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Tip - Meditation
Meditation is the practice of thinking deeply or focusing one’s mind for a period of time.
While there are many forms of meditation, the ultimate goal is a feeling of relaxation and inner peace, which can improve mental health - there’s a growing body of research to support that.
When we sit to meditate, we are looking after ourselves in ways that might not at first seem obvious.
The benefits of meditation are numerous and varied.
Many people start meditating to manage stress, reduce anxiety, and to cultivate peace of mind.
There are thousands of studies documenting other less-known mindfulness meditation benefits, which can have a positive impact on mental, physical, and emotional health.
Mental health benefits of meditation
Positive side effects of meditation associated with mental health: increased awareness,
a sense of calm,
Physical benefits of meditation
To appreciate the profound physical benefits of meditation, it’s important to understand how chronic stress can wreak havoc on the body.
When the body and mind are relaxed, however — whether through meditation practice or other techniques — the parasympathetic nervous system is stimulated, causing the body to stop releasing stress hormones.
Many people who meditate regularly have learned to condition their body to relax on demand, and can more effectively manage stress.
Why is stress reduction so important? It lowers blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen consumption, which results in higher energy levels and better immunity and sleep.
Plus, stress reduction is key for diminishing the physical symptoms of many health conditions.
Emotional benefits of meditation
The brain is the part of the body where meditation can really work its magic. It’s certainly true that we become more capable of coping with negative emotions when we meditate and practice viewing heightened emotions as passing states.
But one of the most profound advantages of meditation is that it can not only change our mindset and perspective, it can also physically alter our brains, rewiring them toward more positive thoughts and emotions.
How to Meditate
Meditation is something everyone can do, here’s how.
Meditation is simpler than most people think; make sure you’re somewhere where you can relax into this process, and give it a shot with these simple tips from www.mindful.org :
1) Take a seat
Find place to sit that feels calm and quiet to you.
2) Set a time limit
If you’re just beginning, it can help to choose a short time, such as five or 10 minutes.
3) Notice your body
You can sit in a chair with your feet on the floor, you can sit loosely cross-legged, you can kneel—all are fine. Just make sure you are stable and in a position you can stay in for a while.
4) Feel your breath
Follow the sensation of your breath as it goes in and as it goes out.
5) Notice when your mind has wandered
Inevitably, your attention will leave the breath and wander to other places. When you get around to noticing that your mind has wandered—in a few seconds, a minute, five minutes—simply return your attention to the breath.
6) Be kind to your wandering mind
Don’t judge yourself or obsess over the content of the thoughts you find yourself lost in. Just come back.
7) Close with kindness
When you’re ready, gently lift your gaze (if your eyes are closed, open them). Take a moment and notice any sounds in the environment. Notice how your body feels right now. Notice your thoughts and emotions.
Tip - Podcasts
There were over 1.7 million podcasts at the start of 2021, which is continually growing.
The selection and range of health podcasts out there are huge. There are many popular mental health podcasts available on iTunes, Amazon, Google, to name a few platforms.
These will cover various topics and you can find shows covering autism, grief, depression, complex trauma, co-dependency, eating disorders, just to highlight a few.
Podcasts are an excellent way to learn more about your or a loved ones mental health issues and common interventions.
Many shows discuss self-care and provide practical strategies for taking care of your well-being.
Listeners can also learn from renowned psychologists, authors, and lecturers.
It is important to note, however, that a podcast should never take the place of therapy, but rather a source of understanding or distraction.
Some Podcasts we have found helpful are:
Fearne Cotton talks to incredible people about life, love, loss, and everything in-between as she reveals what happiness means to them.
Self Care Club
Lauren Mishcon and Nicole Goodman are the Self Care Club. Part reality, part experiment - this podcast tests out self care, so you don't have to! The advice for self-care today is endless and can be yet another overwhelming job.
Laws of Attraction Changed my Life
Just a Fran making a good life happen. Want to manifest amazing things into your life too? Join me, it's not a cult! I've been practicing the law of attraction for over 10 years with incredible results, hopefully you will leave our weekly sessions together both informed & entertained.
MIND is one of the most prominent mental health charities in the UK and is a great resource for information, support and help. Their podcast is worth a listen to the first-hand accounts of what it feels like to live with specific mental health problems. There are nine episodes in total, covering a range of topics such as OCD, crisis, bipolar, psychosis and more.
There are thousands for you to browse through and try; you need to find a dialect, content and voice that you can relate to.
Message us with any that you have found beneficial
Tip - Acts of Kindness
Random Acts of Kindness
Research undertaken by the Mental Health Foundation in 2019 demonstrated that helping others & acts of kindness can be beneficial to our own mental health.
It was found that it can reduce stress, improve our emotional wellbeing and even benefit our physical health.
Why not try a random act of kindness for somebody else or think about an act of kindness that someone has done for you.
Acts of kindness can be performed all year around - there is no restrictions.
It’s so important to look after each other within our communities and to pass kindness onto someone else.
This is how we protect and sustain good mental health for all.
The good news is that doing good doesn't need to cost a lot of time or money.
Small changes can make a big difference and you may never know the true impact your kindness can make on someone else.
Some random acts of kindness:
Call a friend and check in with them
Write a letter to family or friends
Send or pick flowers
Offer to pick up some groceries for the elderly or vulnerable
Give a handwritten note
Offer to babysit
Walk your friend’s dog
Share your love and appreciate with your nearest & dearest
Help with household chores
Support a friend get active
Make someone laugh
Cook for a friend or family member
Have a cup of tea with a friend or family
Help with a household chores at home or for a friend
Have an informal get together and invite your neighbours
Tell someone that you are proud of them
Share you gratitude with someone you know & why you are thankful for them
Send a motivational text to a friend who is struggling
Send someone you know a joke to cheer them up
Send someone you know a picture of a cute animal or a funny GIF
Send an inspirational quote to a friend
Send an inspiring article to a friend
Write a surprise note or drawing for someone
Catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while and try to meet face to face
Engage in conversation with a retail assistant showing gratitude
Spend time with your pet
Sign up to do voluntary work in your the community
Reach out to spend time with a friend, family member or neighbour who may be experiencing loneliness
Have a clear out and donate items to a charity
Make and send a care package to those who needs it
Make a donation to a charity close to you
Offer to pick up a friend or family member from work
Make a cup of tea for your colleagues
Get to know staff members or friends of friends.
Actively listen to others who may be having a bad day
Greet all you come into contact with
Bake a cake for others
Give praise to someone for something they’ve done well
Treat someone to lunch
Give up your seat to an elderly, disabled or pregnant person
Let someone jump the queue at the supermarket
Take a minute to help someone who is lost
Have a conversation with someone who is experiencing homelessness
Help a mother carrying her push chair down the stairs or hold the door for her
Let a fellow driver merge into your lane
Pick up some rubbish lying around in the street
Smile and say hello to people you may pass
Return a lost item to its owner
Pop into a coffee shop and ask to pay for a coffee for them to give to someone later that day for free
Share happy & funny memories with someone
Sharing is caring! Hashtag your Acts of Kindness #KindnessStories.
Information provided from the Mental Health Foundationhttps://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/
Tip - Gardening
"Gardening adds years to your life and life to your years."
Gardens are special peaceful spaces with restorative qualities that can work wonders when we are stressed and under pressure.
Time and activity in nature is good for us. Evidence strongly suggests that if we spend time in a green environment, then we reduce stress, improve mood and come away self-reporting improved wellbeing.
The benefits of gardening on wellbeing and mental health across the lifespan.
Gardening encompasses a range of basic activities such as sowing, the planting of fruit, vegetables and flowers to more complex horticultural activities.
We use the term 'gardening' to describe “an activity in which people grow, cultivate, and take care of plants for non-commercial use in domestic gardens, allotment and community gardens
Engagement in gardening activities has shown to promote social relationships, family connection, emotional and mental wellbeing, moderate stress, reduce depression and anxiety, and improve cognitive and educational outcomes in children and adolescents.
Further personal well-being effects include increased enjoyment, sense of achievement, satisfaction and pride from nurturing the plants; feelings of mastery and empowerment for children who do not excel in the traditional academic setting; provide quiet time for reflection and increased confidence and self-esteem.
Participating in gardening activities appears to have a similar positive impact on adult wellbeing and mental health, with improvements in life satisfaction, vigour, psychological wellbeing, positive affect, quality of life and reductions in stress, anger, fatigue, depression and anxiety symptoms reported.
Engagement in gardening has shown to have both immediate and long-term effects on mental health outcomes.
Just gardening for several hours provides instantaneous reductions in depression and anxiety symptoms, while gardening daily is associated with reduced stress and increased life satisfaction.
Gardening is one of the most preferred methods of physical activity in older adults.
Recent research conducted examined the effect of a gardening programme involving cultivating food on promoting bone health, mental health and reducing falls in older adults. While the programme did not improve physical health, it did improve participant’s subjective wellbeing, and self-efficacy in achieving their goals.
Other studies have further shown gardening to reduce stress, promote feelings of mastery, accomplishment and competence, higher levels of self-efficacy, self-esteem, and psychological wellbeing.
Moreover, the social and physical health benefits of community gardening has shown to delay dementia symptoms.
Given the compelling evidence for gardening and improved mental (and physical) health, Horticultural Therapy was developed as a cost-effective alternative treatment for those with psychological and psychiatric issues.
Horticultural Therapy, which involves sowing and planting with therapeutic goals and objectives for improving or recovering health, is effective in treating patients with a number of mental health conditions, including clinical depression, schizophrenia, and substance abuse.
Unsurprisingly, such positive effects of the Horticultural Therapy appears to be stronger enduring in patients and therapy users than with the general population, with improvement of patients' mental health persisting three months following therapy.
Why does gardening improve wellbeing and mental health?
There are a number of reasons for the positive effects of gardening on wellbeing and mental health.
First, there is the strenuous physical exertion underpinning gardening activities.
The benefits of physical activity and exercise for mental health are well known, with 30 minutes of daily exercise sufficient to improve and maintain wellbeing and mental health.
Planting, weeding, digging, raking, and mowing are considered physically intense and avid gardeners can easily exert the same amount of energy as running or going to the gym.
Gardening provides a more creative and enjoyable way to undertake physical exercise and meet the national exercise recommendations, which in return contribute to improving psychological health.
Gardening also allows individuals to interact with nature.
In recent years, a growing number of studies have demonstrated the benefits of ‘Green Exercise’ (GE; being physically active within a natural environment or greenspace), on wellbeing and mental health, with reductions in stress and depression, increases in self-esteem, mood and wellbeing reported in children and adolescents, adults, and vulnerable and disadvantaged populations.
Even small doses, such as five minutes of nature, is considered to improve self-esteem and mood.
Furthermore, GE can provide greater benefits than physical activity, exercise, or nature contact alone for wellbeing and mental health.
Gardening therefore offers an opportunity to not only interact with nature but also engaging in physical activity, therefore reaping all the health benefits of GE.
Community and therapeutic gardening projects offer a social context to the activity for social interaction, which can counteract feelings of loneliness and social isolation, especially for those with pre-existing learning difficulties and mental health.
It provides an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends, connect with people to develop a network or inner circle and draw support from like-minded people.
How to incorporate gardening into our lives during and beyond social isolation
There is clear evidence that gardening is an enjoyable and effective activity for improving physical activity as well as wellbeing and mental health across the lifespan.
Whilst we are adapting to the many changes to work and home-life, the opportunities to incorporate gardening presents itself as an activity that individuals can do on their own or with loved ones.
Gardening activities can include a range of activities, which suit all needs and skill levels in enjoyable and meaningful ways.
For example, growing tropical houseplants from kitchen scraps such as avocado seeds and pineapple tops, or create a sensory herb garden such as basil, parsley, mint and chives on the windowsill using empty tin cans.
Sprouting seeds is also an ideal way to produce some salad sprouts especially in tiny spaces, whilst teaching children about the journey of food from field to fork.
Children’s learning can be bought outdoors in easy and educational activities.
For example, using flowers for solving maths equations, examining soil, roots and shoots for biology lessons and the web of life.
Other activities that children, adults and older adults can incorporate into their lifestyle include sowing, growing, weeding and watering vegetables, fruits, plants, shrubs and flowers.
Those that new to gardening can start small, growing in little pots or tin cans.
Salad greens such as lettuce, rocket and chard are easy to grow in small spaces, and many baby leaf greens are ready to harvest in only 4-5 weeks.
It is important to note that gardens can be everywhere, by the front door, steps, balcony, a rooftop or community gardens and allotments and all count towards maintaining wellbeing and mental health.
Gardening offers a place where trial and error is welcome, so imagination can flow freely about what to grow.
The work also never ends with gardening, the care and maintenance will keep gardeners active for at least 10 months of the year.
Engagement in such activities will allow adults working from home to take regular breaks and reduce sedentary behaviour; children studying remotely or being home-schooled to reflect on their learning and reduce the stress associated with learning; families to interact with each other in a meaningful way and reduce feelings of helplessness and loneliness in older adults beyond the current climate.
Tip - Walk & Talk
How is walking beneficial?
Walking is one of the best things we can do for ourselves. It activates deep biological processes for health, balance, and wellbeing, supporting both physical and mental health.
Our bodies are designed to walk as our main mode of getting from one place to another, and many of our biological systems work best when we are in motion.
When we go for a walk, our circulation increases, which nourishes our whole body with blood and oxygen.
This nourishment provides what our tissues need to repair themselves, often solving minor issues before we even notice them.
Walking also helps calm the mind and reduce the effects of stress.
The rhythm of walking helps us enter a light meditative state, which then regulates breathing, lowers stress hormones, and can bring a sense of peace and calm.
The actual act of putting one foot in front of the other keeps our bodies and minds in conversation with each other.
The motion of it involves complex interactions between muscles, bones, and connective tissues.
Walking helps tune up those interactions, and increase coordination in general.
Going outside to walk increases all these benefits by adding fresh air and uneven ground.
The fresh air, open space, and interactions with nature all help to boost the immune system and regulate sensory processing, and may offer a sense of peacefulness.
Uneven ground keeps our coordination and stabilization systems active, reducing the likelihood of falling and helping improve joint health.
Going for a walk is one of the most fundamental self-care practices we can do.
It directly supports comprehensive mental and physical health, which in turn increases our internal feelings of vitality and our overall sense of wellbeing.
Why does walking outdoors help when having counselling?
Mental health charity MIND carried out extensive research a few years ago, which showed that walking in the countryside could help reduce depression and anxiety.
In their survey, they reported that 71% of respondents felt decreased depression and less tense after a “green” walk, while 90% felt their self-esteem increase after a country walk.
Other mental health organisations and the NHS recognise the benefits of the activity on good psychological health and mental well-being.
In fact, any kind of exercise can help to reduce levels of stress, depression and anxiety.
The benefits of being outdoors have been echoed by the Government over the last year as a result of COVID-19 and lockdown.
What is Walk and Talk therapy?
Walk-Talk is a mindfulness-based body oriented therapy that can make it easier for clients to relax, stop ruminating, release physical tension, breathe deep and receive mind-body insight while processing experiences in a different way.
As the name describes, clients talk with their counsellor whilst walking outdoors rather than sitting in a counselling room.
Walking side by side rather than sitting face to face can enable some clients to feel more comfortable when sharing in the therapy process.
How can Walk and Talk therapy be beneficial to me?
Walk-Talk therapy offers an opportunity to reduce stress, relieve body tension, improve circulation, breathe deep and clear the body-mind of intrusive, negative and ruminative thoughts and sensations.
These sessions can help a client decrease anxiety, regulate mood, enjoy more restful sleep and more.
Additionally, it can receive the feel-good brain chemical benefits of exercise, mindfulness practice and eco-psychology.
In session, a client can enhance insight, release body trauma and alter behaviour patterns while verbally processing their authentic truth and self.
What should I expect in a session?
The client and counsellor will meet at an agreed location that both parties feel comfortable & safe walking together. They review the contract previously agreed briefly before commencing the therapeutic walk. They walk at a comfortable pace for both; walking side by side discussing what comes to mind for the client, just as if they were sitting inside an counselling room.
At times there might be a few moments to stand in silent reflection, deep breathe or rest.
At the end of the walk, the counsellor will check in and hopefully any stress and anxiety a client may have had is reduced.
Can my dog attend Walk and Talk therapy?
Initially, the first few sessions should be just the client and counsellor building a therapeutic relationship. Once established dogs are welcome in most cases dependant on when and where they will meet, the dog's personality and temperament and whether it is overall appropriate and productive for your dog to attend.
Tip - Grounding
What is Grounding?
Grounding, also called earthing, is a therapeutic technique that involves doing activities that “ground” or electrically reconnect you to the earth.
This practice relies on earthing science and grounding physics to explain how electrical charges from the earth can have positive effects on your body.
Grounding focuses on realigning your electrical energy by reconnecting to the earth.
There’s little research behind grounding but some studies have reported benefits for inflammation, pain, mood, and more
This type of grounding therapy isn’t entirely the same as the technique that is used in mental health treatment.
Grounding can be performed inside or outside, with or without grounding equipment.
No matter how you choose to perform grounding, make sure that you’re always aware of your surroundings outside and use earthing equipment safely to reduce risks.
Types of Grounding
All types of grounding focus on reconnecting yourself to the earth.
This can be done through either direct or indirect contact with the earth, such as;
Have you ever been outside on a warm summer day and felt the urge to run barefoot in the grass? One of the easiest ways to ground yourself to the earth is to walk barefoot.
Whether this is on grass, sand, or even mud, allowing your skin to touch the natural ground can provide you with grounding energy.
Lying on the ground
You can increase your skin-to-earth contact by lying on the ground. You can do it in the grass by the park or on the sand at the beach.
If you’re going to ground yourself in this way, be sure to take the proper precautions and never lie somewhere you could be injured.
Submersing in water
According to advocates for grounding, water may be used to ground in the same way the physical earth is used for grounding.
They suggest simply wading in a clear lake or swimming in the ocean as a way to ground yourself. As always, be sure to stay safe when swimming, especially in murky or deep waters.
Using grounding equipment
When going outside to ground yourself isn’t an option, there are alternatives. One method of earthing involves connecting a metal rod to the ground outside and then connecting the rod to your body through a wire.
If you’re not comfortable using a metal rod to ground yourself, there’s other grounding equipment available. This equipment is an effective way to incorporate earthing therapy into your daily life and includes:
grounding sheets or blankets
grounding bands and patches
You can find grounding mats, sheets, blankets, socks, and bands online.
Why use Grounding?
There’s not much research on the benefits of grounding. However, people have reported improvement for conditions such as:
Chronic fatigue. In the study on massage therapists, many reported a decrease in their fatigue levels after four weeks of treatment with grounding mats.
Chronic pain. The study on grounding for exercise recovery found that those who used grounding patches reported lower pain levels.
Anxiety and depression. In one small study it was shown that even 1 hour of grounding therapy can significantly improve mood.
Sleep disorders. The massage therapists also experienced an improvement in sleep length and reduce sleep disturbances with grounding therapy.
Cardiovascular disease. Results of one treatment study found that long-term self-administered grounding therapy helped to reduce blood pressure levels in participants with hypertension.
Some health professionals believe that the benefits of grounding therapy may come simply from feeling like you’re reconnected to nature.
If you are interested in trying out anything or just want to learn more about grounding, visit http://www.groundology.co.uk
Tip - Power Hour
What is a Power Hour and how will it change your life?
This is a simple concept with a big impact.
The Power Hour is associated with Gretchen Rubin, whose books The Four Tendencies and Better Than Before gave an understanding into why people do (and don’t) do things. She explores how to give ourselves the best opportunity for achieving the things that we set out to accomplish.
What is a Power Hour?
You know how you have all those niggly little tasks you keep meaning to getting round to, but they don’t need to be done and they don’t have a deadline or anything pressing, so they just keep sliding to the bottom of the to-do list and never quite happen?
This is what a Power Hour is for!
How does a Power Hour work?
There’s 3 steps to it:
1) Write a list of all those niggly little tasks you’re not quite getting round to;
2) Put aside an hour each week – mark it in your schedule as Power Hour;
3) When the Power Hour comes round, take something from your list and tackle it.
When the Power Hour time is up, it’s up to you whether you carry on and finish the task or just stop.
It doesn’t matter if you haven’t finished it – Power Hours are for tasks that don’t have a deadline, so it doesn’t matter when it gets finished.
If you’re a completer-finisher you might find you need to carry on. If you’ve not been enjoying the task (it’s just one of those ‘got to be done’ things) you’ll be pleased for a reason to stop.
So if you choose to stop, that’s it until the following week’s Power Hour.
A Power Hour is simply dedicated time to tackle tasks you keep putting off, for long enough to make progress but not so long you resent it or find a reason to not do it at all.
None of the stuff is urgent, but all of it becomes annoying when allowed to build up for too long. So use the Power Hour time to head it off before it gets to an annoying stage.
Tip - Journaling
When you were a teenager, you might have kept a diary; it was a place to confess your struggles and fears without judgment or punishment. It likely felt good to get all of those thoughts and feelings out of your head and down on paper. The world seemed clearer.
You may have stopped using a diary once you reached adulthood. But the concept and its benefits still apply.
Today it is called Journaling and it is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. This can be done in bullet, creative or written form.
If you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. It can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health.
Try these tips to help you get started with journaling:
Try to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. This will help you to write in your journal regularly.
Make it easy. Write down your thoughts when possible. You can also keep a journal on your smartphone.
Write or draw whatever feels right. Your journal doesn't need to follow any certain structure. It's your own private place to discuss and create whatever you want to express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. Don't worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think.
Use your journal as you see fit. You don't have to share your journal with anyone. If you do want to share some of your thoughts with trusted friends and loved ones, you could show them parts of your journal.
Keeping a journal helps you create order when your world feels like it’s in chaos. You get to know yourself by revealing your most private fears, thoughts, and feelings. There are thousands of journal prompts and ideas online if you struggle to find inspirations. Look at your writing time as personal relaxation time. It's a time when you can de-stress and wind down. Write in a place that's relaxing and soothing, maybe with a cup of tea. Look forward to your journaling time. And know that you're doing something good for your mind and body.