Vivian McKinnon Mental Health and Addiction Trainer Northern Ireland

From You to You: A #LearnuaryNI Mental Health and Wellbeing Challenge By Vivian McKinnon

Find your Happy #LearnuaryNI by investing your time in uncovering 31 simple wellbeing truths from Mental Health Addiction Trainer Vivian McKinnon


When I read that TrainingMatchmaker.com were running this challenge I thought “ hmmm that looks interesting”. I am constantly being introduced to interesting, informative, obscure and random learnings, through life and the lovely people who come into Hydro-Ease (Northern Ireland’s only Floatation and Wellness Centre). On a daily basis I share my pearls of wisdom, or nuggets of randomness on social media so throught it might be nice for me to share some of the banked gems I have already stored in my neurology and throw in some of my tips and tricks to emotional and physical well being to help #LearnuaryNI challengers achieve the very best 2018. Life becomes such a lovely place to be when we learn to:
  1. Breathe properly – Simple I know, however, so many of us breathe from the top of our chest. Unfortunately, these muscles here aren’t built for routine respiration, and they get exhausted and tender. If this occurs, it could trigger a cascade of uncomfortable consequences over time, always try to breathe properly. If you understand how hydraulics work you can grasp how breathing should. The diaphragm is your primary breathing muscle, it is a thin wide sheet of muscle that separates the ribcage from the abdomen, when the diaphragm expands it flattens and pushes downwards like a plunger, like a piston in a cylinder. I have gone into quite a bit detail here as I think its so important to know.
  2. Float regularly – What can I say, floatation is the most effective anecdote to modern life, check out The Hydro Ease Flotation Centre for more information.
  3. Apply self havening, it will literally change your life for the better by unhooking emotional content.
  4. Talk about how you feel, sharing your emotions is NOT a sign of weakness, quite the opposite it shows great courage, it is ok not to be ok.
  5. Balance your thoughts – Like a see-saw, for every negative/unproductive thought we have or dwell on we should also consider the exact opposite to give us the “Wise mind approach”.
  6. Have a regular bed time/sleep pattern – This regulates our circadian rhythm which helps to regulate our ultradian rhythm (brain wave activity).
  7. Drink approximately 2 litres of water every day, preferably distilled to hydrate our mind and body.
  8. Eat like a king at breakfast, a queen at lunch and a pauper at dinner time (this gives our body a chance to rest and repair while sleeping without having to digest a full belly).
  9. Laugh as often and as heartily as you can, even just pretend to, your body can’t differentiate between real laughter and fake so it produces the same reactions/chemicals within the mind and body
  10. Exercise regularly, even if that just means stretching your legs away from your desk every 90 minutes.
  11. Schedule in self care on a daily and monthly basis (you could always book in to float as your monthly treat to yourself).
  12. Live in the moment, smell the flowers in the park, play with the bubbles in the bath/sink, taste the food, listen to your body… it’s the expert on you.
  13. Live by CIA .. Can I control this situation/event/person (anything outside your own thoughts and decisions are uncontrollable). Can I influence it? Can I accept it? To ‘Control, Influence and Accept’ can cut down on anxiety and stress.
  14. Be flexible wherever you can, being too rigid in any interaction leaves you open to becoming “stuck”.
  15. Place cold water under your tongue when you feel anxious and let your tongue float, this reduces anxiety by activating the parasympathetic nervous system.
  16. Not believe everything you read on social media and take a holiday from it regularly. Some people call this a digital detox.
  17. Differentiate between a reaction and a response, ask yourself this question: “Am I allowing this person to control how I feel?”.
  18. Forgive yourself, you are only human and are doing the best you can with the resources you have.
  19. Be honest with yourself, you are the one person who truly deserves it.
  20. Love with every inch of your being.
  21. Be kind, listen to someone you have no time for – even the dull and boring have a story.
  22. Smile at a stranger and say “hello”.
  23. Tell people what they mean to you while you have the chance.
  24. Personally, keep in touch with close friends, it’s such a great feeling to get a hand-written card/letter through the post, you may even inspire them to do the same for you or someone else – a positive ripple effect.
  25. Get a bucket list and commit to achieving at least one wish a year.
  26. See the best in people, even when they don’t deserve it, don’t let anyone’s dark cloud place you in the shade.
  27. When you hear a baby’s laughter, STOP and really listen.
  28. Have regrets… about the things you did do, not the things you didn’t.
  29. Don’t listen to others when they tell you you are too old, late, or not good enough to do what your heart desires. Often the difference between someone who can and someone who can’t do something is how they are representing the situation to themselves in their head.
  30. Walk barefoot whenever you get the opportunity.
  31. And last but not least make friends with yourself, you are the best friend you will ever have.
I hope these little reminders of what you already know deep down serve you well and help you to make 2018 that little bit more special.   Happy #LearnuaryNI  

Want to Learn More?

If you know of a great youtube tutorial or event on Mental Health, Wellbeing and/or Resilience or other useful learnings that #LearnuaryNI challengers can take on to master this January/February do let us know.

About #LearnuaryNI

To find out more about #LearnuaryNI – a Northern Ireland learning challenge to encourage people to learn one new thing (or teach one thing) each day for 31 days visit #LearnuaryNI.

Find Inspiration

For inspiration follow the hashtag #LearnuaryNI on social media, visit our #LearnuaryNI blogs or click on ‘Find a Course’.
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