Help live your life to the full with a long term health condition
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Rachel Wesley, BSc (Hons), PG (Dip) in Counselling, Registered Member MBACP
26th November, 20130 Comments
Living with a long term health condition or being a carer for someone who has, can have a significant impact on mood and general mental well-being for many people. Clients come to me saying "I just want to be like I was before" or their partner/family members will ask "when will they be back to their old self again?" The honest but difficult answer to that question is we can never actually go back to anything in the past (unless you know Dr Who personally of course!). We are who we are right now in this moment. What we can do is live more fully in the here and now. That's what mindfulness is about - living here, right now, in this moment. Not planning ahead with anxiety, worrying if something will actually happen or looking back into our memory box with negative judgements wishing we were back in some past moment.
Mindfulness helps us to be more in the moment - whether that's eating and savouring our food which can help with cravings for fatty or sugary foods that we often seek out more of if we feel low, being able to watch and enjoy our favourite TV programme without our monkey mind taking us off in a hundred different directions or concentrating fully on one task at a time and knowing we've done that task well enough, giving us a sense of achievement.
Try this 5 minute mindful task - make a hot drink. We often do many things on auto-pilot, mindfulness is the opposite of this. When your mind wanders as you are making the drink, remember this is normal and gently return it to the task. You may be tempted to perhaps clean the work surfaces or wash up, just notice these thoughts (don't judge them, just notice they exist) and let them drift away, bring your mind back to the task of making the drink - filling the kettle, watching it boil, feeling the steam, waiting for the drink to cool down etc. Then sit down and experience drinking it - be aware of its taste, sensation, how it feels inside your mouth, throat. Just experience this moment without negative judgement.
For more information on simple mindful exercises access www.getselfhelp.co.uk/mindfulness.htm
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