Mental health is an important topic. Keeping our minds healthy and understanding how to care for ourselves mentally is vital. Unfortunately during national lockdowns, we may start to see our mental health decline. Being unable to leave home as often as we would like, being asked not to socialise in person and getting caught on a death scroll on social media are all things that can impact our mental state.
The first thing to recognise is that you are not alone. One in four people experience a mental health issue each year, making it more common than you would expect. It’s important that you speak to someone if you are feeling as though your mental health is affecting you. You can find more information about services that are available to help you on NHS online.
Mindfulness has recently gained a lot of traction as being a great tool to use if you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or discontent. It focuses on helping you be more present in each moment, allowing you to reconnect with yourself and escape from your headspace.
Mindfulness is derived from the religious practices of Buddhism and focuses on helping you reach a different state of awareness. Whilst mindfulness has roots in religion, it is essentially a form of meditation that has been redeveloped over time to be accessible for everybody, regardless of whether you are a religious person or not.
Mindfulness can be accessible at any time or place. You are free to practice it in the best way to suit you and the situation you are in. You can even take advantage of it when you are pulled over in a lay-by on your break or whilst making a ferry crossing.
The mental health charity Mind notes that mindfulness can help you to become calmer, feel a reduction in stress and enable you to deal with your thoughts and feelings in a more controlled and understanding way (among other benefits). This means that if the additional pressures of a new lockdown, increased coronavirus testing for drivers and the new customs procedures are making you feel stressed or anxious, mindfulness may be able to help you escape those troublesome feelings.
Many of the techniques used in mindfulness aim to get you to focus on yourself in your present state. Some options for practicing mindfulness include deep breathing, body scans (tune into your body and reconnect to your physical self) and acknowledging that your mind is wandering, prior to bringing it back to your current present state. There are many different ways to conduct mindfulness and there is a lot of information online that may be able to help you learn key techniques in order to practice on your own.
There are a lot of different websites and apps available that can help you get started with mindfulness by teaching you key tips and tricks in guided meditations. These include:
It is worth noting that some of the apps listed may offer a free trial followed by a subscription.
Whilst mindfulness may not be the perfect solution for everybody, it does offer key skills that may be able to help many people to refocus and adjust to tighter lockdown measures whilst we wait for more people to have access to one of the Coronavirus vaccines.
For further help with mental health issues please refer to NHS online or book an appointment with your GP.