Mindfulness Monday – Week Five

Since starting my mindfulness journey I have come across a lot of very useful information and resources. I fully believe in the Margaret Fuller quote “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it”, which is why rather than share a mindfulness activity today, I am going to share a selection of mindfulness resources. I have used some of these and have found them incredibly helpful. Others I haven’t used personally, but they have come highly recommended to me. All the resources I’m sharing include mindfulness exercises which can be listened to online or downloaded.

 

Free Phone Apps

 

Headspace

Teaches you how to meditate, breathe and live mindfully. There are exercises on topics including managing anxiety, stress relief, breathing, happiness and focus. There’s a free Basics course that will teach you the essentials of meditation and mindfulness. There is also a Sleep experience, which provides sleep meditations, sleep sounds and specially designed sleepcasts to guide you to a place of rest.

 

Conscious

Provides a daily mindfulness “challenge” to be practiced throughout the day, for example “Be aware of the soles of your feet at various points throughout the day”. In the evening, you mark the challenge as finished and add a daily journal entry to keep track of your progress and share your insights with others.

 

 

Websites

 

http://www.freemindfulness.org

Guided exercises to download of various lengths from 3-45 minutes. A useful page if you want to try several different types and lengths of exercise.

 

http://livemindfully.blogspot.com

This page includes a collection of different exercises from many sources.

 

https://www.uclahealth.org/marc/body.cfm

Offers a range of exercises and a link to free downloadable podcasts of mindfulness exercises.

 

http://stillmind.com.au/mindfulnessandrelaxation.htm

A selection of mindfulness and relaxation exercises.

The site also provides a downloadable free 45-page book introducing the practice and benefits of mindfulness.

 

http://www.mindfulness-solution.com

Complete page of downloadable audio – with some interesting noises e.g. the reader eating a raisin!

 

I hope you find some of these apps and links as useful as I have. I will be continuing to share mindfulness content every Monday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

 

Simple Oaty Cookies

I have made a very conscious effort recently to cut down on my waste, particularly my single use plastic waste. There are several ways I have started to do this, and I will share those in a separate post soon, but one way is to bake my own sweet treats instead of buying them. I love an oaty biscuit and knowing that the majority of said biscuits are vegan is very comforting. I have also given up chocolate and cake for Lent, so biscuits are currently my only source of sugary goodness. These soft, chewy cookies from Aine Carlin’s The New Vegan recipe book, are not only incredibly tasty, but so quick and easy to make. The only problem is that everyone else in my house thinks the same, so they disappear very quickly from my cookie jar!

 

Ingredients

80g oats

1 teaspoon baking powder

Pinch of salt

1 tablespoon coconut oil, melted

4 tablespoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 banana, mashed

Handful of raisins

 

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.

 

  1. Mix the oats, baking powder and salt lightly together in a large bowl until combined.

 

  1. Whisk the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract and mashed banana vigorously together until combined.

 

  1. Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and gently fold together. Stir through the raisins.

 

  1. Drop a tablespoon onto the prepared baking sheet and flatten slightly. Repeat until all the batter is used – it should make about 7-8 cookies.

 

  1. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. The cookies will keep for several days in an airtight container.

 

 

I post plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

This Morning (An Honest Mental Health Post)

I was intending to write this post as a Wellness Wednesday about my self-care routine, but as you can see it is now Thursday and I am only just posting. If I’m being completely honest my self-care this week has not been the best, to be frank I’ve felt pretty crap. At the weekend DB2 was ill and by the start of the week so was I. This has slowly down spiralled to the point where I actually did not think I would be able to get out of bed this morning. Since having an anxiety and depression relapse last year, being unwell physically also now really affects me mentally. Sometimes I can fight through this, but this week I have really struggled. This morning I found it hard to wake up anyway, but then once awake the thought of getting out of bed felt overwhelming. I felt that I had no energy or drive to get on with the day. Everything felt too much and it’s funny because I don’t actually know why, but it did. You can try to rationalise anxiety and depression, but it is not rational and it can strike at the most unexpected times. Now, having been ill means I have a bit more understanding why I felt this way, but I think that can make me beat myself up even more. I become angry because I’m fed up of being restricted physically. I hate that dark, negative thoughts manage to creep in and that I become fearful of imaginary situations that I am catastrophising, to the point of feeling hopeless. Being aware of my mental health much more now means I have developed tools to intervene when I start to feel this way. Sometimes they are more successful than others, but today I was able to utilise them, get out of bed and turn that negativity into something positive by writing what I consider to be an incredibly honest post.

So, what did I do? I started by acknowledging my toxic thoughts. I recognised what I was doing. I was being bias against myself, making everything seem negative, thinking nothing good could happen in the future, caring what others thought of me, taking all the responsibility for situations and having extreme thoughts. I was probably utilising every unhelpful thinking style possible all at once. Once I could see that I was doing this, I started using the techniques to challenge all these thoughts. When I started CBT, I would have to write out this thought journal by splitting the page into two and providing evidence for my thoughts on one side and evidence against on the other. Usually, I would end up ruling out all of the evidence for, with the evidence against and be able to create healthier, more accurate, alternate thoughts. Due to using the processes so much, I no longer need to write down this method and can do it mentally, but it has taken time. I can’t say it happened overly quickly this morning and I was triggered into pushing through negativity by DB2 running into my room and pulling the cold, untouched cup of coffee next to my bed all over the floor (sometimes little ones do the wrong thing, but at the right time).

After being forced out of bed and continuing to challenge thoughts and feelings, I took a few moments to breathe. Practising mindfulness and meditation has taught me the importance of breathing, especially when feeling sucked into a darker space. This morning it did help and encouraged me to move forward with more positive intentions. I then chose to focus on something I enjoy doing, which was choosing a recipe to bake and the dinner I would make this evening. By doing this I gave my day more of a focus and some energy started to return.

Next, I continued to be positive by spreading some positivity. When I feel in a darker place, social media is usually the worst thing for me. I look at how wonderful other people’s lives are, at how happy they appear and compare myself to them, so I’ve learnt to avoid it in those situations. This morning, after starting to feel better, I went on Instagram and rather than comparison and self-deprecation, I felt joy for those posts I saw. I saw new mums sharing their postpartum yoga routines as a source of empowerment and help. People enjoying the school break as wonderful memory making. Weight loss stories and images as motivation. So, I double tapped and filled in that little heart knowing that my enjoyment would resonate with the post sharers.

Sometimes our outlook affects how external sources influence us and this morning I made a conscious decision, after fighting through feeling extremely negative, to only be affected positively. This isn’t always possible, but I was able to make it happen this morning and feel inspired and brave enough to write this post. Will I feel this way tomorrow? Who knows. I have to take each day at a time and I now know that worrying about tomorrow prevents me from being present today. How I got out of bed and out of my dark space is unique to me and there have been days when I haven’t been able to move forward, but thankfully they are fewer and far between at the moment. I apologise for the length of this post, as once I got going I couldn’t stop, but as part of my decision to choose positivity today I wanted to write a truthful post, coming from a real place in the hope that it could be utilised in a positive way. I know I am not alone in how I have felt and still feel at times and knowing that has helped me greatly. If someone else can read this and know that too, then this post will have done its job.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week Four

My CBT therapist introduced me to mindfulness with an audio CD. I had done some reading around the area previously, but I found being guided through activities vocally much more focusing at times than reading about them. The activity I share today, is a very short version of the first exercise I practised when listening to this CD.

With this meditation, particular emphasis is placed on the sensations of breathing as you guide your awareness around your whole body.

The website http://www.verywellmind.com says,

‘The body scan meditation is effective in relieving stress not only because of the mind-clearing aspects present in all forms of meditation but because of the physical component as well. Research shows that there are physical and psychological benefits to relaxing the body and relieving tension.’

I do find this activity incredibly relaxing both mentally and physically, but it also helps me to become more in tune with my body. I have not always had the healthiest relationship when it comes to how I regard my body. I often view it as imperfect and not as I would wish, but this activity has helped me to appreciate and accept it for the wonderful thing that it is, by enabling me to take time to explore and connect with it.

 

The Body Scan

  • Sit in a chair in a comfortable position, allowing your head to float lightly upwards and your eyes to close gently.
  • Take a few moments to get in touch with the movement of your breath and the sensations in the body.
  • Now bring your awareness to the physical sensations in your body. Especially to the sensations of touch and pressure where your body makes contact with the floor or the chair.
  • On each out breath allow yourself to look down and sink a little deeper into the chair.
  • Move your attention to the whole of your left leg, experience a letting go with the out breath. Repeat this by becoming aware of the whole of your right leg. Then move your attention and breathing in to the whole of your pelvis – top and bottom, back and front, hip to hip. Move to the abdomen, the small of your back and your upper back and chest. Become aware of breathing into the whole of your left arm allow the tension to release as you breathe out. Continue this with the whole of your right arm, then your neck and shoulders. Next, become aware of the whole of your head, breathe into it and allow a release.
  • Now become aware of your head, neck and shoulders, right arm, left arm, upper chest and back, solar plexus, small of the back, pelvis, right leg and left leg. Spend a few minutes being aware of a sense of the body as a whole, and of breath flowing freely in and out of your body.
  • In your own time, return to the sounds and experiences of the room you are in.

 

Like me, you might find it suits you better to perform this activity when listening to someone guide you through it. If this is the case, the website www.freemindfulness.org/download is very useful. There are guided exercises to download, which vary in length from 3-45 minutes.

 

I post mindfulness related content every Monday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

Creamy Mushroom Soup

A wonderful friend bought me the Deliciously Ella Plant-Based Cookbook for my birthday, which I was over the moon with. As an anniversary surprise, Mr P cooked a completely vegan 3-course meal using recipes from this book. For the starter he made the Creamy Mushroom Soup and it has been a firm favourite in our house ever since. We probably eat this soup at least once a week because we all love it so much and it is pretty straight forward and cost-effective to make. We always get in a lovely loaf of bread to eat with it, like the Ancient Grains loaf shown in the picture above, which compliments it perfectly.

Ella, of Deliciously Ella, is shown making this recipe on The Happy Pear YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=81wv69mylnA&t=264s if you want to watch how she makes this soup with them.

The recipe below is how we make it when using her cookbook.

 

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

800g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon dried thyme

1 tablespoon vegetable bouillon powder

2 tablespoons pure coconut yoghurt, plus extra to garnish

Salt and pepper

 

Method

  • Add a drizzle of olive oil, the onion, garlic and a pinch of salt to a pan over a medium heat. Cook until soft, about 5-10 minutes.
  • Add the mushrooms, thyme and some pepper, cover the pan and leave for 10 minutes, giving them a stir every now and again. Once the mushrooms are soft, add 1 litre of water and the bouillon powder, stirring together. Bring to the boil before reducing the heat and leaving to simmer for 20-25 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat when the mushrooms are soft and add the yoghurt. Blend together until smooth and stir in a little extra yoghurt to garnish before serving.

 

I advise anyone interested in a plant-based diet to get the Deliciously Ella Plant-Based Cookbook if you haven’t already got it. It contains so many inspiring recipes and makes vegan cooking even more enjoyable and incredibly tasty.

 

I post plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

Mindfulness Monday – Week Three

The past week has been incredibly busy with going away to the beautiful venue pictured above for Mr P’s birthday and then coming home to the realities of ill children. This means mindfulness has taken a bit of a back seat as has writing blog posts. So, it is quite nice now to sit down and zone back into some real mindfulness practice and be able to write about some of it.

This week’s activity is actually the first one I tried when starting to explore mindfulness. I found once I started, I could not stop and it really did allow me to begin to develop a new way of thinking and being.

Dr Patrizia Collard says, ‘In this exercise, the invitation is to pick as a focus of awareness a new aspect of life.’ When I first did this activity, the season had changed from winter to spring, so as I was walking down the street, I stopped and focused on the leaf of a newly blossoming flower. I thought about where that leaf had come from, how it grew to become what it was as I was looking at it. I then went further and inspected every vein and pattern within the leaf, thinking about the complexities that made up something we see every day and the beauty of it. There are so many different options of focus with this exercise. I have thought about flowers, trees, furniture, decorations, clouds, etc. If it interests you or you enjoy looking at it, choose it as your focus.

This activity really gave me a new appreciation for my surroundings and was an important step towards developing a much healthier mind-set. It does not surprise me that Dr Collard discusses how studies have shown that ‘mindfulness practices such as this may not only be responsible for structural changes in the brain, but also extend our life,’ for I can vouch for its positive effect on me.

If you are interested in reading more like this, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

Thank you for reading.

Mrs P x x x

Zucchini Spaghetti

I do feel very lucky to have a husband who enjoys cooking as much as Mr P and experimenting to create different meals for us. This recipe is one of his concoctions. He originally started to make it with bacon, cream and parmesan cheese, but has since altered it to fit in with a vegan diet. He has used plant-based cheese previously, but I have found I prefer it without. So, the recipe today is my favourite version, but you could add extras such as vegan cheese and more seasoning to flavour to your taste.

 

Ingredients

400g dried thin spaghetti pasta

1 small brown onion, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

3 large zucchini, trimmed, coarsely grated

250ml plant-based cream (we use Alpro)

Pinch of oregano

Salt and pepper to season

 

Method

  • Cook the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente. Drain and return to the pan.

 

  •  Meanwhile, cook the onion in a large frying pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until it softens. Add the garlic and zucchini and cook, stirring, for 2-3 minutes or until the zucchini softens slightly. Stir in the cream. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until heated through.

 

  • Add the zucchini mixture to the pasta and toss to combine with the oregano. Divide among serving dishes and season with salt and pepper.

 

 

I post plant-based recipes that we love every Friday, so if you are interested in reading more, please click the ‘Follow’ button. If you like this post click the ‘Like’ button and leave a comment. I am also on Facebook and Instagram @frommissjtomrsp and Twitter @frommissjtomrs1.

 

Thank you for reading.

 

Mrs P x x x