There is a growing body of evidence supporting mindfulness activities as a means of improving both mental and physical health. Recently, there has been an increased interest in stimulating the vagus nerve, which is a part of the central nervous system that aids in the functioning of the heart, lungs and digestive tract. Research suggests doing so can increase emotional awareness, improve concentration, relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain and improve sleep.
Some simple mindfulness activities include the following:
- 5-4-3-2-1: In any moment, stop and notice 5 things you SEE; 4 things you can TOUCH (or are touching you); 3 things you can HEAR; 2 things you can SMELL; 1 thing you can TASTE.
- Take a deep breath on the top of each hour, making sure your exhale is longer than your inhale (e.g. inhale for a 4-count; exhale for a 6-count). Bring your attention to the breath.
- Pull up a favorite scene in your Calm app and transport yourself to that place. Remember to incorporate all your senses as you imagine yourself in that relaxing, secure place.
Interested in learning more about how to cope with stress? Adam Dell and Lesley Weiss are licensed mental health professionals who work at the Notre Dame Wellness Center. If you or benefit-eligible family members are interested in scheduling an appointment with either of them, call 574-634-9355 to request an initial appointment.