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Self-care and Mindfulness by Milly Daniels-Young

Hello Brixworthians! This is my 5th well-being post and I would like to thank everyone that has been reading them and I hope I have helped in coping with lock-down in some small way. Keep looking after yourselves and those around you. Today I am going to be talking about self-care and mindfulness; both important aspects of mental well-being and easy things to start practising whilst at home.

Self-care is more than doing nice things; it is a conscious decision to be proactive in preserving your mental, emotional and physical well-being. It might seem rather obvious, of course I know how to take care of myself. However, self-care is not just looking after your basic needs, its being aware that you are engaging in something for your own good. Let’s say you love a nice long bath or going for a bike ride, you can make it a proactive self-care activity by clearing your mind, pushing all thoughts of Coronavirus and lock-down out of your mind. Remind yourself that this activity is for you and your health and you are allowed to not worry about the future right now. Don’t worry if the thoughts start to intrude in, refocus and take a deep breath. This proactive and purposeful thinking is a good self-care technique which you can apply to any activity; gardening, playing video games, time with family or calls with friends.

Self-care can also be not doing something that is detrimental to your well-being; not checking the news as often, not feeling guilty for not having a tidy house, ignoring the pressure to be the perfect home-schooling parent for your kids. Remind yourself that these activities and thoughts are not good for your mental well-being and it would be self-caring to let them go.

Mindfulness can be used as part of self-care or even as a self-care activity. The goal of mindfulness is to be aware of the present moment, close down all other worries and thoughts of the future and past to focus on here and now. Being aware of the present can be powerful, to be in tune with your body and what it is trying to say to you allows your to take control. Mindfulness can be practised through meditation or purposeful thinking. Meditation can seem daunting, but there are lots of app, websites and videos out there for guided meditation with a wide range of purposes from clearing your mind for sleep to reducing anxiety.

Purposeful thinking, as discussed above, is focusing on where your mind wonders and to take control of what you think about. With all this time on our hands and perhaps the effects of cabin fever edging in, it’s easy to get sucked into a spiral of negative thoughts. When you find this happening, take a deep breath and refocus. A technique I personally use for quick momentary mindfulness is the 5 senses methods; I stop what I’m doing, try to empty my mind then slowly name:

· 5 things I can see

· 4 things I can hear

· 3 things I can feel

· 2 things I can smell

· 1 thing I can taste

This technique helps you become aware of your surroundings and brings you out of your own head. Its not a huge deal what order they come in, but I’d leave taste and smell for last (tasting 5 things is kind of hard).

These two well-being

are widely used and easy to learn. For the first time I’m giving my readers homework, give one of these a go in your own time. Maybe you’ll find one that’s really good for you, perhaps neither work. Either way at least you’ll know you’ve given it a go and been proactive about your well-being.

The long and short of it:

· Use these techniques to clear your mind

· Find some meditation guidance online

· Be proactive in looking after your mental health

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