NEWS

Part 2 – A guide to Mindfulness and Wellbeing.

1. Balloon Activity: Write all your worries on the balloon, take a pin & burst worries 

 

2. “Sea of Stress” - Write & draw what causes them to feel worried/anxious/stressed 

 

3. Five senses meditation 

If you are feeling stressed about an exam or start to stress out when in an exam, try some grounding - in 3’s........ notice … 3 things you can see 3 things you can smell 3 things you can hear 3 things you can feel........ now take 3 deep breaths. Remember this technique if worry takes over - try to knock back on your senses.

 

Wellbeing Ideas 

 

Breathing exercises, guided meditations and progressive muscle relaxation exercises are all suitable techniques to use in our daily lives to help us to relax and manage our anxieties and fears.

 

Mindfulness

 

Mindfulness is about paying more attention to the present moment- to your thoughts and feelings and to the world around you without judgement. It can improve your mental wellbeing. It can help us to enjoy life more and understand ourselves better. It is about allowing ourselves to see the present moment clearly. When we do that, we can positively change the way we see our lives and ourselves. 

It helps with stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is an evidenced based intervention and it helps us to deal with issues more productively. We can ask, “Is trying to solve this by brooding about it helpful, or am I just caught up in my thoughts?” 

It helps us to notice signs of stress and anxiety and to deal with them better. It is beneficial but it is not for everybody. Some people find it easier to go for a walk or do other activities to cope with an over-busy mind. 

We are living in a very difficult period right now. Fear is a pandemic that has taken so many people in over the last few weeks. Fear depletes the immune system and it turns off the prefrontal cortex part of your brain, which is the part of your brain that is responsible for reasoning, behaviour and speech. So, when we are in fear and stressed, we can’t even reason with ourselves, never mind trying to figure out what is going on outside of us. It plays a role organising cognitive thinking and behaviours. It gives the orders and if you shut it down or cut it off, we are all running around confused and in a frenzy. 

 

Breathing techniques help to regulate the prefrontal cortex and restore order to the chaos within. Practicing breathing exercises helps bring you back into your body and it turns your mind back on, so you are able to think rationally again and see clearly. It boosts the immune system, releases stress, cleanses toxins, increases your energy and reconnects the mind and body. 

 

Different breathing can be incorporated into your daily life to help you to reduce stress and restore calm and logical reasoning. 

Useful Apps for Wellbeing 

 

There are apps that are suitable for all users to engage in mindfulness, guided meditations, breathing exercises, body scans, Cognitive Behaviour Therapy to challenge negative thinking and to tackle anxiety and stress, improve mood, focus and attention and overall wellbeing. 

 

Headspace 

This app uses mindfulness and meditation to help you perform at your best each day. Whether you need to find a place of calm, keep your mind fit or reduce stress, headspace has hundreds of themed mindfulness and meditation sessions to support you. It is free on Android and iPhone. 

 

 

 

Calm 

This App is designed to reduce anxiety, improve sleep, and help you feel happier. It focuses on meditation, breathing, sleep and relaxation. The app delivers meditations that can help you distress, relax your body and mind and promote better sleep. It is the ideal app if you are new to meditation, but it also has meditations for regular practitioners of meditation. Meditation sessions vary from 3-25 minutes. It is free on Android and iPhone. 

 

Moodnotes

 Moodnotes is a thought journal and mood diary. The app can be used to capture your feelings and improve your thinking habits through the implementation of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy and positive psychology. It helps you to track your mood and increase your self- awareness. Learn to identify “traps” in your thinking and gives you ways to rethink the situation. If you happen to enter a “thinking trap”, Moodnotes will provide suggestions and useful perspectives to reduce stress and enhance wellbeing.

 

These are just a few of the many apps available.  Find one that suits you.

 

Mental Wellbeing Tips for Handling the Corona Virus

 

Create and Maintain a Routine 

It is very tempting to sleep in and or to stay up late when you do not have to be up and ready for school. Try not to change your usual habits of getting up at a certain time and going to bed at a reasonable time. Showering and getting dressed properly is important too.

 

Create a Workspace

Have a designated area where you work that is a different place to where you sleep or relax will be important- if you can. Be organised and have everything you need for study. 

 

Take a Break 

Build little breaks into your routine. Study in shorter periods to be more productive. Chat with a friend for a little while, go for a walk or have a cup of tea. Take a break for better clarity, concentration and a better mood. Take breaks every 40-45 minutes for five minutes incorporating stretching, breathing, getting daylight and hydration. 

 

Plan Your Study 

It is important to stay calm and focused. Your day might not follow the same routine as school timetable. It may suit you better to change subjects around and check what you have not completed in the curriculum and develop your plan. Set a time for study- preferably 2-3 hours early in the morning, outside of any homework or tasks you will need to complete for teachers. Focus should be on quality of study and not time. Shorter study times are more beneficial for maintaining concentration.

 

Regular contact with your teachers 

Don’t isolate yourself. Keep regular contact with your teachers through teams. Contact them for recommendations on resources and feedback on your work. Remember the Guidance Counsellors are also available if you have any concerns or queries. 

 

Maintain a Healthy Die

Keep eating breakfast, dinner, lunch at the usual time. Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables. It is easy to turn to comfort food at this time or when you are bored. Allow yourself to have these treats but make sure you get the required nutrients, vitamins etc. Hydrate by drinking plenty of water. Minimise the energy drinks!

 

Stay Social 

Working from home can be very isolating when you are used to being in school. Keep in contact with friends via phone or text messaging. Our relationships will play a massive role in our wellbeing over the next while. Do not be afraid to reach out and check in on people too. Stay safe!

 

Exercise 

It is important to keep up with getting some physical exercise, doing a home workout, some yoga or even going for a walk or cycle. Where possible, getting outside into wide-open spaces will be extremely beneficial to your mental wellbeing as well as your physical wellbeing. Simply try to get 10,000 steps a day! Exercise helps you to distract you from your worries by focusing on your performance. Exercise releases happy chemicals in your brain such as serotonin and endorphins. All the good ones! Being fitter helps you sleep better.

 

Make Use of Extra Time 

Make use of some extra time that you may have to pursue an activity that you really enjoy. That could be anything from reading for pleasure, baking, playing an instrument etc. Improve your mood by doing something creative. 

 

Stay Informed 

Make sure that you get your information from reputable sources. Avoid the scaremongering on social media and visit websites like who.int or hse.ie. Limit the amount of time you spend scrolling through social media and stop following anybody who makes you feel anxious.

 

Get into a Good Sleep Routine 

Go to bed early at roughly the same time every night. Don’t use screens before bed- phone or computer games, laptop or TV all stimulate the wrong bit of your brain before sleep and lead to you being alert rather than rested. Avoid caffeine in coffee or tea. If you are worrying about things and have a lot on your mind- keep a notebook and write down the issues before you fall asleep. If you are unable to sleep get up, go downstairs, and do something else such as read a book for twenty minutes. Remember, teenagers need 9-10 hours’ sleep per night. 

 

Prioritise Self Care

Focus on what you can control rather than focusing on how bad things are. Focus on what you can do and what you can control. You can control your hygiene, how your social distance, how you can help others. Try not to think too far ahead and focus on the here and now. 

 

Have a Laugh 

Don’t forget to have a laugh. Laughing reduces stress hormones and this reduction may result in higher immune system performance. It also triggers the release of endorphins. So, watch a comedy, funny YouTube clips or have a laugh with friends.

 

Disconnect at Times 

 

If social media keeps dragging you from your study or sleep, download a programme that will block certain Apps or websites for a given time. Turn off notifications. A constant buzzing phone is extremely addictive. How many times do you pick up your phone in an hour? Leave your phone downstairs at night. Using your phone will keep you awake. Give your phone a curfew. Your brain needs a break.

 

A lot of these techniques help to manage anxiety, but they need to be practiced regularly to keep stress as low as possible. 


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