Returning to the new normal

As Summer fast approaches many of us will be returning to what looks like our old normal lives. Returning to pre-pandemic routines and habits.

The lockdowns have hopefully now passed. While attractions, hospitality, events and even holidays within the country are all likely to begin.

But for some people it will be hard to adjust back to a quicker pace of life.

Take those who have been shielding for example, for them even a trip to the local shops may feel like a huge step. While others may fear crowds, transport, or being close to strangers indoors after such a long period without it.

So how can you help prepare yourself for these changes?

Here are three simple things to consider.

  1. Mindfulness

The NHS website quotes Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, who says that mindfulness simply means “knowing directly what is going on inside and outside ourselves, moment by moment.”

Essentially, taking things slowly, and really focusing on the small details of your day that are often overlooked or rushed.

Professor Williams says "An important part of mindfulness is reconnecting with our bodies and the sensations they experience. This means waking up to the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the present moment.

"It's about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, it can positively change the way we see ourselves and our lives."

Especially in the Summer months, simply taking the time to stop, enjoy, and relax will have a calming effect and help you focus on the moment – not worry about the future.

  1. Breathing

On average we breathe 24,000 times a day but mostly it’s an act that happens without us even knowing. And our breathing can have a big effect on our emotions and mood.

That’s why people often tell someone to “breathe!” if they are feeling overwhelmed which is down to how it affects the physiology of our bodies.

For example when you feel stressed. Your breath becomes short, moves to the chest and shoulders and you tense up. When you feel at ease. Your breath becomes deep and moves into your stomach where your body relaxes.

If we can be more aware of our breathing, we can use it to relax us at times when we need it.

One well-known trick is to take six full deep breaths, inhaling all the way to the top of your lungs and exhaling all the way to the bottom.

This is a good tactic if you know that you are about to feel overwhelmed or face a situation where you need to relax yourself. 

  1. Set small goals

Everything becomes easier if you can break it down into small chunks. And it’s the same with stress and anxiety.

It’s common to focus on the end goal. “I must finish building that shed before the weekend!”

Whereas if you can focus on the process, it will help you feel more in control. 

One method to try is break a task / challenge / or issue down and ask yourself, “how am I going to address this?” “What am I going to do this week that will help?” and “What can I change daily to help towards my goal?”

What you can control and take charge of on a day-to-day basis are the goals you need to focus on.

Once you have planned that out you will find that the rest starts to fall into place more easily and what were once large challenges become simple steps that you can achieve.

I wish everyone well in the coming months and hope everyone gets out to enjoy the British Sunshine.

Dr Hilary Jones.

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