If you’re anything like me, one thing you find really hard to do - is nothing. I mean, really - doing nothing. Taking a moment out for yourself, meditating on life, reflecting on your day, getting to that yoga session or enjoying the sounds and sights of your immediate environment. Balancing the stresses of life and switching off seem to only get harder. In fact, it’s estimated that on average, we now have between 50,000 and 70,000 thoughts each day.
Whatsmore, stress doesn’t just affect our anxiety levels, but as a doctor I see that it affects our immune system, our risk of many serious diseases and as a nation - our productivity and hip pockets. The economic cost of stress and mental illness to Australian businesses alone is thought to be in the order of $10.6 billion (that’s a B) annually.
So what else do we know?
Mental illness, including anxiety, is actually very common, with nearly half (45%) the population affected at some stage in their lives.
In Australia, 20% of adults experience some form of mental disorder every year.
Anxiety disorders affect around 1 in 7 adults, in any 12-month period.
An important piece of the puzzle though, is that we can all do a lot to increase our own resilience to mental illness and in particular, reduce anxiety and stress.
Called #7Days7Ways, the mindfulness journey kicks off Monday (16th Feb) and will see me receive daily reminders to slow down, rest my thoughts and increase mental resilience.
Each day for 7 consecutive days, I will be focusing on a different aspect of mindfulness - all guided through daily emails and social media. Covering topics like mindful eating, gratitude, balance, mindful moments and more, it’s a no-brainer for any modern thinker.
For me, this is more than just about supporting a great group trying to improve our community’s mental health, or raising awareness for a common but stigmatised group of illnesses - it’s also about practising what I find hardest.
Smiling Mind is a not-for-profit web and App-based program developed by a group of specialised psychologists with combined expertise in youth and adolescent therapy, Mindfulness Meditation and online wellness programs. Smiling Mind’s vision is to see Mindfulness Meditation on the Australian Curriculum by 2020.