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

image1

www.mandaladotsforpleasantthoughts.com

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

 

image 24

www.mandaladotsforpleasantthoughts.com

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

image1

www.mandaladotsforpleasantthoughts.com

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 lavender calming 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 lavender calming pebble 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

https://mandaladotsforpleasantthoughts.com/item/four-way-negative-thoughts-breaker

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

Covid-19: Mental health exercises to face this incredibly challenging situation

Personal Message:

Personal message

Most of us are very scared of what tomorrow will bring.

Use breathing to release tension from panic attacks and relax.

Use breathing to reduce symptoms of intense stress.

Good breathing habits will enhance your psychological and physical wellbeing, whether you practice them alone or in combination with other relaxation techniques.

Breathing exercises have been Found to be effective in reducing generalized anxiety disorders, panic attacks, irritability, muscle tension, and fatigue.

They are used in the treatment and prevention of breath holding, hyperventilation and shallow breathing.

Lie on your back and gently place one hand on your abdomen and one hand on your chest and follow your breathing. Notice how your abdomen rises with each inhalation and falls with each exhalation.

If you are seated while you do these exercises, remember to maintain good posture with your head comfortably balanced on your spine, your arms and legs uncrossed and your feet firmly placed on the floor.

Although most of the action is in your abdomen when you breath diaphragmatically, your chest does move a little. As you inhale, first your abdomen, then your middle chest, and then your upper chest will rise in one smooth movement.

Once you know what it feels like to breathe diaphragmatically, you can use this option to deepen and slow your breath even more. Inhale through your nose, and exhale through your mouth. Take long, slow deep breaths that raise and lower your abdomen. Practice diaphragmatic breathing for about five or ten minutes at a time, once or twice a day.

Inhale diaphragmatically as you say to yourself “breathe in”.

Hold your breath a moment before you exhale.

Exhale slowly and deeply as you say to yourself “relax”.

Pause and wait for your next natural breath.

As you inhale slowly and then hold your breath for a moment, notice the parts of your body that tense up.

As you exhale, feel the tension naturally leaving your body.

Take care. Stay at home.

Love,

Vassiliki