With Xmas and the New Year round the corner, there will be a peak of fun and activities as well as workplace gatherings and family reunions which are bound to shake us a little bit out of our daily routines and comfort zones. For some this could mean facing more intense peaks and troughs of their moods; experiencing a mix of more fun and more anxiety. The fun part is great but what about the worry and anxiety bits? Do you wish to try a very simple practice to help reduce your unnecessary worries and anxieties? Then try the simple yet powerful mindfulness practice of Notice, Assess, Decide (NAD). More about the NAD later, but here is a quick background as to why this simple practice can be so helpful to everyone.
The Story of Our Thoughts
We all think and no one really knows where thoughts come from. Some thoughts are intentional, focused, constructive and creative, but most of our other thoughts are really wandering ones. These wandering thoughts have the tendency to turn into full blown stories (dramas) with some sort of familiar plot played by us and family, friends, colleagues and various heroes and villains. The problem is that once the story gathers momentum, our body would not know the difference between reality and our imaginary full blown drama. Our physiology starts to react to the story, we get worried and feel anxious as if something really bad has happened and the danger is clear and present.
This might happen when someone advertently or inadvertently presses your buttons by saying something or ignoring you or cutting you in traffic or taking a contested parking spot in a busy shopping centre, and so on. As the chart below shows, if we are not mindful, we can quickly go to our autopilot mode and react to the other person or to ourselves. Each one of us may react in different ways in different circumstances; what is common though is that any such reaction is associated with negative feelings such as anger, resentment, powerlessness, sadness, guilt, shame and would most likely lead into worry and anxiety.
The NAD Mindfulness Practice
Being mindful, on the other hand, will help us greatly to catch our thoughts as early as possible before they gather momentum and to be in charge rather than fall victim to our own thoughts. We can do a quick assessment whether the thought is of service to us right now in the moment and in this situation or not. Then decide whether to go with the thought or not. Even if we decide to go with the thought, at least it is a conscious decision and the resulting stress would be “good” stress or what is called eustress. In which case we are really responding to the situation rather than reacting to it like when we are not mindful.
Well, why not give it a go?