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

 

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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 Two

This week has been a bit of a trickier week for me, as my shoulder, neck and back injury started to play up again. This has caused several problems: I have not been able to be as active, I have been unable to look after my children as I would wish and this has triggered feelings of guilt, which have led to anxiety. Mindfulness activities have been important to keep harmful thoughts of blame and self-deprecation at bay. I have found this week’s activity very useful as a way to help manage this. It has helped me stay present and calm and avoid slipping into over thinking mode.

Listen Mindfully

The website www.mindfulnessexercises.com says,

“One of the simplest, most direct ways to connect with the present moment and further cultivate our awareness is to become aware of the many sounds that are constantly arising around us. Intentionally paying attention to the sounds filling our ears can not only help us to come back to the present but can also stabilize the mind and further refine our sense of hearing and deep listening.”

 

There are a number of ways to complete this task. I have been taking 5-10 minutes at a time to practice this activity in the following way:

 

  • Sit down, making sure you are comfortable. Gently close your eyes.
  • Allow sounds to enter your awareness and let them pass over you. Listen to sounds from near and far, coming and going. Try not to label the sounds – a car, a bird and so on – as we do not want to get involved with thoughts or stories associated with them. We want to be present to the sound.
  • Your hearing may become more focused allowing other brain activities to move to the background of your awareness. If thoughts arise, which is natural, gently and without judgement return your awareness to simply listening.

 

It did take me a while to tune out my thoughts at times, but eventually I found I focussed my awareness on the sounds around me much more successfully. Every time I undertake this activity there is a slightly different outcome and there are times I find it easier than others. I have found that my breathing changes when I perform this by becoming deeper, but this may not be the effect it has on you. We are all unique so everyone will experience this activity in different ways and as so many professionals say, there is no right or wrong way of practising mindfulness.

 

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