Explore 7 Different Ways to Keep Your Mind Active & Healthy While Working and Learning From Home
During this uncertain time in history, we may be feeling more anxious than usual. We’re stuck inside and surrounded by technology all day, making it hard to give ourselves a mental break from everything. Doing something like turning off the news or limiting your social media can be great first steps to unwind your mind, or what many refer to as “mindfulness." Mindfulness simply means to be aware of your thoughts and actions within the present environment that you are in, helping you to be more in the moment. It can sound difficult, but there are plenty of ways to learn how to do this.
Practicing calming exercises through “mindfulness" techniques is important to help maintain a positive mental health. Since mindfulness isn’t something you have to pay for or even leave the house to do, our current circumstances allow for the perfect opportunity to learn some of these calming exercises. We listed below some of our favorites that we’ve been practicing, and how we’ve seen schools promote mental health in their communities!
Incorporate these mindful practices into you and your student’s routines!
1. Stretch it out
Learn a yoga routine that helps stretch your body after sitting at your computer all day. Even taking a moment to do some basic neck and shoulder rolls during the day can give you an awesome refresh before jumping back into your work. What muscles have been hurting more or seem to be tense? Check in with your body by trying the mindfulness practice called Body Scan, where you focus or sometimes tense different parts of your body while meditating. Some schools have incorporated daily yoga video challenges for students to implement into their morning routine. Doing these activities before bed can even be helpful if you’ve been having trouble sleeping.
There are plenty of smartphone apps available now (Headspace; Calm) that promote mindfulness and meditation, and even more videos and audiobooks on the subject too. These options are mostly free and you can choose whether you want to follow along to guided meditations, learn breathing exercises, or listen to calming sounds at any point during your day. It’s good to unplug but don’t be afraid to search and find more resources online that can help you become more mindful.
3. Try a handy hobby
Doing things like gardening, sewing, or woodworking allows you to be in the moment with whatever you’re working with, while also giving you a sense of productivity. Focus on the task you need to complete in that moment before thinking about the next step. For many, it can be hard to “turn off" our brains and fully let our minds relax. But by focusing on how your body feels while doing a fun hobby, you can get a break from the normal buzz of anxious thoughts. Share your hobbies on social media and see what other people in your community are building and creating! You can even set up a virtual art show for everyone to display their at-home creations.
4. Bake something new
Just like with the handy hobbies listed above, getting in the kitchen and making a new recipe can be a simple way to practice mindfulness. Make cookies or bread from scratch, or spice up an old recipe with a new ingredient like peanut butter or coconut. Although you may need to move a bit faster than what traditional mindful practices suggest, take the time to feel and smell the ingredients as you combine them together. How does the texture of your food look and taste? Be present as you bake, and the reward can turn out much sweeter than expected. Plus, you might have a new product for the bake sale next year!
5. Color yourself calm
This is one of the more popular ways to stay present and mindful, and it’s probably the simplest way to do so too! Break out the colored pencils, crayons, markers, or maybe all of your art supplies and find a print that speaks to you the most for free online. Allow yourself to focus on the colors you want to use and how they will blend together as you color. Remember that this activity is to help you be in the moment, so allow your creativity to flow! You can even include some coloring pages about COVID-19 in your yearbook project by using the Coronavirus category under the Templates tool in EDOnline.
6. Journal about positivity
It can be easy to “go down the rabbit hole" of negative thoughts and feelings. Taking the time to write out (with a pen and paper!) something positive can help you avoid feeling this way, even if you’ve been doing it subconsciously. Write out the things you are grateful for, the people in your life you would like to send positive thoughts to, or a thank you letter to a hero you know who is making a difference during this time. What do you have control over? How are you being kind to yourself and others? Being introspective can be hard but necessary to help us feel better, especially when we all can share these feelings together in solidarity.
7. Do an audio check
Open up your full music library or exchange new playlists with friends, turn on shuffle, and close your eyes while listening to the music. Is it a song you know, or one you might have to guess who performs? Guess the genre, title, artist, or even the year the song might have been released. What thoughts or feelings do you get while listening to this music? Get back together with your friends (virtually, of course) and discuss your reactions to the playlists you made, or create a new playlist based off of the songs you liked the most.