9 Easy Daily Habits to Boost Mental & Physical Health During Lockdown
Studies indicate that 40-45% of our daily activities are habits. They are the reason we brew a coffee in the morning, brush our teeth in the same pattern every morning or take the same route to local supermarket. Transformational conscious breath expert Melike Hussein suggests incorporating these 9 breathwork and mindfulness exercises, that can be practiced in seconds, into your daily activities so that you can create anchors creating calm, focus and clarity of thought during lockdown.
- Bring awareness into each moment
Being aware is the foundation of any practice supporting your wellbeing. Here’s why:
We spend 47% of our waking hours thinking about something other than what we are doing. Because our mind is naturally wired to wander – ruminating about the past, what might happen in the future and catastrophising. And this mind-wandering causes us stress, anxiety, unhappiness and even feeling of overwhelm.
You can include any of these 3 second awareness practices into your daily routine – before every call, meeting, when you put on the kettle.
- Take 3 slow deep inhales and exhales through the nose.
- Focus all your attention to the movement of your body in each inhale and exhale
- Place one hand on your belly, chest or place both hands on your lap.
- Turn your attention to your body and check in ‘what physical sensations do I notice in right now?’
- Turn your Zoom calls into an oasis of awareness and grounding
The pandemic has radically changed our online and communication behaviours. According to an Ofcom report, adults spent an average of four hours online each day. There’s even a new term, “Zoom fatigue”, to describe the tiredness, worry, or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication.
With simple changes to our new habits, we can help turn these potentially stressful activities into an oasis of awareness and grounding.
Try starting your every Zoom, WhatsApp or other call with this 10 second breathing practice
- Firmly plant your feet on the ground.
- Place one or both hands on your belly.
- Continue to breathe naturally.
- Count each inhale starting from 1 to 10.
- Give your mind a respite and reconnect to your body
Most of us live in a permanent state of “on”, multi-tasking, juggling demands of home and work life, receiving a constant stream of information from multiple connected devices. This takes a huge toll on our ability to think clearly and focus.
Make it a daily priority to carve out moments to connect to your body and give much needed moments of respite to your mind.
Try this 5 second connection exercise every time you reach for your mobile
- Firmly plant your feet on the ground (ideally bare feet or at least no high heels!).
- Notice the sensations of your feet – the touch of the carpet, the smooth surface the tiles, what else?
- Replace coffee overload with an energising breath exercise
Many of us reach for cups of coffee or energy drinks when we feel our energy reserves are depleted or when we’re finding it difficult to think or concentrate.
However, overconsumption of coffee during the day can not only cause irritability but can also harm your ability to have a restful sleep.
Next time you find yourself reaching for another cup of coffee, try this 5 second breathing exercise instead, which stimulates an alert response in our body and mind:
- Breathe in through the nose taking slow and deep inhale.
- Breathe out through the mouth, engaging your core and pumping the navel in towards the spine.
- Repeat 5 times.
- “Stretch and breathe” to Improve your posture and relax your body
Lockdown has caused many of us to adopt unfamiliar postures – kitchen table to sofa has become our work-desk or home-schooling space and even reduced our activity levels.
Posture is not just about looking good. Poor posture can cause a number of issues ranging from back problems to headaches and even poor circulation.
Try this short and simple exercise every break you take, which is ideal to reduce eye strain and tension in your neck.
- Start with a deep and slow inhale and gently roll your head to one side.
- As you exhale, roll your chin to your chest and slowly move your head to the other side.
- Allow the movement of your head to follow the rhythm of your breath.
- Repeat as needed.
- Take regular breaks and balance your body and mind
For every 50 minutes’ work, take a five to 10 minute long breaks to give your mind time to recover and help balance your nervous system. Recent research shows a break for every 50 minutes of work increases productivity by 30-40 percent. In other words, you go back in fresh, you can focus, you’re more equipped. Go outside and take a quick walk or listen to music you enjoy.
Try making this 10 second breathing practice, part of your break.
- Start by finding a comfortable position sitting upright with your feet firmly on the ground.
- Inhale the to count of 3.
- Exhale to the count of 6.
- Repeat for 6 rounds or as needed.
- “End” your day on a high by practicing gratitude
A recent study has shown that you can lower your stress level and have a greater sense of calm at night, simply by making a list of positive events at the end of your busy day.
As you finish your work or home-schooling, this try short gratitude exercise to end your day on a high.
- Take a slow and deep breath inhale and let go with a relaxed exhale.
- Reflect on your day – identify three things you have achieved that day, remember no achievement is too small, and write them down.
- Notice your emotions – reflect on how these achievements made you feel. Notice and name each of those emotions such as happy, content, joyous. Write them down.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions – take a slow and deep inhale and let go with a relaxed exhale. Repeat 3 times.
- Bring a little joy into your day
As we rumble through the routine of our hectic day, we tend to miss the little things that can bring us a moment of peace, joy and a smile. This is where awareness comes into play.
Next time you take a break, lift your gaze away from your computer and do this 20 second exercise.
- Take a slow deep inhale through the nose and let go with a relaxed exhale through the mouth.
- Actively scan around the room or look outside with the intention of finding something that brings you peace or make you smile.
- Approach it with curiosity and keep your attention on it for 15 seconds discovering every single detail.
- Replace Netflix with a simple breathing exercise to wind down and drift off
Swirling thoughts, overactive mind, rumination about the day’s events are some of the core reasons why many people are unable to sleep well or fall asleep again if they wake up during the night. Watching a movie or reading news on your connected devices will only amplify your busy mind.
This short breathing exercise can work wonders in gently quietening your mind by activating parasympathetic ‘rest and recovery’ mode and balancing your nervous system.
- Breathe in through the nose, inhale to the count of 5
- Breathe out through the nose, exhale to the count of 5
- Repeat for 6 rounds or as needed
Melike Hussein is a Transformational Conscious Breathwork expert and Mindfulness Teacher. She is the founder of Breathzone and on a mission to get the nation breathing with awareness and purpose. Check out Melike and Breathzone here https://www.breathzone.com/