What’s so important about quiet time?
With last week being Mental Health Awareness week, we’ve had time to understand more about mental health conditions and the opportunity to reassess how they can affect so many of us in different ways.
Recently what I have really noticed is a disconnect; knowing when to take time out. Stress and a high workload is a huge problem for many of us. People don’t always realise that their mental health is suffering in time and that what they actually need is to take a step back.
Life is full of ups and downs and the biggest skill we can learn is being able to acknowledge when your mind and body are telling you they need time to rest and recover. Very often in life when the demands on us increase, we feel that we need to DO MORE, cram in MORE, just to complete the task! This doesn’t make sense but we sometimes believe it is the only option available to us.
When we feel overwhelmed, stressed or confused, having quiet time is our tool to allow our unconscious mind to process, to seek understanding and find solutions to the issues that are bothering it. Without this time, the mind doesn’t have the chance to recover from the stressors we may have in our lives. Which just makes the situation worse and our minds go into over-drive. We need to learn to accept that it’s ok to take time for ourselves and slow down.
There are two times when the unconscious mind can start to process and work out these issues. They are quiet time and sleep…
This is why when we are under stress and we don’t incorporate enough quiet time into our day, then we find our sleep can suffer. We tend to have bizarre or intense dreams and this is because our minds need to process has increased.
Quiet time- what is it?
Quiet time has many different forms but essentially it is being mindful. The main aim of quiet time is to practice controlling and keeping your thoughts where you want them. This means staying completely focused on the one task you have given yourself.
The most commonly perceived types of ‘quiet time’ are usually your guided meditations and relaxation therapy. When we do these meditations like our body scan and breathing exercises, it allows our mind and our world to pause and gives the time to refocus and re-centre our attention.
However quiet time doesn’t just have to be a guided process. There are many different forms of meditation and active meditation is quite powerful…
This form of meditation can be incorporated into anybody’s daily life. In essence it means focusing your mind fully on a repetitive task. Keeping your awareness completely on that task.
So this could be walking, eating, washing up, having a shower, walking on the beach or park, even just sitting in nature and every time your mind wonders off task, gently bring it back to your task. Really immerse yourself in the sensations you are feeling. For example, if you’re mindfully having a shower, how warm is the water? What sensations do you feel when the water touches and rolls down the skin? The smell of the soaps? Just be in the moment, don’t think about what else needs to be done or what’s happened in the past.
The more you practice keeping the mind focused on a task and choosing where you place your thoughts, means over time you will be able to apply this skill in stressful moments. It doesn’t work to just tell yourself to ‘not worry’ or ‘don’t think about it’, because this is actually what reminds you to keep thinking about it… instead we need to practice the skill of directing our attention to a more constructive place.
And with this practice, we enable ourselves to control and refocus our thoughts in a more positive way rather than getting overwhelmed in a stressful situation.
All you need to do.. is remember to keep doing it.
Just a little friendly reminder… please don’t actively meditate and get lost in the moment when your task may actually need your full attention to keep you safe e.g. like driving or using sharp equipment.. we don’t want to zone in on the breath or how the body feels when we need to be concentrating on the road!