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What is Mindful Mental Health?

Updated: Mar 6


Black man sitting on bed using mindful mental health at PlayfulLeigh Psyched

In the United States, today is the penultimate day of February 2022. While that may not mean much to some people, many of us are thinking about how we can continue honoring Black History while advocating for the rights of Black communities throughout the globe. Many of us have mixed feelings about the end of February due to complicated feelings about Black History Month. Some of us have used this month to celebrate in our own ways, and took time to educate ourselves on Black leaders and heroes that lived lives of untold stories. We reflected, whether privately or publicly, on our ancestors, our families, and the present states of our lives. Many grieved and will continue grieving the countless losses that have occured for centuries and seems to not be slowing down any time soon. Still, some of us tried to remember that we are living and breathing Black history in the making, but we are exhausted, and probably aren’t alone in this feeling.


Throughout this month, you may have increasingly felt more sluggish or tired. Perhaps, you were unsure of why you have been feeling this way. Likewise, children are being affected and do not always have a way to express or understand what they are feeling. That is because there are so many layers to what is happening in our world. Depending on what you expose yourself to and what children can access, there are whispers of another global war, transphobic adults have waged war against transgender chidlren - children, people are losing their life savings due to the economy tanking, and gas prices are starting to skyrocket and that doesn’t even encapsulate the remaining people who have legitimate concerns about COVID as developed countries pretend like the virus is no longer a concern, or any of the other things that you have going on in your life.


How to Heal While Hurting

If you are feeling any of this heaviness, know that you are not alone. The body responds immediately to thoughts as if the thoughts are reality. That means, if you are spending any time worrying about the possibility of scary or concerning outcomes, your body is reacting to the scariness. To decrease the harmful effects of stress on your body, it would benefit you to allow your brain more time in the present moment. Now, all the time people misunderstand what it means to be present. So, let me break it down for you. If you are thinking about a second from now, you are not present. Present day and the present moment are not the same. The “present day” is so very broad; it could mean today, this month, this year, this decade, or even this century. To put it in context, there are one thousand, four hundred forty minutes (1,440) in a single day. If an emotion loop lasts 90 seconds (or a minute and a half) when it’s not aggravated, then you have about nine hundred sixty opportunities in a day to have different emotional experiences. Now, for one third of them you are hopefully sleeping. That still leaves you with 640 opportunities. How many of those opportunities are you taking advantage of by allowing yourself to be grounded and present?


How to Get Started

Can you start with just one minute a day - one opportunity? Here is a video of one way to do this. Sitting in a way that is comfortable to your body, connecting with both your heart and breath, and allowing your thoughts to notice what’s happening in your body.


This doesn’t mean that you will never feel pain. This also doesn’t mean that you will be cured of your anxious thoughts. All feelings are valid because humans are capable of all emotions. Therefore, anxiety is naturally occurring and in many cases anxiety is helpful. But, the intensity and frequency of anxious thoughts can sometimes be lessened through regular practice of mindfulness. Mindful mental health means engaging mindful activities t support your mental health. As you know, we focus a great deal on trauma recovery here at PlayfulLeigh Psyched and mindfulness is a way for you to access trauma healing in conjuction with therapy or as a supplement.


Takeways


Today's critical points are short and simple.

  • Exhaustion can be a sign of emotional overwhelm.

  • Mindfulness can help even if you start with one minute a day.

  • Humans have a full spectrum of emotional experiences.

  • There is no such thing as a "bad" emotion.

  • Being in the present moment is not the same as the present day.


While working towards healing, take some time to focus on play and joy. Allow yourself to feel what you feel without trying to rush yourself out of it or push it to the side. Sit with it and when that emotional loop subsides, allow yourself to move on to the next emotional experience. Be gentle with yourself. Not only do you deserve it, you probably really need it. In the meantime, please wrap yourself in compassion, douse yourself with love, and make moments for play.


PlayfulLeigh (playfully),


Dr. Dowtin


 

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Photo Creds:

Stock photo used from Wix with no identifiable photographer