Find Space to Breathe

Carolyn Barber of Portsmouth’s Good Mental Health Cooperative, and local researcher and social entrepreneur, shares advice and resources on how to manage your mental health in lockdown. This week, Carolyn shares the upcoming online mental health courses from the Mental Wealth Academy.

It was a striking feature of the survey we conducted during May, that many people focused on ‘acceptance’ and ways to stay in the present moment, to help manage the rollercoaster of emotions, anxieties and overwhelming stress they were experiencing during the Covid 19 health crisis.

With the lifting of lockdown restrictions, different pressures are emerging around decisions on socialising, working, going out in the community, school attendance. The stress and anxiety can feel intense, with many fears about health and an uncertain future. For those still shielding or caring for others, there’s an even greater sense of isolation.

Within our Summer Online programme during July and August, we’ve included two 30 minute live sessions a week for mindfulness practice. Breathing, noticing and concentration, are all different skills which are developed as part of simple mindful meditation exercises. Many people believe that breathing is something we do involuntarily, but by learning more about how we breathe we can begin to use it to help manage stress. In the short term breathing can help us access our ‘relaxation response’ so as to calm down more quickly. In the longer term we can use breathing to build our emotional resilience.

In mindful meditation practice, the breath is used as a focus of concentration and attention, which acts as an antidote to restlessness and anxiety. There are a wealth of mindfulness exercises which you can adapt to your own circumstances.

The aim of mindfulness practice is to increase awareness, wisdom and choice about how you want to live your life. The difficulties of life remain to challenge us all, but we can choose how we want to respond.

Whether you’re experienced in mindfulness practice, or just want to find out more, join us for our mindfulness sessions starting next week.

Click here to find out more

We recognise that this has been an incredibly challenging time, coping with sudden and dramatic changes in our lives, intense feelings, anxiety about the future, loss of contact with loved ones, experience of illness and bereavement.

At the Good Mental Health Cooperative, we believe that connecting with others, and informal arts and wellbeing learning activities, are really important ways to take care of our mental health, and build the emotional resilience we need to get though these difficult times.

The programme takes place mainly through July and August, and includes the following:

  • Weekly livestreamed ChitChat Cafe meetings on Facebook
  • Twice weekly 30 minute live mindfulness sessions
  • Journal writing course – 5 weekly sessions
  • Live arts and wellbeing workshops – 5 weekly sessions
  • Live Embodiment Through Movement workshops – 5 weekly sessions
  • Discover Yourself – self development course – 7 weekly sessions
  • Working Through Worry – 7 weekly sessions
  • Two Mental Wealth Trialogue live discussion events

Full details about the programme and registering interest, are available on this link: 

Each week we’ll be sharing a range of strategies and resources to help you build mental and emotional resilience during the Covid-19 crisis.

This is just as important as our physical strength if we were planning to run a marathon! And just like our physical health, taking care of our mental health is about establishing good habits as part of our regular routine. 

We’ve been hard at work updating the Resources section of the Good Mental Health Coop website – these are resources you can use to build your mental and emotional resilience during these testing times. The Resources are divided under 4 themes – Meet, Relax, Learn, Create – please take some time to browse and check them out. 

Click here for Resources for Resilience

This article was originally published as a newsletter. Check out the Good Mental Health Coop website, where you can sign up to receive Carolyn’s weekly mental health updates by email, and find out more about the amazing work the Coop do. You can also follow the Coop on Twitter and Facebook, and you can read all of Carolyn’s articles for S&C here.

 Image by Anemone123 from Pixabay

S&C is managed and operated by a small team who work on a voluntary and freelance basis to run our website, social media and engage with local residents and communities. Like all independent news providers in the UK, we’ve been hit hard by the pandemic and are currently seeking funding to survive.

If you want to find out more about the challenges facing local independent news: visit the #SaveIndependentNewscampaign website, get involved with S&C, donate, and help us spread the word on Facebook and Twitter. And if you want to know more about us, click here.