Mindfulness. Focusing on the moment.
The evidence is unequivocal, whether from centuries of yoga practice (not by one person, obviously. Yoga isn’t yet that powerful) or individual accounts like the fabulous book Eat, Pray, Love. Quietening our minds, stopping the endless talking in our heads and really noticing and being absorbed with what we’re doing right now – all can be highly relaxing and restorative.
The 11 Ideas in this section are all based on activities in which we can ‘lose’ ourselves, or lose sense of time as we get emotionally transported to gentler places. Some take effort and practice (notably full-on meditation) whereas others (notably bingo and jigsaws) are simple pleasures requiring concentration which blots out painful and persistent feelings.
Spirituality is an interesting one. For many people, their spirituality is experienced and expressed through religion. But for many others, it’s a soulful, secular thing. Being in touch with nature and the non-material – what’s meaningful to us. The very compact (and ‘quick win’!) Idea about the healing properties of simply having landscape pictures displayed is one of the many ways in which patients’ spiritual needs can be met. Hospital chaplains of course have a leading role in supporting patients (of all faiths, or none) through what is often a major period of existential as well as emotional crisis.
And including smoking in the list?? Clearly we’re not actively advocating people acquire this addiction while in hospital. But the reality is that a disproportionate number of mentally ill people smoke and find that the combination of having a break, taking deep (albeit toxin-filled) breaths and associations with self-soothing provides little puddles of calm during the day.
So, you might like to close your eyes, switch off your internal chat and enjoy a few nice deep breaths before proceeding!
The 11 Mindfulness ideas
12. Mindfulness. Silence spoken here.
Space, mindfulness, silence, meditation, yoga, visualisation to soothe the mind.
13. Bingo and jigsaws. Gentle adventure
Bingo and jigsaws are deservedly popular on wards and perfect ways of quieting the mind.
14. Multi-sensory resources. The sense of calm
Harnessing all five senses for therapeutic outcomes.
15. Sanctuaries. Rooms that soothe not seclude
Aka de-escalation room. Unconfusable with a police cell, punishment room or seclusion space.
16. Spirituality. Keeping the faith
From highly prescriptive religious practices to the pleasures of sitting outside in a pretty garden.
17. Musical. Can you kazoo?
The most flexible of languages – music can soothe, inspire, inform, communicate and express.
Pictures of natural landscapes in mental health settings can reduce the need for medication!
19. Gardening. Green fingers, green socks
A perfect combination of physical, emotional, spiritual and sensory pleasures.
20. Outdoor activities. Feeling good inside, outside
Green gyms, ecotherapy…. The modern version of walking, sitting and breathing in the fresh air.
21. Art. For hearts’ sake
Self-expression without the need for words or explanations.
22. Smoking. Less of a drag
Being kind to smokers.