I’m back with part three of the Five Ways to Wellbeing series - Take Notice.
It sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? It shouldn’t be too hard to pay attention, be present, tune in, be aware. But, in our current fast-paced society, we are often inundated with receiving a multitude of stimuli, at the same time. And so, it can be hard to focus on only one task, at any given time. It can be harder still to re-train ourselves to ignore those external distractions. Now, think about the last phone call you made. Did you really take notice of what the other person was saying? How they were talking? Or, where you also making yourself a drink, replaying a past conversation in your head, or scrolling through social media….?
We might feel that we’ve become exceptionally skilled at multi-tasking: responding to emails whilst writing the agenda for the upcoming meeting, at the same time as fielding phone calls, plus worrying about that embarrassing text you sent last night, all during your lunch “break”. Maybe it is possible to successfully complete all of these tasks, but have they all received your full attention, as they deserve? Are we allowing our minds the time to process the individual stimulus, and granting ourselves the space to properly respond?
I think this is one of the five ways that people might struggle with the most, as they think they suddenly have to become meditation gurus and masters of zen. But, although meditation is indeed a highly beneficial practice, it isn’t necessary. Have a look below for some really simple ideas to easily bring your focus into the present, and help you take notice of what’s going on around you.
Grow your self-understanding, by remembering your motivations and values, and making the best decisions for you. Pay attention to what’s going on around you, and only that, not what happened last week, or what might happen tomorrow. Don’t allow yourself to be distracted by past, or future demands, instead grant yourself the time to be fully immersed in your present.
Make some time today to focus on the ‘now’:
Start a gratitude journal - write down three things each day which you are grateful for.
Get a plant for your workspace and take notice in how it grows and changes.
Try a new place for lunch - how does it make you feel? What’s different?
Try to avoid using your phone as you walk - instead look up and around you, not down at your screen.
Try mindful eating - notice the taste of the food and the feelings in your mouth as you eat.
Taking notice is incredibly important when learning, and indeed teaching, English. Tuning into our thought processes and feelings in the present moment, allows us to deal with any challenges, or new information, in a clear and focused manner. As teachers, taking notice is a fantastic tool for helping us to cope better with stressful or difficult situations, think clearly, and provide the best possible learning outcomes for our students. Equally, as students, we begin to break out of self-limiting thought patterns and increase compassion towards ourselves - especially important for those students who struggle with a lack of confidence or tell themselves they just “can’t do it”.
If you’re unsure where to start, have a listen to this fantastic podcast from the BBC’s 6 Minute English, with an episode on Mindfulness. Surely you can find just six minutes of your day to focus on the present?
Keep your eyes open for the fourth blog in this series. Keep Learning : how learning new skills (and a new language!) can positively benefit our mental wellbeing.