can help you find balance between work and home, let go of fears that are holding you back, and improve your relationships with family, friends and coworkers. Overall, it can enhance your quality of life.

As you face each day, remember to STOP and to be CALM, so you can reduce stress and find peace.

To learn more about mindfulness, email targetlearning@live.com or call 334-7145. Also visit our website www.targetlearningbermuda.com to find information on our tutorial programs and personal development workshops.

May your journey be filled with love and light.

Keisha Allen-Smith will conducting a mindfulness workshop at the fourth annual Women’s Empowerment Summit on Saturday, November 16, 2019 at the Whitney Institute Cafetorium in Bermuda. Tickets are on sale now at www.ptix.bm.

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