The whole world, including Australia, is experiencing a tragic pandemic COVID-19 where physical hygiene is as important as mental hygiene. For many of us, this year of COVID-19 will be very difficult. Social restrictions, self-isolation and quarantine can be a very daunting prospect filled with dread. Our resourcefulness is being tested every day. Mindfulness, self-compassion, gratitude and helping others are good mental hygiene practices, to see us get through this, with more ease, resilience and wisdom.
We can find a balance between healthy worrying from unhelpful thinking leading to excessive anxiety. Worrying done well can help us improve all areas of our lives. When we use compassionate tools to worry better, we can problem-solve effectively and find the motivation to act in ways that are beneficial for ourselves and others.
This is a short centring practice to bring you back into the present moment with kindness. The purpose is to anchor your attention, to bring your mind and body back together in the here and now, in easy as well as in difficult moments. The more you practice it, the more powerful it becomes, enabling you to access your inner strength and wisdom.
We all suffer from stress from time to time but when stress becomes burnout, it is more problematic. Stress and burnout are common, and we need to address them before they escalate and negatively impact our whole life including our physical and mental health.
We all know that having a good night sleep is fundamental to our sense of well-being and good health. There is much that we can do to improve the length and quality of our sleep. Here are 16 strategies that have been proven to be helpful.
Rather than living in our head, immersing oneself in bad news or sinking into obsessive analysis or beating our self up with self-criticism, we can “step out of thought” to give our self a break and practice mindfulness. That is taking a mental step back from unhelpful thoughts where we mentally create a space between us and our thoughts, becoming a fly on the wall, watching our self having the experience like in a movie, seeing our self as the "experiencer". In this way, we reduce the sting of the thoughts, ease the emotions and gain perspectives.
When we make the decision to meditate, one thing is sure: our mind is going to wander! We are not doing it wrong! This is just the way our mind is! When we focus on a routine task… the mind will wander and where it goes is really interesting! Watching our mind wandering, noticing, labelling the content of the mind wandering helps us to get to know our mind better so we can take more control over the direction it takes.
Mindfulness is a general term that we use for awareness. It is the activity of our mind when we are intentionally paying attention in the present moment with curiosity and kindness in an accepting and non-judgmental way. The negative judgments add layers of suffering to our experiences. We gain more ease as we learn to step back, to realize that we are more than our thoughts, emotions or body sensations.
Breathing is essential to our existence! But not all breaths are the same! In times of stress, the way we breathe can make the difference between being overwhelmed or regaining our balance. Breathing intentionally, eases the stress response, to enable us to re-gain clarity and to cultivate resilience.
Mindful Self-Compassion is the essence of emotional healing. It is the art of supporting ourselves like a good friend. So as we become aware in the moment that we are struggling, we can begin to respond to ourselves with kindness and wisdom to promote ease, more well-being and better relationships in our lives.
Acceptance and Commitment Therapy(ACT) is a validated and empirically proven psychological intervention that promotes acceptance and mindfulness as well as commitment strategies to increase psychological strengths and flexibility. This model was initially developed in the late 1980’s by Steven Hayes, Kelly Wilson and Kirk Strosahl. They propose that life is not necessarily about happiness but rather to be present with what is there, and then act in a way that is guided by our personal core values.
Our mind never stops, it chatters all day and all night, often in automatic. We can give our mind a break from the constant chatter by practising mindfulness: by becoming present, experiencing the here and now, being aware, using our senses, breathing, accepting, appreciating what is around us. And in those moments of self-awareness, we have the opportunity to re-wire our brain, to choose to think differently, to change our brain, to change our mind. Here is how practising mindfulness and Cognitive Behaviour Therapy can work together to gain more balance and clarity.