It's difficult adjusting to a new school term after a long summer break. Here's a quick Mental Health Checklist of things that I find useful if I feel like I'm running on empty.
I don't know about you, but I struggle with stress, anxiety and low self-esteem. Life has been particularly stressful recently due to Covid 19. I found Nicola's book very useful and have used some of the mindful meditations. I can't tell you how many times I have stopped and concentrated on my breathing and how helpful that has been - when there's an argument, when I'm feeling overwhelmed, even at the dentist yesterday. Everyone should practice mindfulness - the world would be a happier place.
Binging is a word you hear a lot - we binge on chocolate, fast food, Netflix, social media, alcohol... I know a lot about binging, I used to have an eating disorder. I know for a fact that in most cases, neither binging or completely denying ourselves is good. It's important to have balance in our lives. There is nothing wrong with chocolate, fast food, Netflix or alcohol as long as it is part of a balanced life (and you are over the legal drinking age). But when we have too much of them - it's not good for us.
Often binging is triggered by certain emotions or feelings such as despair, hopelessness, depression, guilt, shame, pain... Ironically, binging usually increases these feelings, rather than relieve them. There are things you can do to stop these binge sessions - get a big dose of fresh air, get out in nature, do some exercise, catch up with a friend, do a meditation exercise, get creative and make something, practise being mindful...
One of the most effective ways of getting our minds off ourselves, our problems and negative feelings is to do something for someone else. Being kind to someone can be a great release valve for those negative emotions. Next time you feel yourself spiralling towards another binge session, do something for someone else - ring or visit a friend (don't just text or message them), make someone a nice card and send it to them, help your mum with the chores, play a board game or computer game with your brother or sister, write positive, encouraging comments on people's social media posts, bake a cake and take it to your neighbour...
It's obviously a bit more complicated than what I've outlined above but next time you feel yourself spiralling out of control and tempted to binge on [insert your favourite binge here], be kind to yourself by being mindful and be kind to someone else. It might not solve all your problems, but it might help.
Origami is a great way to practice mindfulness. It's not just for kids - check out this model by an origami artist in California. All you need is some paper and some patience.
Hugh van Cuylenburg spent a few months living and volunteering in India in 2008. Despite the fact that the villagers didn't have very much the were very happy. When Hugh got back to Australia he continued his studies and worked out that the key to the villager's happiness was gratitude, empathy and mindfulness. He wrote a book called The Resilience Project and now there is an app. It is only $4.49 and is available on android and iTunes. You can find out more about it in the video below.
A 2019 study found that spending at least 20 minutes a day outside can lower your stress hormone levels. If you spend more than 20 minutes outside your cortisone levels will be even lower. I know it's winter in Australia and a bit cold and wet but wear a parka and take an umbrella. Go with a friend if you need extra motivation. Source: https://www.sciencedaily.com.
June is Mindful Month at Smiling Mind. You can sign up for free at https://www.smilingmind.com.au. All you have to do is complete a short survey (2 questions). According to the Smiling Mind website, some of the benefits of mindfulness include:
This animation shows two methods to deal with negative thinking - a life skill everyone needs!!!
This is a great mindfulness activity that is quick and easy to do - all you need is a piece of paper and a pencil or pen. You're meant to do this with your non-dominant hand but I think it works with your dominant hand too. It was really relaxing. I even started colouring mine in.