This years Mental Health Awareness Week (14-20 May) focus is on stress. Research has shown that two thirds of us experience a mental health problem in our lifetimes, and stress is a key factor in this. Shammi and Pretish reflect on managing stress:
Shammi - the ancient Indian discipline of yoga and meditation, where body mind and soul come together through a series of exercises connected through the breath, has been my method of 'de- stressing' for 20 years. Focusing on the present, always coming back to the breath, whatever thoughts may pass, you watch them in your mind's eye, let them go, and breathe.
When we are anxious and stressed our breathing quickens and becomes shallow, creating greater anxiety and dis-regulation. Focusing on the breath, deep belly breath can help calm the nervous system, in turn bringing down anxiety. Regular meditative practice can make focusing on the present, the here and now and deep belly breathing second nature.
Pretish loves Mindful walking - walk your way through stress - Walking with my dog Baba is one of my greatest pleasures. Come rain or shine, Baba needs his park and I have him to thank for this time of pure relaxation. As I walk the trail through my local park, I focus on my foot steps, how my feet feel in my shoes, how my heel feels on the ground, the pressure on my toes. I may focus on a single leaf I see in the distance, how it moves, its colour and if my mind wonders, I bring my attention back to the leaf. If Baba and I decide to take a seat on the bench, I take time feel the breeze on my face, the warmth of the sun or the feeling of rain drops on my head. All of these short exercises allow a few moments of peace.
Here and Now- Baba my dog has taught me about being in the here and now more than any teacher of mine. Baba, like other animals has the innate way of not being in his head and overthinking, therefore enjoying his surrounding and connections he makes. Be it rolling in the grass, a big puddle or a new friend he plays with in the park.
Connections with others - why relationships are important to your wellbeing. So many of us can get caught up in working long hours, not seeing loved ones or neglecting our partners in the routines of life. Studies show we are a growing nation of loneliness, feeling isolated and increase in mental health issues, yet we are more populated then any other city. Top tip:invest in your relationships, make connections with the people around you and your pets. Authentic connections support our mental health and wellbeing, so take time to invest in your emotional banks with loved ones, the payoff is enriching. This article reflects on why relationships are important to our wellbeing: http://ow.ly/yOup30k08av