As we all work to adapt to the ‘new normal’, what role can mindfulness techniques play in supporting and building good mental health? Carolyn Barber of Portsmouth’s Good Mental Health Cooperative, and local researcher and social entrepreneur, shares some observations from GMH’s recent online discussion event.
In our recent Trialogue discussion event, one of the participants talked about how mindfulness had really taken centre stage in terms of coping strategies during lockdown. Certainly in our earlier survey in May, many people focused on ‘acceptance’ and ways to stay in the present moment, in order to help manage the rollercoaster of emotions, anxieties and overwhelming stress they were experiencing during the Covid-19 health crisis.
As a new stage of adapting to life with coronavirus is emerging, it’s perhaps time to take another look at how mindfulness can help with our mental and emotional resilience during the tough times which still lie ahead.
Breathing, noticing, and concentration are all skills which can be developed through mindful meditation exercises. Learning the habit of paying attention ‘in the moment’ often helps us feel more relaxed and calm, but more importantly it helps us to observe our thoughts and feelings without becoming overwhelmed by them. This then enables us to respond consciously – rather than to react on autopilot – to difficult situations.
Mindfulness programmes are now used by health services to help people with conditions as diverse as chronic pain, heart disease, anxiety, psoriasis, sleep problems and severe depression. But there are many simple mindful exercises and short meditations connecting mindfully with our senses and the natural world about us, which help us to connect with the present moment.
Why not try this 3 step exercise?
- observe 5 specific objects around you
- close your eyes and identify 5 sounds you can hear
- notice 5 sensations you can feel either in or on your body
Now reflect on what you noticed doing that exercise.
There’s still time to register for the Mental Wealth Academy mindfulness course for free, where you can access recordings with mindful exercises and guided meditations.
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.
Please click here to complete this very short survey on the future of the Mental Wealth Academy.
Each week we share 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.
You can also find information about local support and services available if you’re feeling emotionally or psychologically distressed. 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.