Mental Health Awareness Week takes place this week (8th to 14th May) and is an incredibly effective vehicle for getting the nation at large to look at mental health from new angles. So this week in Cognacity Towers, we’ll be posting so-called ‘lifehacks’ to help you and your employees thrive with good mental health, starting with the benefits of relaxation.
Only a small minority of people (13%) report living with high levels of good mental health. Furthermore, more than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression¹. In today’s fast paced life one of the things that is probably not on your to-do list is the one thing that you really need to do: relax!
One of the reasons that relaxation is important for your health and wellbeing is because the body likes to be in a state of balance, known as homeostasis but when out under periods of prolonged stress the body needs help in regaining its balance. Relaxation techniques help to re-balance the body and the mind.
Here are 5 tried and tested techniques for quick and lasting relaxation:
Give yourself a 5-minute break from whatever is bothering you and focus instead on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your stomach. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.
Tune In to Your Body
Mentally scan your body to get a sense of how stress affects it each day. Lie on your back or sit with your feet on the floor. Start at your toes and work your way up to your scalp, noticing how your body feels.
Simply be aware of places you feel tight or loose without trying to change anything. For 1 to 2 minutes, imagine each deep breath flowing to that body part. Repeat this process as you move your focus up your body, paying close attention to sensations you feel in each body part.
Place a warm heat wrap around your neck and shoulders for 10 minutes. Close your eyes and relax your face, neck, upper chest, and back muscles. Remove the wrap and use a tennis ball or foam roller to massage away tension.
Place the ball between your back and the wall. Lean into the ball and hold gentle pressure for up to 15 seconds. Then move the ball to another spot and apply pressure.
You don’t have to run in order to get a runner’s high. All forms of exercise — from yoga to walking — can ease depression and anxiety by helping the brain release feel-good chemicals and by giving your body a chance to practice dealing with stress. You can go for a quick walk around the block, take the stairs up and down a few flights, or do some stretching exercises like head rolls and shoulder shrugs.
You rush through dinner, hurry to your next appointment, race to finish one more thing on your agenda. Now try something different: Slow down.
Take 5 minutes and focus on only one behaviour with total awareness. Notice how the air feels on your face when you’re walking and how your feet feel hitting the ground. Enjoy the texture and taste of each bite of food as you slowly chew. When you spend time in the moment and focus on your senses, you will notice tension leaving your body.
To find out more about Mental Health Awareness Week or to arrange mental health or performance training at your workplace, please contact the Cognacity team by visiting www.cognacity.co.uk.