By Afea Founder and CEO Esha Oberoi
Have you heard of the Mindful in May movement? It’s a global event that encourages us all to get started with daily mindfulness. Started by a doctor trained in psychiatry, Dr Elise Bialylew, it combines mindfulness training with an optional charity component to raise money for clean water projects.
How’s your mental health?
Mental health problems are common. During our lives, over half of us will face some sort of mental health problem. Approximately 20% of Australians between 16-85 experience mental illness in any one year.
I’m sure you’ll agree the last year hasn’t helped. The impact of COVID-19 has meant a quarter of us have thought more about our mental health. 18% of Australians have used a mental health support service since the beginning of March 2020.
Mental illness has a huge economic cost too. A report last year found mental illness and suicide in Australia costs us $220 billion a year in lost economic participation and productivity. It’s an astounding number.
How mindfulness can help with our mental health
Even if you haven’t accessed a mental health service in the last year, many of us could probably do with some help. With the social isolation of lockdown, health anxiety, unemployment or underemployment, financial strains and home schooling, it’s been a difficult year.
While no one is saying mindfulness is a miracle solution, it is a useful and powerful tool that can help all of us manage this stress. So how does it work? It helps us train our minds so we don’t ruminate about the past or fear the future. It allows us to remain in the present to achieve clarity and perspective.
How do you do it?
Here are the tips we share in our Mindfulness sessions at Afea Care Services.
1. Stop and sit
The first step is to get yourself into a comfortable position. You don’t have to lie down or sit crossed legged if that doesn’t work for you. Just make sure you have a comfortable space and some time. Start with 5 minutes and build it from there.
2. Still yourself
Focus your attention on the present. People often think you need to empty your mind, but that’s not the way it works. Simply pay attention to the present moment without judgement. Focus on a sound such as your breath or some background noise.
3. Other thoughts are ok
If you notice your mind wandering, that is normal and absolutely ok. Just notice them and let them pass. Then try to focus on the present again.
4. Practice makes perfect
The more you practice, the better you’ll become, and the longer you’ll be in mindful meditation without distractions. In time, you’ll notice how it improves your perceptions and reactions in your day-to-day life.
Why we should practice mindfulness at work
At Afea Care Services, practicing mindfulness is something we encourage. We often hold mindfulness sessions throughout the month to give everyone a chance to reset and refocus.
We also encourage our carers to have mental health conversations with their clients and introduce mindfulness if they can.
Mental health still has a stigma, particularly in workplaces. It’s time we open up the conversation and be honest about the way we’re feeling. Introducing guided meditations during Mindful in May at work is one way we can all start this important conversation.