Last year national statistics revealed that women aged 25-54 are more stressed than their male colleagues, with this at the highest for women aged 35-44, when many are juggling family responsibilities, such as caring for children and elderly parents.
Add that to the constant, rushed pace of life we often forget to just take a moment to sit back and gather our thoughts.
We recently had a chat with Emma Mills, writer, meditation teacher and author of Inhale. Exhale. Repeat: A Meditation Handbook for Every Part of Your Day (Rider Books, £9.99) who shared with us her reasons for writing her book and why working girls should consider meditation to de-stress from the busyness of life.
Meditation is important because it helps you to connect with yourself. It helps you settle down and feel as though you are living from a nice calm centred place. It really gets you off on the best foot possible. I think doing a little bit of meditation each day can be a really positive thing. This said, It’s quality over quantity with this sort of thing and to make it worth its while it’s good to do your meditation with an attitude of enthusiasm— or if not enthusiasm, at least willingness and curiosity. The risk that comes with thinking that you have to have a daily meditation is that it might just get added to the mornings to do list and we might try to go through the motions of meditation in order to tick it off, or get it out of the way. If you feel keen to do it every day then yes a daily practice is good. For example, you might notice that on those mornings where you meditate, you tend to go on to have a nicer day; that will likely encourage you to do it each day. But maybe not. I don’t encourage people to have a daily practice, I encourage them to have a practice of some description, one that fits them just right, and suits their life, and the unique path they are on, that was part of the inspiration behind creating the book.
Try to look after yourself as well as you can. Keep active, eat well, meditate and go to yoga. Make a wellbeing tool-kit, things you know of that make you feel good keep you well and feeling your best. We will each have our own unique wellbeing kit, reflecting our unique needs and preferences.
In the book there is a section about creating an inspired workspace and we share about aromatherapy, flowers, plants, teas, music and poetry, and how we can bring these influences into our workspace. It’s good to remember that if you burn out you wont be able to do anything really so looking after yourself can makes your creative and professional work more sustainable.
I like to lay in my bed as soon as I wake up and listen to things, listen to life. Sometimes I can hear birds, other times traffic or kitchen noises. I listen to the sound of my breathing, the sound of my heart beat. Sometimes I trace the noises back to their origin and location. Sometimes I can’t hear much at all. I like to lay quietly and just be with this first scene of the day, as it’s unfolding. This is a lovely early morning meditation you can do in bed, it’s described in more detail in the first section of the book too.
People often tell me they feel that having a bath, or a glass of wine or a work out is the thing that helps them transition from work to home. I wanted to add a meditation based alternative for people to try too. It’s nice to have options and know of different ways to switch off.
I would recommend going to a class or going to meet a teacher. If you can’t get to a class, I have several video and audio guides on my website where you can meet me virtually and begin to learn there. Meditation books are also nice because they carry a little bit of the essence of the person who wrote them; so you get to meet them through the book. When you do sit down for the first time to try it out, don’t have any expectations of what will happen, just go with the flow and take an attitude of discovery. Try this meditation out for example.
Try a little meditation before work, a little bit on lunch, or a little bit after work. Little bits here and there, where you can. It all adds up and makes a nice difference.
Unlike traditional diets, mindful eating doesn’t require complex meal plans, calorie counting or follow a set time scale. Mindful eating is a simple, yet radical new approach to food and diet that encourages you to change how you eat for good.
It has been shown to be effective in clinical trials, and is now growing in popularity among the wellness lovers. The meditative eating concept involves making mini mental adjustments which help you avoid succumbing to triggers that pull you into eating too much of the wrong thing.
The food we eat has a massive impact on our sense of wellbeing and health. Yet, it is one thing for me to make that statement, but it is another for me to find out if it is true. For example, with mindful eating we explore a way of preparing food, appreciating food and eating food that is calm and conscious. We carry this sentiment on, into the days and weeks that follow our meal, this way we can come to know how the food we have eaten has affected our wellbeing. When we watch this carefully we might learn new things that can help us make more informed decisions.
Mindful eating is really fun, and really brings the joy of cooking and food to life.
Have a nice bedtime routine, maybe that will include reading, a bath, a certain hot drink or a little meditation, like the bed time meditations in my book. Perhaps reducing screen time can also help in the lead up to bed time.
It might be a nice idea to swap evening T.V for a few new books. There are lots and lots of literary recommendations to choose from in my book. Fiction offers insight into different lifestyle themes as thoroughly as many self help books do. For example you can read a short story by H.G Wells and learn a little (through the fictional characters) about the various ways people approach leadership. And you can read O Henry, and discover the many ways people manage love and relationships.
Inhale. Exhale. Repeat: A Meditation Handbook for Every Part of Your Day by Emma Mills (Rider Books, £9.99) is out now