In our January article regarding mental health we discussed mindfulness and how it is an extremely useful tool that you can use to get yourself through situations that feel stressful or may cause anxiety. For mental health week, we wanted to revisit this topic and go into more detail about meditation techniques that you can do to benefit your mental health as lockdown measures begin to ease.
Meditation is a technique that is closely related to mindfulness and is a useful tool that you can take with you anywhere you go. Whilst you may have a pre-conceived image in your head about meditation requiring you to be religious or sat cross-legged on the floor whilst humming or chanting, this is not necessarily the case. Meditation has been modernised and is no longer just used as part of religious practice.
Meditation is a method of focusing your mind. It helps you to block out negative thoughts. When used regularly, meditation has been known to have many positive benefits including:
Preventing negative thoughts
Helping you to recover from a negative experience quickly
Reducing stress and anxiety
As lockdown restrictions ease, it wouldn't be unusual for drivers to feel apprehensive about being in crowded areas or returning to public spaces that you haven't been in for over a year. Meditation may help you to gradually ease some of the anxiety that you have about leaving a third national lockdown.
There are many different ways to practice meditation and it doesn’t require money, time or much effort.
To practice meditation, you need to start with finding a safe spot to practice the technique in. It would not be recommended to try any of these techniques whilst driving. Some great times to practice meditation is when you are on a rest period or travelling on the ferry. The first step is to get into a comfortable position; this could be sitting, kneeling or lying down. Making sure you’re in a position where you aren’t distracted is key to making sure you’re ready to practice meditative techniques.
One thing you may choose to focus on whilst meditating is your breathing. Using this technique will allow you to learn how to refocus your mind and acknowledge thoughts, rather than get caught up on them. This will enable you to deter your mind when it begins to go down a negative path and safely redirect it towards something either more positive or neutral.
Whilst chanting isn’t an essential part of meditation, you can use mantras when you are first learning how to meditate as an aid to help you to redirect your thought process. A Mantra is one key word that you can repeat in order to focus your thoughts into one place. This can help you to concentrate when you’re meditating allowing you to remove all other thoughts from your mind. Studies have shown that meditating with a mantra can help to improve your mood, reduce anxiety and fatigue and can help to improve your memory. Some examples of Mantras that you could use are “calm,” “joy” or “happiness.”
Like Mantras, affirmations are vocal. They typically tend to be positive statements such as “I am superior to negative thoughts and low actions.” Repeating affirmations is said to help you to overcome negative thought processes and move into a more positive mindset; allowing your thought process to be less constricting and more freeing, enabling you to explore new thoughts and ideas with ease. Your truck cab is a great place to have a go at this.
Some people choose to practice meditation before they go to sleep. Being unable to get a proper night’s sleep can really negatively affect your mental state and leads you to be less productive, less engaged and can often make mental health issues such as anxiety, stress and depression worse. Doing meditation before you go to sleep can improve your sleep- allowing for a calmer state of mind and helping to prevent insomnia. Remember, driving tired is dangerous too.
You can find guided meditations on YouTube but there a few apps and online services that may provide a more tailored approach to meditation:
If you are struggling with your mental health, there is support available to help you. Here are some charities and healthcare providers that can help you to get the support that you need:
Mental health is just as important as physical health, practicing techniques like meditation and mindfulness can help to improve your mental state significantly, helping you to cope with situations that may provoke stress and anxiety, however, more severe cases may require the support of a medical professional.
For further help and support with mental health issues please refer to NHS online or book an appointment with your GP.