Building Blocks for Wellbeing is a new initiative which aims to support youth workers through weekly mindfulness practices and activities. Building Blocks for Wellbeing is not a training or a substitute to meditation/mindfulness training but additional support to assist the ongoing wellbeing of youth workers both at this unprecedented time, and long after Covid-19.
During difficult times, our mindsets can change, and we can begin to think of the worst possible things that could happen to us, our families, and friends. Our bodies get ready to take action in response to danger with our hearts racing, muscles tensing and other physical reactions. When this happens, we find it difficult to sleep, relax and other things. We start to feel emotions like anger, sadness, and worry.
We can spend so much time worrying, getting lost in our negative thoughts trying to guess what will happen when in reality, especially during Covid-19, we don’t know. When we do this and really stress ourselves out, our brains don’t see things clearly and we can get stuck on seeing the worst possible outcomes. One way in which we can start to navigate from this thinking is to really take one day at a time, or maybe take it hour by hour, minute by minute at times when things feel too much and you become overwhelmed.
It is important to focus on the now rather than guessing what might be in a day, week or month. With practice, it will become easier to begin to think in the now and this week’s building block will support you to identify your ‘worries’ but rather than spending time on them, you will learn to park them aside until a time you wish to revisit them with a solution.
Worry tends to lead to more worry and just as we think we have found a solution; another worry will appear for us to solve. It is a challenge, but we need to give ourselves a break from worrying. To do this, follow this simple 3 steps below followed by the accompanying mediation (3-minute breathing space). This will take practice but, it will be effective.
3 Minute Breathing Space: This practice is ideal to engage in after we have spent some time allocated to our worries or when we finish a task/job/meeting and prepare to move onto the next activity. It helps us move from narrow- focused attention to a broader sense of awareness. The practice was designed by Prof. Mark Williams at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and it provides the opportunity to move from ‘Doing’ mode into ‘Being’ mode as we touch in with what is present, rest with the breath, and then move back into the day.
There are 3 steps to the practice and they can be done anywhere and at any time:
Attend to what is. The first step invites attending broadly to one’s experience, noting it, but without the need to change what is being observed.
Focus on the breath. The second step narrows the field of attention to a single, pointed focus on the breath in the body.
Attend to the body. The third step widens attention again to include the body as a whole and any sensations that are present.