When lockdown was first announced I spent a couple of weeks in my flat alone, before deciding to go back to my parents' in Bournemouth. I have recently returned to my flat in Hitchin and am accutely aware of how much has changed since I left three months ago.
Generally I enjoy keeping myself busy and most of the time choose the company of others over my own. But at the end of March when everything came to an abrupt stop, I was surprised to find a real joy in slowing down, in paying attention to my thoughts and emotions, in spending time praying or journalling. Making the most of my one government-allocated daily walk forced me to discover places that I hadn't before. And having so many things that I loved taken away or restricted forced me to find joy in the mundane, and recognise how blessed I really am!
I wonder if, as I've been allowed to once again see friends and visit shops or cafe's (which don't get my wrong has been wonderful!), and life has started to feel busier, I've slowly started losing the art of taking notice.
Taking notice is one of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing. Particularly when we feel anxious, overwhelmed or life feels a bit out of control, learning to take notice helps us to be present, to change our perspective and focus, and to recognise and process our thoughts and feelings in a constructive way.
So how do we take notice?
In the busy world we live in, it is easier to keep ourselves completely distracted from our own thoughts and feelings. One way of taking notice is just to create time each day to slow down and unplug, to spend time reflecting on your day and how you feel about it. Maybe write or journal things you are thinking, or find someone to talk to about them. Allow yourself to feel those emotions and remind yourself that emotions are normal and valid.
However, it is also important to not allow our worries or negative emotions to completely overwhelm us. Once we recognise those emotions, taking notice also allows us to shift our perspective, to be in the present, to focus on the positive, and the things that are within our control over things that we have no control over. Identifying things you are thankful for each day can help bring you back to the present moment, to find the joy in right now, and over time will give you a natural focus on the positive rather than the negative. Intentionally focusing on things to be thankful for helps us to keep things in perspective, and so helps with feeling overwhelmed or like things are out of control.
Finally, mindfulness or breathing activities are also a great way of taking notice. Taking your focus from the future, things that may or may not happen, and bringing it back to the present moment, and allowing you to relax. There are great apps for this or you can find plenty of breathing or mindfulness activities on Youtube.
I feel personally challenged to be intentional about continuing to take notice, both internally, to my own thoughts and feelins, and externally, to the joys and blessings that are so easy to miss in the rush of life. To make time to stop and smell the roses.
I encourage you, whatever life looks like for your right now, to find one way that you can be intentional about taking notice and taking care of your own wellbeing!
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