Stress can manifest itself in many different ways: headaches, body fatigue, low mood. By taking time to be mindful, you can take steps to improve your own mental health.
This week, over on our social media pages (@cccuscn on twitter, @cccusustainability on Facebook/Instagram) we’re sharing a video series called ‘Mindfulness Minutes’ with the aim to provide you a minute to stop, breathe and take time to be mindful. Within these videos we have outlined different mindfulness techniques you could use, but if videos aren’t for you or you’re impatient to get going, here they all are written down!
A study published in 2017 found that a group who had undertaken eight weeks of deep breathing sessions had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone. This change was not seen in the control group. Scientists don’t quite know why slow, deep breathing promotes relaxation but its ability to increase heart rate variations and reduce cortisol levels are key.
The square breathing technique can encourage this slow, deep breathing to reduce stress levels.
- Breathe in for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Breathe out for 4 seconds
- Hold for 4 seconds
- Repeat as necessary
Pursed lip breathing
This has a very similar goal as the first exercise, to encourage you to focus on your breathing and taking time for yourself. You can practice pursed lip breathing at any time.
- Relax your neck and shoulders.
- Keeping your mouth closed, inhale slowly through your nose for 2 counts.
- Pucker or purse your lips as though you were going to whistle.
- Exhale slowly by blowing air through your pursed lips for a count of 4.
5 Senses Exercise
This exercise is all about being aware of the world around you and grounding yourself.
- Name 5 things you can see
- Name 4 things you can feel
- Name 3 things you can hear
- Name 2 things you can smell
- Name 1 thing you can taste.
You can download a pdf version of this exercise from the NHS if you’d like to keep it for later.
When you are feeling overwhelmed and anxious, you can feel disconnected to the world around you, becoming flustered by day to day life. By becoming aware of your surroundings you become grounded in your surroundings, listing what’s around you can make it seem more manageable.
Mental health is really important and is something that will affect all of us at different points of our lives. To find out more about how sustainability is linked to mental health and the Sustainable Development Goal surrounding good health and wellbeing, have a look at one of our previous blog posts on starting conversations.
by Amy Bayliss-Fox, SGO Project Officer #livingwell