We all know how important it is to look after our bodies and we recognise the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. But what about the mind, possibly our most precious resource, the thing we rely on to be happy, content and to control our emotions, the thing we depend on to be focused and creative? What do we do to look after our mind?
Most of us do nothing.
At MindFit we help you to train the brain to be calmer, more focused, improve relationships and deal with difficult situations more easily by using mindfulness.
When you are mindful you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them as good or bad instead of spending time living in your head, ruminating about what happened to you in the past of worrying about what might happen in the future, mindfulness is about focusing on the present moment.
So how do we do this? Mindfulness can be formal, as in meditation, where we start by focusing on the breath, or informal, where we bring awareness to every day activities.
A good example of this is when we eat. Maybe you sit at your desk working or you watch TV while you eat. A great way to experience living in the moment is to eat mindfully, slow down and use all your senses.
There are so many elements to living mindfully but If you want to start to train your brain and get your ‘5 a day’ try these mindful moments.
About the Author:
Debbie Leafe has had an interest in Buddhist traditions for many years and has seen first hand the benefits of Mindfulness and Meditation. Debbie wanted to share the benefits with others so trained at the Central College of Mindfulness, specialising in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR). Debbie has spent time in India to deepen her understanding of Meditation and has a passion for sharing her knowledge about Mindfulness.
It’s easy to feel totally overwhelmed by it all isn’t it? It can happen too often and far too easily if we let it. Life can demand a lot from us, work takes over, life feels out of control and you’re left with your head spinning and no idea how to get the balance back! Life is for living. Life is for enjoying – not every minute, sure, but most of the time definitely. Otherwise what’s the point?
So, when it all feels like it’s getting too much, and your stress levels are reaching breaking point, what can you do?
Firstly, take a moment and… breathe. Take a steady breath in, and control your breath as you let it out. Make sure you are in a comfortable position – sitting, lying down – and close your eyes if that will help. Let the blood flow around your body, and feel your heart rate calming. Relax into it, and enjoy the act of simply breathing.
Next, write it down. Whatever has been whirling round your head, write it down. Get it out into the real world. It might be a list of things you ‘need’ to do. It might be a mess of words or pictures or diagrams. Now you can start to make sense of it, now that you can see it.
So, what are the priorities? What has to be tackled first? What needs to be done today? What can be left until tomorrow, next week, next month? What actually isn’t a priority at all?
Starting to feel better? Hopefully you are. But if not, then share your thoughts with someone who can help. A friend, loved one, trusted colleague, coach. Talk it through and see it from a different perspective.
This should provide the clarity you need to know what to do next. Now you can take the necessary action.
But! This should help things in the short term but don’t forget the long term view. What led you to be in this stressed out state in the first place? Do you need to establish boundaries somehow? Do you need to say no more? How do you manage your emotions? How do you deal with stress and workload pressures? Do you need to ask for help? Create some time and space to reflect on what just happened. Can you identify the signs/triggers? Would you recognize them again if they started to rear their ugly heads? What action would you take this time?
Also, take this opportunity to celebrate your successes. What’s going well for you at the moment? How did you make that happen? Don’t let the negative stuff detract from all the great stuff that you have going on in your life. Write a list of the brilliant things you have achieved, and the things that bring you happiness. I find this gives a much better sense of perspective on how your life is actually going, and reminds that you are doing great. Keep an eye on the small stuff but always remember to see the bigger picture too.
Disclaimer: Coaching is not intended as counselling or a form of therapy, but as a way of helping an individual achieve their goal. If you find that the feelings of overwhelm and anxiety are taking over and you can’t find a way out, please do talk to your GP or counsellor.
About the Author:
Sophie Suggests offers business and life coaching for individuals and small business owners, and is based in the East Midlands. With a wealth of experience in the creative and public sectors, she provides support and guidance through coaching, and works with clients to achieve a positive mindset. If you are interested in finding out how coaching could benefit you, Sophie can be contacted via the following:
Creating a self-care ritual will be different for everyone, and it may also be different each day. For me, a big mug of warm golden milk and using an essential oil blend over my pulse points – always makes me feel more at ease and well, I feel like I’m looking after myself. So just giving yourself those few minutes each day can make a real impact on the rest of your day. And by the way, if you too like a golden milk – you HAVE to try it with a grind of black pepper, and a drop of Wild Orange essential oil. It.is.divine.
What is an essential oil?
First things first, let's get this straight. Essential oils are not just pretty smells, they come from plants (leaf, stem, root, petal etc. it differs depending on the plant), they are the plants immune system and we can extract them carefully using cold pressing, or a gentle steam distillation (and some companies will chemically extract them, or use harsh high temperatures). Essential oils are not all created equally, most are produced with the purpose of fragrance - with little to no therapeutic benefit, and it’s fast becoming apparent that anything fragranced is actually damaging to our health. Having oils like this also means we would never ingest them, but when we use oils that are therapeutic grade and we can be completely sure of their purity (I use doTERRA, you would never start drinking your dior perfume would you?) it is totally safe to ingest them, although not necessary always. Unfortunately the essential oil industry is unregulated, so even if it says 100% pure (neat, natural etc), it's very unlikely that it is.
Ok, so how can we use them for self-care?
The science of emotional aromatherapy is a huge topic, and one that's really difficult to condense into this blog post, but I'll do my best.
When we inhale a smell, it can instantly take us back to a memory. Think about when you get the sun lotion out for the first time in the summer, it immediately reminds you of the holiday from last year, or maybe the smell of Sambuca instantly makes you want to vomit, because of that night out when you had one too many...
Well we can use this to our advantage, especially if we are prone to feelings of anxiety, depression or stress. We can use an essential oil daily in our homes, when we are feeling happy and at peace - perhaps in the mornings, during your yoga or meditation practise, perhaps it's in the evenings when you're getting into bed and want to relax. But create yourself a ritual, maybe with some herbal tea as Lucy mentioned in her guest blog on Tuesday, this is my preferred way. Once we've built up a familiarisation with this smell and the sense of peace that it gives, when anxiety strikes or work is just getting too much, we can get this same oil back out and by simply inhaling it from the bottle for a few minutes, we can go back to those feelings of being calm and at peace.
Essential oils are volatile compounds which basically means they can't decide if they're a liquid or a gas, which is why when you take the cap off eventually the scent can be smelt from across the room. When we inhale these volatile compounds they go through the olfactory nerve, and into the limbic system in our brains. The limbic system is responsible for our emotions, so when the compounds reach this place they have chemical reaction which cause our emotions and mood to change. It's amazing to be able to almost pick how we want to feel, just by choosing an oil and smelling it.
Whether we want to feel grounded, calm, uplifted, passionate, reassured etc. there are different types of oils which can help with the different feelings as represented below:
What else can essential oils do?
When we use therapeutic grade essential oils, we can use them for so many things in our lives – not just to manage our moods. Whether it’s supporting the digestive system, giving our immune system a boost or helping our minds to focus –the important thing to remember is that they do not do anything that our bodies do not already do naturally. As humans our organs and our cells are designed to constantly be healing and repairing, always trying to come back into balance. Essential oils work in synergy with our body, and they remind us of what it should be doing when sometimes it has forgotten.
Special WRB Blend!
I love the community that Jenny has created through Women Rocking Business, and as a thank you I would like to offer all readers a special focus, uplift and in-tune blend. If you would like to take advantage of this, just contact me through insta – and I can pop it in the post for you.
And as another thank you – I’d like to invite you all to a workshop I’m running (don’t worry, it’s super chilled and not like being back at school, I promise!), it’s this Sunday 22nd April at Woodlands Natural Health Centre. If you would like to come you can buy one ticket and bring a friend for free, tickets are £6 and it really just ensures bums on seats. I bring raw cacao chocolates infused with essential oils too, I hope to see you there. Link is in my Instagram bio.
Disclaimer – doTERRA essential oils CAN be bought on Ebay, Amazon etc. But please do not buy them, they are not authorized by doTERRA and are easily tampered with, so their quality is compromised and they are often more expensive too. doTERRA will not support you with any customer service (and it is amazing if you ever need it!), please get in touch with me directly if you would like any more info.
About the Author:
Lucinda Allseybrook previously was a Womenswear Fashion Designer, but 2 years ago found doTERRA oils and they changed her life. Having always been interested in taking care of her health and wellbeing, the oils have been an amazing tool to address other areas of her life, like diet, toxic load and stress management etc. She is mad passionate about encouraging others to do the same through online and face-to-face workshops, while sharing her journey along the way and building a community of like-minded women all on the same path, whatever stage they are at. She now works arm in arm with women across the world; GP's, pharmacists, reiki practitioners, mothers, teachers, to name a few. She is your local Crazy Oil Lady.
Get in touch with Lucinda via her Facebook page or Instagram page
“I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.” - Brene Brown
So many of us self-employed female business owners work long hard hours tucked away on our own. As a photographer, I know I certainly do. As a result we miss out on being part of a team in an office or wider community that we would have been part of if we were employed. We miss out on regular daily human interaction and face to face conversations.
Some of the basic needs of childhood are love and emotional connection. When we receive these, we learn to feel worthy and lovable ourselves. It's the same for us now that we are adults. We need to receive care from others as part of feeling care and love towards ourselves.
Evidence shows that good reciprocal relationships – with family, friends and our wider communities – are so important for our mental wellbeing. Building stronger, wider social connections can help us feel happier and more secure, and give us a greater sense of purpose. That is what self care is all about!
If you find yourself feeling isolated (as I know I certainly do), one of the best things you can do to care for yourself is to reach out through community activities or connections with family and friends. Finding ways to help and be with others will make you feel better, and then have the added benefit of paying off later when you need support. Caring for yourself is infinitely easier to do when other people are also caring for you.
So, how can you find ways to build and maintain connections? How can you find ways to bring the benefits of being with other people into your self care routine?
Dedicate time to being with your Very Important People:
Dedicate time to being part of a community:
I'd like to finish by sharing this wonderful quote from Albert Einstein with you. Free yourselves!
“A human being is a part of the whole called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feeling as something separated from the rest, a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.”
- Albert Einstein
Do you think you spend to much time on your own? Do you have support and friendship networks in place? What do you think about building and maintaining friendships as a part of self care?
Jenny Ryan is the Award Winning photographer behind Women Rocking Business and Indigo + Violet Photography.