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 comfort zones and daily routines. For some of us, this could mean facing more intense mood changes; experiencing a mix of more fun as well as 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 this 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 helpful to everyone.

The Story of Our Thoughts

We all think, and no one really knows where the thoughts come from. Some thoughts are intentional, focused, constructive and creative, but most of the other thoughts are really wandering ones. These wandering thoughts have the tendency to turn into full-blown stories (dramas) with some sort of a familiar plot played by us, family, friends, colleagues and various other 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 is about to happen with a clear and present danger!

MIndfulness: Catch thoughts before turning into a story

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

On the other hand, being mindful will help us greatly to catch our thoughts as early as possible before they gather momentum and be able to take charge rather than fall victim to our own thoughts. Do a quick assessment of whether the thoughts are of service to you right now in this moment and in this specific situation or not. I emphasise “quick assessment” because you don’t want to overanalyse, it is usually a simple yes or no. Then decide whether to go with the thoughts or not. If yes, great, think deeper and more focused. If not, simply let go of the thoughts by not following them. Do not try to stop your thoughts because they gather even more energy and momentum.

Mindfulness Notice Assess Decide practice

Even if you decide to go with the thoughts in a stressful situation, at least it is a conscious decision and the resulting stress would be “good” stress or what is called eustress. You are really respondingto the situation rather than reacting to it like when you were in autopilot mode and not mindful.

Well, why not give it a go and check this out for yourself?

Happy Holidays!