After months of working, eating, socialising and exercising from home during the COVID-19 lockdown, emerging back out into the city to work can be a challenge.
Mindfulness and meditation has been highlighted as one way to combat post-lockdown anxiety.
Simply Mindful has teamed up with the ACT Government’s City Renewal Authority to run free Mindful Movement mindfulness sessions on Tuesday mornings from 7:30 am in Glebe Park as part of the government’s ReNewYou initiative.
The ReNewYou program provides free outdoor activity classes to encourage people to get up from their desk or out of their apartments to enjoy public spaces.
Simply Mindful helped pioneer mindfulness in Australia and is the first organisation in Canberra offering a full eight-week mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program, which is recognised as the world’s gold standard secular mindfulness program.
“COVID-19 and especially lockdown have been really challenging,” says Simply Mindful instructor Megan Layton. “As a mental health professional, the spike in anxiety is particularly noticeable.
“Mental health challenges people face have increased and a lot of people are finding the transition back to work, school and life in general just as hard as lockdown.”
Aflaha Khan, a registered psychologist and PhD student at the ANU Research School of Psychology says post-lockdown anxiety is understandable.
“It is quite common to feel some level of anxiety during periods of change and uncertainty so if you are feeling this way about re-entering the world, you are definitely not alone,” she says.
“Some things that help you adjust to the change include taking it slow and starting with activities you find enjoyable or meaningful, staying in the moment, talking with supportive friends and family about how you are feeling, building awareness of what anxiety looks and feels like for you, and focusing on what you can control.
“Practices which involve meditation and mindfulness can be beneficial for managing symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression and distress, as well as for coping with a variety of mental and physical health conditions.
“These practices help people by increasing their capacity to notice and simply observe their inner and outer world, moment to moment, without judgement.”
In the Mindful Movement classes, participants have the opportunity to stretch, de-stress and learn the basics of mindfulness meditation – all while enjoying the peaceful Glebe Park setting.
“Sustained low to moderate stress has serious consequences for health and mental health in the medium to longer-term and to relationships and wellbeing,” says Megan.
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“So training in mindfulness is an essential skill. It teaches us to work skillfully with our own minds and bodies, no matter how we are feeling.
“For example, it helps us to notice when we’re stuck in the future worrying, or getting caught up in ruminating, rehashing or reacting, and enables us to step out of that pattern.
“During the eight weeks, we’ll move through a range of practices to help you make a fresh start and move into your day from a place of greater awareness, clarity and centeredness.”
The Mindful Movement classes are running until Christmas in December 2021, every Tuesday at 7:30 am in Glebe Park, near the Gandhi statue. The classes are free, but please book online beforehand.