Self-awareness and practising mindfulness are about having the intention to focus your attention on your mind, body and emotions.
For many people, this is a new concept and not something that comes naturally. But it’s important to note that just like strengthening a muscle, you can create new neural pathways by practising self-awareness each day.
In a practical sense, think about deciding to go outside for a run or a walk. You might think it just ‘happens’, but in fact, there’s been a chain of events that have led to you carving out this time for yourself. By acting on your intention, you are grounding yourself in the present.
You can take this thought process and apply it to many things. For example, you might like to walk and listen to a podcast – great! But the next time you do, make sure you commit to the podcast; listen to it in full and try not to be distracted by other things during that time.
I would suggest people start by thinking about the things they value and then making time to practice them wholeheartedly. By doing so each day, you can reduce the likelihood of defaulting back to old habits, becoming distracted and losing the present moment. Put simply, start small, and enjoy delving into the things you love doing!
For many people, it is a new concept and not something that comes naturally. But it’s important to note that just like strengthening a muscle, you can create new neural pathways, by working at it each day.
How can I be mindful when I’m stuck at home?
People with cancer have a number of coping strategies and for many, these are what get them through the day-to-day, such as spending time outdoors, catching up with friends and family, or simply going out to see a movie.
With the added strain of COVID-19, many people may be feeling as though their coping strategies have been compromised.
During these times, it’s important to find new and creative ways to implement your usual coping techniques.
I would suggest people consider doing a quick audit of the things that help them to cope with their condition day-to-day. If you know what your needs are and what you benefit from, it can be easy to pin-point some areas to focus on.
For example, for many people, going outside to exercise is a big coping mechanism. The good news is, we can still do that, so be sure to take time every day, if you feel up to it, to go outside and get fresh air.
A feeling of social connectedness is also extremely beneficial, and while it might feel strange to be meeting up with friends via virtual hangouts, don’t underestimate the value of seeing a friendly face or speaking with a loved one.
Maintaining a routine can also be a great way to feel a sense of purpose and accomplishment during times of increased isolation. It can be as simple as writing a list of things that need to be done each day and ensuring they are marked off. This can provide people with a sense of mastery and satisfaction.
Treating the mind, body and brain
Interventions around the mind, body and brain look at varying factors and social contexts that can impact a person’s mental and physical health.
For people with cancer, this can mean considering the treatment they may be undergoing and the potential for this to impact their body and their mind. For example, the side effects of some treatments may pose additional challenges to a patient’s mental health.
By looking at the whole picture, we’re able to consider traditional cognitive behaviour therapy, but it may also mean we ‘fight fire with fire’ and introduce additional therapeutic option
As always, these interventions are considered based on each patient’s circumstance so we can find the right avenue to support them.
Dr Leah Collins Webinar
We recently held a webinar with psychologist, Dr Leah Collins, who answered questions from the Pink Hope community & offered insights for managing stress.