The Power in the way we Think

Posts tagged ‘wellness’

Eat food, not feelings

Each of us experience stress in different ways and I thought it might be a good idea to share some of these differences. There is no “one size fits all”. It looks different and feels different for everyone, even though there are some similarities amongst us. I would like to introduce you to Carlie, a mum and business owner. She knows what it’s like to be hit with real life and the curve balls that can be thrown at us. Here she shares a small part of her life and how she has worked to change some of the habits that creep up on us when we are in the middle of the messy stuff. Carlie has learned some great lessons through it all and now wants to share them with others. Check out her links below her story … 

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I’m an emotional eater from way back. I never really knew that I was, until my younger brother passed away. People were constantly bringing food over to our house. I would pick away at it, partly for something to do with my hands and partly to fill a void which could never actually be filled with food. Suddenly I was 9 kilos heavier. I certainly wasn’t obese, but you can definitely feel 9kgs difference in your clothes and I didn’t like it.

I realised that this was a habit I’d had for a long time. When I was feeling stressed I would find myself looking for ‘comfort food’. It’s funny how we say that in an almost affectionate way – ‘comfort food’. We give children a sugary ‘treat’ as a reward. Just the other day I was in a shop and the attendant could see that my toddler had been crying. He handed her a lollipop to make her ‘feel better’. Drowning our emotions with ‘bad food’ is something that is often ingrained in us from a young age.

Throughout the stress I was feeling following my brothers passing and my fathers subsequent break down, I knew the emotional eating was something I needed to get under control. I somehow convinced the doctor to prescribe me diet pills so that I could ‘reset’ my bad habit and start fresh. Looking back, it was just a different way of treating my body really badly. I lost weight but I certainly wasn’t healthy. And it’s pretty hard to be happy when you’re not healthy.

Over the years that followed, I began a journey which involved a whole lot of soul searching and many hours of research and learning about food, health and wellbeing. I was amazed at how different I felt once I shifted my mindset. I started looking at food as fuel, not as a reward or as therapy or anything else. It’s just there to give us energy and nutrients. Of course we should enjoy it, I love food and I eat lots of it! But I make healthy choices now. I have learnt to eat in a way that nourishes my body and makes me feel alive. I know which foods weigh me down and zap my energy, and I know which foods energise me.

Happy and free carlie guest post stress

As a busy mum, feeling energetic and positive is so important. I need to make sure I am looking after me so that I can respond to my cheeky monkey with positivity and patience. It’s also very important to me that I provide a good example for my daughter and help her to develop a healthy relationship with food. I want her to love her body and treat it well, even as she approaches hurdles in her life.

In those times when I am really feeling stretched or frazzled or slumpy, the times when I might have turned to junk food in the past, I now try to catch myself in that moment and take a different approach. Instead of turning to food, I turn to one of what I like to call my ‘happiness islands’. Everyone’s happiness islands are different, but mine include a walk in the sunshine, a dance around the lounge room to my favourite song, a long hot shower, a class at the gym, an afternoon nap, a massage or a trip to the hairdresser. I find that the lounge room dance party is a popular favourite as it can be done at the drop of a hat, and I can include my daughter. She has a ball dancing around with mummy, and we are both giggling by the end of it. It shakes up the energy, makes the mind shift gears and most importantly it gets the endorphins pumping.

Have a think about it – what are your happiness islands? Is there something you can do next time you are feeling stressed out that is constructive and energising for you? If you would like to learn more about healthy living, please have a look at www.morethanmum.com.au/whatson

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headshot carlie guest post stressCarlie Burton is the author of More Than Mum, creator of ‘Find the U in Mum’ as well as ‘Shine Like a Diamond’. She is the mother of a 15 month old little girl and lover of all things health, fitness and natural living.

www.morethanmum.com.au

www.facebook.com/morethanmumblog

www.instagram.com/morethanmum

www.shinelikeadiamond.com.au/yes

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Stress and Mental Wellness

stress cartoon

I’ve had thoughts running through my head about what I wanted to talk about for this post. I think the message I want to get across to you all is about how you can either support your mental wellness, or allow stress to overwhelm you and ultimately reduce your sense of wellness.

I think the first thing we need to do though, is to understand what we’re aiming for when we use the word “wellness”.

What does “mental wellness” mean to you? Is it the same as what it means for other people in your life?

As much as I’d like it to be as simple as referring to the dictionary, as we have for other definitions in this series, I’m not convinced it’s that easy. I think the definition of mental wellness is different for everyone.

For me, I think it overlaps and is impacted by our physical wellness. I certainly feel better if I don’t have any physical illnesses or injuries! And I know that my mental and emotional states are linked, for better or worse! I actually describe my mental wellness using my emotions. How can they not be linked, right?!

The first words that come into my mind to describe mental wellness are centred, calm & peace.

When my mind is chaotic, when I have a lot of stuff to get through, when I don’t know how I’ll manage it, and when I feel pressured, isolated and alone, it is much harder for me to call myself mentally well.

When my mind is well, I function well. I’m able to get up in the morning and I’ll want to face the day. I’ll be excited to go into work and do the job I love. I’ll look forward to interacting with clients, colleagues, friends and family. I’ll be motivated to do the things I need to do, even if they aren’t things I’m particularly excited about. I mean, who really gets excited about doing the dishes or doing paperwork? Not me!

And I’ll have the energy to do them. Energy is important, and if you don’t have it, it’s a sure sign that you’re probably stressed. I mean, there’s being tired at the end of a busy day, but when it’s that deep, bone weary fatigue that persists day after day and doesn’t lift, you may need to look deeper. And one of the first places to look is at your stress.

Back to wellness … My mind will be clear. I’ll be able to access my creativity. I’ll be able to solve problems. And I won’t feel particularly anxious or stressed. I’ll feel cheerful, will be able to appreciate and laugh at jokes and I’ll feel grateful and blessed to have my life, even if it’s not always smooth sailing.

So how do I get this feeling? Even though I’m not always good at it, and I’m a work in progress (aren’t we all), I get it by looking after myself. By recognising and acknowledging the signs of stress my body gives me (check back next week for a post on that).

These are some of the things I use:

  • Eating healthily
  • Regular movement (I don’t always go hard – look out for a post on this too)
  • Regular time out (me time) doing things I love away from work
  • Mindfulness
  • Time with friends
  • Journaling
  • Plenty of rest
  • “switch-off” time
  • Pampering time (getting my hair done etc)
  • Regular therapy appointments (while debriefing with someone objective is awesome for clearing my head and getting really clear on what’s important to me, I’m also including medical therapies here. For me these are with my General Practitioner, kinesiologist, acupuncturist, massage therapist etc.

I find that when I do these practices regularly and make my wellness a priority above everyone else in my life (including family and clients), I maintain my mental wellness. Which results in so much more to give to the important people in my life.

Do you make regular time to take care of yourself? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

worth taking care of

Mental Stress

mental stress

So yesterday we talked about the stressors you find that impact on your body. We discovered one thing that I didn’t think would happen – there are a lot more things that put pressure and strain on our bodies than I thought there were! Who knew that the simple act of being in a warm room could put pressure on your physical system?! And that list was huge! When you really think about it, some of the things that we believe to be effortless, can have a big impact when we don’t realise it!

Following the same formula as yesterday, mental stress would be defined as anything that places a force, strain or pressure on our ability to perform mental tasks. I wonder if we’ll find the same thing that we did for physical stress?

So let’s have a look. What everyday things place pressure, strain or force on our mental abilities?

  • Sleep deprivation/fatigue
  • Problem-solving
  • Brainstorming
  • Studying/learning
  • Thinking about stuff (especially overthinking)
  • Worrying/dwelling on things
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Rehearsing conversations/events in your mind
  • Visualizing/imagining
  • Medications
  • Illness/injury
  • Addictive substances such as alcohol and drugs
  • Food and water (the types and/or amount of)
  • Disability
  • Accidents or physical trauma
  • Temperature (either too hot or too cold)
  • Fevers
  • Remembering/recalling information
  • Interpreting information
  • Reading/Spelling/Writing
  • Drawing
  • Creating
  • Cooking (measuring etc)
  • Calculating mathematical problems
  • Recalling facts and figures
  • Physical tasks such as driving
  • Concentrating/focusing
  • Physical exertion

I know this list isn’t as extensive as yesterday’s, but like yesterday, I’m sure there are plenty more things that belong on it. I’d love it if you would let me know of anything that impacts your mental wellbeing, so I can add it to the list.

You’ll also notice that not everything listed could be classified as a mental activity. For example, let’s look at food. Consuming processed foods often makes us feel foggy and weighed down, and not eating enough can make us feel unfocused. Have you ever noticed how difficult it is to concentrate on studying on a hot day? Or if you take a knock to the head, how easy is it to remember how to spell? The common thread is that all these things place some kind of strain or pressure and ultimately impact on our ability to perform mentally.

Like with many of the physical stressors we discussed yesterday, a good portion of items on today’s list actually help support our health and wellbeing. Reading, writing, spelling, calculating, doing puzzles, studying, learning etc, all improve our capacity to perform more mental tasks. We increase our stamina, and speed. The more we use our mind the greater our ability to perform. And it helps guard against certain diseases such as dementia. Which can only be a great thing, right?

And as with our physical stressors, the greatest gains occur when we allow our minds to rest and recover. But, as with our physical selves, it can sometimes be difficult to tell when we need to make time for recovery. Performing a simple mathematical calculation probably isn’t too taxing. And for many of us, nor would writing a story. However when we combine the two and perform them one after the other, along with a series of brainstorming and problem-solving activities, it becomes a different story. And if we also add in some medications for hayfever or an infection, take a guess at how well you’d be able to perform those mental tasks.

The bottom line is this; rest and recovery are essential for mental wellness.

Focusing on Stress

I’m excited! Today is November 1st.

The first day of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). While I’m not up for writing an insane 50 thousand word novel in one month, I thought I’d give NaBloPoMo a go, the National Blog Posting Month, which runs alongside. The challenge is to write a blog post each day for the entire month. The rules state that they cannot be written and scheduled in advance, so this will be a real challenge for me given my weekly schedule!

So, as of today, our focus will change as I embark on this endeavor.

stress

Stress

We all experience it, but few of us really understand what it means and how it impacts on us, our lives and our families.

Have you ever wondered how stress affects your mind, body and spirit? How our emotions become a rollercoaster and we often feel like the smallest things will tip us over the edge. And then there’s the urge we feel to hide away from the world, and the desire to yell at everyone who gets within reach. Or maybe you’re more like me and you end up zoning out in front of the television or computer for hours at a time.

I’ll cover the neurobiological aspects (what happens inside your brain), the neurochemical aspects (hormones such as adrenalin and cortisol), the symptoms, and heaps of strategies to tackle it. And I’ll also include some personal stories from real life people with real life issues. We’ll tackle short term stress and long term stress. We’ll tackle stress and mental health, including its connection to illnesses such as depression, anxiety and PTSD.

Are you interested?

Great! Then stay tuned, as I’ll be talking about it all. If you have any burning questions or anything you’ve wondered about for a while, please comment below or send me a message on Facebook, Twitter or by email.

Looking forward to hearing from you!

Ali

What does it mean to have self-esteem?

Hi everyone! I’d like to introduce you all to Sharon, who is an interior designer and Life Coach. She has had some pretty intense experiences in her life and her self-esteem has been impacted as a result. She has made big changes in her life and now she does what she loves in a beautiful part of the country she now calls home.

Sometimes the biggest, most traumatic events can affect your life for a long time. And it’s often a series of small, seemingly insignificant events that can help you turn things into a completely different life.

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It’s a tricky question to answer as the answers will be as individual as people themselves.  For me, having self-esteem means that I live to my own set of values and not those imposed upon me by others – by religion, by the government, by my family or friends.  It means that I am confident enough in my own skin to know that my opinions count, that my voice deserves to be heard and that I am worthy of happiness, just as I am.  Yes I could be 10 (okay 20) kilos lighter, I could exercise more and eat more healthily.  I could spend more quality time with my children and husband and less time on Facebook.  I could read more educational books and less young adult fiction.  BUT, would any of those things make me happier?  Maybe, but maybe not and if I did any or all of these things, for whom would I be doing them?  For myself or for the acceptance of others? 

Blog Chicks sharon chisolmFor many years, as the result of a violent upbringing, I felt like a fraud as a child, feelings that continued as I grew into adulthood and even after I had children.   I had spent years growing up trying to hide the truth about who I was – a scared young girl who felt isolated and worthless and a big part of who I was as an adult was still led by that scared young girl.  I sought attention in the wrong places and from the wrong people and it took me roughly twenty years to realise that it didn’t matter how highly anyone else thought of me, I still felt worthless.  

Back in 2010 I won a coaching award from a prestigious organisation – Best Newcomer Coach of the Year – the judges were all renowned Life Coaches in Australia and New Zealand.  However, for a long time I felt as though I had cheated somehow and persuaded the judges that I was far better than I actually was.  I thought that perhaps they had given me the award out of pity or because they had no-one else to give it to.  I didn’t put my award up on my wall because I felt as though I didn’t deserve the recognition.  It didn’t matter how many people told me that I had helped them because I thought they were just being nice. 

A year or so later I had a big “a-ha” moment and realised that most of my feelings of self-worth, or lack of it, stemmed from my childhood.  I realised that I had grown up feeling like a fraud and fearing people finding out the truth about who I was and what my life was like.  In that moment I realised that I had had no power as a child – it was not my fault that my upbringing was the way that it was and that I did not need to feel shame or guilt because of it.  I was able to let go of those feelings and know in my heart that I had done what I needed to, to protect myself.  So I started to be real about who I was, about my feelings, about my depression following the birth of my children.  I started to speak out honestly about what I had been through and it was incredibly liberating.  I discovered that my voice deserves to be heard and that by sharing my experiences, I am able to help others to free themselves of their own limiting beliefs and feelings of worthlessness. 

sharon chisolm robin williams

Understanding why we behave and think the way that we do is, in my opinion, the first step to gaining control of those feelings of self-doubt and self-loathing.  If we are able to understand why that little voice inside us speaks to us the way that it does, then we can manage those thoughts and find our path to self worth and greater self-esteem.  Having high self-esteem does not mean that you are arrogant or narcissistic, it does not mean that you think you are better than everyone else, it simply means that you recognise the value you bring to the world and to the lives of those around you.  It means that you understand you deserve to be treated with respect  and love and that you have abilities and gifts that can impact the world in a positive way. 

I now display my award with pride on my office wall, because I know that I do make a difference to the lives of others – fellow business people, my clients, my friends and family and most importantly, to myself. 

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Sharon Chisholm The Restful Nest Profile Photo (1)Sharon Chisholm is the founder of The Restful Nest, an Interior Design business and The Organisation Coach, a Professional Organising business specialising in working with women business owners.  An award winning Life Coach, Sharon’s passion is assisting women to achieve business success through effective time management and organised living.  Sharon moved to Australia in 2002 from the UK and now lives on the mid-north coast of NSW with her husband and two children.

Sharon’s business and blog can be found at www.therestfulnest.com.au, which focuses on Interior Design and Professional Organising. Her Facebook page can be found at www.facebook.com/therestfulnest.

She has recently begun another page called The Organisation Coach https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Organisation-Coach/372596746224720?ref=hl.  This new page is a focus for women business owners who struggle with organising their homes, businesses and lives, and tackles self-esteem issues around these things.

I’m sure Sharon would love it if you took some time to visit her pages and sent her some love.

Love your body

So often we are bombarded by images and words about ugliness. We are lead to believe that we are inadequate and unworthy because of our appearance. We got (or get) bullied at school for wearing glasses or for having a few extra folds of skin and fat, or for having a birthmark on our face or for stuttering or for having stretch marks or … for a whole range of other things. We get bombarded by messages that say we MUST buy certain things in order to change who we are to be acceptable. Skin-care and makeup and surgery and clothing and accessories and whatever else you can think of.

We learn to hide ourselves from others and to fear being who we truly are. We become afraid of being judged and work hard to prevent it by buying into the messages we hear. We buy all the things we can to cover and mask ourselves. We cover up the small scar above our eye that told the story of when we fell off our bike at the age of 9. We get liposuction to rid ourselves of the fat that remains on thighs that have carried us through the hardest moments in our lives. We get our tummies tucked. Tummies that have carried precious children inside and allowed them to grow and to be nourished. Or tummies that tell the stories of how we have overcome years of abuse to be the healthiest we have ever been in our lives. We buy gym memberships to punish our bodies for being 5 kg larger than the person next to us. We buy gym memberships and hire personal trainers to smash us into the ground to rid our bodies of those extra 5kg. 5kg that protected us from the bullies or 5 kg that protected our babies or 5kg that enjoyed a little extra cake as we celebrated a major milestone in the lives of the people we love the most. Or 5kg that marks the journey of us mourning the loss of the person most important to us.

We do these things over and over and over again for years and expect to feel better about ourselves and the person we are becoming. We disconnect ourselves from the world. We disconnect ourselves from ourselves. Our mind becomes separated from our bodies and they operate independently. While we are busy cleaning or walking or whatever, our mind is busy thinking about how ugly we are or how inadequate we are or how we need the next best thing to repair the hole that was created 20 or more years ago.

The hole that nothing can repair. It seems that no matter what we try to do, no matter what we buy, no matter which gimmick we get sucked into, it doesn’t work.

You’re right. It won’t work. Because you don’t need a gimmick.

You cannot repair a hole, a disconnection between mind and body, with the next quick fix. You’re looking for a solution full of hate. A solution that is, in itself, flawed.

The idea of a quick fix (marketed to keep you buying products and designed to keep you feeling inadequate) repairing an emotional injury is ludicrous.

An injury of hate and inadequacy and unworthiness requires a solution of love, worth, and meaning. You need to feed the injury the emotions that it is missing.

There are no quick fixes that will ever work.

The only way to repair a disconnection is to reconnect. To get your mind and body talking to each other. To get them doing the same thing at the same time. Here are some key things I have learned about reconnection in my life.

  • Acknowledge the story. Each “inadequacy” on your body tells a story about who you are. Those 5kg (or 10 or even 70kg) served a purposestory to tell at one point in your life. They may have protected your heart from the impact of abuse or they may have nourished and helped your children grow. Or maybe they supported you through years of grief. Your scars tell a story. Whether physical or emotional, the stories behind those scars have made you the person you are today. They got you through. They strengthened you. They supported you. To deny them is to minimize your spirit. To deny them is to say they mean nothing. And that is the furthest thing from the truth, when without them, you wouldn’t be who you are. So acknowledge the scars, whatever they look like. Send them love and gratitude for helping you get to today.
  • Years of disconnect, abuse and hating yourself cannot be undone overnight. It takes patience and practice to reprogram your mind with messages of love, self-respect and support. So be patient with you. You deserve it.
  • Surround yourself with a support team of people who believe in and practice unconditional acceptance. You deserve it. Include a team of professionals you can trust, to help you heal from the hurts. It’s worth it.
  • Wean yourself (at your pace) from the quick fixes.
  • Let go of any guilt you may have about needing the quick fixes. Even they serve their purpose. Sometimes they start you on your path back to connection and self-love. Mine have, and I am grateful that I had those tools at the time I needed them. It’s ok to need them; it’s ok to use them. When you no longer need them you’ll begin looking for new tools that will serve you moving forward.
  • Send love to your body. Spend time regularly exploring it. Get to know it. The bumps, the bruises, the cellulite, the scars, the stretch marks, the bony bits. Run your fingers over your skin, observing the imperfections. Try to remain mindful of the experience. Remember the stories behind each imperfection. Forgive yourself. Love yourself. Pamper yourself. You deserve it.
  • Use physical exercise to help you reconnect. When you’re walking, observe and feel the way your legs move. Feel the aches of being on your feet. Feel your arms swinging by your side. Observe the things around you. Notice the ground under your feet. Notice the path. Notice the flowers or the grass or the water or whatever it is you see. Observe your body as it navigates the terrain.
  • Learn to listen to your body and what it needs. Learn the difference between the signals that say “I need to rest” and “I know you want to stop but that is your mind giving you false signals. Your body can do more and you’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment if you can learn that you can do more than your mind thinks it can”.

One thing is certain in all this. You, and your body, are worthy. Worthy without conditions. You deserve unconditional love and acceptance, simply because you were born.

This video by Mary Lambert sums up this core message nicely.

Self-Esteem

bowl of self esteem

Self-Esteem is a “respect for or a favourable opinion of oneself” according to dictionary.com.

The second part of this is probably the easier to explore, so let’s look at it first. A “favourable opinion of oneself”. To think and believe highly of yourself. To know that you are worthy. To understand that you have skills and talents that the world would miss if you weren’t in it. To understand that you deserve love. To love yourself, and every part of you. Even the parts not usually “acceptable” in society – the flabby bits on your body, the tendency to say things without thinking first, or even the habit of procrastinating on doing the things most important to you. Whatever it is you hate about yourself.

Let’s have a look at the first part. A “respect for oneself”. Do you respect yourself? Enough to stand up for your rights? Enough to walk away from people who mistreat you or take you for granted? Enough to create and enforce boundaries? Enough to take the actions necessary to protect your time, energy, space, body, emotions and spirit? Do you respect yourself enough to find and follow your passion? To share your special gifts with the world? Enough to allow your unique and wonderful spirit to soar?

I believe all of these to be the most important things we can do for ourselves. I have personally discovered that without them, one lives a half-life. We simply exist, instead of live. We experience dissatisfaction, negativity and often self-hatred.

Self-esteem is multi-faceted. It is complex. It’s dynamic and changing. It will fluctuate as things happen in your life. Your sense of self as a child was certainly different to when you were 20. And that was certainly different to what it is right in this moment, here and now.

Are you happy with the way you feel about yourself right now? Do you believe in yourself and your abilities? Is there anything about yourself that you would like to change? Is there anything you’re unhappy with? Your size? Your appearance? Maybe your finances or the way you speak to your family? Your education or employment?

Whatever it may be, the chances are that the answer is not in fixing the things you’re unhappy with.

If you learned to love and accept yourself unconditionally, you’d look at the world differently. You wouldn’t need to shed weight to be lovable. You wouldn’t need to change your body to be beautiful. You wouldn’t need to get a better job or earn more money to be worthy. And you wouldn’t need to stop speaking without thinking. Instead, it would simply be one of the little quirks to love about yourself.

Self-love and unconditional acceptance would allow you to feel free. To feel centred and whole and complete. You would naturally allow your spirit to soar, you would eagerly follow your passions and show the world your unique skills and talents. You would generate and send out love to those around you. And you’d tackle challenges with faith and surety that everything will turn out exactly the way it is meant to.

This month’s focus will explore all of these issues. We’ll talk about boundaries, accomplishments, spirit, skills, unique talents, purpose, beauty and more. If you would like to read about something specific, please comment below, on our Facebook or Twitter feeds, or flick us an email at mindseteffect@optusnet.com.au, and we’ll endeavor to meet your needs.

 

 

Five Minute Morning Practices

During our focus on self-care, we have established how important it is to take regular time to re-centre and rebalance ourselves. The human body is designed to put out energy and to then go through a rejuvenation process to enable the system to reclaim and regain that energy. In the previous post I have shared with you a few simple meditations that could help you in taking some downtime.

In this post I’d like to share another resource I have in my office. This is a small book titled “Five Good Minutes: 100 morning practices to help you stay calm & focused all day long”, by Jeffrey Brantley, MD, and Wendy Millstine. I took a photo of the cover for you.

5goodminutes cover

When you open the book you’ll find it divided into two parts. The first is “the foundation”, which gives some background on the book, how to use it and what to expect. The second is “the practices”. This is further divided into categories according to what you might like to choose to focus on in your 5 minutes. In each category you’ll find a collection of activities/practices. Each is a double page and explains the practice and how to do it. There are 100 to try, so there should be something that works for everyone!

I have provided 2 examples for you to try. I’d love it if you gave them a go to see how they work for you.

 

Number 28

Take a musical break

 

Take five minutes in the morning and listen to a violin concerto or a piano piece by Chopin. If you prefer jazz, a piece from Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue or John Coltrane’s My Favourite Things may be a nice alternative. Make sure that the music isn’t pumping hard rock, but something more meditative. If you want something more energetic, consider Dvorak’s Symphony no. 9, From the New World.

Once you have selected the appropriate song, let the music transport your mind to another place and time. Drift off to the last camping trip or vacation you took. Remember a time when you went to see a live orchestra play for the first time.

Music has a soothing effect on the nerves. Music has the power to stir up warm memories, to make you smile inside and to calm your inner spirit.

 

Number 14

Push all the right buttons

 

Stress is a part of life. Wouldn’t you love to have a button you could push to turn off stress and an equally useful button to turn on relaxation? Well, you can, by simply acknowledging the triggers that set you off and imagining the button that calms you down. You can retrain yourself to push the right buttons that allow you to relax and feel at ease.

  1. Recall a stressful time in your week. Notice your feelings and thoughts and how your body reacted.
  2. Now imagine a knob – much like the one on your stereo – that turns down the volume of stressful thoughts. When you feel yourself reacting to troubling thoughts, turn the volume down.
  3. To the right of the stress knob is a button for instant calmness where peaceful and reassuring thoughts can be heard. Press the button.

Create a mantra or key phrase that you can say to yourself, such as, “I have everything that I need to deal with this situation.” By learning how to adjust the volume on stress you instantly deescalate the strain and anxiety that may arise in your day. When you employ your visual relaxation button, you remind yourself that no situation is insurmountable.

Quieting the Mind

Have you ever experienced the sensation where your mind races so fast that you cannot capture your thoughts and it feels really chaotic and messy inside your head? I know I have. It happens almost every day, often as I am getting ready for work or when I am trying to get some sleep. Sometimes adequate rest is elusive and I end up laying awake until early in the morning. Which means I feel (and probably look) like a zombie the following day! Can you relate?

However, I have discovered something that generally helps me to quiet my mind so that I can get some shut-eye. And I find that when I am able to quiet my mind I end up getting the best, most creative ideas.

I thought I’d share a simple activity that you can all try to quiet your own minds. If you’re not used to practicing mindfulness you may find it challenging. Your mind may wonder away from what you’re trying to do. Over and over. This is perfectly normal. Our brains are designed to do this (the why’s and how’s of this is for another post!).

The following photos are taken from a set of cards I have at work. Each of them includes a simple meditation that you can practice at your convenience. If you already practice similar activities feel free to do it to your heart’s content. But if you’re not, try starting small. Aim for just a few minutes at a time. Be prepared for your mind to take your attention away from the card but remember that this is supposed to happen. Be kind with yourself and gently bring your attention back to what you are focusing on.

Once you feel like you can concentrate and pay attention for a few minutes, add a few more minutes and build it up slowly until you reach about 30 minutes a day.

I’d love to hear how you get on with them, so please feel free to leave a reply below!

focus flame meditation card

 

happy memories meditation card

 

abundance meditation card

 

Meditation card 1

 

What I’ve Learned about Self-Care

This article is a guest post from someone who really understands what it’s like to need to practice self-care. This lady lives every day with the knowledge that if she pushes her body too far it could break down and stop her living her purpose. I am proud to introduce you to my friend Madeleine; a free, creative and intuitive spirit.

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Her bio reads:

Madeleine bio

Madeleine is a writer who also enjoys a number of other creative pursuits, including songwriting, singing, fashion design and modelling. She is also passionate about personal and spiritual growth and alternative healing.

 Madeleine lives with the constant knowledge of what it’s like to struggle through each day – for many years she’s had CFS/FM combined with autonomic dysfunction. Although she directly understands the challenge of balancing a meaningful lifestyle with chronic symptoms, she regards herself as a warrior – not a sufferer. And she strongly encourages others to hold the same perspective, for it is the struggles of life that lead to the development of inner strength and empowerment.

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WHAT I’VE LEARNT ABOUT SELF CARE:

It’s powerful. It’s healing. It’s multifaceted. It’s a process that is ultimately life-changing.

Do these sound like overstatements? Perhaps they do, depending on where you currently sit on the self-esteem continuum.

To me, that opening paragraph certainly would have sounded unbelievable – even laughable – had I read it when I was a lot younger and didn’t understand the power of self-care and its broad implications.bowl of self esteem

I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone who doesn’t suffer from some degree of damage to their self-esteem. Some of us are sharply aware of our corroded sense of self-worth. Some of us are not.

I was initially in the latter category – in denial. As a teenager, I was already a professional success in a number of creative fields. I simply couldn’t see – or maybe didn’t want to see – that my self-esteem was low because I felt very confident in my abilities.

It was the curse/gift of illness that forced me to honestly examine myself. I realised then that our self images are multifaceted. In my case, although I had a good appreciation of my talents and a strong sense of myself as a writer/singer/dancer, I still felt that WHO I was did not deserve love, acceptance, respect, care or nourishment on any level.

And so the learning process began…

I learned that self-care (which is married to self-esteem) has multiple components, hence the ripple effect on the many areas of our lives.

For me, the first component of self-care was learning to nurture my body and take appropriate action to get my physical needs met. Sometimes, perfect health may not always be a blessing because it can blind us to our self-mistreatment. We race through our daily routines, our minds focused elsewhere, while we neglect our body’s need for proper nutrition, adequate rest, or balanced exercise. In many cases, we abuse our bodies with alcohol, tobacco, drugs, strain/overwork and other unhealthy habits. The body is a miraculous machine or vehicle, and it deserves to be treated with care and respect. If we fail to do this, we will inevitably become unwell. I learned the hard way that it’s not worth waiting until our vehicle breaks down before we start being kind to it.

On the psychological level, I came to understand that self-care has many elements and is very broad in scope. It encompasses nurturing ourselves emotionally, releasing all self-judgment, clearing toxic feelings and beliefs that negate us in any way, forgiving ourselves, standing up for ourselves, voicing our rights, protecting our hearts from hurt, recognising our true, immeasurable worth and essentially loving, accepting and respecting ourselves unconditionally.

Phew! Making all those attitudinal adjustments and changes is clearly not an overnight process! Indeed, it is a journey of growth that leads to empowerment. I’m still walking the path because there is always more to learn, particularly when life keeps placing us in situations that continuously challenge us in different ways.

But every step along the path is worth it. Because we are worth the effort it takes and the rewards we reap from caring for every dimension of ourselves. And what’s more, it isn’t only ourselves who benefit. This is by no means a purely selfish practice. I know it might sound like a cliché, but it really is true that if you can’t love and care for yourself, then you cannot do the same for another. After all, how can an empty vessel fill another? The greater your capacity to love and care for yourself, the greater your capacity to give and make a valuable contribution to the lives of others. 

 

And ultimately, that’s what we’re here for.

 carer serenity scene

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