The Focus On You

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Tag: stress (page 1 of 3)

A Beginner’s Guide To Mindfulness

Mindfulness has been a popular buzzword in wellness circles even though it’s a practice that has been used for hundreds of years. Various cultures around the world embraced mindfulness techniques to deal with everyday difficulties and to help honor religious beliefs.

Using a definition from “The Mindfulness Solution”, by Ronald Siegel, M.D., mindfulness helps us observe how we interpret distress, how to let go of destructive mental habits and replace them with more useful ones.

Mindfulness is a practice of slowing down, listening to your body, taking one task at a time, unplugging, etc. Being mindful means you focus on just “being” and not “doing.” Click To Tweet

Other benefits?

  • Reduces anxiety and social phobia.

  • Can be used with children, elderly and anyone with physical challenges.

  • It’s free. That’s not a typo. Yes, it’s free.

  • You don’t need insurance, a prescription or a specialized therapist.

  • Helps with personality disorders like Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

  • Useful in drug and alcohol recovery

  • Encourages physical activity

  • Increases connections with others

Based on this checklist, I’m happy to tell you that you don’t need any tools, skills or special coach to begin mindfulness practices. The book I quoted above is a user friendly manual that includes mindful practices and exercises for relationship issues, health problems, chronic pain, aging and grief, plus many more.

On a personal note, having fibromyalgia and anxiety disorder, I have to practice a form of mindfulness daily. It’s so routine that I don’t even know I’m doing it. So, what has a lack of mindfulness cost me?

  • I tripped down the stairs carrying laundry because I wasn’t paying attention.
  • Fibromyalgia flares have cost me time at work and missing important family events.
  • Anxiety attacks in public places.
  • Forgetting to check my bank accounts because I’m multi-tasking every other damn thing you can think of! Overdraft fees add up!

How can you become more mindful? Let me give you distinct examples:

  • Mindful Walking: Although my friends enjoy when I Snapchat my walks with my pup, that actually disconnects me from the healing benefits of walking my dog. When I’m NOT taking pics and playing music, I focus on taking deep breaths, watching her stride, monitoring where she stops to sniff, turning my head to the sunlight & taking notice of my surroundings. Wherever you walk, be aware of how your body feels, how the sun or wind feels and what you see.

Example: I have worked with anxious clients on paying attention to their surroundings & examining them. How many white cars are passing by while you wait for the bus? What do the billboards say on your way to work? Count how many Hondas you see until you reach your destination. Wiggle your toes as you examine your surroundings. How do your toes feel as you wiggle them?

 

  • Mindful Eating: How many people eat lunch at their desk or eat breakfast standing up in the kitchen? It’s difficult having a chaotic schedule but slowing down our meals is actually therapeutic. Some mindful practices involve eating one raisin at a time and paying close attention to all aspects of the raisin. Is it chewy? Sweet? Can you resist eating it and just rest it on your tongue? I have taught clients to use gum or Starbursts as a way to “ground” themselves into the moment. When we’re nervous, overthinking or about to enter a scary situation, an edible object can be therapeutic, reminds us to slow our breathing and moves our body’s nervous energy elsewhere. Challenge: Try eating one meal this week without any electronics, television or distractions. I encourage you to watch your breathing and posture as you eat. Sit comfortably. Take smaller bites and chew your food more. Sip your coffee or tea one day this week taking notice of the flavor, temperature and the feeling it gives your body. See what you notice.

 

  • Kill JudgmentOne of the main tenets of mindfulness involves limiting judgment on our thoughts. For example, let’s look at this sentence: “It’s hot and there’s a lot of traffic today.” Is this statement a fact or a judgment with a million feelings behind it? This introduces you to the Acceptance Theory. If you accept that it’s hot, grab an ice water before hitting traffic and play your favorite Spotify list, how has your mood adjusted? Sitting in judgmental thoughts invites low energy, grouchy attitudes and impatience. Being more accepting reduces negative thoughts and doesn’t attach you to people or outcomes (remember one of the messages behind The Four Agreements: Don’t Take Anything Personal).

Try some of these mindful techniques and see how your mood changes.

Does your breathing slow down?

What facts can you turn from judgments to plain acceptance? Start telling yourself, “Well, it is what it is.” Become more neutral towards thoughts that used to get you angry or sad.

This week I’ll be sharing some mindful exercises on my Instagram Stories! Follow my page here!

 

 

How To Make Your Downtime Nourishing Instead Of Stressful.

As I read my newsfeeds of New Years resolutions and affirmations, I see a common theme: “I want to take better care of myself/my health/my sanity.

While you might wonder where the hell you’ll fit time in for self-improvement, let’s look at your 1st enemy: your schedule.

You can’t fit 3 cars into a 2-car garage so naturally, something has to go! Let’s see what you can subtract so you can make room for improvements!

What can you subtract?

-Mindless scrolling through outdated info on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. (when is the last time you purged these newsfeeds?)

– Excessive online shopping.

– Watching the news for hours.

– Watching trash TV.

– Using your phone at the gym

– Binge watching your shows every weekend

– Responsibilities that seem to always seem to fall on your lap because NO ONE ELSE SIGNS UP (think of your kids’ school, coaching, kids’ activities, projects at work).

-Family responsibilities that need to be delegated. Why are you doing everything?

– Overcompensating at home by trying to be perfect. 7 days of 3 course meals, spotless sink every night, etc. Obsessive behaviors take up WAY TOO MUCH TIME!

What can you add that would be nourishing?

  1. First, decide what nourishing means to you. Do you need to refresh your soul, spirit, health, sleep patterns, breathing patterns? Click To Tweet
  2. Nourishing your soul or spirit? Add these: spiritual music, instrumental meditative music, traditional comfort recipes, redecorating the house with crystals, plants and soothing elements (See my post on ways to increase the peace in your environment)
  3. Include healthier drinks, snacks, meals into your daily routine. Appoint an accountability buddy at work to encourage you to have healthy lunches. Don’t carry your bank card to work. Shop for work lunches on Sunday.
  4. Add in comfort meals that remind you of home, a beloved family member or a favorite season.
  5. Buy warmer or higher thread count pillowcases, sheets or a new quilt. Flip your mattress or re-decorate your bedroom. Add new colors, comforting pictures or décor.
  6. Improve the air quality where you sleep and work. Use plants that remove toxins from the air. Use aromatherapy, misters, humidifiers and/or change air filters.
  7. Nourish your mind with podcasts, a fun fiction book, a YA book series, coloring books, board games, book clubs, groups that encourage creativity or intellectual conversation.

As many people incorporate fitness into their new year routines, their schedules are the 1st thing that need to be adjusted. If the word “sacrifice” scares you, change your language to make your adjustments more comfortable. You are making new CHOICES (not sacrifices) in order to support your goals. Click To Tweet

One thing I love about the new year is a chance to freshen up my surroundings. Even though I love the holidays more than Buddy the Elf, I welcome the new environment and opportunity to dust off my shoulders.

Self-care is about nourishment.

A new year is the perfect time to incorporate nourishment and fresh beginnings.

What are you willing to subtract in your life?

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