Latitude Magazine article

Calming Your Mind

Wellbeing expert Ella Sidey

Practising bite-size mindfulness consistently can help you to slow down, calm your mind and body, be more present and be grateful for what you do have in life, not what you don’t have. Health is about mental fitness as well, not just physical fitness. Wellbeing expert Ella Sidey explains.

Stress is part of being human and life will always throw you challenges. How you deal with chronic stress and life’s challenges is up to us. We cannot always rely on others to take care of our mental health, and with New Zealand having the highest suicide rate in the developed world, we must learn how to take better care of ourselves.

After losing my brother in 2012, I have been developing a ‘toolbox’ of bite-size practices that I use every day to deal with the grief and emotional toll this experience created. After benefitting from the experience of these simple, short practices I have come to understand we each have the power to live a calm, confident and purposeful life.

My mission is to support New Zealand to care for their hauora/wellbeing. Hauora is a unique philosophy to New Zealand and covers the four dimensions of your wellbeing: physical, mental/emotional, spiritual and social.

Whether you’re struggling with mental health, or just want to thrive, mindfulness tools are essential for living in our busy world. Our Hauora is a programme designed to teach and guide you through a series of simple tools to build resilience, be in the present moment and find balance with your hauora. These mindfulness practices are simple and can be used throughout your day – as easy as brushing your teeth or making a cup of tea.

We need to prioritise more time for ourselves each day. Think of it this way: 15 minutes of time for you is only 1 per cent of your day. What we practise grows, and new neural pathways are created so that we can experience new ways of being, doing and feeling.

My two favourite mindfulness practices for stress relief are:

Intentional belly breathing
This is the fastest way to calm our nervous system. Our nervous system is often overstimulated through work, social media and lifestyle; this constant stress has a huge impact on our ability to sleep properly, digest food and rest.

Often perceived as ‘woo-woo’ to many people, meditation is the best tool to become more self-aware, energised and calm. The key is consistency, even three minutes a day and you will see the benefits.•

8 Tips for Mindfulness

+ 10-minute mindful walking in nature

+ Eating mindfully without your phone or TV

+ Set boundaries with your phone or put it on aeroplane mode an hour before bed

+ Calming music or belly breathing before sleep

+ Do a meditation in the morning or on your lunch break

+ Write in a journal to clear your mind

+ Create a morning routine for 15 minutes – only 1 per cent of your day to practise mindfulness

+ Nourish your body with whole foods – 90 per cent of serotonin (our happy hormone) is produced in the gut

Ella Sidey left teaching in 2019 to start Our Hauora, a holistic wellbeing and mindfulness business for people of all ages, founded on building resilience so that people are more calm, confident and live a purposeful life. She is passionate about teaching bite-size mindfulness as a tool to help people care for their wellbeing/hauora.

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