Liz Coucean is a multidisciplinary wellness practitioner who specializes in yoga, mindfulness, meditation, and reiki. Her work supports those seeking inner peace, a calmer mind, and a deeper connection with themselves and their environment. Recently Liz has been partnering with organizations (like us!) to provide meditation sessions that help employees reboot and relax while working from home. Having her join the end of our bi-weekly virtual staff meetings has been a refreshing way to dive into our afternoons.
We had a chance to talk about the importance of mindfulness and how employees can support their mental health as the world reopens.
It seems like people are more comfortable talking about their mental health than ever before. What do you think has caused this shift?
Historically, there has been a very strong stigma against those struggling with mental health and people were afraid of being labelled and ridiculed. Thankfully with new therapies becoming popularized as well as it being a more common theme in mainstream media, people have begun to feel more comfortable talking about their mental health. I believe the pandemic was also a breaking point for many individuals who may have previously experienced mental health issues but were afraid to talk about it. As we begin sharing stories about our own experiences with others, we quickly come to realize that we are not alone.
How do mindfulness and meditation support mental health?
Mindfulness and meditation can have profound effects on our mental wellbeing, and the effects are not just felt in the body; science has also shown these practices change the structure of our brain.
Mindfulness helps you become aware of how you are feeling, and this awareness creates space in the mind so that you are less identified with your thoughts. For example, if you are feeling worried about something in your life and you begin to think negative thoughts, without awareness you can start to believe what your mind is telling you, which can lead to physical symptoms such as stress and anxiety.
It’s been said that anxiety stems from our minds thinking about unfavourable events in the future, and depression and resentment stem from our minds being stuck in the past. When we are present, we can see life as it is in the moment, which invites a sense of calm that can be felt throughout the whole body.
How did you get your start in the industry?
I started practicing yoga in university during a period when I was experiencing stress with school and work. Once I let go of my thoughts and kept my focus on my breath, I began to feel immediate benefits. My first class was such a profound experience that I have been practicing regularly ever since. After learning about the immense benefits of yoga and meditation, I was inspired to do my yoga and mindfulness training so that I could share these practices with others.
What are some good habits people can get into each day to support their own mental health?
I highly recommend beginning the day with a meditation practice. This allows you to set the tone for the day and gives you an opportunity to practice being more present. Going on a mindfulness walk without your phone is also one of my favourite ways to disconnect from the digital landscape and reconnect with nature.
According to a recent survey, a majority of Canadians feel anxious about going back to work in person after the pandemic. What do you suggest people can do to make that transition easier when the time comes?
Remember that you are not alone, and your colleagues are likely experiencing the same feelings you are. Creating community in the workplace and having access to support tools such as opportunities to have discussions, take mindfulness breaks and other mental health services provided by employers can help make the transition easier.
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