There’s no ‘I’ in metronome: Tips to be more mindful
Gemma Ferguson explores how you can be more mindful while juggling a million commitments.
Life can be stressful. Balancing your studies, extracurriculars, work and personal life can often seem impossible and you may find yourself considering if giving up is easier than trying to do it all. This kind of stress can cause muscle tension, irregular breathing and negative impacts on your mental health.
How you attempt to balance it all is referred to as your ‘internal metronome’. Are you completing tasks calmly, to the rhythmic ticking, or is it moving at a million miles an hour, about to break?
When you’re rushing around, full of worry, it’s not just your metronome that’s affected. Emotional contagion proves that your beat can influence those of other people, spreading the feelings you’re expecting. But there’s a solution and it’s something we can all add to our daily routine; mindfulness.
The concept of mindfulness is built around one simple idea; to be fully present and aware, calm and not overwhelmed by whatever it is that’s happening. It sounds simple, but focusing on one thing – without your mind wandering off to think about your grocery list, or that big presentation coming up at uni – is harder than it seems.
While the idea of mindfulness can be seen dating back to ancient meditation practices, it has become a major buzzword in recent years. This is because it steers away from the old-school, cross-legged, “ommm” ideas associated with traditional methods of finding peace.
Mindfulness is flexible to the individual and can be interpreted and carried out however you choose. Everyone practices differently. Whether it’s going outside for some alone time, sitting in a quiet space for ten minutes, listening to some calming sounds, or soaking in your favourite scents with aromatherapy, as long as it relaxes your mind and slows your thoughts to a manageable speed.
If you’re trying an approach that isn’t working, if you find yourself still distracted, unfocused or breathing sharply, try something else! What works for one, won’t work for all – find the method that fits you best.
When you’re mindful, your internal metronome is unstressed and on-beat. You can take the time to listen to your body and mind, without thinking about other tasks or worrying your time could be better spent elsewhere.
With a mindful attitude, you will find yourself feeling happier and more creative – past the initial stress you were once experiencing. And, as an added bonus, you’ll see your positive vibes rub off on those around you – just like when you’re off-beat and overwhelmed, you may negatively impact others.
Think about it. If you’re feeling calm at home and a family member or housemate comes back from work in a bad mood, how does it make you feel? I’ll bet you’re negatively impacted and it’s not long until you’re just as upset as them. Once you hear how terrible their day was, you begin to believe it!
When you’re stressed, it’s easy to take it out on someone else, even if they don’t deserve it – misery loves company – and as the nominee for this bad mood, it’s all too easy to find your metronome matching theirs.
This extends beyond your home life too, anywhere you interact with others – your teams at work and uni, even your social groups like your friends and family – whenever you’re around others, you are susceptible to adopting a similar beat to those around you.
So how can you alter your internal metronome to have a positive impact on the people around you? What can you do to make sure you’re only spreading good vibes? Here are a few tips.
Make mindfulness part of the everyday.
If you don’t already, try adding some mindfulness exercises to your daily routine. There’s loads of apps and videos online, as well as physical tools (like adult colouring books and scented candles) you can use if you can’t find calm on your own. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be time-consuming and, if you feel like it, you can try changing it up each day. Experiment with different methods and find what works – then continue it.
Have a good attitude
It’s all about the attitude. The impact of saying “I will be mindful” or “this method will bring me joy” is greater than you think. A positive outlook really can make a difference. Not only will positive affirmations act as a reward and make you feel more connected in body and mind, but a good attitude can decrease your levels of cortisol and increase your body’s serotonin.
It sounds simple, but proper deep breaths can make the world of difference. It will allow you to focus and gain mindfulness, plus engaging in proper breathing can offer significant health benefits! When we’re uneasy, our breaths are often short and sharp (known as clavicular breathing). Aim to inhale deeper, filling your lungs and moving out the diaphragm. A full exhale can relax our shoulders and release muscle tension, plus this rush of oxygen into our body and brain can help you think clearer.
Sync your beats
Once you’ve got your metronome back to a reasonable, calm, beat – spread it! It’s a known fact that the emotions and behaviours of one person can trigger a similar attitude in others. Use this to inspire happiness in those around you and stop your negative vibes before they spread.
Be aware when you need some ‘me time.’
If you feel your metronome becoming off-beat it is a signal that you need a break. When you feel overwhelmed and your internal clock is ticking out of time, it might be time to take a moment to practice mindfulness for a few moments and readjust your focus.
So next time you feel like the world is rushing around you and it’s all getting to be too much; slow down, inhale deeply and take a minute to be mindful. Once your metronome is back in time, ticking away to a steady rhythm, radiate that attitude and spread the positivity!
Feature Image: Lesly Juarez via Unsplash