- Posted by: Educators Wales
Wellbeing and Mindfulness Blog
In this day and age mindfulness can be our superpower when it comes to managing our mental health and wellbeing. Mindfulness is key when it comes to managing our stress and anxiety both at work and at home. But what is stress and how can mindfulness help us to improve our wellbeing?
What is Stress?
Mind Cymru define stress as “how we react when we feel under pressure or threatened. It usually happens when we are in a situation that we do not feel we can manage or control.”
While certain types of low-level stress can be beneficial, too much can affect our mood, our body and our relationships. Stress that feels out of our control can lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability and can negatively affect our ability to work.
Experiencing a lot of stress over a sustained period can also lead to feelings of physical, mental and emotional exhaustion, also known as burnout.
10 Signs it is Time for a Wellbeing Check-in
While signs and symptoms can differ from person to person, here are a few signs to watch out for that you may need to be more mindful of your mental health:
- You feel overwhelmed
- Have difficulty concentrating
- Are unusually irritable
- Feel constant worry, anxiety or fear
- Lack self-confidence or second guess yourself
- Feel constantly exhausted
- Have trouble sleeping
- Choose to avoid people or situations you are having trouble with
- Eating far more or far less than usual
- Using drinking, smoking or other substance abuse to cope
Every person will deal with negative emotions in a different way and we each have a different tolerance for negative emotions. For example, something that causes you a considerable amount of stress may not be stressful to your friend or colleague, however; a situation you may find relatively easy could be very difficult for someone else to deal with.
That is why it is vital we have mindfulness strategies in place to manage these negative emotions and support our wellbeing.
10 Situations where Mindful Strategies can Help
Often the situations that affect our mental health and wellbeing the most are those when we feel like we do not have the resources or support to manage the challenges, or workload that we face. Some situations could include:
- Pressure at work or at home
- Difficult sudden life events
- Difficulties in our personal lives and relationships
- Difficulties in our professional environment
- Big or unexpected life changes
- Money difficulties
- Health issues, either your own or someone close to you
- Pregnancy and children
- Issues with housing such as conditions, tenancy or maintenance
- Feeling lonely, unsupported or isolated
The key to managing these situations is to be more mindful so we can recognise when we are feeling negative emotions and have a plan of action to deal with them.
Ways to Become More Mindful
It is important to remember that stress is not necessarily a bad emotion and it can keep us to deadlines, allow us to better manage our time and to achieve our goals. It becomes a negative emotion when we are physically not able to manage it; leading to exhaustion, burnout and other negative emotions.
It is important you can identify when you are experiencing high levels of stress and take steps in order to be more mindful and manage it. This mindfulness falls into two categories:
- Mindfulness at work when you have work to complete
- Mindfulness out of work when you need to relax and recharge
Mindfulness Strategies in Work
In the first instance, it is vital we are able to be mindful while we are working to maintain our productivity and continue to meet deadlines and complete workloads. A popular acronym for managing stress at work is PIP which stands for:
P – Pause
I – Identify
P – Prioritise
PIP can be used to manage stressful situations through mindfulness. You stop, take stock, and prioritise the items on your to-do list that are urgent, leaving the less important items for later.
Mindfulness Outside of Work
It is also important you have coping mechanisms in place to mindfully leave work behind at the end of the day and relax. Here are a few simple tips you can incorporate into your day-to-day life to better manage your wellbeing:
- Hydration and food: Make sure you drink water and eat a nutritious meal or snack every few hours
- Exercise: Go for a walk outside, climb a flight of stairs, or participate in a yoga class or any form of exercise that releases endorphins will help you manage your wellbeing
- Take a break: take a break from your desk and from your screens. If you struggle to sleep try to put your phone away 30 minutes before bed
- Breath: Take deep, slow breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth
- Connect: talk to someone you trust and connect with your friends and family
These tips are also perfect for children and young people who want to master the power of mindfulness in order to better improve their mental health and wellbeing.
10 Ways to bring Mindfulness into the Classroom
As educators, it is important to lead by example and to display these mindfulness strategies in our settings for students to learn how best to manage their own mental health and wellbeing. Here are some examples of how to encourage your learners to be more mindful:
- Encourage learners to keep a journal and be honest about emotions they are feeling
- Introduce breathing techniques and meditation to the classroom
- Have different creative outlets for learners to express themselves such as art, dance, music, and writing
- Yoga and stretching are fantastic ways to learn how to identify muscular tension within the body
- Encourage learners to listen to each other and reflect on what their peers have shared
- Listing things we are thankful for are great ways to learn about gratitude
- Do activities not related to screens, encourage games and creative activities
- Speak openly about different emotions
- Have a safe space available for learners to go to when they need someone to talk to
- Model these desired behaviors in front of the learners in your classroom
Mindfulness goes a long way in ensuring that learners and teachers alike have strategies in place to better manage their mental health and wellbeing.
For more mindfulness tips download our Mindfulness poster, the perfect resource to encourage everyone to practice mindfulness to better support your mental health and wellbeing!