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In theory, we all know the things we need to do to take care of ourselves. However, sometimes we can’t break unhealthy patterns or don’t know the right path to minimize stress and maximize health, mentally, physically and emotionally. This is especially true during stressful times. Below are some resources for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and minimizing stress. Please contact the Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program at 866-724-4327 if you need assistance with any of these issues.
Meditation is the activity of quieting the mind. It may include sitting, lying, or walking and often uses a specific focus of attention. It can help promote a feeling of calmness and/or physical relaxation.
Think of a person you love and in your mind repeat the phrases:
May you be healthy
May you be safe
May you ride the waves of your life with ease
Stay with this practice for 1 minute then shift your attention to yourself and repeat in your mind:
May I be healthy
May I be safe
May I ride the waves of my life with ease.
Pause and notice the effects of this practice in your body and mind.
You may practice this exercise daily for one week.
Three Part Breath Technique
The three part breath technique is an exercise that utilizes your entire lung capacity creating a state of deep relaxation in your body. Take a deep inhale through your nose, notice how the stomach expands like a big balloon. On the exhale, expel all the air out from the belly through your nose. Draw the navel back towards your spine to make sure that the belly is empty of air. On the next inhale, fill the belly up with air as described above. Then when the belly is full, draw in a little more breath and let that air expand into the rib cage, causing the ribs to widen apart.
On the exhale, let the air go: first from the rib cage, letting the ribs slide closer together; and then from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
On the next inhale, place your hands on your chest with the fingertips underneath the clavicles (collar bones) and fill the belly and rib cage up with air as described above. Then draw in just a little more air and let it fill the upper chest.
On the exhale, let the breath go first from the upper chest, letting the ribs slide closer together. Finally, let the air go from the belly, drawing the navel back towards the spine.
Continue at your own pace, letting the three parts of the breath happen smoothly without pausing. Continue for about 10 breaths.
On the exhale, allow your body to return to its natural breath cycle. Pause and notice the effects of this practice, any sensations that may arise in your body, any thoughts and any feelings. Practice daily.
Regular yoga practices can help you achieve the sense of wellness you are seeking. Breathing techniques, stretches, and meditation help you release tension, build proper body alignment, increase awareness, focus the mind, and nourish and restore your balance. Here is information on the health benefits of yoga:
Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would towards someone else who is having a hard time. It is often easier to care for someone else in pain than it is to care for ourselves. We tend to be quick to judge and criticize ourselves for various inadequacies or shortcomings. Self-compassion would mean that you are kind to yourself when confronted with personal failings and painful events.
Mindfulness and Meditation Apps (Recommended by MGH’s Benson-Henry Institute)
You can develop a more positive outlook by taking steps every day to change how you think. This process may take time, especially with today’s challenges. You may see a difference right away just by trying a few things. Here are tips on building more optimism into your life:
Be aware of your negative thoughts. Stop and listen to the messages you’re sending yourself. If you have negative thoughts about a situation you can’t change, try to replace them with positive ones. For example, you may say something like, “I can handle this,” when you are in a situation that you cannot change. What you can change is how you view the situation more optimistically.
Engage in positive self-talk. Create alternate responses to the negative thoughts you would like to change and consider writing those responses down. For example, if you think, “I’ll never be able finish this project,” try, “I’ll break it down into small steps.” If you think, “I don’t know how to do that,” try, “I can learn something new.”
Bring more humor into your life. Tap into the power of laughter. Rent funny movies, hang a cartoon up on your refrigerator, or enjoy humorous songs and stories with your friends.
Spend time with optimistic people. Research has found that moods and ideas are contagious. Chronic complainers can bring you down even if you aren’t aware of it. Spend as much time as you can with optimistic people who can help lift your spirits.
Practice gratitude. A pessimistic outlook may cause you to lose sight of the things you’re thankful for; practicing gratitude can restore the balance. Spend a few minutes each day thinking about the good things in your life. Some experts suggest that you keep a “gratitude journal” and write down the things that make you feel grateful.
Recognize what you can control. You may start to feel pessimistic if you dwell on things you can’t control. Focus on doing all you can to improve what you can control.
Develop or keep up healthy routines. Optimism is easier to maintain when you feel good physically and mentally. Eat a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep and exercise.
Get help if you have unwanted negative thoughts that won’t go away. Mass General Brigham Employee Assistance Program (EAP), can give you other ideas on what to do if you have persistent negative thoughts that are interfering with your work, relationships, or enjoyment of life.
In case of emergency, please call 911 or your local hospital emergency service.
This site is not intended to provide any clinical assessment, counseling or other type of intervention. The Mass General Brigham EAP provides links to external websites for your convenience. The EAP is not responsible for the availability, accuracy, or content of outside resources or sites, nor does it endorse them. If you notice any malfunctioning links, please contact the us at: EAP@partners.org. The Mass General Brigham EAP is not a service available to the general public. For more information or to discuss concerns, please contact the Mass General Brigham EAP at 866-724-4327.
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