I was looking at a photo today of people at a crowded bus stop in Honiara and I tried to imagine what life must be like for many in Solomon Islands with the threat of coronavirus on the doorstep, with unemployment, with people made redundant or laid off work, with sickness, such as what has occurred in Gizo and parts of Guadalcanal where diarrhea has taken the lives of six babies, where climate change has seen flooding, loss of food gardens and sea rise destroy homes, and I could site many more instances that illustrate life today is extremely stressful.
People with disabilities daily face stress in their lives and I have written several accounts of their experiences in the past few days.
Faced with many difficulties and challenges, I rather suspect that one just struggles on without taking stress levels seriously but it is important to know that if not managed in time, stress can have a tangible effect on one’s mental and physical health.
For stress management, you do not need to do anything too elaborate! Practising mindful activities can go a long way in ensuring you stay calm and embrace a relaxed state of mind. Now, we hear the term ‘mindful’ often but not many know what it entails.
So, what is mindfulness?
When you practice mindfullness you’re required to be deeply aware of your surroundings, feelings and sensations but only as an observer. You should live in the moment without judging yourself or interpreting what you’re feeling. Doing this can help you relax and bring down stress levels.
Practising mindfulness with paced breathing has plenty of benefits.
Now, there are certain activities that you can make a part of your routine to practice mindfulness and get rid of stress. Here are three of them:
1. Guided meditation
Most people already know that meditation can bring about calmness but guided meditation is specifically designed to help you practice mindfulness. One can enhance their experience with relaxing music and aromatherapy.
2. Breathing exercises
When you’re feeling extremely tense about something, you’ll notice that simply closing your eyes and taking a deep breath helps clear your mind. When it comes to mindful breathing you’ll experience something similar and be able to relax even during stressful situations. Practising mindful breathing requires being aware of each breath you take and feeling it reduce your stress each time you breathe out. You can try the 3-3-3 method where you count to 3 when you’re breathing in, hold your breath for a count of 3 and release it to the count of 3.
Deep breathing exercises are great for your lungs and your mind. Image courtesy:
3. Body scan
A unique method of practising mindfulness, body scanning involves concentrating on one body part at a time and relaxing specific muscle groups while doing so.
After a few minutes of deep breathing, you focus on one part of the body or group of muscles at a time and mentally release any physical tension you feel there.
Doing a body scan will help you concentrate on your body and mind, bringing about calmness. Sparing even a couple of minutes in the day for this will enable you to effectively reduce stress levels.
Practising mindful activities can go a long way in ensuring you stay away from stress and all the health problems it can cause!
With help from Harvard Health Publishing.