Coronavirus Breathing Exercises

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Dear friends,

I would like to share with you this video by Patrick McKeown. I find it very helpful and I wish it will give everyone a little bit of comfort during this difficult time. Please also read the comments below the video.

 

Keep safe and stay at home!

Love always,

Vassiliki

 

Covid-19: Mental Health Exercises to Face This Incredibly Challenging Situation No5

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Dear friends,

-Can a man still be brave if he is afraid?

-That is the only time a man can be brave!

A Game of Thrones – G.R.R. Martin.

YOUR BUCKET LIST

Having a bucket list will help you identify your personal and professional goals and desires. Use a bucket list to keep yourself focused and make an effort every day to accomplish at least one small task that will lead you towards crossing things off of your bucket list.

MINDFULNESS EXERCISE

You’ll need a few raisins for this activity (or if you prefer, any other dried fruit can substitute). In addition, I recommend taking a few moments afterward to write down any reactions you have to the exercise, and what you learned from it. Your intention will be to eat a raisin in a mindful manner, fully immersed in the experience.
Begin by taking a raisin and placing it in the palm of your hand. Glance down at it, pretending for a moment that you’ve never seen anything like it before. Alternate between holding the raisin in your hand and placing it between your forefinger and thumb to more fully feel its texture. Notice the weight of the raisin as it rests in your hand.
Now take a moment to really see the raisin, paying particular attention to its subtle details. With full attention and awareness, notice the texture of the raisin, and the shadow it casts on your palm. Notice its ridges, and the particular colors it contains.
Placing the raisin between your fingers now, observe all of its texture with even more awareness. How does it feel to brush your fingers over the raisin? Feel the ridges on its surface.
Now bring the raisin up towards your nose. As you inhale, simply notice any smells or scents that you detect. Or if you cannot detect a scent, simply notice that as well, without judgment.
Slowly take the raisin and place it gently in your mouth. Observe what happens within your mouth when you do; perhaps you’ll find yourself salivating or notice your tongue “reaching out” towards the raisin as you place it in your mouth. Before chewing, simply notice whatever sensations come up in your mouth now that you’ve placed the raisin on your tongue.
Take a single bite into the raisin and notice how doing so affects your mouth and tongue. Notice the different textures that you can now pick up on. When you’re ready, continue to slowly chew the raisin. But before swallowing, again simply notice all that’s occurring right now in your mouth, mind, and body.
When you’re ready, swallow the raisin and continue to observe any feelings, reactions, thoughts, and emotions that come up for you as you do. Without judgment, bring full awareness to whatever is happening inside of you, and take a minute to merely sit with those reactions with your eyes closed.
People have all sorts of reactions to the raisin meditation. For some, it’s an eye-opening experience, in that it demonstrates how a simple activity (eating a raisin) can be transformed into something far more meaningful. For others, it feels foreign to eat a raisin in this manner and can even feel uncomfortable. Whatever your reactions may be, take a moment to simply notice them, and write down some quick thoughts about the exercise.

Take care and stay at home.

Love,

Vassiliki

https://www.udemy.com/course/teacher-emotional-wellbeing/

Covid-19: Mental Health Exercises To Face This Incredibly Challenging Situation No4

 

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Dear friends,

This exercise gives people the space to express some of their anger safely on a paper.

Think of coronavirus. Draw it on a piece of paper.

Call the coronavirus all the names you want.

Now tear it up however you please.

Tear it into strips or little pieces or any way you want.

Imagine that this piece of paper is your source of stress and anxiety. Tearing up the paper is very therapeutic!

Love,

Vassiliki

 

Covid-19: Mental Health Exercises to face this incredibly challenging situation No3

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Dear friends,

My emotional disturbance about Covid-19 could be dealt with the following psychological techniques which were especially useful for me for helping me to grow out of fear and emotional stress, into happiness, peace and emotional balance: Radical acceptance, gratitude, mindfulness, my meditation stone and forest therapy.
Radical acceptance improves the quality of my life. Butler and Ciarrochi (2007) define acceptance as “a willingness to experience psychological events (thoughts, feelings, memories) without having to avoid them or let them unduly influence behavior”. According to Jon Kabat-Zinn’s in, “Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness”: “Acceptance doesn’t, by any stretch of the imagination, mean passive resignation. Quite the opposite. It takes a huge amount of fortitude and motivation to accept what is- especially when you don’t like it-and then work wisely and effectively as best you possibly can with the circumstances you find yourself in and with the resources at your disposal, both inner and outer, to mitigate, heal, redirect, and change what can be changed.” By learning to accept this unpleasant event rather than struggling with it, I could reduce my experiential avoidance of perceived future threats and negative emotional experiences.

Psychological resilience has been characterized by the ability to bounce back from negative emotional experiences and by flexible adaptation to the changing demands of stressful experiences. According to the broaden-and-build theory, positive and negative emotions have distinct and complementary adaptive functions and cognitive and physiological effects. This theory posits that negative emotions narrow one’s momentary thought–action repertoire by preparing one to behave in a specific way (e.g., escape when afraid). In contrast, various discrete positive emotions (e.g., joy, contentment, interest) broaden one’s thought–action repertoire, expanding the range of cognitions and behaviors that come to mind. Positive emotions can also act more directly on physiology, dampening the cardiovascular system and the hormone system. In both cases, the link might be what’s called the sympathetic nervous system, the largely unconscious part of our nervous system that controls, among other things, the fight-or-flight response to threats. If the activity of the sympathetic nervous system were dialed down, heart rate would decrease; that is generally regarded as a marker of good cardiovascular health. Blood pressure would also fall, reducing your risk of stroke. Quieting the neuroendocrine system would lower blood levels of epinephrine and norepinephrine, the fight-or-flight hormones.

One powerful mechanism by which positive emotions could affect health is through immunity: They have been shown to increase levels of growth hormone and the hormones prolactin and oxytocin.
There might even be a more direct effect of positive emotions on the body. Some neurons in the brain, called sympathetic fibers, connect all the way to the thymus and lymph nodes, which are production factories for immune-system cells. Activating these neurons in the brain via positive emotions might therefore activate the thymus and lymph nodes, unleashing infection-fighting cells. Sympathetic fibers also release a slew of substances that bind to receptors on white blood cells, again priming them to attack invaders. This perspective on positive emotions might help explain why those who experience positive emotions in the midst of stress are able to benefit from their broadened mindsets and successfully regulate their negative emotional experiences.

Positive emotions solve problems concerning personal growth and development. Experiencing a positive emotion leads to states of mind and to modes of behavior that indirectly prepare an individual for later hard times. Two decades of experiments by Alice Isen of Cornell University and her colleagues have shown that people experiencing positive feelings think differently. Overall, 20 years of experiments by Isen and her colleagues show that when people feel good, their thinking becomes more creative, integrative, flexible and open to information. Even though positive emotions and the broadened mindsets they create are themselves short-lived, they can have deep and enduring effects. By momentarily broadening attention and thinking, positive emotions can lead to the discovery of novel ideas, actions and social bonds. Barbara Fredrickson and her students tested these ideas by surveying a group of people to examine their resilience and optimism. The people were originally interviewed in the early months of 2001, and then again in the days after the September 11th terrorist attacks. They asked them to identify the emotions they were feeling, what they had learned from the attacks and how optimistic they were about the future. They learned that after September 11th nearly everyone felt sad, angry and somewhat afraid. And more than 70 percent were depressed. Yet, the people who were originally identified as being resilient in the early part of 2001 felt positive emotions strongly as well. They were also half as likely to be depressed. Barbara’s Fredrickson statistical analyses showed that Gratitude was the most common positive emotion people felt after the September 11th attacks.

Feeling grateful was associated both with learning many good things from the crisis and with increased levels of optimism. Feeling grateful broadened positive learning, which in turn build optimism, just as the broaden-and-build theory suggests. So “feeling good” does far more than signal the absence of threats. It can transform people for the better, making them more optimistic, resilient and socially connected.

A number of studies suggest that the cardiovascular activity associated with stress and negative emotions, especially if prolonged and recurrent, can promote or exacerbate heart disease. The undoing effect suggests that positive emotions can reduce the physiological “damage” on the cardiovascular system sustained by feeling negative emotions. But some other research suggests that there’s more to it than that. It appears that experiencing positive emotions increases the likelihood that one will feel good in the future. Resilient people are characterized by an ability to experience both negative and positive emotions even in difficult or painful situations, she says. They mourn losses and endure frustrations, but they also find redeeming potential or value in most challenges. When not-so-resilient people face difficulties, Fredrickson notes, all of their emotions turn negative. If things are good, they feel good, but if things are bad, they feel horrid. Resilient people, on the other hand, tend to find some silver lining in even the worst of circumstances. While they certainly see and acknowledge the bad, Fredrickson says, “they’ll find a way to also see the good. They’ll say, ‘Well at least I didn’t have this other problem”. According to Fredrickson although the use of humor, laughter and other direct attempts to stimulate positive emotions are occasionally suitable, they often seem poor choices, especially in trying times. Based on their recent experiment with college students, her advice would be to cultivate positive emotions indirectly by finding positive meaning within current circumstances. Positive meaning can be obtained by finding benefits within adversity, by infusing ordinary events with meaning and by effective problem solving. So, you can infuse ordinary events with meaning by expressing appreciation, love and gratitude, even for simple things. And you can find positive meaning through problem solving by supporting compassionate acts toward people in need.

So, gratitude (appreciation) helps me to notice how much positive is in my life. I slow my life down, and I appreciate all that I have. My daughter, my husband, my dog, my home, a beautiful sunset, the flowers, the trees…
As a result, acceptance, gratitude and awareness of the present moment without judgment (mindfulness meditation) could help me to be better able to tolerate my negative thoughts and feelings.

But the most important healer for me is the nature. My meditation stone also helps me to overcome my negative thoughts and promote mindfulness. When I repeat the powerful affirmations often, and believe in them, I can start to make positive changes. When combined with meditation and forest therapy this can have multiple benefits.
A study from Portugal found that people living near industrial “gray space,” as opposed to green space, reported “decreased use of coping strategies” and less optimism. These are just some of the benefits that scientists, academics and teachers have discovered occur when a person gets some nature therapy into their life:

●Reduces blood pressure and heart rate.

●Reduces anxiety, anger, depression, obesity, post-traumatic stress disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

●Improves sleep.

●Strengthens the immune system.

●Increases energy and vitality.

●Increases sensory awareness and perception.

●Promotes a healthy body-mind-heart connection.

●Increases brain power and clarity of thought.

●Increases self-esteem, empathy, kindness and compassion.

●Boosts creativity and intuition.

●Calms the nervous system.

●Relaxes an overworked brain.

A study in Environmental Science and Technology found a link between decreased anxiety and bad moods with walks in the woods, while another reported that taking a walk outdoors should be prescribed by doctors as a supplement to existing treatments for depressive disorders. The Journal of Affective Disorders released analysis that declared how every green, natural environment (not just forests!) improved mood and self-esteem, a crucial element for personal happiness, and that the presence of water — a lake, a river, the ocean — made the positive effects on happiness even more noticeable. Studies show that exercising in forests — or even just sitting in one — reduces blood pressure and decreases to stress-related hormones cortisol and adrenalin, which helps us to calm down.

Even looking at photos or drawings of trees has a similar effect. Researchers from Sussex University tested the brain activity of 17 healthy subjects listening to a variety of natural and unnatural soundscapes. When asked about how the sounds affected them, the participants reported that the natural sounds led to relaxation and a feeling of positivity, whereas the unnatural sounds made them feel stressed. Brain scans taken just afterwards backed this up, with researchers noting how artificial sounds activated anxiety related brain activity. Even research involving the use of nature videos of the forest or the ocean have the same physiological effects.

So, take care and stay at home.

Love,

Vassiliki

Covid-19: Mental Health Exercises to face this incredibly challenging situation No2

Four Way Negative Thoughts Breaker

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Dear friends,

These exercises reduce stress without taking even one minute.

  1. Text your children, your parents, your grandparents or friend: “I Love You”.
  2.  Take a minute to say a short prayer. Prayer helps you let go of your own concerns for covid-19, thereby reducing your stress levels.
  3.  Wrap your arms around your body, giving yourself a hug. Hug your loved ones.

Take care. Stay at home.

Love,

Vassiliki

What kind of life might be called good? and what really matters?

Hello my friends! Some life changing thoughts that will change your life in the most positive way!

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What it is that qualifies as a good life? Do people think that money buys happiness? Do they believe that career success is more important than relationships? Is the good life the easy life? We are all fallible humans and we have to work on and at times even struggle with being mindful, accepting and committed but things could be better. Difficult lives could be good and good lives could be better. As a teacher and mental health counsellor I give emphasis on people’s emotions and feelings and thoughts. Well, I am of the opinion that the change of our life starts within us. I could say that relationships are the heart of human existence. Seligman found that every single VERY HAPPY individual had strong strong relationships. Scollon and Diener found that increases in work fulfillment and relationship fulfillment both correlated with increases in emotional stability.

The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
Unknown

Fox said that “It is the law that any difficulties that can come to you at any time, must be exactly what you need most at the moment to enable you to take the next step forward by overcoming them. The only real misfortune, the only real tragedy, comes when we suffer without learning the lesson.”

Never fear shadows. They simply mean that there is a light somewhere nearby.
Ruth E. Renkei

The good life is motivated by kindness and compassion, it is characterized by goodness and marked by a responsiveness to others’ needs. When the person is really kind, really good, he will never be alone or unhappy. Our emotions are contagious. According to Daniel Goleman emotions spread from one person to another much like a cold. Dr Goleman says that the more connected we are with someone emotionally, the greater the influence they have on us especially over time.

How wonderful it is that nobody needs wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.
Anna Frank

To really change your life, change your thinking! Think positively. Replace negative thought patterns with positive ones. Of the 60.000-80.000 thoughts running through your mind every day, hundreds are probably negative or insignificant. But if you control your thoughts, you can change your life.
Enrich your everyday with the people you love, family and friends.

Love is the beauty of soul.

A sufficient realization of love will dissolve it all. If only you could love enough you would be the happiest and most powerful being in the world…”.Emmet Fox

Forgiveness is a great thing, too. It allows space in our hearts for peace and serenity and the more serene we are in our hearts the less likely we are to feel miserable. Every human being has the right to live without the pain of the past. It is an act of self-empowerment.

Make a rule and pray to God to help you keep it: Never, if possible, lie down at night without being able to say “I have made one human being a little wiser or a little happier or at least a little better this day.”
Charles Kings

Give life your best and you will never regret it!

Love always,

Vassiliki xxxx