It’s been a stressful year and a particularly stressful week. As we go into the weekend, take time for yourself, make your health a priority, and consider the resources available from UCLA experts and programs that will help us all take a moment for self-care.
Diana Winston, director of mindfulness education at UCLA’s Mindfulness Awareness Research Center, held a special installment of the weekly Hammer Museum online mindfulness meditation practices on Nov. 5. The guided meditation focused on staying grounded and finding inner resiliency in the face of anxiety and uncertainty.
In a post-practice Q&A, Winston also offered some insight for how practicing mindfulness can help manage powerful emotions. Her advice included:
- Recognize that grief, anger and disappointment are all valid emotions. Notice them and how these emotions make you feel in the body. Continue or institute a mindfulness meditation practice to help you do that. While a positive outlook and worldview is beneficial, don’t get caught in a loop of false positivity and don’t judge yourself for having negative emotions.
- It’s all about reactions, which we can control, even when we can’t control much else. Stopping to take note of how these emotions feel — instead of immediately acting upon them — is part of mindfulness.
- If you’re having extremely intense emotions or dark thoughts, reach out to a trusted support system or places where you can get professional help, like Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) for students or the Staff and Faculty Counseling Center.
- Caring deeply about the election and the world in general is a positive thing; it shows your capacity for empathy.
- Acts of altruism and good deeds can be powerful mood elevators. Do something to help another person if you can.
- If you’re struggling from sleeplessness and are waking up in the middle of the night with racing thoughts, move your attention to your body. Practice deep breathing. Put your hand on your chest. Bring awareness to how your body feels. “The biggest thing I always say is never believe anything you think in the middle of the night. It’s always distorted. Our minds are tired and we are confused,” she said.
- The Mindful Awareness Research Center offers a special “Body Scan for Sleep” in its ongoing list of meditations.
- You can also download the free UCLA Mindful App and take guided meditations with you wherever you are.
Fitness and movement
Movement experts at the Bruin Health Improvement Program also offered tips for how to have a wellness weekend.
- Move. Take a wellness walk. Workout. Do yoga. Just keep moving. You can access a wealth of home workout programs via BHIP’s Instagram page: @BHIP_UCLA
- Get outside. Nature and its vastness provide perspective.
- Breathe. Try some focused breathing and relaxation exercises. BHIP offers a series of breathing exercises and some more stress relieving/mindfulness practices, too.
Other resources and links
The BruinsVote website has a calendar with a lot of student-focused events for reflecting on the election.
The UCLA Alumni Association has a robust playlist of wellness videos.
If UCLA is your employer, you have access via insurance to MyStrength.com, a platform that offers a wealth of stress-reducing and mental wellness programs and exercises, as well as connections to online therapists.
Listening to uplifting or soothing music helps, too. Check out this SoundCloud playlist to get you started.