Did you know that working faster and faster is the way to bad mental health situations?

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week we will be running a series of blogs all week. Today, Ann Page will discuss the first core concept of mindfulness.

It is said that we are human beings, not human ‘doings’. Yet in our culture and our professional lives, we must always be busy – we feel we must live as human doings. This is also where we tend to live our lives on autopilot.

Before looking at mindfulness, we need to recognise the two different modes of life – the doing mode and the being mode.

The doing mode

Doing mode is all about practicality. It consists of:

  • tasks
  • problem-solving
  • goals and the drive to attain them
  • need to measure achievement
  • focus on successful outcomes
  • hatred of failure.

There is nothing wrong with the doing mode per se. In fact, it can be exciting and fun. It is also what drives humanity forward. The trick is to ensure this is not the only mode you are living in.

The being mode

Being mode is all about awareness and space.

It is very important, as it gives your brain and body a rest. This mode gives you time to replenish your mental and emotional resources – housekeeping for the mind and body. It also provides the mental space where you can think of relationships and life. This can enable you to be proactive instead of reactive, as doing is not conducive to creative thinking.

Some people, when they say ‘let me sleep on it’, are really asking for a chance to retreat into being mode, where their mind can relax and open itself to all possibilities.

This also allows people to deal with the emotional side of that request, particularly difficult or painful ones. When in doing mode your mind is so active you cannot feel your emotions. Hence keeping yourself busy means keeping your emotions at a distance – ‘burying yourself in work’.

Mindfulness wordcloud

What is mindfulness?

This can be tricky to explain. There are three core concepts to mindfulness and this blog deals with the first:

Living in the moment – being present

It can be very easy to rush through life without stopping to notice much. Mindfulness is about just being aware of your surroundings and what is going on internally.

Let’s engage with the now – now.

Set your phone timer for 30 or 60 seconds. Take your time to:

  • Be aware of what you are feeling physically. Are you sitting on your chair? If so, does it feel comfortable or not? Do a body check – your neck, back, legs etc – how do these body parts feel? How is your breathing?
  • Pay attention to your thoughts – what are they?
  • Check out your senses – what can you see and what sounds and smells are you aware of?
  • Consider what emotions are prevalent while you are living in the moment.

After your set period, you may want to record your impressions of being totally present in those moments.

Consider these times as giving yourself a mini-break or breathing space from worrying about the future or feeling guilty about the past. Once you are in the habit of taking these living-in-the-moment breaks, you may want to increase the time you do this. You could expand to five minutes, perhaps with your favourite hot drink. That way you can easily embed this twice a day as a habit with your morning and afternoon drink.

If you would like to know more on how to use mindfulness to manage your stress and build resilience, please contact me

About Ann Page and Yorkshire Courses for Lawyers

Yorkshire Courses for Lawyers (YCFL) delivers strategic coaching and training in leadership, management and interpersonal skills for the legal profession primarily based in Yorkshire. Since 2003, Ann has trained nearly 7,000 lawyers in leadership, management and interpersonal skills both in the UK and internationally. Ann has also trained with the Coaching Academy and holds a HNLP certificate in coaching as well as being an NLP master practitioner. She coaches lawyers on business skills, including stress management.

© Beyond the Brief trading as Yorkshire Courses for Lawyers