News The wellbeing breather: pause to make better use of your time When was the last time you got through your to-do list? Yesterday? Last month? Sometime before Covid? With lockdown came this mystical idea of us having extra time on our hands to do more and be more productive: finally write that novel; upcycle that old piece of furniture; or even just do that extra bit of reading to get ahead on the big project at work. For many of us, that hasn’t been the case and the pressures on us have intensified. We all need a break, but time is going so fast and there’s so much to do. It feels like we don’t have the time. But we do, we just need to allow ourselves a few minutes to take stock of our thoughts and feelings and focus on our wellbeing. A short time out can help us reset, refocus and make better use of our time. This month’s post offers a short, simple, mindfulness technique that can help us increase our efficiency: The wellbeing breather. How mindfulness can support our wellbeing Mindfulness-based interventions can be effective in reducing stress, anxiety, depressive symptoms, pain and improving quality of life. Mindfulness has been shown to improve wellbeing by addressing cognitive and emotional reactivity and reducing repetitive negative thinking. That is, mindfulness can help us clear our minds, make more rational decisions and feel better about ourselves. When things feel like they are piling up on top of us, mindfulness can help us regulate ourselves better and feel more positive. If we are aware of what is taking place in the here and now, we are more likely to make choices and behave in ways that meet our needs, interests and values. Therefore, being mindful of what’s going on for us in the moment can improve our wellbeing. The wellbeing breather Mindfulness can help us see the present moment clearly and starts with taking notice of our bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings. That’s what this month’s activity is all about, taking notice of what we are thinking and feeling and channelling our energy, so we have the headspace to focus on what we really need to. The wellbeing breather is a variation of the Transitional Pause, developed by the Mindfulness Centre of Excellence. Over the last three years since I first tried this activity, I have really benefitted from taking a short time out to acknowledge how I am feeling and set a small, manageable goal for the rest of the day. The purpose of the wellbeing breather is to help us park any overwhelming thoughts and focus on the next task at hand. A key feature of this mindful activity is to silently name our thoughts so we can increase our awareness of them, which is beneficial for our wellbeing. It can help with: Overcoming anxiety about difficult tasks or meetings Setting aside negative thoughts that are intruding on our day Channelling our energy to get things done more efficiently Here’s how to do the wellbeing breather.