This is a guest post by Beth Williamson-Ruse MSW, CEIS, a speaker and trainer, who is a clinically trained mind body medicine practitioner specializing in stress management and resilience. Enjoy!
Ever wondered where your sunglasses were only to find them perched on your head? Or started driving and realized you are driving northbound on a highway and need to be driving south? Or perhaps you’ve lost your car in the parking lot?
I have done all of these things in the past week. (Yes that was me you heard activating the alarm button on my car’s remote in an effort to find it!)
In addition, I left my keys dangling in the doorknob on the OUTSIDE of my house. And I have also lost my cell phone no less than ten times. It has come to the point that if I start a sentence with, “Have you seen…” my sons then respond with, “…your cell phone?”
So what is going on?
Well, I am walking around with my mind full rather than being mindful.
Our family’s extended holiday vacation is over. My boys are back in school. Afterschool activities, homework and school projects are being juggled with my professional obligations, travel and training all mixed into my family’s daily routine and responsibilities.
Nothing earth shattering; it’s simply a transition time. One that feels a little overwhelming.
I lead workshops, facilitate trainings and offer keynotes on strategies to help people manage stress so that they are able to be more productive and more present in both their personal and professional lives. Mindfulness, keeping your mind in the same “place” as your body, is a key strategy I teach to increase focus. I know all of this.
But what I also know, is that when we are in the throes of life, our stress response often kicks into high gear. Our minds race a mile a minute with all that we need to accomplish, and we lose track of where we truly are and the task at hand. Instead of being mindful, or mind is full – very full.
Our feet are in one spot, say aisle ten of the grocery store, but our mind is on the proposal we have to write, or making sure we have a poster board for our son’s school project. It’s only the next morning when someone is looking for cereal that we remember we never did pick up that box of cereal (in aisle ten).
Back in the day when this would happen, my mind would go into overdrive, and I would start to multitask in an effort to get it all done. This was never effective; it only served to decrease my focus and increase my stress. A never-ending cycle ensued.
Now I take this distraction as a sign. A sign that I need to slow down, become more aware, and bring my attention back to the here and now.
Usually this means focusing my attention on my breathing as I take some slow easy breaths. For if I am focused on my breathing, then I am focused on my body. And if I am focused on my body, then my mind and body are connected in the present moment.
When I am connected to the present, I am able to prioritize the tasks at hand and accomplish them mindfully and efficiently. I respond with purpose, rather than react out of panic.
Suddenly life, while still full of obligations and responsibilities, feels a bit more manageable.
Another perk of being in the present moment?
I am usually aware of where I am placing my cell phone. And voilà! It’s not lost the next time I go to find it – much to the relief of my boys.
Beth Williamson-Ruse MSW, CEIS, is a speaker and trainer, who is a clinically trained mind body medicine practitioner specializing in stress management and resilience. She collaborates with corporations, non-profits, and organizations to teach employees how to integrate practical, evidence-based stress management strategies within their professional and personal lives. You can reach her at www.bethwilliamsonruse.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.