With the year we’ve had so far… mental health and mindfulness has never been more important than right now. Whether it’s the stresses of the COVID-related work from home juggle, new financial worries, pressure on relationships or social isolation, most of us have now experienced some level of anxiety. Our hope is that with a greater understanding and ability to relate to these feelings, we’ll all find it easier to talk with others, seek help when needed and ultimately remove the stigma around mental health.
With Mental Health Week coming up in October (10th -18th), I’ve pulled together ten simple tips to boost your wellbeing and practice mindfulness in the comfort of your own home.
1. Start the day right – forget jumping out of bed and straight into the rush of the morning routine. Take a few moments to set yourself up for the day with three long, deep breaths accompanied with setting your intentions for the day. Remember, it’s up to you to choose your mood.
2. Say no to multitasking – with mobile phones constantly by our side, it’s tricky to resist the pull of social media notifications, phone calls and email alerts. Try setting aside an hour a day free from interruptions and technology, and feel a sense of calm wash over you.
3. Mood altering music – harness that feeling you get when your favourite song comes on and create a mood-altering playlist on Spotify or iTunes. Whether it’s a collection of favorites or chill tunes for some instant calm, music has a proven ability to shift your mood.
4. Get social minus the apps – social interaction is an often overlooked, yet critical factor in boosting mental health. Social media can, however, have the opposite effect. Take your socializing offline and phone a friend, or better yet, meet face to face and feel the stress-busting hormones buzzing.
5. Just breathe – “I am” we here you say! As simple as it sounds, focusing on your breath and that alone is effectively a mini meditation that can calm your nervous system and reset your mood. Start with five mindful breaths, focusing on the rise and fall of your belly. Build up to five minutes and voila – that somewhat intimidating practice called meditating? You’re doing it!
6. Teatime – no, we’re not talking a sugar-laden milky tea gulped at your desk. Try something herbal and carve out the time to sip it slowly and revisit your intentions for the day. Spoil yourself with an ornate tea pot and some luscious loose-leaf tea to create an indulgent teatime ritual.
7. In the mood to move – those that exercise regularly feel like they’ve uncovered some magical mood-enhancing secret – what it really is, is the release of endorphins. Scheduling regular exercise into your life will soon have you craving that feeling, and the mental and health benefits just become an amazing by-product. Whether it’s a home workout or a walk in the sunshine around the block, you’ll notice the effects instantly.
8. Stop and smell the roses – literally – being mindful is all about appreciating the little things that we often fail to notice in autopilot mode. Small acts like stopping to interact with your pet, noticing the warmth of sunshine on your skin, smelling a flower or listening to the birds can help anchor you in the moment and create immediate feelings of gratitude.
9. Prioritise ‘me time’ – it’s all too easy to let this one slide as other pressing matters climb the list. However, making time to do things you enjoy will reset your mood and have you facing fewer desirable tasks in a better frame of mind. Whether it’s settling down with a cup of tea and good book, dinner with a friend, a relaxing massage or a game of tennis, know that time spent enjoying yourself is an investment in your wellbeing.
10. Catch those Zzz’s – bolster your chances of a good night’s sleep by creating a wind-down routine. Start by quitting devices an hour before bedtime. Blue light released by smart phones, laptops and TV’s can block your sleep-inducing hormones, making it more difficult to head off to the land of Nod. Other pre-bedtime calming activities could include reading a book, taking a shower, having a cup of tea, or practicing relaxation techniques.
With almost half of all Australians aged 16 – 85 experiencing mental illness at some point in their life, it’s important to remember that you’re not alone. Keep in mind that any stress and anxiety in your household can also impact the little people and young adults in our lives. Being in the midst of a pandemic can be a worrying and confusing time for them, and tricky to navigate as a parent or caregiver. Kids Helpline have pulled together plenty of resources to help families find their way through this uncertain time.
While the above mindful moments can set you on the right track, sometimes we all need some extra support, so don’t be afraid to ask for help from the experts Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636 Lifeline – 13 11 14 Kids Helpline – 1800 55 1800
The information contained in this article is general in nature. The information is not intended to be used for medical purposes. Please consult your GP or medical practitioner for advice and support that suits your individual needs. To speak to someone now, contact Lifeline, Beyond Blue or Kids Helpline (links and contact numbers above).