With the United States starting to open it self back up after being in "pandemic mode" for over a year it may be tempting to jump right back in to our pre-pandemic lives. However, before you jump into the "returning to normal" waters I encourage you to take a "Mindful Moment."
Mindful Moment? What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is an aspect of many East Asian philosophies that has been around for centuries. It is also an aspect of many religious practices throughout the world. Mindfulness is more than just a trendy act, it is an active practice in which a person is becoming more aware of their own internal workings. It is an intentional refocusing from the outside world to your internal world. Mindfulness is a practice, meaning that is something that an individual is encouraged to do on a regular bases. The key words in this section are ACTIVE, INTENTIONAL, and PRACTICE.
Why should I try mindfulness?
The benefits of mindfulness has been documented by numerous medical journals. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress levels, reduce thought rumination, increase memory and improve focus (Davis & Hayes, 2012). Mindfulness has also been shown to help individuals decrease their emotional reactivity, increase their cognitive flexibility and saw an improvement in their relationships satisfaction (Davis & Hays, 2012).
How do I start my practice?
It is easy to start your mindfulness practice. Just keep in mind that your practice should be active and intentional. It may take a while for your practice to become second nature, that is okay because it is a practice. Here are some tips for you to make the practice a bit easier:
As we transition to this "post pandemic" world, it is important to acknowledge the feelings and thoughts that can arise in that transition. Incorporating an active, intentional, practice of mindfulness can help reduce stress, improve cognitive flexibility and improve awareness of your emotions. Give it a try because the beauty of mindfulness is that it is free to use and accessible to many.
On November 17, 2020 I was honored to be a guest on the Just a Thought with E & L. Grab a seat, enjoy and subscribe.
Podcast description from "Just a Thought"
Episode Title: "Free Your Mind and the Rest Will Follow"
Season 2 Episode 29
I am excited to announce that I am now a contributing editor of an outstanding textbook.
Let's be transparent, 2020 is not what we expected. These past few months have been a lot and I am not just talking about the pandemic. From socio-political issues to financial concerns, these situations can allow for self-care to fall by the wayside. "We will not have it!" (I said this in my M'Baku voice from Black Panther). I just wanted to share a quick way to help you get back on track with your self-care practice.
What is Stress?
Stress is a catch all word to mean that "something is going on." Granted, that is the stripped down version of the term. The National Institute of Mental Health defines stress as how " the brain and body respond to any demand." Not all stress is bad stress. Some feelings of stress can keep you safe because it activates the fight/flight/freeze response. The issue is when your stress moves from helpful to harmful. The harmful stress is called distress. Distress can lead to the development of unhelpful coping strategies. It can lead you feeling overwhelmed, overworked, and over it.
One way to make sure that you are managing your stress is to do a self check-in. Take time out of your day to ask yourself these questions:
Times maybe challenging right now, but that does not mean that you cannot stop to care for yourself. Taking care of your needs first (physical, mental, and emotional) does not mean that you do not care for others less. The time you take out for yourself allows for you to fully present in the moment later. If you need additional tools regarding self-care check out my "What is Self-Care" post.
Stay safe everyone.
First published on the Time2Track blog on April 3, 2017, this piece deals with the feeling of competition that can be felt in grad school programs. Click on the link to read the full piece: bit.ly/3iCzfyc
Thank you to the Diversity, Social Justice, and Inclusion Committee of the DC Psychological Association for the invitation to speak on this panel.
It is important that individuals engage in self-care practices to help maintain quality of life. Self-care is the act of tending to one’s needs so that they may function in their daily lives. Below are five ways that we can incorporate self-care in our daily routine:
1. Attending to your physical needs: This is the most basic way to attend engage in self-care is to make sure your physical needs are being met. Taking care of your physical need will give you the foundation needed to tackle the day. Some examples of physical needs are eating (go ahead and take that lunch break), getting adequate sleep (6-8 hours a night) and exercise (as simple as taking a 10-minute walk around the office). These simple steps are great ways to get in a bit of self-care into your day. Neglecting these activities can be a sign that you are under strain because these are the first needs to go when under high levels of distress.
2. Tending to your social needs: Human beings are social beings. We need to be around others to survive. Studies have shown that social isolation can lead to a decline in mental health. Interacting with others can help relieve anxiety and releases hormones in your brain. Simple ways to meet your social need includes going out for a cup of coffee, phone conversations or sitting next to your friends in church.
3. Increase Your Mindfulness. By engaging in mindfulness, it allows us to check-in with ourselves and our surroundings and place our minds in the present moment. The easiest way to engage in mindfulness practice is to focus on your breath. Diaphragmatic breathing lowers anxiety. To engage in diaphragmatic breathing image you are smelling a flower (breathe in) and then you are blowing out a candle (breathe out).
4. Practicing your faith: Research has shown that religious practices can be a protective factor against depression and suicide. Engaging in faith helps promote hope and connection with others.
5. Talking it out: The easiest element of self-care is reaching out for help. By simply saying “I need help,” you are already taking the first step in gaining the power over your mental health.
Engaging in self-care practices is one step that everyone can do to help ensure that they are quality mental health.
Therapy outside of the room.
Therapy can happen outside of the room, Please take a moment to see how you can take steps toward mental wellness. Read a blog post or listen to my radio features. Follow me on Instagram at TheUnconsciousShift.