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Skills & strategies – part 1

In this video we are now going to talk about some skills you can try to help you manage stress and feel better.
Now that we’ve talked about how stress can affect your body, your behavior, and also how you interact with other people, we’re going to talk about some skills and strategies that you can use during difficult times and times of uncertainty. So we’re going to talk about mindfulness exercises, also how to seek social support during difficult times. And give you some problem solving techniques to use. So I learned, in Unit 3 from Rena, that mindfulness is not just sitting cross legged in silence with your eyes closed, which is good because I have a hard time doing that. That’s actually a common misconception that a lot of people have. That mindfulness just means that you’re sitting down.
You’re in a meditative state an you’re simply just trying to clear your mind in a very static position. But actually you can do mindfulness activities by going outside and gardening or going swimming. You can practice mindfulness when you’re on a run. It’s more so about your state of mind, being very present and mindful about everything that is surrounding you. So the noise, movement that’s going on around you. And one key component of mindfulness is recognizing your surroundings without judgment. And it’s interesting, because researchers have done a lot of investigation into the benefits of mindfulness. And, there’s two parts of our brain, the amygdala and prefrontal cortex that are responsible for our anxiety response, our fear responses.
And they found that when you practice mindfulness through any activity that helps you to feel more calm and aware of your surroundings, that actually the amygdala in the prefrontal cortex are more connected. And can help you to respond when stress comes up in your life. It’s really interesting what you’re saying about the brain, Ashley. I’d like to pick up on that. I think what’s a wonderful thing for us to know is that the brain is something that we can change. We can make ourselves more healthy in our mind and our brain. So if you think about all of the neural pathways that we have in these connections in our brain, they’re like paths through the woods.
And just like these paths, if you travel a lot down one path, meaning with your habits, your behaviors, your thoughts, that becomes more ingrained and maybe other pathways get more grown over if you don’t use them as much, but we can shift that. So if we have very negative thinking and instead we choose to practice mindfulness everyday and we choose to do some things that reduce our stress, those stress reducing pathways get stronger and so we are actually able to rewire our brains and this is a wonderful thing to know. And I think too, with mindfulness that it makes us very aware of ourselves and our state of being.
How am I really feeling today and how I’m feeling can also affect others. So if you can imagine that maybe one morning I wake up. I didn’t sleep well or I’m frustrated. I wake up a bit a little bit like this and I’m getting on the subway or I’m late to work. This attitude is something that I project to other people around me. Maybe you see other people on the subway like this, that are kind of aggressive. So one thing we want to learn how to do is to center ourselves. And you can do that just by putting your feet on the floor and then you can feel yourself really centered in our bodies, right?
Imagine a line going right to the center of the earth and all the way up. You can do the belly breathing. Maybe 3 goodbelly breaths. And see where you are in your body and make that intention to be calmer. And I’ll bet that if you do this before you walk into the room where there are other people, they are going to feel that you are calmer and centered. And this is also something that we can do to help children. So if we calm and center ourselves we can help the children around us as well. I love this because it’s so accessible. We can bring the concept of mindfulness to just about anything.
So if sitting down cross legged with your eyes closed doesn’t work, as I have said, it does not work for me. I can go for a walk or a run, but I can do so mindfully. Also, you’re saying that I can create new habits if I set the intention to do so, which makes me feel really hopeful. And the other thing I love so much is you’re saying that the way I feel affects those around me, which is an amazing motivator for practicing mindfulness or any of these tips and strategies you’ve talked about. Thank you.
Now go and check out some of our favorite mindfulness activities. Comment below. Let us know what you think. And also let us know some mindfulness activities that work for you and share them with the rest of the learning community.
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