I was recently invited to contribute to a wonderful wellbeing initiative by the lovely people at Ollie Quinn for their teams in the UK and Canada and their global customer base. We chatted in the beautiful Barbican Centre in central London and my interview can be found on their website here: https://www.olliequinn.co.uk/blogs/news/wellbeing-with-linda-corcoran I also put together a list of 6 of my mindful top tips for coping with ‘off days’ we all have. Rather than pulling the duvet over your head and sleeping the day away why not try one of these science-based tips.
My 6 Top Tips
Tip 1: acknowledge you’re having an off day. Sounds simple but so often we try and deny it and just busy ourselves to avoid feeling off or reach for food, drink, our phones, etc to numb out what we are feeling. It’s the avoidance of difficult emotions that make them stick around. Thoughts and feelings are often much scarier when they’re left unexplored and kept in the shadows.
Tip 2: See if you can become curious about how you’re feeling. A mindfulness technique like the STOP technique can be useful.
- Literally stop (S) what you are doing and take stock by asking yourself “what is my experience right now?” notice what you are saying to yourself, what images are coming to mind. Notice any feelings – you might be sad, neutral, excited, anxious, etc. Notice any bodily sensations that are there, any tightness, holding, lightness, etc. Just acknowledge your full experience, even if it’s uncomfortable.
- Next, take a breath (T), gently pay full attention to your breathing, notice each in-breath and each out-breath, allowing the breath to anchor you into the moment.
- Now open and expand your awareness (O) so that it includes a sense of your body as a whole and then keep expanding to take in an awareness of what’s happening around you taking in the sights, sounds and smells, etc.
- See if you can bring this sense of expanded awareness to the next moments as you proceed (P) sensing how things are right now. See if you can approach the next moments and beyond with curiosity, responding not reacting with kindness.
Sometimes taking a mindful pause like this STOP technique can make all the difference.
Tip 3: Be gentle with yourself! Watch your self-talk and notice if you’re trying to berate yourself and consciously try and be as compassionate with yourself as you would a dear friend. It’s completely normal to have off days, we all do.
Tip 4: Get creative. An excellent way to work with our emotions is to do some mindful journaling. Getting thoughts and feelings out of our heads and down on paper in whatever form they take can be cathartic and hugely beneficial for our mental health.
Tip 5: Go for a mindful walk and take in the surroundings using all your senses. Try and tune into your body as you’re walking, feel the air against your skin, listen for sounds native to the environment such as people chattering in urban environments or birds singing in greenspaces. Really notice what you can see, colours, shapes, etc. As you notice your mind wandering back into thinking (which it surely will because that’s what minds do!), see if you can keep coming back to the walk and back to the inner sensations of your body walking, the air against your skin, the sounds….
Tip 6: Take some time to have a mindful drink (or food) such as a cup of tea. Allow yourself to engage with the whole experience from showing appreciation to the barista. As you sit to drink your tea, take your time and engage your senses. Smell the tea, being curious about the aroma as if it’s the first time you’ve ever had tea, feel the heat of the cup radiating into your hands, as you smell the tea, let your taste buds anticipate the flavour and when you are ready sip it slowly with your full attention and savour the experience.
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