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Rest. Relax. Recharge.

5 Apr

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If we want to live a wholehearted life, we have to become intentional about cultivating rest and play, and we must work to let go of exhaustion as a status symbol and productivity as self worth. – Brene Brown.

Rest is when we shift from deliberate and effort filled thinking, to a more effortless, playful, peaceful, aimless wandering and daydreaming state.

Rest lowers our heart rate, stress and shoulders.

One of the most interesting things about rest is that it’s usually about carving out a wee chunk of solitary time, versus relaxing, which is able to be done in the company of others. Relaxing with someone else just needs a common agreement, that it’s unwinding time, it’s not about achieving, planning, or accomplishing anything in particular. What we believe is restful and relaxing, will be, and both are restorative.

  • Have it be ok to slow things down and give yourself permission to meander and potter around.
  • Unplug from the worries and what-ifs for a portion of every day.
  • Move from doing to being.
  • Let go of “I have to” and replace them with “I get to.”
  • Let nature lull you.
  • Look for slivers of simplicity that speak to your soul.

When you don’t know what to do, do nothing. – Oprah.

 

 

Create Calm.

1 Apr

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It’s one of our basic needs, the need for security, which is triggering fear in many people. Although many things are out of our control, we need to keep working at reducing and releasing fear, panic and anxiety because it over activates our flight-or-fight mode. When we are in what I call Meerkat Mode, our body wants to take constant action. Because present circumstances make that a bit restrictive, it’s possible that the tension that builds as a result of being ready to pounce on problems begins to physically hurt a little. It could also be the reason that people are getting ants in their pants and pushing the boundaries of their bubbles. 

Calming our mind and soothing our system is not a luxury thing to do, it’s vital. It will help us through this long haul experience.

Parents, be sure to grab a small moment each day, just for yourself. Today I found this super cool kids meditation, that is 15 minutes long, which I also adored. It’s free. Why not lie down together and listen, and make it a shared part of your day?

https://insighttimer.com/discoveringmypurpose/guided-meditations/boosting-immunity-and-feeling-calm-in-this-time-of-coronavirus

Grown-ups, below is my most favoured way of reducing stress, that I learnt when I trained in Mindfulness.  Jon Kabat-Zinn is Professor of Medicine Emeritus and creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and the Centre for Mindfulness in Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

 

 

 

 

Inhale Courage. Exhale Fear.

30 Mar

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If posts about people cleaning cupboards, doing yoga, crafting, making preserves and cookies is causing you to worry or panic that you’re not in that “positive” space, breathe low and slow, and know that you are not alone. This isn’t a sprint to a predetermined finish line, it’s a marathon and we are all in it together.

Covid-19 has changed how the world works. It’s ok to pause and it’s more than ok to be experiencing grief (whether we recognize it or not) because the new reality is that there are people all over the globe that are sick or afraid of becoming sick. They have lost loved ones, jobs, clients, incomes, autonomy, roles, identity and hopes and dreams. Fear and anxiety comes with the territory.

Shallow, upper chest breathing is part of a typical stress response but if your ribs are a bit sore, your chest feels tight, or you feel more light headed, a bit dizzy and feel tingly in your face or hands, chances are you are over-breathing, which can prolong feelings of anxiety.

The good news is, it’s not too late to notice it and fix it. We breathe effectively when our lower belly rises when we fill our lungs with air.  Slow it down. Breathe in and out slowly through the nose and extend the exhale so that it’s longer than the inhale.

Don’t

  • overthink
  • catastrophize
  • hyperfocus on the future, and get caught up in what-ifs
  • drown in negative, doom-filled thoughts. 

Do

  • meditate and relax
  • do things that truly soothe you
  • face fear and feel it and if you find it hard talk to a trusted professional
  • remind yourself that you are resilient and resourceful, and full of courage.

 

When we are afraid, we ought not to occupy ourselves with endeavoring to prove that there is no danger, but in strengthening ourselves to go on in spite of the danger.  –Mark Rutherford.

One Day at a Time.

28 Mar

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It’s no wonder that Alcoholics Anonymous emphasize taking things one day at a time, because it helps make difficult changes more manageable.

Feeds are full of how to fill our time, even though some people might be run of their feet busier than usual, but what if you’re still in shock? Or, like me, feeling overwhelmed by the seriousness, not of the illness or isolation as such, but about our future after all of this, which today suddenly felt completely uncertain and a little bleak.

So here’s the thing. Uncertainty involving all-encompassing questions about the meaning and purpose of life and one’s place in the world in the future has an actual name. It’s known as existential anxiety. If we name it as such, it then becomes easier to know that over focusing on that, or worrying about it, negatively affects the present moment. Mindfulness and being in the now, allows us to let it go.

How I let it go, is to tell myself I have the internal ability to respond effectively to changing circumstances. I’ve helped hundreds of other people do it. I’ve got the skills. I’ve done it before. I can do it now.

Here are some helpful tips:

  • let go of wanting to control the outcome
  • know that there will be plenty of time in the future to problem solve
  • come back to this moment and tell yourself you are safe, and breathe low and slow
  • divert your overly wild imagination capable of coming up with worst case scenarios, into some kind of actual creativity where it’s better suited
  • welcome mundane tasks as a distraction to thinking
  • be at one with whatever you do, from brushing your teeth to preparing meals or sorting the pantry
  • stick to routines as they settle your soul
  • ground yourself, go outside, feel the breeze on your face and listen to the sounds around you and tell yourself you’re doing a great job. Your co-operation is contributing to the greater good.

 

 

Wherever You Go, There You Are.

27 Mar

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The government have asked for our support to protect New Zealand and eradicate COVID-19. An important restriction has been put in place, stay home, save lives and no surprises, two days in and the usual suspects have gone a little wild, flaunting the rules and looking for loopholes.

We often hope that others will think, behave, react and respond the way we do, but it doesn’t always work that way. Some of the rules are bound to get a little tighter when people who don’t like to be told what to do, go about their business, their way. They are just being who they are, but when the consequences affect the collective, it doesn’t resonate well.

Humans are complex cognitive creatures who filter information through past experiences, conditioning and values. We are prone to adopting beliefs about ourselves and the world in ways that make what we do seem as justifiable as possible. To justify is to prove that actions are reasonable or right. This doesn’t mean they are.

So what to do?

  • follow the rules and stay in the bubble
  • take it seriously and think of the health of all our country
  • we cannot change the circumstances, but we can be mindful about how we interpret the rules
  • don’t waste your time fighting the opinions or rule twisting of others, leave the policing to the experts but do tell them if they are putting you at risk
  • keep doing a great job and know that the life you save might also be your own.

 

Wherever you go there you are is the title of one of my favourite mindfulness books by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

 

 

 

Eco-Grief & Eco-Anxiety. Help For A New Reality.

12 Jan

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Eco-grief is the grief felt in response to experienced or anticipated ecological loss. Eco-anxiety is a chronic fear of environmental doom. Creeping environmental changes are now cascading ahead at a catastrophic pace and have been rightly upgraded to a climate emergency. 

When our senses are inundated with a torrent of news, filled with the horror and sadness of global disasters, sensitive people begin to wobble and topple.

Scientists are telling us “like it is.” We need to listen. Dire warnings, horrific natural disasters, death, displaced people, species extinction, rising seas, soaring temperatures, extreme drought, diminished air quality, degradation of waterways and raging bushfires destroying trees, homes, animals, people and even those saving the people, are becoming more and more commonplace.

Even when it’s not us experiencing terror, fear, anger and trauma from injury, loss and damage to lives, property and livelihoods first-hand, second-hand it has the potential to flood us with helplessness. This can cause feelings of grief, anxiety, despair and panic which can overwhelm and dull our ability to act. The more we see planet Earth going to hell in a handcart, the more emotional distress we are going to feel. The social impact will make our hearts ache. We need balance. The media needs to communicate facts to make us care, rather than cause panic. We need to research positive news stories, search for kindness and gather as much information as we can to find out what we can do that’s helpful.

We didn’t expect to begin 2020 with Australia, our neighbour, burning. Areas that aren’t burning are choking from the smoke. Over a billion animals have already died horribly in those fires. And what about the frogs and bees and other insects? Maybe now their climate denial PM will stop selling cheap coal to China and India? The least we can do is to embrace this new reality. We need to wake up and quit avoiding the demise. We need to take more self-responsibility to change what we can. We need to help one person, one cause or donate to help many. Then we need to question and demand business, societal and political change.

If you’re upset, know that it’s okay. Validate your feelings, know that we are all in this together in this world and if you are suffering, reach out and get help expressing and normalising difficult feelings. Part of the solution is to take action. Action counteracts hopelessness. Below are some of my ideas to encourage action.

  • Look at humanities better traits. Who is working to fix things? Read articles like this one from Skip Spritzer and learn more about climate change and disrupted eco systems.
  • Keep being self-responsible. Make many changes. This is the time to turn me into we and think of the greater good of the planet.
  • Find even more ways to be mindful of your impact, like how you use and produce food, water, and energy. Read this brilliant article by Jonathan Foley.
  • Learn from people trained to deal with long term catastrophes. The world is full of passionate people. Policy makers. Climate researchers. Trauma researchers. Infrastructure experts. Mental health workers. Animal welfare specialists.
  • Every problem requires different solutions. Try to pick one or two that resonate the most with you.
  • Practise mindfulness and meditation and bear witness to both joy and suffering and help build your emotional strength and resilience.
  • Empathy leads to right action. It encourages and motivates us to become a part of the solution. If you can’t do it alone join a group.
  • Sign petitions. Write letters. Donate if you’re in a position to.
  • Speak up and question business practices that could be improved.
  • Vote with your dollars. Food is a good starting place where personal action can impact the planet.
  • Inspire social change and follow accounts that do.

Is it time to give up? I say a big fat NO. Get therapy to grieve healthily, reduce anxiety and keep hope in your heart. And this one I love – Find a way to be a force of good.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Beat Back to Work Blues.

13 Jan

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Forget the dread of “having” to go back to work, and instead say to yourself that you “get” to. Turn dread into gratefulness. Feeling gratitude for the time off you were able to have, increases feelings of happiness.

Reframe the first day back into it being just another day, and think about how good it’s going to be for your brain to sink its teeth into future challenges. 

Be sure to get plenty of sleep, not only the night before you start back, but all week. Being refreshed is important to help you cope with an added workload. Remember to avoid bright lights and technology for at least half an hour before you hit the pillow, and make sure your room is dark.

Pack a healthy, delicious lunch, one that gives you enjoyment. Think about changing out your water for sparkling water at least for the first week. If you eat lunch out, feel grateful that you have the finances to do so. Savour each mouthful and make sure what you read or the conversations you have over lunch are joy filled. Continue reading