Today is World Mental Health Day, and this year’s theme is ‘Mental Health in an Unequal World’.
Anyone can experience a mental health problem, but not all people have the same access to mental health support. A person’s financial situation, care commitments, housing and employment status, as well as discrimination towards people from marginalised groups, can all be barriers to a person accessing the support or treatment they need. There is a lot to be done to make mental health support equal and accessible for all, and we hope to see changes soon.
We have created this post to share three ways you can look after your mental health, and how the practice of mindfulness can combat feelings of stress and anxiety.
During anxious periods, you are more likely to take rapid, shallow breaths that come from the chest as opposed to the abdomen. This can lead to other physical sensations such as dizziness, muscle tightening and an increased heart rate, which in turn can lead to panic attacks.
Deep, purposeful breathing can curb anxiety and restore calm when you begin to feel stressed, frightened or overwhelmed. Similarly, introducing regular breathing practice as a mindfulness exercise can keep feelings of anxiety at bay.
Our favourite breathing technique is the Balloon Belly Breath, which is a great stress buster. Place one flattened palm on your chest and one on your belly, and allow your belly to relax. Breathe in slowly through your nose, filling your belly with air like a balloon, so that you feel it rise beneath your hand. Exhale slowly, feeling your belly flatten, and observe how your chest stays comparatively still. Repeat as often as you need to feel calm and soothe your anxious mind.
If this doesn’t work for you, check out this list of other breathing exercises compiled by Very Well Mind or follow this simple 3 minute breathing video exercise from one our favourite Apps for mindfulness and better sleep Calm.
Practicing yoga emphasises the importance of being in the moment and invokes a sense of peace. Multiple studies have proven that regular yoga practice can decrease the production of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) and lower levels of stress, anxiety and symptoms of PTSD.
Create a calm environment with scent and candlelight
The power of candlelight, mindfully made scents and carefully chosen fragrances can revive the senses and help you find a moment of calm. Combined with yoga, meditation, mindful breathing, or just a few moments of stillness, scent and candlelight can have a significant effect on your overall well-being, balance and mental health. Try a lavender or chamomile-based scent for sleep and relaxation, sandalwood and clary sage for stress, and citrus tones for an overall mood-lifter. View our catalogue of scents and products to see what might work for you - you can filter by Scent Profile to find one that fits your desired mood.
One of our favourite blends for conscious moments of self care is our TONIC blend which you can diffuse in an aroma diffuser with our Scent Solutions, warm in a melt burner with our wax melts or enjoy as candle to accompany any mindfulness practice you look to undertake.
Nobody should suffer in silence with their mental health, and nobody should be prevented from accessing the services they need. If you are concerned about your mental health, or the mental health of someone you know, contact your GP or visit Mind.co.uk who have links to a range of resources and services.