Reconnect with your body – breathe!
In addition to mastering and looking after our minds, one way to improve your wellbeing is through the body-mind connection. One way to reconnect the body to the mind is to use the breath. If you are feeling anxious or stressed, deep breathing will help you to feel calmer as it will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the ‘rest and digest’ system and take you out of the ‘fight or flight response’.
- Start by making sure that you are either sitting, standing or lying comfortably
- Breathe in through your nose (4 seconds)
- Hold your breath (7 seconds)
- Exhale slowly through your mouth (8 seconds)
- Repeat this exercise for 3-5 minutes or until you feel calmer
If this resonates with you, try saying in your mind “I breathe in peace and calm” as you breathe in, and “I breathe out stress and tension” as you breathe out.
Top tip: make sure that you are breathing from your abdomen and not your chest. As you breathe in, feel your belly rise. As you breathe out, feel your belly lower. The hand on your belly should move more than the one that is on your chest.
Aim for the optimal work-life balance by incorporating ACE into your day: Achieve, Connect and Enjoy (ACE)
If you are a typical high achiever or overachiever, with a Type A personality, you may find that the majority of your time is focused on achieving (e.g. ticking off that never ending to do list, working, studying, thinking of what to achieve next), with little time left to connect with friends or loved ones, and enjoyment. In addition, over the past year, it has become harder for many individuals to maintain a healthy work-life balance and the lines between our work and home lives have become increasingly blurred. However, in order to maintain a healthy sense of wellbeing, it is important to balance what you do. Aim to create a healthy balance every day, allowing for activities which give you a sense of achievement, activities that involve connecting with and being close to others and those that give you a real sense of enjoyment. You can use the acronym ACE to help you remember:
- Connectedness/closeness with others.
If you are unsure how balanced your week currently is, start by recording what you do each day in the morning, afternoon and evening. Rate each activity for achievement, closeness and enjoyment on a scale of 0 (none) to 10 (maximum). This will give you an idea of how much of your week you dedicate to achieving, connecting with others and enjoyment. If you find that most of your week is focused on achievement, then aim to make more time for activities that give you a feeling of closeness and pleasure.
I have shared some of my favourite top tips to look after your mental health and emotional wellbeing, but I always recommend taking what you find helpful and then continue to practice what works best for you.
If you are struggling with any difficult emotions or your mental health, please go to your GP/seek professional advice.
Article by Lorna Devine