May is Mental Health Awareness month and while most of us know the importance of mental health that doesn’t always translate into practice. The truth is mental health is brain health.
There are many ways to support your mental health and like with anything, the power is in the consistency. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but mindfulness should be part of your daily routine. You brush your teeth everyday (hopefully) so why wouldn’t you ‘wash’ your brain — your most important organ! It could be argued that you don’t even really need your teeth, but you definitely need your brain!
Here are some fan favorite mindfulness strategies of mine:
1. Connecting with Nature
As if you need encouragement to get out and smell the roses. Here is your little reminder.
Intuitively we know getting outside is good, and now research has caught up with the rest of us and done the statistical analysis we don’t really care too much about. Nature is good, the effects of a walk in the park pay huge dividends — upwards in the direction of Bitcoin.
So, get out and if you can walk with a friend or 2; those savvy scientists have actually shown that group walks are excellent for mental health and resilience (social distancing of course!).
2. Deep Box Breathing
Anywhere, anytime you can pull out box breathing and literally feel yourself calming. Some days it takes longer than others, but this is a tried-and-true method.
Simply breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds, hold your breath for 4 seconds, breathe out though your mouth for 4 seconds, and hold again for 4 seconds. Repeat as long as needed. If this is too much, just inhale and exhale always making sure your exhales are longer than your inhales.
3. Try out Yoga Nidra
Yoga Nidra is more meditation than yoga. While sometimes there is a small physical movement portion, the majority of this practice is being guided into the delta state of being. While in delta state, your body actually releases melatonin also known as the sleep hormone.
There is a growing body of research showing that a 30-minute Yoga Nidra practice is so restful and rejuvenating that it compares to up to 3 hours of sleep! Sign me up!
4. Clearing your mind
Meditation is really an umbrella terms for a very wide range of contemplative practices spanning many different philosophies and traditions.
In fact, a recent study in Mindfulness, by Matko and colleagues (2021) found over 300 meditation techniques! The benefits of meditation are well documented. The research shows that not only does it help improve psychological health, but it also actually improves our physiology and our relationships!
Meditation is used around the world and has been used in many forward-thinking programs for children and for incarcerated individuals. There are so many ways to meditate (clearly, over 300) so find one that is right for you. Use a guided script, count, do a body scan, do what suits you, but just do it (the hardest part).
There are so many more tips and tricks — including checking out the amazing Nuro app. So in the words of Gwen Stefani,
"What are you waiting for?!"