Taking Care of Our Mental Wellness
by Trina Markusson
“Having a mental health routine is as important as brushing our teeth in the morning.”
Only in the movies did we see viruses taking over the world and bringing fear, anxiety, and worry to people everywhere. Who would’ve thought that this would one day be our reality? We are now living in a time of uncertainty, and slowly we are beginning to adjust to our new normal. We are being advised to take care of our physical health by washing our hands, social distancing, and staying active to keep our body and immune system healthy and well. But we also need to take care of our mental health.
We can do this by creating a daily mental health routine to nurture and grow our ability to deal effectively with daily stress and difficult emotions when they arise. Two very effective techniques to empower people to have control over how they feel are Mindfulness and EFT Tapping.
Mindfulness is the practice of paying attention to the present moment, to think about what we are doing as we do it. It sounds easy, but may be one of the most difficult things we do. Have you ever driven somewhere and didn’t remember the trip? Have you ever eaten a plate of food, and when you looked down, it was gone? Many people may go about their day lost in thought, caught in past thoughts where they relive stressful events and situations. Another place that takes our attention away from the present moment is when we focus on future thoughts, where we think about things that haven’t even happened yet. The future thoughts that cause the most suffering is when we worry. Worry serves no purpose but to create stress. And when we worry, we also negatively “What-if” about what may happen. “What if this happens? What if this happens?”
People tend to blame a lot of outer things for causing their stress, like their job, a family member, or even a specific life situation. But what actually begins the stress response in our body is our thoughts about the situation or event. Our body reacts to every single thought we think. When we are thinking about something that made us feel angry, our body registers the same anger. When we are thinking about something that makes us feel sad, our body feels the same sadness. When we worry in our mind, our body feels the anxiety and fear. Our heart rate may increase, our muscles may tense up, and we may even feel pressure in our head. These symptoms are all caused by the thoughts we think.
Mindfulness helps us to train our brain to be fully in the present moment, where a high percentage of the time everything is all right. Mindfulness helps us to become aware of the way we are feeling, so we can consciously choose a better feeling thought instead of being caught in it, bringing stress into the body.
EFT Tapping (Emotional Freedom Technique) is another powerful technique that can be part of a daily mental health routine. It helps to decrease the intensity of difficult emotions and limiting beliefs that may be holding us back from living our best life. Related to acupuncture, tapping involves using our fingertips to apply pressure of “tap” on specific points on the body. Simply stimulating these points sends a signal to the amygdala (the stress centre of the brain) to calm down. Cortisol, the stress hormone, stops being released into the body and you begin to feel more relaxed and calm. This easy-to-learn wellness tool is a very effective way to feel better fast and is gaining momentum as the go-to technique for reducing stress.
But knowing the concepts of Mindfulness and EFT Tapping isn’t enough, and there has to be a regular, sustained practice to support the ability to self-regulate. With only minutes per day, we can begin to train our brain for focus and greater awareness, to spend more time in the precious present moment with less stress in our body and in our mind.
Having a mental health routine is as important as brushing our teeth in the morning. Pairing it with a routine that we already have keeps the practice alive and brings benefits to our body and mind. Parents can begin a daily mental health routine with their children, so they too can learn useful tools to deal with the stress that they feel, and build resilience for when difficult situations arise.
We may not have control over what is happening in the world, but we do have control over the thoughts we think, and the way we feel. Begin a mental health routine today.
Trina Markusson is a professional speaker, mindfulness coach, and a certified/accredited EFT Practitioner. She is the author of the award-winning children’s mindfulness book Good Morning Sunshine! A Story of Mindfulness, and is the creator of the mental health app “Release” for adults, teens, and children, which uses guided Mindfulness and Tapping exercises to promote resilience. Visit www.presentmomentliving.ca for more information. Follow Present Moment Living on Instagram and Facebook for events and trainings. Trina lives in Saskatchewan, Canada.