I was chatting to hubby yesterday about something and nothing, and apparently without even meaning to I said something that really resonated with him (usually I have to mean to, or my sleep-deprived brain tends to just spew flumadiddle*). So I thought I’d share, particularly as it is very relevant on your wedding day.
*Awesome bona fide word meaning ‘utter nonsense’. You’re welcome, just be sure to use it today; ideally during an important meeting, in reference to your irritating colleague’s contribution.
My husband is very quick on the uptake when it comes to new ideas about health and fitness – but only if they are backed up by science, research, and evidence. He is somewhere between dubious and sceptical (read cynical) when it comes to complementary medicine. He kind of thinks the clue is in the name, since after all, nothing in life is free: if it sounds too good to be true, then it’s probably a con artist masquerading as a doctor. (Personally, I try to be a little more open to things, though I admit that evidence is always appealing. For example, if a homeopathic remedy were to be recommended for my teething baby, I would be intrigued as to how a friend fared using it. And then I would visit the doctor or pharmacist to acquire a clinically trialled and medically approved product.)
How Your Attitude Can Decrease Your Stress Levels
I was discussing with my husband my approach to any situation that I know is going to be difficult. Moving home, for example, or an interview. My mindset is thus: This time tomorrow (next week, whatever), it will all be over.
And then I often envisage the relief that comes with this potentially stressful situation having been and gone: perhaps literally visualising sitting with a cup of tea and my feet up, or lying in bed just before the sleep gods carry me away to the land of nod.
My husband liked this; yet I wasn’t trying to be philosophical in the slightest. I was simply expressing my dilute dismay at suddenly having an (admittedly amazing) business opportunity – with such a short deadline that it was by necessity going to impact on our plans for the weekend. Added to which, the assignment was research-heavy (read fatiguing). Essentially, I was pleased to have the job; I just wished I could have been able to work on it a few days later.
Mindfulness is big business right now. You have only to scan your RSS feed, your local gym timetable, or the library bookshelves (I know, old school, right?) to see this word being bandied around just about everywhere. So I was already aware of it and the theory behind its principles.
I used the word to define what hubby and I were discussing – and he immediately recoiled! He had the impression that the approach is alternative (it’s not; it’s holistic, which is slightly different), and by virtue of its sudden popularity, somehow less legitimate. I think that’s a shame, and I hope I convinced him otherwise by focussing on the benefits rather than the label.
(The Opposite of) Mindfulness
I have not always been a positive person. But talking about this with my husband made me realise that these days I genuinely am. When we first got together (many moons ago), I was the anxious stress-head, and my husband the laidback Larry. But surprisingly, we appear to have switched positions (haha *smirks*). I attribute this greatly to having quit the rat-race to work on my own terms: yes – I was disappointed to be missing out on some cool family time, but ultimately, it was my choice to make.
Only through having this conversation did I realise that mindfulness in reverse is exactly the approach I was using to keep perspective of my work situation, and – hopefully – minimise my stress levels. I become so focussed on the task at hand when working, I almost switch off my mindfulness, thus dimming my anxiety response. This strategy helps me to remain focussed, thus researching smarter, and writing quicker and better.
I have made the conscious decision to avoid a negative state of mind that clouds judgement and stifles creativity.
Essentially, this mindset allows me to put on my professional hat and tune out any emotional/mummy/wife distraction, zoning back in once the workload is complete. Similarly, during demanding circumstances I go on autopilot, becoming ‘present’ once more after the stressful situation has passed.
Applying This Strategy to Your Life
Being able to ‘switch off’ your unhelpful emotional responses can be really useful in difficult circumstances. But it is equally important to be fully cognizant during those times we are making memories we will cherish.
Though my strategy can certainly be useful in the days and weeks preceding your wedding, when it comes to the day itself, this whole scenario gets flipped on its head. I always remind couples to take a moment to step away from the bustle of their guests and to really take in every detail, cataloguing it for nostalgia at a later date.
While I understand that meditation and yoga are key to mindfulness, I am not a tutor. For more on the principles of mindfulness and professional advice on how to master its techniques, check out the following links:
And for those who are interested, serendipity meant that my deadline was extended significantly and I got my family day after all. Which reinforces the Mary Schmich quote, brought to the masses by Baz Lurhmann:
“Worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubblegum”.
Cheers Baz. There are far more productive ways to spend your time, such as putting together your wedding gift list, or googling your honeymoon destination.
Want insurance that your wedding day will run smoothly? Check out my comprehensive month by month guide to planning your nuptials; the things I wish I’d known whilst planning my own wedding; and a checklist of things to remember on the day itself.