More people are currently experiencing higher levels of stress and anxiety, which has a huge effect on our physical and mental health; most importantly, it lowers the immune system. Money is one of the biggest sources of stress for many people at the best of times and many are finding these stresses magnified at the moment.
I’m currently exploring ways to tackle money mindfully in order to help people manage their money stress.
Firstly, what is mindfulness and how does it work?
It’s really important to relax, and I don’t just mean sitting in front of the TV with a glass of wine; we need to relax our brain.
Brain waves are key to how we function; our every day state of thinking, analysing, assessing and categorising is called Beta; the aim is to spend more time in Alpha and Theta, which are relaxing, healing states.
Alpha is where we start to slow down and move away from thinking; we become calmer and anchored. It’s the bridge between our conscious and subconscious mind. If you have trouble getting into Alpha, you may find you are stuck in particular thought patterns, and have trouble remembering; you know you had a dream, but you can’t remember what it was about.
Theta is a deeper level of relaxation, where we move to a level of awareness with stronger intuition and a greater capacity for complicated problem solving. In Theta, the body also starts to heal itself, and our immune system is boosted. We are usually in the state during sleep.
If we spend too much time in Beta, then we become stressed and anxious. We occasionally dip into Alpha during the day, for example when we have a cup of tea, however it’s not long before the mind starts thinking again. This is because Beta is the default state, and has been since prehistoric times, when survival was paramount.
It’s not difficult to get into Alpha, we just need to give ourselves more time to work at it, and like most things, practice becomes a habit.
You can use mindfulness techniques to spend more time in Alpha; one of the best, and my husband goes for a walk on a daily basis, in the surrounding countryside. Walking mindfully is about focusing on what is around you, so it means putting the mobile phone away (unless like him, you want to take pictures) and being present.
When he is out walking, his brain will still start thinking again, however, when this happens he stops and re-focuses on the sounds and sights around him.
Another simple way to be mindful is through breathing. Sit in a quiet space; bring your focus to the breath as it goes in and out. When thoughts arise, just notice them and bring your attention back to your breathing.
Have a go yourself, it takes practice, but it’s worth it and you don’t need any expensive kit to do it, although a mindfulness app like HeadSpace is really useful in helping to guide you.