What Meditation Can do for Your Mental Health

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Meditation is an interesting concept.

Reaching a calm spot in your mind can be hard, especially if life is busy. Your mind is racing with thoughts and slowing down can seem almost impossible.

There are meditation apps on both Apple and Android platforms, even on YouTube. It’s up to you. I prefer an app, Insight Timer. I like the selections- some are led by a person, some use music. I prefer the person.

I started meditating as part of running a group at a former job. I got really into the quiet time to gather my thoughts and just relax. Everyone knew that was my group. The patients also loved it- the group was usually packed.

I’ve gotten out of the habit and need to restart.

Less than five minutes can change your whole day.

Feeling Good All Over

Meditation can help your mind get into a better place, which can help the rest of your body.

How can you get to that place?

  • Find a comfortable space. I prefer sitting on my bed or couch, but this is entirely up to you. Some like sitting on a yoga mat on the floor as part of a yoga practice. It’s all about what makes you comfortable.
  • Quiet is a must. It is hard to meditate if there is a lot of noise in the room you are in, so try to find a good time/place to try this. It can be an almost impossibility with children, pets and/or other people, events, etc, but it’s possible.
  • Do you need a timer? Some do, some don’t. I’ve tried untimed and timed, and I prefer timed. Otherwise, my mind tends to wander off and it defeats the purpose.
  • It’s okay if your mind wanders. If you’ve never tried meditating before or you are coming back to it, your mind will tend to wander. It’s natural. It’s hard at first to let your mind just be. If you’re listening to meditation with words, it can be hard to listen to and connect to the meditation. This is why I suggest short ones at first. As you get deeper into practice, you can work up to longer ones, if you decide it is for you. Everyone has different needs and preferences.
  • Don’t force it. Meditation isn’t for everyone. If it isn’t for you, you will realize it.

Calm sky

Meditation can help you in the following ways:

  • concentration
  • relaxation- as you meditate, your breathing slows and deepens, helping you relax. Also, your mind clears. This is helpful in many situations.
  • pain management- keeping your mind off severe pain, even if for a short while
  • anger management- thinking through things before adverse actions, using relaxing breaths
  • stressful situations/anxiety
  • can help children and adults
  • sleep

Self-care is vitally important. I’ve covered this topic many times on this blog. It’s not just a passing fad or something to do when we’re bored or just when we have time, but something we should find time to do every day, even if it’s just five minutes. I entirely need to get better on the meditation- I love it. It helps me center my thoughts for the day. Restarting an old habit can be a pain sometimes. How do you do it?

For further reading:

Self-Care Isn’t Just Bubble Baths

Alone Time Is A Wonderful Thing

Is It Time for A (Mental Health) Break?

Looking Back at Older Topics

I’m surprised at the number of topics I have covered on this blog- I still have so much left to discuss.

Here are five interesting posts to ponder:

The Dangers of Ignoring Mental Illness

Suicide and The Media

Should You Emphasize Grades or Mental Health?

Moving Forward: The Last Fifty Years of Psychiatry

Drinking, Drugs and Your Teen

Getting Out of A Bad Day Slump

Bad days happen to all of us. They can creep up on us or hit us like BAM! A bad day ahead. I don’t like having bad days, but they happen more than I like to admit sometimes. I deal with chronic pain from RA and migraines, which can be a bit depressing.

I also have anxiety and depression, both managed without medication. Like many others, I do have insecurities and other not-so-great thoughts that come into my mind and cause my days to not be so positive.

I was once told by someone that she didn’t want to be around me because she “didn’t want to be around my negativity for five minutes”… wait, what? I understand that I was in a deep state of grief at that point (late December 2015) but things weren’t that horrible.

This was a shocker to Matthew and my friends because for the most part, I try to stay positive, even when it’s hard. As Matthew said, “you light up the room when you walk in.” I had to sit and think that one out- it really upset me.

I realized that she was going through her own grief and anger towards me and the rest of the world. I eventually let that one go, and it’s on the list of reasons we aren’t friends anymore. I don’t think we have spoken since that conversation.

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Tap Into What You Love and Need

I have some tips for getting out of the slump of a bad day or even a series of bad days.

  • Create something. This can be food, playing an instrument or something artistic. Keeping your hands busy can take your mind off what is bothering you, even for a while. It can also lift the sadness by reminding you what you are capable of.
  • Try learning something new, even if it is something small. Want to learn how to sew a new pattern? This could be a good time.
  • Take a walk. Getting outside can clear your mind, fresh air also helps. If the weather isn’t cooperating, then try walking inside a mall or other indoor track. Other kinds of exercise, like yoga, pilates or cardio can help with releasing endorphins- these help you feel good.
  • Play with your hair, makeup or clothes- trying a new hairstyle, look or outfit can help boost your confidence a bit.
  • Call a family member and/or friend. Even if you talk for just a few minutes, human contact can be good. If you haven’t talked to anyone in a day or two, it can be nicer than you think it may be to hear another person’s voice.
  • Cuddle up with a pet or borrow someone else’s pet. Pets are great with helping with hard feelings. We got Tails intending to help Julian bond with something because he was having problems bonding with us. They are best friends, and Miss Purr joined us in 2016. If I’m having a rough day, I like cuddling with her. Our pets are soft and comforting. Most of the time, they like helping us feel better.
  • Do simple self-care. I’m not talking bubble baths and face masks- I mean simply taking a shower, brushing your teeth and putting on clothes. This can be difficult if you have been depressed and in bed for multiple days, so take the time to get this one task done, even if it takes all day to do so.
  • Read quotes, affirmations and/or books to bring yourself a bit of positivity. This can help your mind frame a bit.

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If you want to read more about bad days, being kind to yourself and other similar topics, please go to these posts:

5 Ways to Conquer Self-Kindness

5 Rules for Mental Strength

The Not-So-Good Days

5 Steps To Create a Life Audit

Life can get a bit overwhelming. Work, relationships, hobbies, friends, family, kids, and more. There comes a point in which you may need to stop and take a look at what is working and what isn’t. This can happen after a major illness, life change, or just being tired of how your life is going.

You also have to figure out what you want more and less of. This might sound super easy to think out, but once it hits paper, your thoughts make a lot more sense.

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What Is a Life Audit? How Can It Help Me?

Looking at your life on paper can help you realize where you are, where you want to be and how to get there. You may be able to understand what needs to change to move forward. An audit looks at the four main sections of your life:

Physical, Social, Mental and Professional Health

A physical health audit can help you take a deep look at your health, what needs to be changed, and how you can do so. You can also set goals and reminders to get you to your best health. For example, I could make a list of appointments I need to make so that my thyroid and RA meds are where they need to be so that I stay healthy (as possible).

This includes blood work at my PCP and rheumatologist’s office. This also includes a checkup with my new rheumatologist (same practice- my former one moved). This can also be a time in which you can decide to try a new sport or class that is fitness based or get back into the gym.

Social health is important, and this part of an audit can help you look at your interactions with others. How do you give back to the community? Do you get out with friends often, even if you are an introvert? Do you network with others? Socializing can get tiring but can enrich your life in many ways.

A major part of your life audit is looking at your mental health. If you are not healthy in this area, the others will suffer in some capacity. This isn’t about having a full mental health evaluation completed, but more about where you are at the moment. Are you taking time to check in with yourself? Are your relationships with others healthy?

In the post 5 Ways to Set Healthy Boundaries there are tips to help with setting boundaries. In this section, list the issues that you want/need to work on and how to do so.

Professional health entails looking at your employment, the perks and not-so-good points. How secure do you feel in your career? Is there something else you would rather be doing or are you pleased with where you are?

Look at your income- is it time for a raise? How is your work/life balance? Does it need to be better? How can it improve? These are just some ideas that you can ponder.

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What’s Next?

This is the fun part- deciding what needs to go and what can stay. Ask yourself these questions:

What is making me happy? 

What is stressing me out that I can get rid of without major impacts? 

Would I sign up for this now if I wasn’t doing this? (This is meant for volunteer or other non-mandatory things in your life.) 

What would I lose by not doing this anymore? What am I gaining by doing this? 

Do I enjoy this? 

After going through the elimination process, the list of your life’s tasks should be a lot more manageable. If not, go through the four sections again.

Going through what is important in your life may show you that there may be things that you don’t need, want or enjoy. Why live the one life you have that way?

Have you done a life audit? Did it help? Leave a comment! 

Pics courtesy of Unsplash

Information courtesy of Elanalyn

Mystigal

 

 

 

How to Include Gratitude in Your Life

November brings Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holiday season. Most people take time to reflect on the year and get ready for the next. Many choose to count their blessings and share joys with others. In the middle of this, gratitude can be found and shared.

Tis The Time for Thoughts

Including gratitude in your life can be very beneficial- there are benefits to your well-being. It’s a rough world out there, and many of us can use ideas to incorporate healthy thinking. These are just a few benefits of being grateful:

  • Higher self-esteem. When you realize what you have and you are content with that, you tend to feel better about yourself and your life. Many people have fallen into the hole of believing that everything they see on their friends’ social media is what their life is really like. Who knows? The friend with a huge, gorgeous house might be struggling internally and not want to show it. It’s easier to show off the house than her feelings. Comparing ourselves to others can drag us down and make us forget what we have. It can even improve your mental health- decreasing depression and increasing happiness.
  • Better, stronger relationships. When friends/couples show more generosity towards each other, it builds stronger bonds over time. This becomes a nice feeling that many like to hold onto. It feels good to be acknowledged and to do so for others.
  • Less aggression, more empathy. Considering the current state of the world, this could be a very good thing. Empathy can be a hard commodity to come by (look at comments on hot topics on Facebook, for example). Being grateful for what you have in your life can decrease your ability to retaliate against others or participate in other non- aggressive behaviors.

A Sprinkle of Gratitude

You don’t have to shout from a mountain or take out a billboard to declare how grateful you are for your life. There are smaller and more impactful ways to do so: (and you might already be doing these)

  • A small gratitude journal. This can be as small as jotting down the highlights from your day.
  • Thank those that help you out- baggers at the grocery store, bank tellers, etc. This can go a long way in making someone’s day.
  • Thank your family members/friends that are always there for you– drop a text, card, whatever you may think they will like. It will be appreciated more than you know. I used to get my mom a card every week when I was in college at EKU to tell her thanks for sending me to college. She still has them, 16 years later.
  • Mediate. While doing so, if you want to try something new, reflect on your blessings and the good things about yourself.
  • Send a kind, brief email to your child’s teacher. They do a lot and barely get any recognition.
  • Donate/volunteer. Is there a non-profit that you believe is helping the world? Do you want to help animals, kids or other groups? Donating is good, and if you can, in person volunteering is so much more rewarding. I’m in my second year of volunteering for the AFSP. Many shelters, food banks, and soup kitchens need volunteers this time of the year. Some offer opportunities for families.
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At this year’s Out of The Darkness walk in Louisville

Enjoy the holiday season and all that it brings!

Is there something that you enjoy doing to show gratitude? Share in the comments or on social media.

Information from Chopra

Psychology Today

Talkspace

Pictures from Unsplash

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My Random Musings

Twin Mummy and Daddy

Shank You Very Much