I like the above quote. I doubt very much it was really said by the Buddha, more likely it’s just an internet meme that has been passed down the generations. Nonetheless, it’s a suitable quote.
I believe human beings have an innate tendency towards learning. Whether formal or informal, learning strengthens the brain and challenges the mind.
I was initially going to write a blog about how I have continued to learn during lockdown. After noticing that learning is just one of the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ promoted by Lancashire Mind; a local mental health charity where I currently volunteer, I decided to say a few points about how I try to incorporate them into my daily life.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing offer evidence-based advice on how to involve daily activities into your life to maintain a positive sense of… (you guessed it) wellbeing!
1) Connect – This is a hard one considering that quarantine has us all locked in our homes! In a broad sense connect to me means keeping in contact with people you don’t see much of. In another way, it can mean to connect with the people around you. For me, this means something simple like putting my phone away during mealtimes or when having a conversation, to connect to the people I’m speaking with.
2) Be Active – This doesn’t need to be as daunting as it sounds! Although I do like to run, sometimes it can be challenging on difficult days. I’ve always liked a boogie, and as I’m lucky enough to have a garden during lockdown, more than once I’ve enjoyed putting my headphones on and lost myself in the music. This might look strange if anyone was to see, but it gives me a great cathartic release to get my groove on for half an hour, without leaving my back garden.
3) Take Notice – I have practised mindfulness meditation for some years now (on and off!). Since lockdown, I have also tried my hand at ‘restorative yoga’. It is a variation of yoga and meditation so isn’t physically enduring, as the focus is on controlled movement and stillness. Doing this helps to clear my mind and seems to have helped me notice my bodily reactions easier (i.e. heart rate). This has been useful for me as it indicates when I might be feeling anxious, or dare I say it – stressed! Being able to notice these internal reactions allows me time to rationally react to them, instead of potentially becoming overwhelmed.
4) Keep learning – I have a passion for mental health and well-being. Since the lockdown, I decided to start a weekly Facebook update of ‘myth busters’ to try and reduce misconceptions and stigma of certain mental health conditions. This involves learning more about conditions myself as I want to know what I write is accurate. It may also be helpful for others to learn accurate information about some stigmatised conditions they don’t know much about.
5) Giving - This can mean giving time, energy, praise or various things! Admittedly, I’ve had to think about this one a little. Before lockdown, I gave my time as a volunteer to Lancashire Mind and the local community. Unfortunately, this isn’t possible right now. So, for now, I am giving some time to this blog post, from the comfort of my own home. This has given me something more to think about.
Thanks to anybody who may have taken the time to read. We all need to find small ways to maintain meaning in our lives during these difficult times. Hopefully for those who are new to the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’, these have given you some ideas of how you can include well-being promoting activities into your own lives.