As many of us know, there are many different ways to take care of yourself.
Over the last few years and since I’ve been seeking help for post traumatic stress, the practice of mindfulness has grown in popularity not just for people experiencing issues with mental health, but as a practice for everyone.
As always guys, disclaimer: I’m talking about my own experiences, so what might work for one person may not work for another. Find what works for you providing it is positive and not self-destructive.
For those who don’t know, mindfulness is the practice of being in the moment, being fully aware of your surroundings, feelings and what you’re doing etc. in a calm and non-judgemental way.
I know, for people who experience/have experienced issues with mental health, being completely in the moment when there’s so much going on in your own head can seem impossible, even though it’s the one thing we want to be able to do.
But here’s the good news: With practice and help, it can be done!
As I referred to in my last self-care post, back in September 2016 I went on a ten-week wellbeing course at a women’s therapy centre that specialises in trauma. With trained therapists, we focused on a different topic every week, ranging from building self-care boxes, to being assertive, combating negative thought patterns and relaxation techniques just to name a few.
Very early in to the course, we covered mindfulness.
In our intro to mindfulness, we took part in a guided meditation, focusing primarily on our breath i.e. 5 counts in, 5 counts out etc. We got comfy (I sat cross-legged with my pink flowery scarf over my knees, because light pastel colours and floral patterns calms me) and began.
If our mind wandered (and believe me, it will!) we just gently and non-judgementally (I can’t stress that enough) brought our attention back to our breath. This can help you to be fully present in the moment, and this meditation lasted ten minutes.
Mindfulness can help you cope with the whirlwind of negative thoughts and sensations you may experience due to a mental health condition/stress etc. Even if nothing’s wrong it can be a good way to maintain wellbeing.
For a few months before, someone close to me had been recommending I try mindfulness. I knew it would help me, but truth be told, I was a little scared to take that first step for quite a while. But after this meditation, I was so surprised at how well it actually worked for me.
For the first time in a long time, my mind was quiet. I was serenely aware of my surroundings. I could properly appreciate the little things like hearing the whoosh of the traffic and the sun shining outside (it was a beautiful day outside) and actually be calm. It gave me a glimpse of what my state of mind could be when I’m recovered.
Having that mental clarity for a brief moment can be quite emotional, because you feel clear of the mental clutter, or certainly less than when you started. When I was speaking to the therapists about how the exercise made me feel, I started to cry because I was so happy something actually worked.
You hope and strive towards something for so long and when it does actually happen, a whole myriad of emotions can come out. For me, it was relief.
If you are attending a wellbeing course or therapy sessions where you are covering this, your therapist should make you aware of possibly getting quite emotional during or afterwards.
Another positive note! Because of the popularity of mindfulness, you can access guided meditations or music on the internet fairly easy.
There are plenty of videos on YouTube available so you can do a meditation or listen to some calming music (a personal favourite of mine is the Yellow Brick Cinema YouTube channel, that supply hours long videos of calming music for every preference!) in the privacy of your own home, on the go etc.
Also, it’s not something that will click overnight, so don’t beat yourself up if a couple of tries in and it’s not clicked yet. These things take time so be kind to yourself! It might take someone weeks, months, even years to click for some. It’s been nine months since I took that first meditation and I’m only just starting to get started on practising it again.
And as always, contact details to mental health services are available below if you need it. 🙂
Hope you enjoyed this post guys, happy Thursday! 🙂
SAMARITANS: 116 123
NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE (USA): 1-800-273-8255