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Talking About Mental Health: January 2020

Throughout the school year, UGDSB Mental Health and Addiction Lead Jenny Marino shares tips and resources for improving our mental health and well-being. Additional mental health resources for students and parents/guardians can be found on the board website.

Starting the Year Mindfully

Starting a new year, coming off of a two week school break, new resolutions and on-going challenges are a few of the things we have on our plates in January.  There is a lot of research that has shown the power of mindfulness in reducing stress and anxiety, increasing mental well-being, helping with sleep patterns, and also overall emotional regulation.   

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is a way to turn off autopilot and bring awareness to the present.  It may seem easy but in a world full of schedules, appointments, deadlines and other daily stressors it can be a challenge to disconnect ourselves from autopilot. Daniel J. Siegel defines mindfulness:

Mindfulness in its most general sense is about waking up from a life on automatic, and being sensitive to novelty in our everyday experiences…Instead of being on automatic and mindless, mindfulness helps us to awaken, and by reflecting on the mind we are enabled to make choices and thus change becomes possible.

Mindfulness is not only turning off autopilot and staying aware but doing so non-judgmentally – of yourself, of others, of your experience.  In the age of social media likes, followers and commentaries, this non-judgmental stance is something we could all benefit from doing. Jon Katat-Zinn writes:

Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.

What are the benefits?

Research in the area of mindfulness shows benefits in the following areas:

So what can you do?

There are many ways to bring mindfulness into your life, from practicing mindfulness at a regular time every day to finding opportunities for mindfulness skills in daily life.

So perhaps you can find some time in your day, your week, your month to turn off autopilot and practice a little mindfulness.

Jenny Marino, Mental Health and Addictions Lead for the Upper Grand District School Board
Follow Jenny on Instagram #upper_grand_mental_health