NURTURING YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING LOCKDOWN Part 1
Provided by Mindfulness and Resilience Expert –
Cheryl is working with memcom and Associations Week to provide seminars and downloads on practical help for nurturing your mental health.
In the current challenging times we are all living in at the moment, we at Giraffe Resilience would like to offer you some suggestions to boost your resilience.
The Corona Virus/Covid1-19 pandemic is a difficult time for all, with regular news updates and also unfortunately a lot of mis information. All this can lead to a heightened state of anxiety and moods are contagious!
It is in times like this that we all need to look after our physical health as well as our mental health to help ourselves weather the current storm we are facing.
This quote from Jon Kabat-Zinn is particularly relevant at the moment: 'You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.'
Here are a few techniques that you may like to focus on to help build your resilience.
5 Mindful Minutes
Mindfulness is very powerful in helping with depression, anxiety and stress. Now might be the perfect time to bring Mindfulness Meditation practice into your life.
If you can manage just 5 minutes three times a week the research show this will have a significant impact on your mental health. The more you can practice the better you will feel.
Regular mindfulness practice can help you rediscover the peace and contentment we all have within us.
Sources for Meditations:
Disconnect to Reconnect
There is a danger in these times that we will spend much more time than usual on our electronic devices to keep up with work, friends and family. It is really important to have some time away from technology too. It can have a major impact on sleep patterns if we are using devices late into the night. Here are a few simple suggestions:
Turn all electronic gadgets off at least 90 minutes before you go to bed. The light from the screen affects our pineal gland (in the brain). The light tricks the brain into thinking that it is the middle of the day making it difficult to get to sleep.
Have regular breaks from your devices during the day. If possible, get up and walk around indoors or outdoors, every 40 minutes. If you can’t get outdoors stand by an open window and really feel the air on your face.
Have 1 gadget free day a week. If you can do this at the weekend and plan to do other things. You could try board games with the family; reading a book; on line yoga or exercise class. Be imaginative and stay off the devices. You may be surprised at how refreshed you feel.
When we are anxious our breathing rate increases: we take in more oxygen and breathe out more carbon dioxide than usual. However, because the body is not working any harder than normal it is not using up any extra oxygen, and so it is not producing any extra carbon dioxide.
This change in CO2 blood concentration can lead us to feeling lightheaded, tingly in our fingers and toes, clammy, and sweaty. These are some of the symptoms of anxiety.
It’s hard to think clearly when you are not getting enough oxygen and when suffering from anxiety or a panic attack it’s not uncommon to breath shallowly, hyperventilate or even unconsciously hold your breath. Deeper diaphragmatic breathing is the solution – by giving your brain and muscles more oxygen it calms down the fight or flight response.
Try 4-7-8 breathing in times of high anxiety – or try to practice this for 4 breath cycles twice a day so that it becomes a more natural response for you.
Inhale for a count of 4 - you are making yourself slowly take in more oxygen
Hold your breath for a count of 7 - you are allowing as much oxygen to saturate into your bloodstream as possible, cleansing & energising all your cells, tissues & organs)
Exhale to a count of 8 - make sure you have expelled as much carbon dioxide from your lungs as possible
Total Distraction – Traffic Lights
By stopping and identifying the worrying thoughts we can also lower the anxiety levels. When we become anxious our brain spirals out of control and goes from one anxious thought to another. Often this is called ‘catastrophising’. By noticing when the thoughts start, we can stop the spiral.
RED – STOP Interrupt the negative or anxious thoughts. Take some time to write down the thoughts and then THINK.
AMBER – THINK What is the evidence for this thought, what are you already doing? Is this something you need to worry about now? Can you do anything about it? Or do you have to wait and see?
GREEN- DO Park the thoughts that are not helpful and move on and do something else.
Maybe this is the time to set yourself some goals for the future when we come out of lock down.
DREAM – ‘What do I want?’ – Sit back, relax & imagine a magic genie is making all your dreams come true. What does this look like? Feel like? What’s important? What are the major activities that make your day? Who are the people around you? Write down what you see.
ORDER – ‘What’s the priority’ – look at everything you’ve written down. Which goals are the most important?
DRAW – What does it look like? – engage the left-hand side of your brain and bring your goals to life in pictures.
WHY – Why do you want it? What are the emotional reasons you want to achieve your goals?
WHEN – When do you want it? Think about the timeline for achieving your goal.
HOW – How will you achieve it? – What will you need to be able to achieve your goal? What skills, information, resources etc.
WHO – Whose help will you require? – Whose help will you need to achieve your goals?
Please see my other blogs for further tips.
Cheryl Harrison, Mindfulness Teacher & a Counselling Psychotherapist