Self‑care Packet Vol. 6: Breathe

Cover art Samantha Gonzales

Words by

Publisher

We’re all thrilled about the historical passage of the Comprehensive Mental Health Act in the House of Representatives.

Here are little things you can do to celebrate. We’ve teamed up with Silakbo PH to bring you this list.

ADD A LITTLE SUNSHINE

If you’re consistently exhausted and sleep‑deprived, start reseting your body clock by rising at sunrise and facing the sun (without directly looking at it, obviously) for at least 30 minutes. Sun exposure immediately boosts levels of neurotransmitters and promotes relaxation. In addition, it also tells your body that it’s morning, so that by nighttime, it also signals your brain that it’s time to sleep.

TURN ON NIGHT SHIFT

If you own an iPhone, there’s a little function that put your screen on Night Shift mode by holding the brightness toggle, or going to Settings > Display & Brightness > Night Shift. Alternately, you can download related apps that have a similar function. Doing this adjusts the display so that it emits a warmer, less “blue” light that smartphone screens use to mimic sunlight. While it works to help you see the screen even during the sunniest times of the day, blue light confuses your brain at night because it still sees it as sunlight. This, it may stop producing melatonin, the hormone that cues your body when it’s time to sleep. Of course, it’s better to put away your devices at night and instead focus on meditating or reading.

CALM HARM




If you’ve ever wrestled with thoughts of self‑harm, you’ll know that the struggle is real. Sometimes, when you fall into a panic attack, visions just come and even if you don’t have the intention to end your life, it just feels logical to turn your emotional pain into something physical. “The urge to self‑harm is like a wave. It feels the most powerful when you start wanting to do it,”goes the intro of an app called Calm Harm, which was designed by stem4 teenage mental health charity to help teenagers “learn to surf the wave.”It offers five‑minute and 15‑minute activities that can comfort and distract you, or let you release, breathe or express yourself whenever the urge is strong. There’s an activity log that lets you view when your urge strength is strongest, and which activities you use the most. No need to worry: the app is password‑protected.

‘TAMAGOTCHI’ FOR MENTAL HEALTH

Back in the ’90s there was a toy called Tamagotchi, where kids could take care of a virtual pet—bathe them, feed them, take them to the vet—using a pocket‑sized gizmo. BoosterBuddy looks just like that, except it takes care of you. Created by Island Health in collaboration with teens and young adults with lived experience, BoosterBuddy is an app designed to help teens and young adults cope with psychosis and related mental health concerns, but it can help anyone who wants to become more actively involved in managing wellness. You’ll pick an animal character at the start. Every morning, you’ll check‑in by picking your mood, and then wake him up by doing three tasks for your mental health. Tasks vary from dancing to a favorite song, to listing emergency contact details for when you’re at your lowest. BoosterBuddy also has a calendar that can help you follow your schedule by notifying you at the right times. It also offers a library of tips on initiation and motivation, oversleeping, lack of sleep, depression, high moods, anxiety, voices, delusions, general wellness, and alcohol and drug use.

DRINK H20

Water is very, very, very important not just for overall health but also for mental health. To make sure that you drink enough water, you can follow the chatbot “Drink H20”on Facebook Messenger. It reminds you every hour or two hours to drink a glass of water.

BE MINDFUL (in collaboration with Silakbo)

In this day and age, we glorify productivity to the point of overworking ourselves. We may sometimes disregard our physical and mental health as we whittle off items from a seemingly unending to‑do list. But there is a growing movement that even Google, Intel and Goldman Sachs swear by to give pause to their employees’ hectic schedules and promote well‑being.

Mindfulness has been around for thousands of years, with roots in Buddhist meditation, but its fundamental process has remained constant: being in the here and now. The basic principles of mindfulness can be applied to any aspect of your life—from eating, to walking, to brushing your teeth—to make your actions more deliberate and emotions less overwhelming.

Properly practicing mindfulness, however, is a skill. Ateneo’s Bulatao Center offers mindfulness programs by facilitators trained at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto, Canada, so you know you’re in good hands. If you’d like to get on this mentally healthy trend for free, there are lots of apps that you could download on the App or Play Store, like Headspace and 3 Minute Mindfulness, in which a calming voice guides you through breathing and meditation exercises.


Silakbo PH is an effort to uplift stories in the context of mental health awareness. As art allows for catharsis and self‑expression, it aims to uplift stories of mental health awareness through creative means: be it a poem, a painting or a playlist, any medium that best expresses your story is welcome. Telling stories this way will destigmatize and shed light upon the importance of mental health, not just for those with formal diagnoses, but for everyone.