Tag Archives: Meditation

Seven Things to Do More Often

Seriously, I’ve been wanting to write more often. Writing helps me, or it used to. Also, it’s not that I’m uninspired. A dozen ideas to write on float through my mind, but once I sit down to actually blog, it seems all pointless. Today I feel relatively well mood-wise, so I’m just forcing myself to write. I am choosing to write for Mama’s Losin’ It’s Writer’s Workshop on the prompt of seven things to do more often. There is also a prompt to write on seven things to do less often, but I couldn’t think of that many things to do less frequently.

1. Write. This I explained above already. Writing used to be a way of helping me process stuff and at the same time a way of distracting me from my depressive thoughts. Now already for nearly two years, I seem unable to write as often as I used to. Whether depressive symptoms are the cause or the effect, I do not know.

2. Move. Last week, I finally bought myself a Fitbit activity tracker. It’s a cool gadget, but so far, I’ve not been able to get moving nearly enough to meet the recommended targets. For example, I average about 3000 steps a day, while 10000 is recommended.

I don’t think my depressed mood is the reason I’m not moving. I just don’t think I can find the opportunity to. I mean, I shouldn’t go running up and down the stairs for fun, should I? And since I can’t leave the house without assistance, going for a walk is rather hard. The weather lately obviously hasn’t helped, as it’s freezing and feels even coldre. I hope that, once the temperature rises, I can get my support workers to take me on some walks again.

3. Meditate. I have two meditation apps on my iPhone but havent’used them in weeks. I really would like to practise mindfulness more.

4. Do sensory-friendly activities, like melting a wax melt or listening to soothing music.

5. Read. I don’t just mean books, but blogs too. I after all don’t seem to have the attention span to read a book most of the time, but I can usually read blog posts.

6. Show my love to my husband. This has been hard lately because of my depressed moods.

7. Focus on the positive. I really want to seek out emotionally positive experiences more. The above six practices will help me achieve this. If I can appreciate positive experiences for what they are, I’ll hopefully feel even better soon.

Of course, these seven things won’t magically make me feel happy, but they will help me move in that direction. Depressive symptoms and inactivity make each other worse, after all.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Strategies for Relaxation

If you haven’t figured it out already, I need to make a confession: I am very easily stressed out. As I wrote on Thursday, I have been on or over the edge of a meltdown a couple of times lately. Since we are discussing what helps us relax on the spin cycle this week, I thought I’d list a couple of things.

1. Mindfulness and meditation. I do guided meditations every once in a while. Simply focusing on my breathing for a bit also helps. It is important not to make yourself do anything other than focus. If your attention drifts off, notice it and go back to focusing on the meditation or your breathing. You can also use a mantra.

2. Yoga. I discussed this before. Yoga can be hard when you do difficult poses, but remember yoga is for everyone. If you can’t do a certain pose exactly as experienced yogis do it, there is usually a way to adapt it to make it easier. That way, you are practising self-care, which is important in relaxation.

3. Essential oils. I own an AromaStream essential oil diffuser. It doesn’t use water or heat, so can be left on without supervision or even when you’re sleeping. There are many oils that are thought of as having relaxing properties. Examples are chamomile, lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang and jasmine. You can of course make diffuser blends.

4. Herbal teas. I have discussed these a few times. I find particularly chamomile, lavender and valerian root relaxing. St. John’s wort is thought of as having antidepressant properties.

5. Soothing music or sounds. I find that, while music that’s a little more upbeat helps cheer me up, if I truly need to relax, I benefit from nature sounds and soft music.

6. Blankets. I still need to buy myself a weighted blanket. However, lots of regular blankets also do the trick of helping me relax.

What helps yu relieve stress and relax? I’d love to read your responses in the comments or in a post of your own. Why not link it up with the spin cycle?

Calm: The Power of Mindfulness

This week, I’m participating in #theprompt once again. I am rather late, because I was quite busy with other things over the week. For example, on Wednesday, I had an intake interview at the country’s top notch autism center, which happens to be in my town. They are hopefully going to assess my needs and provide recommendations for when my husband and I will be living together.

The meeting was quite intense. However, I have been able to feel relatively calm lately thanks to practising mindfulness. Since this week’s prompt is “calm”, I am going to share some information about mindfulness and how it’s helping me.

Mindfulness is, as far as I understand, more or less a western, popular term for meditation. This is at least one type of mindfulness, the type that I practise when stressed. It involves trying to sit with my thoughts, feelings and bodily sensatiosn without judgment. You can try to focus on one aspect of your experience, such as your breathing. When distracted, you should not waste energy on fighting the distraction, but simply notice it and return to paying attention to your breathing.

Any activity can be done mindfully. For example, you might notice that you start eating and suddenly the entire plate or packet is empty and you didn’t realize you ate this much. Mindfulness teaches us to be aware of what we’re doing, feeling or thinking.

Mindfulness does not eliminate life’s pressures, but it helps us look at these pressures with more clarity and less judgment. For example, when you’re eating, you might think about all the calories you’re consuming rather than simply noticing the act of eating.

Mindfulness will also teach us to respond more adequately to experiences. This is achieved by creating a gap between the experience and our reaction to it, as in the example above. Mindfulness can help me actually enjoy food rather than binge on it.

In the example of the autism center meeting, I was constantly worried about what if I had to be re-assessed for autism all over again and what if my parents had to be involved and what if they were going to convince the professionals that nothing was wrong and what if… You get the idea. By being mindful, I would look more objectively at the meeting, which went quite well. However, I’d also sit with my present thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without judgment. For example, I’d be conscious of my butt touching the chair or bed, my breathing, my current emotions, etc.

At this very moment, I am relatively calm. My fingertips touch the keyboard as I type this blog post. My bum and back touch the chiar as my toes touch the floor (my chair is too high for my entire feet to touch the floor). I could be thinkign about how the car broke down again yesterday. I could be worrying about all the stress of possibly buying a new one. Instead, I let these thoughts go by without judgment. I don’t fight them, but I don’t give them extra special attention either. It doesn’t mean the car isn’t broken or that we don’t have the pressure of buying a new one, but what use is there in worrying about this now that I’m writing?

Mindfulness can be useful in dealing with emotional stress, as in the examples above. It can also help in dealing with physical symptoms, such as pain. After all, we often tend to make the symptoms worse by worrying about them. If I feel an ache, the ache is usually not so all-encompassing that it in itself overpowers every other sensation. There are exceptions of course, but in most cases, the effects of pain get amplified by our thoughts about this pain. Again, what use is there in thinking about an ache? Will it lessen the ache? Quite likely not, and it will distress me. So I notice the ache but don’t give it more attention than it deserves. Of course, we do need to pay just enough attention to pain to take appropriate care, but particularly for chronic, largely untreatable and/or intractable pain, mindfulness can definitely help lessen its impact.