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Mindfulness and Me

This week is mental health awareness (MHA) week – a topic close to my heart. Spending most of my life being annoyingly positive, I’ve also previously suffered from stress, anxiety, and briefly depression. I am a huge advocate for the world being kinder, more understanding and creating a safe space for anyone to talk about mental health.

I can’t help but smile at the fact that its MHA week because, this week, I’m feeling pretty fried. Thankfully, it didn’t take me long to put into practice the amazing techniques therapy taught me; I’m on the verge of moving house (2 months late), I’m supporting someone very close to me go through a really challenging time and I’m finalizing my divorce. All in a never in my lifetime COVID lockdown. It appears my stress beaker is pretty full right now, so cue dialing up what works for me: exercise, plenty of sleep, talking about how I am feeling, and trusting the feelings will pass.

My journey with my mental health has reached a point where I have lots of effective methods in my toolkit which in the main keep me well, but I’m excited to be working on a new one and it’s a biggie – mindfulness. I’ve considered it for years now, but convinced myself “it’s just not for me, I can’t turn my brain off!”  Then I read Sane New World by Ruby Wax. As mentioned, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) was incredibly effective for me and in Ruby’s book she talked about the research into the benefits of Mindfulness Based CBT. Imagine my delight then, to connect with a wonderful Mindfulness coach who focuses on Leadership, a perfect combination of my personal life and my professional life. 

I’m coming to the end of week 3 of a 6-week online Mindfulness course and I’m loving it. My biggest learning so far, no one can just turn their brain off and that’s ok. Mindfulness doesn’t require you to have that ability. I also learnt really quickly this takes practice, smiling to myself when that penny dropped because doesn’t everything we do? We aren’t born experts in anything, why oh why did I think this was any different! So, I’m doing it! I’ve progressed from 3 minutes guided meditation to almost 15 minutes and I’m proud of that. It’s having an impact on my mood, my productivity and my perspective.

Some days it’s easier, some days it’s hard but I keep going. And because the course presents both practice and theory, I’m already curious to understand how mindfulness impacts and influences leaders’ behaviour. I can’t wait to share my experience and learning with our clients at CSA and I’m curious to hear the experiences of others in this space.

Final thought from me, talking helps! Talking helps keep us well mentally and it helps us be truly inclusive. It’s when we learn, through sharing with others - and not just this week for MHA week, every week! Take every opportunity to talk but ensure you listen when others talk too, one skill isn’t effective without the other. 

 

Katie Gleghorn

Diversity and Inclusion Specialist at Charlotte Sweeney Associates Ltd