Three ideas to boost your mental health

By Jade Shelton

In our April newsletter we shared a free gift from Calm (the mindfulness app).  For those of you that took this offer up, we hope that you found it useful – particularly during the intense lockdown period.

Calm’s view is that “neuroscience is discovering new, effective ways to develop our brains for enhanced mental strength and performance.  What we are learning about neuroplasticity means that, at any age, through training, we can change our brains to become even more mentally strong, healthy and fit”.

In their latest blog, Calm have provided 10 ways that you can start training your Mind (you can read it here).  We have picked three to share with you:

Remember that not ever thought is true or helpful 

It was Mark Twain that said: “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened”.

We don’t have to accept every thought we have.  Just because we think it, doesn’t mean it’s true.  Our beliefs, past experiences, and feelings that we bring to any situation are like an invisible filter that influences the way we interpret and experience the world.

Notice when you’re ruminating and choose preference

Have you noticed the downward spiral of thoughts that can happen when you’re worried, stressed, disappointed, angry, or nervous? It’s easy to get lost in a flurry of what-ifs, criticism (of self and others), and overthinking.

The brain loves to spend time in the past or future. This can sometimes lead to negative thoughts. We believe that if we use our energy analysing the situation that we’ll somehow figure it all out and escape the discomfort we’re feeling. Instead we end up spinning in a sea of repetitive thoughts, negative feelings and regrets.

Fears abound and anxiety ensues – followed by exhaustion.

The solution is to spend time in the present. The easiest way to do this is through the senses. What can you see, hear, feel, smell, and taste? Bring your attention to what’s here and now.

Take a deep breath 

The breath is a powerful support that you can access anywhere – a first date, a big presentation, a difficult conversation, or long queue.

It’s pretty much the only thing that exists in the present.

Slowing down and deepening the breath has been shown to help calm the mind.

It can also reduce blood pressure, improve memory and settle emotions.

Here’s a breathing exercise you can do anywhere:

  1. Take a long slow deep inhale through the nose, as if you were sipping air in through a straw.  Let the breath expand your chest, rib cage, and belly.
  2. Pause for a moment.
  3. Now exhale through the nose in a way that matches the speed and length of your inhale.  Feel the belly drawing in and the chest and rib cage falling slightly.
  4. Pause and repeat this cycle at least three times.

Tip: Let your exhales be slightly longer than your inhales for added relaxation.

It’s important to remember to take time for yourself – relax, breath, meditate, do whatever makes you feel CALM!

If you are interested in finding out a bit more about Calm, then our FREE gift is still available.  Please click here to redeem your free 30-day guest pass.