Everyone has their own opinion but I believe the most important ‘daily meds’ we need to be taking is meditation.
We are more than happy to go to the doctors and get prescribed medications. We’re diligent about taking our medication. If our partner is ill, you’ll probably drive them to the doctors and we insist they take their medication.
And yet when we discuss forms of non-medication solutions for our wellbeing we feel substantially less engaged, committed or even motivated.
We don’t consider these as particularly important and far easier to ignore than taking medication.
Yet this is disparity is prevalent and semiautomatic. We attend to ourselves far quicker when we’ve got some specific action to take. Yet the benefits of meditation (in some form which I’ll discuss below) are only fully realised when committed to in the same manner as medication.
It’s not all Meditation
And it’s worth clarifying that meditation includes anything which breaks up how you’re feeling, freshens your mind. If meditation is the gold standard, then there are a variety of sub categories of methods that can enable that required switching off, decompression or distraction. Things that help us to decompress or wind down from our work environment or even our home life that can make a real impact.
It’s important to make clear that these solutions aren’t going to completely wash off all tension or worry – great if they do, obviously. But they are more about just taking a little edge off your day. Naturally meditation may not connect with you so here some wins I suggest which often easier to achieve.
Consistently practising relaxation or meditation is ROI positive for your mental wellbeing
One of the things I do promote is using apps that are easily available on iTunes or Google for your phone. As an example clients have mentioned using Headspace or Calm, both of which offer a free and subscription service, giving you a taster of how they work. Having an app makes meditation just a tap away. It can become part of your commute or at the beginning or end of your day.
Walk the Block
You are coming home from work and you feel that your partner’s had a difficult or stressful day. Though you really want to leave work at the front door, you can feel it still on your shoulders weighing you down. One way which is useful is to walk around the block. Begin the mental process of really letting work go and start to focus on the family and the kind of parent you want to be, how you want them to see you when you arrive home. It may be just simply walking up and down the street, but find that time to relax and remove as much as possible any work-based worries.
I know this is not meditation as you would traditionally see it, but if you’re removing yourself from the work mindset and preparing yourself for time with the family and being present with them, this can act as a form of meditation.
So, walk around the block or walk around the street for a number of minutes and begin to just wash off work.
Alternatively, sometimes it can be simply finding a completely different route back home. Maybe take a bus rather than the train. Or take a different route from the train station back home or from work through to the train station. Break it up. Break routine. Give your brain something else to think about. Even that kind of disorientation can be really useful to help shake up the mind a little bit. Like a snow-globe, turn it upside down and shake it up. Give a new perspective and that can initiate washing off the work and getting yourself present for family time.
If you drive, when you arrive home before you get out of the car, just sit in the car for a little bit longer. Maybe listen to some music which helps you just to relax a bit further. I’ve had clients say they take just five minutes in their car to relax or even trim off any remaining emails before being able to commit to their family, free of niggling distractions. These are all helpful for creating the best mindset for when you are parenting and supporting your partner.
While this may not seem like meditation per se, what we are doing is disrupting the behaviour and that can be enough just to get us to let go of the work, and get ourselves feeling that we are able to connect and help with the family. So maybe looking at a meditation app that works for you and if not that, then find ways to disrupt some of your daily patterns, daily routines. Consider taking a different route home or just a different method of transport – find a way to jostle it up. And don’t forget that often a walk around the block can help initiate washing off the working day.
Aim for Consistency
One thing to note is that these little habits can be easily forgotten in the sway of work and the busyness of life. Yet they are important to keep consistent. Even if in the present moment you feel fine, we need to notice that it’s the consistency of doing these on a daily basis which actually helps. It’s about recognising and making sure we keep doing these because they will always deliver when we need them.
It’s not a Band-Aid
Regular meditation or relaxation will contribute to your overall ability to deal with things when they are stressful. Waiting until problems get critical and then trying any of these suggestions really will not give you the result you want and undermine the good that they do provide.
Whichever method you choose that works for you, by consistently applying them you are already equipping yourself with the skills to handle something when a problem or stress escalates. And this is so important to remember.
A Useful Analogy
Consider it like the emergency services that are stationed at airports. You see them all the time and you know where they are, but you rarely, hopefully, ever see them in action. But they are consistently always available, ready when they are needed. And it’s the same way with your meditation practise.
Consistently practising relaxation or meditation is ROI positive for your mental wellbeing.
So, take your daily meds.
Thanks for reading. If you enjoyed this article, pass it on, share it, let me know what you thought.
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About the Author
Ben Jackson is the owner of The Parent and Pupil Coach delivering behavioural change programmes for 10-16 year olds. He coaches for leadership and transition for career parents and is regularly contributing to webinars and articles.