Bite size #session 2 in my Introduction to mindfulness.

Mindfulness can be practised formally or informally.

Formal Practice involves a regular practice of mindful meditation either sitting, lying down or mindfully moving. For example we might choose to practice mindfulness of breathing in a seated position, on a chair or on the floor, in which we don’t try and alter our breathing instead we pay attention to the flow and rhythm of our breathing. Another day we might prefer to use a lying down practice, such as The Body Scan to move our attention around the different parts of the body, noticing any sensations within the body and noticing our emotions as we practice. Mindfulness is different from relaxation; we are not trying to do anything we are simply noticing how we are at this moment in time.

Informal Practice involves bringing a mindful awareness to our everyday activities that normally we perform on automatic pilot with little or no awareness. We can practice being truly present in whatever activity we are engaged in, without our minds being somewhere else. For example, the following activities could provide an opportunity to pay full attention to our present experiences:

  •  Brushing your teeth
  •  Preparing a meal
  •  Eating
  •  Taking a shower or a bath
  •  Commuting to work
  •  Household tasks/chores
  •  Making a cup of tea

Bite-size mindfulness – introduction

Introduction to mindfulness with breathing space practice

Mindfulness can support us in difficult times, enabling us to tolerate uncertainty and accept where we are in this moment.

This takes practice so stick with it!

Try practicing everyday activities mindfully such as brushing your teeth, eating a meal or having a shower.

Task: Eating mindfully.

1. Breathe before eating. We often move from one task right to the other without pausing or taking a breath.  By pausing, we slow down and allow for a more calm transition to our meals. Bring your attention inward by closing your eyes, and begin to breathe slowly in and out of your belly for eight to 10 deep breaths before you start your meal.

2. Listen to your body. After breathing, bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your belly. On a scale of 1 to 10, 1 being that you don’t feel any physical sensation of hunger and 10 being that you feel very hungry, ask yourself “How hungry am I?” What physical sensations tell you that you are hungry or not hungry (emptiness in stomach, shakiness, no desire to eat, stomach growling, etc.)? Try not to think about when you last ate or what time it is, and really listen to your body, not your thoughts.

3. Eat according to your hunger. Now that you are more in touch with how hungry you are, you can more mindfully choose what to eat, when to eat, and how much to eat. This simple practice can help you tune in to your real needs.

4. Practice peaceful eating. At your next meal, slow down and continue to breathe deeply as you eat. It’s not easy to digest or savor your food if you aren’t relaxed.

5. If you don’t love it, don’t eat it. Take your first three bites mindfully, experience the taste, flavors, textures, and how much enjoyment you are receiving from a certain food. Make a mindful choice about what to eat based on what you really enjoy.

Managing anger longterm…

Anger management: 10 tips to tame your temper
  1. Think before you speak. In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. …
  2. Once you’re calm, express your anger. …
  3. Get some exercise. …
  4. Take a timeout. …
  5. Identify possible solutions. …
  6. Stick with ‘I’ statements. …
  7. Don’t hold a grudge. …
  8. Use humor to release tension.

Longterm

Understanding what sort of situations trigger your anger means you can develop strategies to cope and think about how to react before the situation happens. You might find it helpful to keep a diary or make notes about the times you have felt angry. You could record:

  • What were the circumstances?
  • Did someone say or do something to trigger your anger?
  • How did you feel?
  • How did you behave?
  • How did you feel afterwards?

Challenging thoughts…

If you’re feeling upset or angry, you might find yourself automatically thinking or saying things like:

  • “This is all their fault.”
  • “They never listen.”
  • “This always happens to me.”
  • “Other people should behave better.”

But often there are lots of different ways we could interpret a situation. It can make you feel worse if you think in terms of ‘always’, ‘never’ and ‘should’, because in reality things are rarely so black and white. Making an effort to replace these words with softer terms like ‘sometimes’ or ‘could’ when thinking about your situation might help you to break up negative thought patterns, reflect more calmly on your situation and find new ways through conflicts.

advice-signpost2.jpgCognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a structured short-term talking therapy that examines how your thoughts, feelings and behaviours affect each other, and aims to teach you practical skills to change this. You could also try to learn CBT techniques by yourself through accessing self-help books from your local library, or online through free apps.

Improving Low self esteem

Low self esteem can develop through negative life experiences such as poor/critical parenting, bullying, abuse, loss and separation, difficulties at school, suffering from discrimination/stigma and childhood trauma. These impact on our sense of self and affect our relationships with others as well as our perception of how others see us, and the thoughts and beliefs we have about ourselves, our world, and our future.

Low self esteem can mean we become people pleasers and put others first, negating our own needs. Having a vulnerability to criticism can also affect working relationships and our ability to progress in a chosen career.

Our thinking tends to be critical in nature, therefore this harsh inner critic contributes to a negative view of yourself. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can help to address this by challenging this view and related thoughts and beliefs.

 

Menopause and mental health

Menopause is a normal transition for women, and every woman will experience menopause differently.

Some have symptoms that are barely noticeable, while others experience significant changes. In some cases menopause and the reduction of estrogen can impact on someone’s mental health or exacerbate a preexisting mental illness.

Many women experience mood swings during peri-menopause. These mood swings are often linked to fluctuating levels of estrogen. Depression may also be a result of potential physical and emotional effects of menopause (such as insomnia),

However, research suggests women who had severe PMS in their younger years or postpartum depression may have more severe mood swings during perimenopause. Women with a history of clinical depression also seem to be particularly vulnerable to recurrent clinical depression during menopause.

Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) can hep to develop coping strategies as well as healthy eating and exercise to support wellbeing.

Menopause in the workplace

A lack of understanding around the process means that the menopause is now having a serious impact on women’s economic participation in the UK. There are now more women over 50 in British workplaces than ever before, with one in three workers expected to sit in this category by 2020, rendering the issue more pertinent than ever. With ambitious boardroom diversity and gender pay gap deadlines to meet, employers need to take the issue seriously.

With all of this in mind, what steps can organisations take to help employees navigate the experience? What support mechanisms are most effective?

There are a whole range of support mechanisms employers can put in place to help women going through the menopause. Speaking to employees and finding out what would benefit each, according to individual circumstances or experience, can be useful. Feedback can then be used to create a tailored plan or set of working conditions to help employees manage the process.

Reasonable adjustment such as flexible working practices can be hugely beneficial when it comes to dealing with issues like fatigue or disturbed sleep. The option to work from home can also be helpful when experiencing more uncomfortable or potentially embarrassing symptoms. Allowing those undergoing the transition the space and flexibility they feel necessary is important.

Simple changes to office environment can also make a difference. Sensitivity when it comes to heating and air conditioning systems, allocated cool or warm areas, desk fans and access to drinking water will be hugely valued by those experiencing issues with temperature, for instance.

 

EMDR therapy

I am feeling grateful for recently completing level 3 EMDR training. This therapy is  great treatment for various mental health difficulties such as PTSD, Anxiety, Depression, OCD, Anger and Pain.

EMDR is an acronym for ‘Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing’. EMDR is a powerful psychological treatment method that was developed by an American clinical psychologist, Dr Francine Shapiro, in the 1980s. As a Senior Research Fellow at the Mental Research Institute, she published the first research data to support the benefits of the therapy in 1989.

EMDR featured on BBC Radio 4s programme iPM recently. The programme told the story of a woman revisiting intense experiences of being bullied very early in life, with event at just age four. Listen to here story here: http://emdrassociation.org.uk/whatis-emdr/

let me know what you think!

warm wishes,

rachel