Mindfulness teacher shares tips to cope with anxiety and restore calm

The coronavirus situation is unlike anything any of us have ever seen before, and are likely to see again.

Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:04 am
Updated Tuesday, 31st March 2020, 10:06 am
Image by Irina L from Pixabay

People are advised to adhere to social distancing, not go out unless for essential supplies and exercise meaning we are essentially cut off from our friends and family.

While technology is bridging that gap for some, the current situation is taking its toll on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

Melaina Welland, from Bognor Regis, has been practising and teaching mindfulness for many years and says the benefits go far beyond just keeping calm.

Melaina

She said: “Mindfulness helps us to still the mind and turn the volume down on our thoughts.

“This has the physical effect of releasing positive chemicals like serotonin that help us to regulate moods and feel happier.

“We are given so much advice on how to look after our bodies and yet our minds are often neglected. It’s more important than ever to look after our mental health and keep ourselves and our families sane."

Melaina adds that mindfulness isn’t about putting things off and not dealing with what is going on but is about calming your mind to focus on something else.

Some ways in which she says we can all be a bit more mindful include making a gratitude list by making a list of five things every morning that you are grateful for, this focuses the mind on something positive at the beginning of the day to change the brain's focus.

Also adhering to the seven attitudes of mindfulness practice by Jon Kabbat Zinn. These include acceptance - accepting that you have no control over the situation, letting go of any thoughts of trying to plan ahead too much, non judgement - trying not to judge yourself or be angry at the system, trust that things will get better - it will pass, be patient with yourself and others, non-striving which means letting go and be in the moment, and beginners mind the idea that when you change the way you look at things the things you look at change.

One of the most important things Melaina says we can do is to unplug our phones.

"It can be tempting to keep the news on constantly but this can feed your anxiety. Take time out, away from the phone and social media, especially after 8pm as it can affect sleep, which is vital for our mental and physical wellbeing," she said.

"It’s understandable that you will be feeling a little lost, confused, and anxious right now. Whilst there is so much uncertainty in the world. It can be hard to see the positives but we will get through this challenging time and we will hopefully comeback stronger.

"The focus with mindfulness is just simply paying attention to the present moment, without judging, try this out for yourself and see."

Melaina also shares a three minute breathing space meditation...

A good beginner’s meditation, that takes 3 minutes. It’s simple and can be done anywhere, anytime, helping us calm our minds and relax. Symbolised by the hourglass, in 3 parts, each lasting around a minute.

First start by sitting comfortably and focussing your attention on the present moment and your breathing. What is your experience right now; simply notice what you are feeling without judgement or a need to change it, breathe deeply and with acceptance.

Second narrow your attention to a single point on your breathing and feel it travelling in to your whole body. Focus on the breathing and if thoughts come in just notice them and let them go. (You can imagine them as clouds or balloons).

Third your attention widens as you feel the breath expand into the whole of your body, notice sensations in your feet, legs etc, and anywhere you feel tension, breathe deeply and expand your body. Feel as if your whole body is breathing as you sit grounded in this present moment. If you are experiencing great difficulty you could repeat the mantra “this too will pass”. Imagine stress and anxiety being soothed by the sensation of your breath.

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