Mental illness is a growing global problem. According to a study by the mental health foundation over two thirds of the people surveyed in the study felt so stressed that they have been overwhelmed and left feeling unable to cope. With millions of deaths, economic turmoil, and uncertainties in the future the mental health of everyone has never been more important.
This is a vast and complex issue and we have listed below some support groups and sites that have been helping people deal with mental health issues for decades.
World Mental Health Day is on Monday 10th October and to mark this, we have prepared a simple but effective Mindfulness breathing exercise for you. It’s only six-minutes long and can help you with being mindful during your busy day. Safety first: Please only listen to the video when it’s safe to do so. In addition to the six-minute Mindfulness video, we have also listed some important warning signs relating to mental health. Understanding these signs can help you to recognise if you or others around you may be developing a mental health issue.
Let’s Slow Down
In our busy lives we are constantly thinking, caught up with what we are hoping to achieve or working frantically on our next goals in our personal and work life. Our habitual thought processes focus on the future, thinking about where we want to be or how we want to change ourselves or an issue we must resolve. Alternatively, we are focusing on the past, worrying about how we or someone else has behaved or deal with a situation.
This continuous mind processing can leave us feeling mentally exhausted and leaves little time to appreciate the moments we are actually in, the present moment. The mind-body connection is very powerful, if you can think back to a time where you may have become very upset, you might have felt a tightness in your chest, or had a headache develop very quickly. When we are in a busy-mind state, we have a tendency to ignore the physical and emotional warning signs our bodies are trying to communicate to us. This is a time when we need to slow down and pay attention to the signs and signals our bodies are trying to communicate.
These physical signs might be tension held in an area of the body, for example, the upper shoulders or neck area. The tension held in muscles can vary from person to person but, because we are too busy thinking and not being aware of what’s happening within our bodies, we tend to push away the warning signs until eventually pain propagates and becomes more severe and possibly even disabling. Other physical manifestations can be headaches, exhaustions, chest tightness and frowning.
Emotional warning signs can manifest in various ways such as feeling disconnected from others, sadness, nervousness, fear, and the rapid onset of anger. All the emotional warning signs can be missed if we are regularly in the busy mindset.
These physical and emotional warning signs can start to effect our behaviour, such as causing reduced sleep and affecting the quality of our sleep, over a prolonged time this can lead to chronic sleep deprivation.
A person might also start to withdraw from activities once previously enjoyed. There can be loss of motivation to take part in social gatherings or we may lack concentration leaving us unable to fully focus on tasks.
Developing on from behavioural changes we may find ourselves falling into depression. Or perhaps, start to have feelings of anxiety, or overwhelming stress.
If mental health issues continue and warning signs ignored or missed, the developing conditions can be catalysts for further unhealthy activities such as overeating, excessive use of alcohol or drugs. These activities often avoid the underlying issues and can exacerbate the overall situation.
Mindfulness allows us to practice bringing a gentle awareness to whatever we are doing and to provides an opportunity to listen to these important warning signs. Mindfulness can help us to embrace each present moment, not to change, improve or to remove but just to simply be aware. Taking the time to recognise each moment can be enormously beneficial.
A simple but effective breathing mindfulness technique can bring your mind back to the present moment and a body scan can help to focus on areas of tension and pain.
Follow our mindfulness breathing exercise and begin by focusing on your breath. Keep breathing in and out focusing on your breath, how it feels in the nose, going into the chest, the temperature and rhythm of the breath. When you are ready begin a body scan, think about the whole body, and try to notice any areas of pain or discomfort in your body.
With each breath in think about your breath reaching the area of concern and with each breath out try to relax the area.
Thoughts may come and go and just let pass by then return, once again to your breath and relaxing areas of tension.
Please follow our 6-minute guided breathing exercise.
This simple but extremely effective exercise is very powerful and can help to reduce pain and tension, slow down the thought processes and help us to see the importance and the strength of the mind-body connection. As well as, most importantly, bringing us into the present moment.
We hope this short breathing exercise has been helpful but if you feel you have some issues and need to speak to someone please get in touch with your GP or other health professional.
“We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves” Dalai Lama
Further resources on this topic: