Wellness Challenge Week 4: Mindfulness
This is the final week of our Wellness Challenge, designed to address sleep, exercise, nutrition and mindfulness – all areas where we have experienced disruptions due to COVID-19. After 4 weeks, we have focused on improving sleep and productivity, gradually increasing training and hydration, and practicing mindful eating. This past week had us focused on mindfulness with tips from our psychologist, Molly Sherb, PhD. See below for the details of this week’s challenge and a number of mindfulness questions we received from members of our community throughout the week.
Week 4 Goal: Incorporate Mindful Moments and Self-Care Activities
Great work sticking with the Wellness Challenge for the full 4 weeks. This year has presented unprecedented challenges to our physical and mental wellbeing and after months of trying to balance it all, it is important to take a time-out and redirect some of that energy towards our own wellbeing. We may find ourselves in different personal and professional situations, but as a whole, depression, anxiety and general stress levels have skyrocketed, leaving many looking for ways to cope with these new feelings. After weeks of adjusting your sleep routine, increasing your movement and water intake, and practicing mindful eating, we are closing our Challenge with a focus on your mental wellbeing. Self-care has been a buzzword for sometime now, but rightfully so. Self-care simply means anything you intentionally do for yourself in an effort to improve your overall well-being. There are different types of self-care categories including but not limited to: physical, emotional, social and spiritual care. The activities you engage in within each of these domains will differ from person to person, as self-care is an individualized process. It is easy to dismiss your own wellbeing when you are caring for others or consumed with a job or other stressors, but by focusing some of your energy towards yourself, it can help position you to provide care to others, improve productivity or emotionally be able to take on your days. This week, we will focus on incorporating self-care moments into our day to day lives. For more tips on mindfulness, see previous blog posts by Dr. Sherb: 5 Tips on Managing Stress and Anxiety During COVID-19 How Do We Live with Grief? Coping Skills for Difficult Situations
This Week’s Challenge: Focus on yourself
This week, I challenge you to start incorporating micro-moments of self-care into your days. This is purely designed to give you a “breather” moment in your day. You can use the time to reflect or simply clear your mind. Some examples of micro-moments include:
- Take a deep breath before responding to a stressful situation (ie. answering a work call or email): Let your breath be your anchor throughout the day, it is always available to you and can help give you just a brief moment to brace yourself. Breathe in for 4 seconds, hold it for 2 seconds, and breathe out for 6 seconds – it doesn’t have to be these numbers exactly but just make sure you exhale is LONGER than you inhale and make sure to fully empty your lungs.
- Stretching your arms or legs when getting up from a seated position (ie. your computer): When you get up from your chair, bend down and try to touch your toes, stretch your legs, connect your fingers, palms up and reach up to the sky.
- Allowing yourself to mindfully wake up: Make the commitment to wake up peacefully and brush your teeth before turning on the news, checking email, or looking at your phone – ground yourself before the activities of the day take hold.
- Engage in brief meditations: Meditation is a very personal practice so it’s important to find what works for you. Everyone’s tolerance is different. Some meditations are as brief as two minutes. See the apps within this email for guidance.
- Create compassionate expectations: Sometimes it’s ok to let good enough be good enough. Your best for today means nothing about what you’ll do tomorrow.
- Let yourself laugh: Laughing has incredible healing power. Check in with friends and family who you might’ve not seen for a while or watch your favorite comedian or tv show.
Other mindful activities that incorporate our previous Challenge weeks:
- Mindfulness + Sleep: Charge your phone in another room when you go to sleep at night to allow yourself a few moments to mindfully wind down and mindfully wake up before you are bombarded with news, social media posts and potentially anxiety provoking information. Taking a mindful shower either at the start of your day or at the end of your day, using all your senses can also help you to re-ground yourself. Pay attention to how the steam fills up the shower the iridescence of the bubbles from the shampoo, what the shampoo smells like, how the conditioner feels as you massage it into your scalp etc.
- Mindfulness + Exercise: Go for a walk around your neighborhood – (interact with someone even if it is the barista at your coffee shop). When walking outside, use all 5 senses to engage in the present moment – observe what you see, smell, hear – pay attention to what you notice in as detailed of a way as possible (ex: the color of the leaves, the texture of the sidewalk, the way the sun hits the buildings, the sound of the cars, do they sound nearby or far away? What does the air feel like on your face?)
- Mindfulness + Nutrition: Pick one meal of the day to engage in mindful eating – mindful eating entails using your senses (sight, taste, smell) to fully engage with the food in front of you. Ex: if you use your morning coffee – what color is the coffee – is it different shades when you pour the milk in, what does the steam look like? How does it feel as it moves down your throat etc.)
Mindfulness Q&A from instagram:
What are good ways to quickly relieve stress throughout the workday? Let your breath be your anchor throughout the day. When you notice yourself getting stressed or anxious take a pause and engage in deep breathing. Make sure your exhale is longer than your inhale. You can use the following guideline: 4 second inhale, 2 second hold, 6 second exhale. This helps to reset your body and sends a physical message to your body that it is ok to calm down.
I have difficulty focusing while meditating. Do you have any tips? Meditation is a highly individualized practice. Everyone has a different threshold for meditation. Start with a 30 second meditation and see if you are able to sustain your attention. If you can, then slowly build from there. Also meditation can take many forms, it can take the form of bringing your attention to the present moment, listening to a song, watching the wind blow the leaves across the sidewalk. If you are using a meditation app, find what works for you – does it help to have a person’s voice guide you? Are sounds only more helpful? Are images more engaging for you? Find what works and incorporate variety.
Are some forms of self-care more beneficial than others? Self care is an individualized practice. There is no one size fits all guide for self-care. Ask yourself every day, how am I feeling and what do I need to do to take care of myself today? There are several different kinds of self care including emotional self-care, physical self-care, social self-care and spiritual self care.
How can i avoid negative thoughts/self talk when I’m not being mindful? When you notice yourself engaging in negative thinking, simply observe that it is happening and try not to judge it or yourself, simply bring your attention back to whatever it is you are doing in that moment.
What are some ways to be mindful during meals? When you engage in mindful eating, you are using all of your senses to engage in the present moment. Look at your food as if you have never seen it before – what does it look like? Is it shiny, dull, bright? Then smell your food – take a deep breath in as you take in the scent. Then chew your food slowly, paying attention to the taste, the texture, the heat or the cold (depending) and how it feels as you swallow it.
What are some mantras to help me de-stress in the middle of a stressful situation? “I am human, and all I can ask of myself in any given moment is to try my best. If I show up with full dedication and commitment to try my best each day I have done my job.” “Your best for today means nothing about what you can do tomorrow or the next day, or the day after that. Each day presents a new opportunity for something different.”
Are there any physical exercises I should do in a stressful situation/moment? Quick, brief and intense exercise can help regulate the body. It forces you to be in the moment and stops the “stewing” that can occur when we are experiencing difficult emotions. When you are feeling stressed, you can do a set of jumping jacks, sit ups, or push ups. Intense physical exercise helps bring you out of your head and into the present moment.
Need More Guidance?
If you are experiencing stress that is disrupting your daily activities or other mental health concerns, we encourage you to schedule a visit with one of our providers to discuss your needs more in depth. Members can contact our Personal Health Navigators by chat through the member portal or by calling 646.819.5100 to schedule. Additionally, if you like to engage with apps on your phone, The Health Center team pulled together the top apps they find helpful for sleep and mindfulness. Calm (offers a free 7-day trial) Headspace (offers free trial options) Breethe (offers free trial options)
This Week’s Prize are sponsored by: Hyperice Hypersphere Mini, Rhone, Lululemon, and Bluestone Lane. If participating in the Challenge, see your email for how to enter this week’s drawing as well as exclusive discounts available to Challenge participants.
Get up-to-date information and health tips in your social feeds
Access the other Challenge weeks:
Men’s Health: Destigmatizing Depression in Men
Learn about Symptoms of Depression, the Most Common Types and How You Can Take Care of Your Mental WellnessAs a society, we’ve come a long way in our cultural beliefs and stereotyping of depression. More and more, people recognize the importance of protecting and...
How We Help Our Premier Members Prepare for Business (or Leisure) Travel
Planning for a Healthy Trip These days, business travel is a delicate balance between health and career. While travel is an important component to building relationships and doing business, there are health implications to consider that directly link an increase in...
How to Find the Right Psychologist for You
Q&A with Dr. Anna HicknerInterview with Anna Hickner, PsyD If you are beginning your behavioral health journey, finding a specialist best suited to your needs can be a daunting task. There is much to consider before scheduling your first appointment with a new...