This environment could lead to ‘worst case scenario’ projections about what is happening and how it might impact us.
When you think about it, your entire experience of life is created in your mind. Environmental information streams in through your senses and your brain filters, computes and organises that information to make meaning of the world around us.
Whilst it is important to be vigilant of real and present threats, it is equally important to not let our minds get out of control, which might lead to unnecessary amounts of stress, anxiety or worry.
Here are ten practices that can be helpful in sustaining mental wellbeing in these challenging and evolving times:
1. Notice your triggers
Stress is activated when we perceive something as a threat. Practice noticing and noting down the things that trigger stress in you. Awareness of these triggers enables us to remove them or defuse from them.
2. Label your thoughts
When you notice unhelpful thoughts, say to yourself “I am having the thought that…”. The wording creates some separation between you and the thought you are having.
3. Practice perceptual flexibility
If you are perceiving something in a way that is unconstructive or unhelpful. Ask yourself “What is another way of looking at this situation?”
Sit comfortably, close your eyes, turn your attention to your breath. When the mind wanders, notice the thoughts, return to the breath.
5. Engage your senses
When doing anything. Spend a minute scanning through the senses. What can you see, feel, smell, taste, hear?
6. Mindful walking
Whenever you are walking, pay attention to how you are moving, the motion of your body and how your feet are connecting with the ground (Its even better if you can do it with bare feet).
7. Keep a journal
Every morning and evening spend 10 minutes getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper. This can improve creativity, concentration, goal attainment and processing of difficult emotions.
8. Clarify your values
Spend time reflecting on what is important to you, what you want to stand for in life. Write these down as values and then reflect on how you can live these values through your actions.
9. Practice positive psychology
At the end of each day, write down or have a conversation about 3 things that went well that day and why they went well. This trains the brain to be more positive.
10. Positive mental rehearsal
Using the imagination to visualise positive action and outcomes is a powerful tool for achieving goals. Close your eyes and visualise yourself doing the things you want to achieve. How are you acting? How does it feel?
When we integrate these simple practices into daily life, we can train our brain to remain present, to reduce the likelihood of being caught up in unhelpful thoughts, to cultivate calm amidst the chaos.