New Leaf Counseling Group
Healthy Living Practices: Part One
Our last blog covered some of the difficulties people face parenting in today's world. Comparison, differences in values, and mental health in kids were some of the issues we addressed. With parenting in mind, it's important to note that kids observe more than we think they do. If we want them to value mental, emotional, and spiritual health, we have to model that value. It can feel overwhelming for adults in general, not just parents, to know where to start when wanting to practice healthy living for your mind, body, and heart.
With that said, we decided to provide some helpful practices, resources, and tips to maintain a healthy emotional and mental state for yourself. We've pulled so much for you that we decided to turn this into a four-part series and are excited to share what we have with you!
Recognizing is The First Step
The best way to help your mental health is to be aware of cues your body might be giving you that something is off. Furthermore, recognizing and responding to what your body or brain needs can prevent more significant issues like panic attacks or unhealthy coping mechanisms. When dealing with any physical, mental, or spiritual problem, it is most helpful to recognize it quickly.
For example, when experiencing anxiety, it can quickly spiral out of control. The sooner you recognize that you're experiencing stress, the better you'll be able to combat the effects it has with these various techniques to help you calm back down. Breathing techniques, meditations, positive thinking can help you cope with negative emotions, anxiety, or depression. If you notice it as soon as it starts, it's much easier to calm down.
When you pay attention to your mind and body, they will each give you cues long before you begin to feel out of control.
The earlier you can interrupt the feeling of anxiety, the easier it is to calm down and not spiral out of control. Your body will experience physical and mental symptoms long before you get too nervous or anxious to do anything about it.
Physical symptoms can include:
Upset stomach nausea, diarrhea
Sweating, increased heart rate
Headaches, fatigue, and weakness.
Mental signs that somethings off include:
The feeling of dread or fear.
Having a hard time concentrating or having a blank mind.
Feeling high-strung and alert for danger.
Being tense and unsalable to sit still.
You won't feel all of these mental and physical cues every time, but they are helpful indicators to keep in mind. Pay attention to your body and mind. Recognize the signs that your body might be giving you, indicating that something is off. Then, make an effort to relax your central nervous system to break any vicious cycle that could cause you to spiral.
Breathing Exercises To Calm Your Nervous System
Speaking of the central nervous system, we wanted to provide a few simple breathing exercises as a tool to use when you're feeling overwhelmed or anxious. These techniques are great because they are easy to do anytime or anywhere. When you experience feeling anxious, your breathing can get shallow fast. By paying attention to your breath and focusing on slow, steady breathing, you can calm your nervous system down. That's why these simple exercises work so well.
Breath counting is the most straightforward breathing technique. Slowly and steadily breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, and count each exhale. By the time you get to twenty, you should feel noticeably calmer.
Another good exercise is to find a calming breathing rhythm. Start by breathing in through your nose for four seconds. Hold your breath for two seconds, then slowly exhale through the mouth for six seconds. By keeping a steady, slow rhythm of breathing, you help melt stress and anxiety away.
Another great technique is to practice abdominal breathing. If you have the ability, sit or lay down and place one hand on your stomach. Breathe in and focus on the feeling of your stomach rising and falling. Pay attention to how your hand moves up and down. Keep breathing slow and steady, focusing your mind on your abdomen. If laying down isn't an option, you can focus your mind on the air flowing through your nose and out your mouth.
It is important that you practice these breathing techniques before finding yourself in a stressful or anxious situation. If you can practice them daily, you will become more comfortable with the exercises when you need them, and then you won't have to overthink them when it is required.
Noticing that something is off and then practicing your deep breaths is a great way to calm down almost instantly.
Being aware of what your mind and body is telling you and being prepared to respond is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. You set yourself up for successful transitions through stressful situations and you grow in confidence that you can handle hard things. You also model model self-awareness and a helpful mental health practices to those around you when you listen to your body and respond appropriately.
We'd love to hear if you were able to practice any of these techniques. Follow up on Instagram or Facebook and let us know how you implemented these practices. We will also be providing more tips daily on there! Stick around for more practical tips on healthy living coming to our next blog post!