Stepping into physical activities mindfully

Stepping into physical activities mindfully

28 February 2020

Whether you’re planning on attending one of our local activities or a Rehabilitation Adventure Program, or simply wanting to find better ways to manage stress and anxiety in your life, learning how to get active mindfully can make a help improve quality of life.

When we are controlled by the ‘just get the job done’ rule (necessary for military life but often damaging for our life outside the military) this creates anxiety and stress. This can result in rapid and shallow breathing which activates the fight or flight part of the brain, resulting in increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and muscle tension. Hardly a state from which we can enjoy a nice hike in the bush! So how do we steady this emotional storm? By breathing correctly and being mindful of it. 

Slowing down the rate of your breathing will help to switch off the fight or flight part of the brain and decrease some of the uncomfortable physical and emotional responses we might be experiencing. So, when you are on your weekend bike ride and you are feeling like your thoughts are switching on the ‘just get the job done’ rule and the subsequent body stress, just stop and think about following these breathing techniques:   

  1. First take 12 slow, deep breaths. 
  2. Then, take 3 breaths and focus on your breathing. Place a hand on your belly and notice your belly rise first, followed by the expansion of your chest. 
  3. For the following 3 breaths, notice your breathing and notice what thoughts are running through your mind (whatever they are just let them be).  
  4. Next, take 3 breaths, notice your breathing and scan your body from head to toe and notice what you feel (whatever you feel, just make room for it).  
  5. Finally, take 3 breaths and in addition to connecting with your breathing, connect with your environment. Notice what you can see, hear, taste, touch and smell.

This simple technique will give you a quick way to increase self-awareness, accept what you are feeling and thinking, and gather your senses so you are not on ‘autopilot’. Practice this throughout the day, wherever you find yourself getting stressed.

Find out more If any content in this article resonates with you and you’d like to speak with someone at Mates4Mates about seeking support, contact us to find out more about our services. All Mates4Mates services are available for current and ex-serving Australian Defence Force members with physical injuries or mental health issues, and their families.
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