Focusing on the here and now
Approximately 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem each year, with 1 in 6 experiencing a common mental health problem, such as anxiety or depression, in any given week according to Anxiety UK.
An increasingly popular technique for reducing anxiety and improving mental well-being is Mindfulness. What is Mindfulness? Put simply, it’s the art of living in the present without worrying about the past or the future. How does Mindfulness help? Let me give you an example …
A few weeks ago, I was away for the weekend and had a lot on my mind. I went for a woodland walk in the glorious sunshine but instead of being present and in-the-moment, my mind was focused on all the tasks I had to do when I got back home. Of course, I couldn’t do anything about the ‘to-dos’ whilst I was away and worrying about them was only adding to my stress levels. The result was that I wasn’t focused on or able to enjoy the walk, or indeed enjoy the precious time spent with my husband.
Luckily, as a skilled and practised Mindfulness Practitioner, I was able to bring my wandering mind back to the present in several ways: firstly, I started consciously listening to the birdsong, and the sound of the river nearby, and then I started to pay attention to the trees, noticing the shapes of the leaves, and the difference in shades of green between one type of tree and another. Do you think this helped me start to relax and enjoy the walk with my husband? Of course it did!
Getting your mind to do what you want it to (rather than the other way around!) takes practice. And one way you might find it easier, and even more enjoyable, to become more present, more aware and more mindful –- is by taking up a hobby, and in particular, photography.
How can Mindful Photography help you reduce worries, fears and anxiety?
- Getting out and about with a camera subconsciously focuses your mind on the present situation: what’s around you, what you can see, noticing how things change as you move farther or closer, or the light changes, and so on.
- Mindful photography helps us slow-down in life. You can’t be stressed or hurried when you’re taking a photograph; photography teaches us how to be more patient, more understanding, and much less stressed about life in general. This in turn, has benefits for both mental and physical well-being.
- When you’re observing, focusing and framing, you’re not judging whether what you see is good or bad; you’re assessing what ‘is’ and not what ‘should-be’. This ‘non-judgemental awareness’ (an important factor in Mindfulness) can help us in life to become freer, less bound by rules and in turn, happier.
- By being mindful, you can start to see the true beauty in the world around you.
That can only be a good thing for the 1 in 6 wanting to feel better today.
Dr Marcelle Crinean, PhD, owner and director of Brain Reframe, is a highly qualified therapist, coach and lecturer.
In her busy practice, Marcelle successfully treats sleep and stress-related issues (including insomnia, anxiety and depression) as well as disordered eating, binge-eating and undereating. She regularly holds workshops and webinars, and trains business executives across the UK and Europe in the art of sleep and stress management.