While some people may minimize the impact of mindfulness, Poppy Jamie, an entrepreneur and influencer in the mental health space, says the practice can help people be calmer, less anxious, and better focused.
The drastic changes to the way people work and live caused by the pandemic have increased focus on the importance of mental health. Poppy Jamie, founder of the mental wellbeing app Happy Not Perfect, said the new emphasis on taking care of our minds is good, and it can help people make the changes they need early on to avoid burnout and, instead, live their best lives.
“Is it good that people are talking about their minds more?” asked Jamie, a Game Changer at the 2021 ASAE Annual Meeting next month. “Yes, because we can’t see it, so we forget about it, and then realize we’re super stressed out, and maybe if we’d caught it earlier, we could have had some management tools to help prevent us from having chronic burnout.”
One challenge people often face with getting a handle on mental health is missing the signs that they’re starting to get overwhelmed or taking on too much. “That was my mentality: I’m absolutely fine,” Jamie said. “I’m going at the pace I think I can handle; please don’t try to tell me otherwise.”
However, Jamie’s body was more self-aware than her mind, and she started experiencing several symptoms whose root cause was stress, including digestion problems and back pain.
“I put it down to other things,” she said. “It was only once I started to manage my stress that the back pain—and a whole host of other physical signs and symptoms that really were fully down to stress—went away.”
Using Mindfulness to Take Control
Jamie said that taking care of body and mind is crucial to ensuring people thrive. “You wouldn’t expect a flower to grow without light, water, nutrients in the soil,” she said. “So, how on earth do we expect a person to thrive without adequate sleep, adequate nutrition, adequate exercise, adequate care for your mind?”
While mindfulness and other meditative techniques have grown in popularity, some people still view it as a little new age or out there. But Jamie says that sentiment underestimates the practice, which involves both deep breathing and focusing on awareness.
“I often think mindfulness has a bad reputation,” Jamie said. “All we’re talking about is taking control of our biology so we can live better lives. We are taking control of our very basic fight-and-flight system and using the body to tell the brain that we are safe, and we can move into the rest-and-relax system.”
One other thing that people need to thrive is human connection. The pandemic made that more difficult, but people used technology to stay in touch. She says, as we move into a new phase, it’s important to continue connecting—and face to face when possible.
“Meeting people allows us to be curious, and for me, living a curious life is more important than living, in a way, a happy life, because happiness comes and goes,” Jamie said. “We can always be curious. That’s when we learn what other people are doing. That community is so important for our personal development.”
In addition to using curiosity with those you meet, Jamie said focusing similar energy internally can help people live their best lives. “Staying curious about how your brain works and what’s good for you, I think, is a game changer for everyone,” Jamie said. “It allows you to take control of your life. It allows you to focus your attention on what’s going to make your future dreams come true.”