The Day Off Mental Health Map is a great way to explore the resources on the platform and the benefits this collection of well-being practices can bring.
Why not start the day with a mindful breakfast, followed by connecting with a friend and an afternoon immersing yourself in nature and trying out a meditation before bed. We hope this Mental Health Map could even be the inspiration for a new self-care routine.
So be kind to yourself, and make your day off about YOU.
Download the Day Off Mental Health Map PDF's HERE
When? - Start your day with a Mindful Breakfast to practise being in the present moment.
How? - Whilst having your breakfast try to focus on every aspect of it. Notice the colours and shapes of your food, the flavours and textures as you eat. Notice all the movements that go together to make up eating, from your arm bringing the food to your mouth, to chewing and the sensations of swallowing. Really experience the experience of eating.
When thoughts arise, acknowledge them, let them be and bring your attention back to eating.
Again and again your attention will wander. As soon as you realise this has happened, gently acknowledge and note where your mind has gone then bring your attention back to eating.
Why? - We spend so much of our time lost in thoughts, perhaps thinking about what happened yesterday or an important task coming up later, that we are rarely in the present moment - the here and now.
When doing everyday tasks like eating breakfast our minds go into autopilot - a state of mind in which negative thoughts can spiral without us even knowing it. Mindful eating is a practice that teaches us to step out of the automatic pilot mode in the present moment, and enjoy the here and now, since the here and now is actually all we have.
By making the smallest of changes to our regular routines we can encourage a more mindful approach to our lives resulting in less stress and worry.
When? - The versatility of this exercise means it can be adapted to any time of the day but in this instance we start our day with a routine change.
How? - Think about the activities you repeat every day and give them tweak.
Brush your teeth with the opposite hand you would normally use
Wear odd socks
Wear your watch on the other wrist
Change your route to work or daily exercise routine
Wear an item of clothing you would not normally wear
Why? - A change is as good as a rest.
When we go about our day, whether it includes working or a day off, we naturally engage in repetitive activities. It’s all too easy to approach such things in autopilot, disengaging from the present moment allowing a space for worry to creep in and take hold. By regularly making small changes to our daily routine we practise stepping out of autopilot and into the present moment, ultimately feeling happier and more grounded.
When we are connected with the ones we love, we feel more safe, secure, and happy.
When? - Arrange a time mid-morning to reach out to a loved one. Another way to feel connected to them is to write down a few ways they enrich your life and keep them in special place.
How? - This could be a phone call, an email, a text, or even pick up a pen and paper and write a letter.
Why? - As humans we are a very social species, programmed to feel good when we connect with others.
There is a lot of evidence around social connectivity and its positive effects on our physical and psychological health. For example, one important approach to treating anxiety is to increase positive experiences, especially with people that help us feel good about ourselves.
EGO STRENGTHENING HYPNOSIS
This relaxing hypnotic recording is designed to help build confidence and self-esteem.
When? - At lunchtime.
How? - Find a quiet space, relax, think positively and immerse yourself in this 20-minute exercise.
Click HERE to access the Hypnotherapy recording.
Why? - Hypnosis is a state of pleasant relaxation in which we become more responsive to positive suggestions of self-improvement. It is not like being asleep and definitely NOT a state of mind control or some kind of trance. You cannot be made to do anything against your will. On the contrary, you must want to accept suggested ideas and actively imagine responding to them in real life to experience their effects.
In this context ‘ego’ does NOT refer to being arrogant or self-important but more our overall adaptability and personal resourcefulness in life.
FLOW (IN THE ZONE)
By doing something we enjoy in the present moment our attention is focussed on a pleasurable and fulfilling activity not worrying. Flow state is colloquially known as being ‘in the zone’.
When? - Perhaps as soon as you get home, on a break or any time you can carve out for yourself. It only need be five to ten minutes to reap the benefits of this act of self-kindness.
How? - We all have our favourite things to do - something we get lost in and time just flies by. This could be reading a novel, playing a musical instrument, learning something new, cooking, drawing or gardening.
Why? - All the noise and chatter that generally clouds our mind, such as stress and worry, fall into the background when we achieve a flow state. Our happiest moments are normally when we are doing something we really love - time just flies by often without us even noticing.
NOTICE 5 THINGS
This is a simple exercise to help centre yourself and connect with your environment.
When? - Practise Notice 5 Things once a day to help train the mind to be in the present moment and lower the chance of getting swept up in negative thinking patterns.
Pause for a moment...
look around, and notice 5 things you can see,
listen carefully, and notice 5 things you can hear,
lastly, notice 5 things you can feel in contact with your body. For example, your watch against your wrist, your collar against your neck, the air on your face, your feet on the floor, your back against the chair, etc.
Click HERE to access the Notice 5 Things tutorial video.
Why? - Notice 5 Things is a grounding exercise where we step out of the busy mode of the mind.
Although this grounding exercise is very useful during times of high anxiety and stress, making a regular habit of practising it throughout the day trains our mind to be in the present moment, avoiding getting caught up in negative thought patterns building our long-term resilience to stress.
CONNECT WITH NATURE
Immersing ourselves in nature can help us disconnect from worries and help us reconnect with the present moment, encouraging a less busy and more peaceful mind.
When? - Being in nature for just one minute can have a positive effect on our mood. Try and step into the natural world as often as you can.
How? - It sounds obvious but it isn’t always that easy. If you can access some green space, whether a local park or your own garden, try to spend some time there as often as you can. Look around, notice the colours, the textures, the smells, the temperature. Enrich your senses. Notice how you are feeling when you do this. If you don’t have a garden you can still enjoy the benefits of nature. Open a window and just listen, perhaps to the bird song or feel the breeze on your face. Alternatively there are many live nature webcams online that can be accessed and, of course, a sea of documentaries.
Why? - There is more and more evidence emerging that being in nature is good for our mental health. As humans we have evolved in nature, hence why we feel a deep sense of connection when we are surrounded by it. The day-to-day stressors that can trigger our worries and anxieties are absent, encouraging our minds to find peace, calm and tranquility.
Set your devices down and put your digital day to rest.
When? - About one hour before you go to bed. However, digital down time can be taken at any time.
How? - Turn off phones, tablets and computers.
Why? - Constant connectivity to social media, work emails, the news and that group chat can deplete our energy and lower our mood. Experts are warning that spending too much time on our devices can lead to behavioural addiction which, in turn, can lead to psychological issues such as stress and depression. Using devices close to bedtime has shown to interfere with the wind-down process necessary to get us in the right frame of mind for sleep.
This mindfulness practice aims to bring a detailed awareness to each part of the body.
When? - Do the Body Scan before bed.
How? - Lie down, either on a mat, on the floor or on your bed, somewhere where you will be warm and undisturbed. Allow your eyes to gently close and follow the instructions to focus your attention on different parts of the body in turn.
Click HERE to access the Body Scan meditation.
Why? - The Body Scan reminds us that our mind and body are linked and feelings of stress and anxiety are not only expressed in our thoughts but in our bodies too - like a tight chest, butterflies in your tummy or sweaty palms. It is important to pay attention and listen to these messages from our bodies as they can be early warning signs of anxiety and stress approaching.
TIPS FOR THE BODYSCAN
Whatever happens, if you fall asleep, lose concentration or keep thinking about things, don’t worry, keep going! These are your experiences in the moment. Be aware of them.
If your mind wanders, note where it has gone and then bring your mind gently and compassionately back to the Body Scan.
Try to let go of ideas around ‘success’ and ‘failure’ or ‘doing it really well’. It is not a competition. It is not a skill to strive for. The only discipline involved is regular and frequent practice. Just do it with an attitude of openness and curiosity.
Let go of any expectations about what the Body Scan will do for you. Imagine it is a seed you have planted. The more you interfere with it the less it will be able to develop. So with the Body Scan, just give it the right conditions – peace and quiet, regular and frequent practice. That is all. The more you try to influence what it will do for you, the less it will do.
Try approaching your experience in each moment with the attitude: “Okay, that’s just the way things are right now”. If you try to fight off unpleasant thoughts, feelings, or body sensations the upsetting feelings will only distract you from doing anything else. Be aware, be in the moment, and accept things as they are.