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With emotions heightened by lockdown and the resurgence of Black Lives Matter as the largest civil rights movement in world history, Spoke is highlighting the importance of self-care and mental wellbeing through a month-long campaign, #SpokeMymind, offering free lyrical mindfulness sessions. Ariana Alexander-Sefre of Spoke offers her tips for building self-care into our daily habits.

The world is changing before our eyes and it can be a lot to process. Reports have shown that coming out of lockdown will see a large spike in anxiety, especially for young people. However, anxiety and overwhelm can - for the most part - be dealt with effectively with the right tools.

This is where platforms such as Spoke, the #SpokeMyMind campaign and many others can be of service. They can give you the tools and thought dialogues needed to rewire your mind into more positive thought patterns.

Right now it’s crucial to look after yourself. Self-care isn’t selfish or indulgent, it’s what gives us the positivity, strength and resilience to be our best selves.

Here are a few for relieving anxiety and building self-care into your daily habits:

Become aware of your senses

Humans are sensory creatures. The way we process information is through our sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste and sensations in our body. A great tool to relieve anxiety is becoming aware of what your senses are telling you.

Try doing a body scan where you close your eyes and scan each body part for sensations. You might be surprised by what you discover. For example, a lot of people hold tension in their shoulders, jaw or forehead without realising.

By taking some time to notice your sensations, you’re actively practising mindfulness. This process of noticing the sensations, then accepting them as they are, is the first step in understanding your emotional state.

The sensations in our body are usually results of our emotions

Are you feeling exhausted, scared, angry, ashamed, frustrated? Try to consider what specific emotions you are feeling and what the root of that feeling might be.

It might take some time meditating on; maybe go for a walk or give yourself 30 mins to lie with some of your favourite relaxing music.

Once you’ve worked out what the root of your anxieties or stresses are, the process of eliminating them becomes a lot easier.

Sometimes the root of our anxiety is actually a lot smaller than we anticipated, and sometimes the root is a very large problem. Consider whether the problem is in your personal control, and if it isn’t (or if you are already doing what you can do), allow yourself to loosen your worry over their outcome.

Consider what responsibilities you've put on yourself and whether they can wait?

Much of our anxiety or overwhelm comes from the pressure we put on ourselves. As an intelligent, ambitious person, you might feel an excess weight of responsibilities. Is there anything you can take off your plate? Or if not, what is the worst that will happen if you take a day or two away from thinking about these responsibilities?

At the moment many people feel passionate to be a catalyst for positive change in the world, which is great. However ‘Activism Burnout’ is a real issue that affects many of us, usually without even realising.

Burnout is an overall lack of motivation, lack of interest in activities you might usually enjoy and feelings of hopelessness.

This calls for even more self-care; consider that the more happy and centred you feel, the better you’ll be able to help those around you. Try to actively do activities that take your mind off of your responsibilities and current affairs, such as reading, watching a film or creating something.

Evoke your sense of awe

As humans, we are naturally meant to be in nature, to feel the air on our face, the grass beneath our feet and contemplate the deep complexity of this earth. It’s no coincidence that the most relaxing sounds and sights are that of nature.

Nature, as well as evocative art, presents a feeling of awe, which is a feeling of something greater than oneself. This is the reason why religious buildings were built as they are; to evoke a sense of awe so those visiting them would enter a state of deep calm.

Tuning into beautiful sound compositions, immersing in nature, watching animals or studying beautiful artworks are some of the ways to evoke this sense of awe.

Evoking this sense is a highly effective way to relieve feelings of anxiety and depression, and spark your natural curiosity.

Lastly, plan things you enjoy!

It’s so important to have things to look forward to, so ensure you prioritise things that make you feel good. Maybe it’s catching up properly with some good friends or planning a sports game.

Whatever it is you enjoy, ensure you do it often. Life will always have its ups and downs, but ultimately, we’re here to make the most of it and enjoy the journey. Happiness is highly infectious, so by working on your own, you’re also giving the gift of happiness to many others!

Every weekday until 3 July 2020, Spoke are running free lyrical mindfulness sessions on the Spoke Instagram page @spoke.world. Make sure you follow and tune in at 8pm Monday to Thursday at 9pm and Friday at 5pm for 30 mins of immersive healing by some of London's most talented musicians and lyricists. 

For more information about the #SpokeMyMind campaign, visit the website.

Bethany Wright
Article by Bethany Wright
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