Mindfulness and Relaxation
Understanding and regulating arousal has many generalised benefits, including increased learning and better health outcomes. Mindfulness is a well-known coping strategy which seeks to reduce stress and encourage emotional regulation, as well as improve overall well-being. A series of recent studies found that Mindfulness training for carers reduced reported incidents of distressed behaviour (Singh et al., 2006). This would imply that carers who implement relatively simple relaxation and breathing techniques to reduce their stress levels can in turn have a positive impact on how they support people who are distressed.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a relaxation technique which requires people to focus on the here-and-now, tuning in to their bodily states and the world around them. It has been likened to meditation and involves taking a moment to breathe deeply and notice things in your immediate environment in order to soothe your senses. This allows people to be distracted from everyday thoughts and worries and to focus instead on calming their mind and body down.
However, mindfulness will not work for everyone, and it is important to keep this in mind when attempting to implement relaxation methods into the lives of individuals. Other methods of relaxation can include cardiac exercise, walking, reading, knitting, cleaning, driving, or having a warm bath. Something that many people find relaxing and restorative could be stressful and uncomfortable for others. Similarly, an activity like gaming that some people find stressful or boring can be a ‘flow’ activity for others. It is crucial to apply an individualised lens to implementing stress management and relaxation methods, and remember that what works for you may not work for the person you are supporting.
Whichever relaxation method you choose to engage in, it is important to find one that works for you to reduce your stress levels in order to enable you to role-model stress management techniques to the individuals you support.
Mindful Parenting Decreases Aggression - Nirbhay Singh
Supporting Care Staff Using Mindfulness - Stephen Noone (Chapter 13)
Application of mindfulness‐based psychotherapeutic practices - Bronwyn Robertson
Being mindful is a concept that is almost as old as mankind. It has origins in Buddhist philosophy and the techniques of meditation. It is even more important in modern society where people live stressful and busy lives.
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques should have a place in any crisis management plan. These methods can not only help to de-escalate crisis situations, but also contribute to the overall well-being of both carers and distressed individuals.