Mindfulness and MEN
Living with a condition like MEN inevitably means dealing with anxiety, stress and uncertainty from time to time. Mindfulness can help us respond rather than react to difficult situations. This means feeling more in control, more able to think clearly and more able to make choices.
An exercise for the waiting room, or if feeling stressed:
- Stop what you’re doing and take 2 deep breaths to bring you into the present moment
- Look around you and, silently to yourself, name three things you see
- Bring your attention to your body and, again silently to yourself, name three sensations (maybe warmth, tingling, tension, coolness)
- Move your attention to the sounds around you and name three things you can hear
- Bring your attention to your sense of smell and taste, what do you notice? Name these to yourself
- Take 2 deep breaths to finish this exercise
Exercise’s to try during MRI’s or other tests:
- 3 Minute Breathing Space
- Sound Exercise
- Or re-focusing sensation from one part of your body to another (as in The Body Scan Introduction and Exercise)
Dealing with a difficult situation, or news:
- Tune into your breathing, notice whether it is rapid, shallow. You don’t need to try to change it.
- Notice the sensations in your body. Is there tension, butterflies, knots? Breathe into the areas of sensation.
- Doing the above might help you take a step back and become aware of the space between you and your feelings and thoughts, get a different perspective. Remember thoughts come and go, you are not your thoughts.
- Become curious and notice your thoughts in relation to the difficult situation/relationship – do you notice a pattern?
- Now ask yourself again, in a calmer and more settled state, what would be most helpful?
- Take 3 mindful breaths. You are now ready to respond rather than react to the situation.
Helping sleep problems:
- Have a bedtime routine
- Relax in the last hour or two before bed by reading or having a bath
- Try to avoid using screens eg phones/tablets/TV
- Avoid eating, drinking coffee and alcohol, exercising or smoking
- Your bedroom should be cool and quiet (use earplugs if needs be)
- Write down any thoughts or ‘things to do’ that are on your mind
- Shift your mind to 3 things that were good about your day (these might be very simple; e.g. the sun shone/I had a delicious coffee/ I had a laugh with a friend).
- Focus on your breath and then gradually starting with your feet relax each part of your body until you get to your head.
- Listen to the Body Scan exercise while in bed and just before sleep.