This morning I woke up at 4am. Within moments I began worrying – about work, what groceries to buy, taking the cat to the vet, writing this blog – and soon everything snowballed until it was as if my life were one giant to-do list. But then I stopped and laughed: I realized I was doing exactly what I was going to encourage you all not to do! Because on the very day I was due to blog on living in the 'Now' – the 'N' of my series on A.N.X.I.E.T.Y. for Mental Health Awareness Week – I was living in the future, not the present moment myself!

Yesterday I explained how primitive humans needed to be driven by fear to survive, so our brains remain inclined to being anxious even though we're unlikely to have to flee from danger much these days. It's inevitable that anxiety is going to get triggered in us all from time to time, but the trick is to be able to nip it in the bud before it becomes overwhelming. This is where living in the now, also known as 'mindfulness', comes in.

Mindfulness can help alleviate stress and worry, but how does it work?

Most of the time our thoughts drift, unchecked, lurching from one focus to another; one second we're thinking about writing an email, the next what to wear to a function. But when we're mindful, we actively work against this phenomenon and focus wholly on the present moment.

'But how on earth will I get through my to-do list without thinking about everything on it?' you might well be wondering. Here's the good news: mindfulness doesn't mean you have to stop doing one single task; it means you have to stop trying to do everything, all at the same time. We don't often notice, but our senses of touch, smell, sight, and sound are constantly at work, and mindfulness means focusing entirely on your bodily sensations. So instead of multi-tasking or daydreaming, make an active effort to be absorbed in what you're doing, even if it's sweeping the floor or washing up.

Try it now.

Feel the warm muscles of your legs supporting you. Smell the air of spring. Look out of the window at the sky. Listen. And most importantly, quieten your mind. When you're aware only of what you're doing and the sensations of your body in the moment, conscious worry is not possible.

Sarah Rayner
A Moodscope member.

Here's the News of the give away. Every day during Mental Health Awareness Week, Moodscope is giving away a signed copy of Sarah's new novel, Another Night, Another Day. Its focus is mental health and it features characters from many different walks of life who learn to open their hearts to one another, so it's a story that may resonate with Moodscopers. Just email [email protected] with 'Giveaway' as the subject and we'll pick one person each day to receive a free signed copy.

The Moodscope Team.


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