Nightline Awareness Week is upon us, we will have a number of blog posts throughout this week related to NLAW themes!
It is easy to become overwhelmed by certain thoughts, worries and feelings especially in today’s climate. Our education and social lives have been restricted during lockdown and our futures have suddenly become uncertain. It is normal to feel overwhelmed during times like these, or any time in fact. There are so many aspects of life we can worry about such as our work, relationships, finance and health. However, it is important to realise that these worries are not always based on reality and that they can remove us from the present moment. The present, after all, is the only time we have the opportunity to directly affect our lives because it is impossible to change the past or the future.
But how can we live in the moment when we are worried about something that hasn’t happened yet, or something that we cannot change? This is a challenge most people face. It is natural for the brain to try and solve uncertainty by thinking of different possibilities so it can prepare itself for the worst. However, it is not always helpful and often we feel anxious over things that don’t turn out as bad as expected. Nevertheless, our worries can spiral out of control until we don’t fully understand why we were anxious in the first place. Or our worries can muddy our perception of the world until even the small things appear overbearing. This is the point where we should stop and listen to ourselves.
Every now and then it is important to address how we are feeling and bring ourselves back into the present reality. It is not always easy to do this. Attempting to focus and relax is difficult when there is a lot on our mind. This is why it is helpful to unpack what we are thinking about from time to time. This can be done by writing down thoughts, expressing thoughts through art or talking about them.
Nightline is the perfect listening service for when all you need is to vocalise your thoughts and unravel what is concerning you. And that is all Nightline does. Nightline listens without advising or getting involved because often it is helpful to simply view your worries from a distance before letting them go.
Letting go of certain thoughts can be difficult especially if they cause you great distress and that's okay. You don’t need to resist your negative thoughts and feelings, in fact resisting can encourage them to fester in your mind for longer. Instead of fighting off particular worries and emotions, it is alright to accept that you are thinking and feeling a certain way. Forcing yourself to focus or feel something you aren’t can cause conflict and distress. Sometimes it takes time to focus and alleviate negative emotions. You can allow yourself to improve at your own pace. There is no rush when the only person you are trying to improve for is yourself.
There are techniques you can use to pause, understand what you are feeling and clear your mind so you can fully experience the present. This state of mind is also known as mindfulness. Meditation is a useful tool to achieve mindfulness. Guided meditation apps such as Headspace, talk you through how to focus on the present. One example of their mindfulness exercises is the visualisation of a sky covered in clouds. The clouds represent thoughts and underneath there is a blue sky waiting to be unveiled, all you need to do is watch the clouds (your thoughts) go by. You can prevent thoughts from controlling you when you become a witness to the thoughts instead of getting involved in them. This is the same with emotions.
Of course it's okay to experience negative feelings, but it isn’t always okay to let them dictate your behaviours. You need to remember to bring yourself into the real world once in a while and take notice of what is really happening around you before acting. Once you achieve mindfulness, you can properly appreciate your surroundings and the body you exist in. Take notice of nature, the sounds of the wind and birds, of other people’s faces and voices, of your own breath and how your body feels. Once you take notice of what is outside your mind, you can realise that there is so much beyond your thoughts and that your thoughts do not define who you are.
Below are some free guided meditation apps you can use to practice mindfulness:
Written by: Lana Woodall