Carers Week is an annual campaign to raise awareness of caring, highlight the challenges unpaid carers face and recognise the contribution they make to families and communities throughout the UK. It also helps people who don’t think of themselves as having caring responsibilities to identify as carers and access much-needed support.
This year, the theme is Make Caring Visible, aiming to recognise the contribution carers make to their families and local communities, workplaces and society, and that they get the support they need.
Kate in our Student Wellbeing team has run mindfulness sessions for our staff who have caring responsibilities. Kate is also running sessions for students, and we wanted to share some of her tips for short mindfulness activities here.
We hope they will be beneficial to any of you who have caring responsibilities, to help you relax and boost your wellbeing.
1. Mindful eating
This involves paying attention to the taste, sight and textures of what you eat. For example, when drinking a cup of tea or coffee you could focus on how sweet it tastes, or how hot it feels.
2. Mindful moving, walking or running
Notice the feeling of your body moving. You might notice the breeze against your skin, the feeling of your feet or hands against different textures on the ground or nearby surfaces, and the different smells that are around you.
3. Body scan
This is where you move your attention slowly through different parts of the body, starting from the top of your head, moving all the way down to the end of your toes. You could focus on feelings of warmth, tension, or relaxation for example.
4. Mindful colouring and drawing
Focus on the colours and the sensation of your pencil on the paper, rather than trying to draw something specific. You could use a mindfulness colouring book or download mindfulness colouring images.
5. Mindful meditation
Sit quietly and focus on your breathing, your thoughts, sensations in your body and the things you can hear around you.
Try to bring focus back to the present if your mind starts to wander. Many people also find that yoga helps them concentrate on their breathing and focus on the present moment.
This page from mental health charity Mind has information on types of alternative and complementary therapy (including information on doing them safely).
Different things work for different people
If you don’t find one exercise useful, try another. You can also try adapting them so that they suit you and are easier to fit in with your daily life.
- Pay attention to how it feels.
- Notice where your thoughts have drifted to when your mind wanders.
- Choose and return , meaning choose to bring your attention back to the present moment, usually by focusing on your breathing for example.
- Be aware and accept – notice emotions or sensations. Try to observe and accept these feelings with friendly curiosity and without judgement.
- Be kind to yourself – remember that mindfulness can be difficult and our minds will always wander. Try not to be critical of yourself.
Our current Nottingham College students can access advice about wellbeing support on the Wellbeing Hub on the student intranet, or speak to their Achievement Coach. Remember that there are also enrichment session set up to help students with their wellbeing, and details are on the Wellbeing Hub.