MIND OVER MATTER
In an increasingly hectic world, making time to look after your mental health can be crucial. Hannah Meads explains how mindfulness can help
With the world in turmoil due to Covid-19, we’ve all been forced to slow down, work differently and perhaps pay a little more attention to what is happening in the world around us. As overwhelming as it might seem, this could be a chance for us to reset and pay more attention to how we are feeling as well.
The NHS Mental Health and Wellbeing Website quite aptly states, “paying more attention to the present moment, to your own thoughts and feelings, can improve your mental wellbeing”. Connecting to the present moment is sometimes referred to as mindfulness.
We’ve all heard of it, but what is it? Headspace, experts in mindfulness and meditation, describe mindfulness as “the quality of being present and fully engaged with whatever we’re doing at any given moment – free from distraction or judgment and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them”.
This could be a chance for us to reset and pay more attention to how we are feeling as well
Mindfulness meditation is accessible to everyone; you can practice on your own, anytime and anywhere. The concept is simple – find a comfortable seat, maybe close your eyes, concentrate only on your breathing and be still for a few minutes. Guided meditation apps such as Headspace, Just Breathe and Calm are a great place to start. However, it is not a case of trying it once and then you’re forever mindful – you do have to practice regularly to reap the benefits.
For some, it’s not easy. Professor Mark Williams, former director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre, notes: “Some people find it very difficult to practise. As soon as they stop what they’re doing, lots of thoughts and worries crowd in.” We often have narratives running through our minds and this is completely normal. So, if you have tried mindfulness meditation and it’s just not for you right now – that’s okay!
There are other ways to be more mindful:
- Get into a routine – it’s hard, especially as many of us are working from home, but keeping some kind of structure to your day will undoubtedly help.
- Putting down your phone – maybe it’s only for an hour before you go to bed, to be more present and unwind.
- Move – in any way you can right now, maybe go for a walk, do some yoga at home, or blast Joe Wicks’ 9am PE sessions?
- Journal – writing things down can sometimes help make sense of your thoughts and feelings.
It is not sustainable or achievable to do absolutely everything; so think about how you’re really feeling about a given situation. Do things you love and do your best to switch off from time to time. Most importantly, please do whatever you can to look after yourself physically and emotionally during these very strange times, we will make it out the other side!
Hannah Meads is broker at Miller Insurance
What a difference a few months make. The scale of the change in our lives has left its mark on the language: last summer, none of us would have recognised words and phrases like coronavirus, self-isolating or social distancing. Now, we use them every day.
The crisis has, of course, made us ask important questions about insurance – first, with travel insurance as the pandemic spread across the world and then with business interruption as it came to the UK.
Along with our colleagues across the profession we have been explaining to policymakers, with some success, that the vast scale of the economic impact for Covid-19 means that only the government, with its tax raising powers, can provide a safety net for the entire economy.
But that does not mean that there is nothing for insurers to learn from this experience. When we, as a profession, assess the risk of threats like pandemics, we must feed these insights into conversations with clients. We must talk to them about uninsurable as well as insurable risks. It is only in this way that we can build a reputation for good advice and persuade individuals and businesses to face the difficult task of preparing for the next crisis.
Sian Fisher is CEO of the CII
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