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  • 2022-11-07 07:22:36

For most of us daily life is full and busy. And all of this busy-ness can turn into a bit of an autopilot way of living, where we just keep going through the motions, one day after another. 

HOW ARE YOU, REALLY?

Brain HealthHealthHelpful HabitsMindfulnessResearchStress | 1 comment

And the faster we go, the more we do, the less we tend to pause and reconnect with what really matters deep down in our hearts. And then it’s just all too easy to lose our way. 

So there is an enormous amount of value in making space in our lives every now and then, to pause and check in with ourselves. 

Here are some prompts to help you check in with yourself:

You might like to meditate on them or write the answers in a journal or a voice note on your phone. 

TAKE A MOMENT TO PAUSE AND CHECK-IN WITH YOURSELF

  • Am I making time for the things that really matter? 
  • What, if anything, is keeping me up at night? 
  • Am I living in a way that feels truly connected to my values?
  • What conversations have I been putting off that really are important?
  • What decisions need to be made that have not been made?
  • Am I being the person that I want to be? 
  • What is something that is on my mind consistently that should be addressed?
  • Where do I need help or support that hasn’t been communicated yet? 
  • What could be improved regarding my relationships? What action could I take to make this happen?

*To get the best out of this practice, see if you can take some quiet space out of the day (optimum would be 30 minutes or more) to allow the most authentic answers to emerge from deep in your heart and gut rather than just the initial surface answers that may come straight to mind.

While we might think that we are too busy to take time to pause and reflect like this, when we do, we let go of all the distractions, reconnect to our heart and our wisdom, and make sure that we are not falling further and further off course from the life that is true to us.

Then we can use this information to guide us on the path ahead. We can let go of some of the stuff that isn’t essential or isn’t in alignment with who we are and we can start spending our time prioritising the things that matter most.

By doing regular check ins like this we can grow in self awareness and wisdom and keep adjusting our inner compass to true north and to a life full of meaning, purpose, connection and fulfilment.

We wish you the best with this practice and may you prosper well in coming times .

CHOOSE DISCOMFORT OVER RESENTMENT

Brain HealthHealthHelpful HabitsMindfulnessResearchStress | 2 comments

Recently a friend and I were talking over dinner, and she made a comment about my life choices. While I understood what she said wasn’t intended to hurt me…her words stung.

I brushed it off in the moment, but the next day, I found myself feeling resentful towards her. I knew I had a choice – I could talk to her about it, or I could keep it to myself, and hope the feelings went away. 

You’ve probably been there, right? Resentment is when we have ongoing upset feelings, usually anger or annoyance, towards another person or people because of a real, misunderstood or imagined injustice. 

Resentment might arise, for instance, after a criticism from a co-worker. Or when we feel someone is not pulling their weight in a relationship or treating us the way we’d like to be treated.

Sometimes when we’re experiencing resentment, we feel victimised, but we may feel too angry, ashamed or afraid of conflict to discuss how we feel. So, what often happens instead, is we say nothing, but underneath we hold a grudge and the anger festers.

Brené Brown has been a real source of inspiration in my life. Of all the things I have learnt from her, the one quote that has probably had the most profound influence in my life is “Choose discomfort over resentment”.

What does it mean to choose discomfort over resentment?

To me it means that whenever we are presented with a difficult situation with someone, when we’re feeling angry, disappointed, or irritated with them, we should choose to face those feelings. Engaging in a clear, kind, honest conversation about it and asking for change if that’s needed or appropriate.

This is often hard. We want to avoid it because we know the conversation could potentially cause conflict or be uncomfortable, but the reality is that not doing this will lead to bigger resentment and hostility down the line. 

So really the way I see it, choosing discomfort over resentment is an act of love and kindness because it shows we care about the relationship enough to iron out any issues so we don’t hold resentments or harbour ill will.

Choosing discomfort over resentment means setting boundaries, avoiding pleasing people and being honest and authentic about what is going on for you. 

It applies in all kinds of situations, for instance it might mean

  • Telling a family member that something they said made you uncomfortable
  • Letting your partner know that it bothers you when they leave their clothes on the floor
  • Telling your boss that their requests to work overtime are unreasonable or unworkable for you
  • Asking your partner for what you truly enjoy when you’re making love
  • Being willing to speak up when you feel your boundaries have been crossed or you feel misunderstood or mistreated

And these conversations can be carried out in a really caring, clear and compassionate way.

In my case, I decided to choose discomfort over resentment and spoke to my friend the very next day to let her know how I was feeling. It took a bit of courage and the conversation was a little uncomfortable, but we actually ended up closer because of it. 

My invitation for you, if you care to, is to do a little check in with yourself to see if you’re holding onto resentments towards others. And if it feels right to you, try choosing discomfort over resentment as an act of love. As Brené Brown says

“Compassionate people ask for what they need. They say no when they need to, and when they say yes, they mean it. They’re compassionate because their boundaries keep them out of resentment.” 

3 TOOLS FOR MENTAL STRENGTH IN TOUGH TIMES

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The past two years have just been a lot haven’t they? Especially the last few months here in Australia. Lockdowns and restrictions. The rise of Omicron. Constant uncertainty. I don’t think many of us are having an easy time of it.

I don’t know about you, but if I never hear the word “unprecedented” again, it will be too soon.

As the challenges in the world have risen up in front of us, what we’ve seen is that the mental illness statistics are also rising. According to the world health organisation one in four people now have a clinically diagnosable mental illness such as anxiety or depression. In fact, depression is now considered a pandemic too, presenting as the leading cause of disability in the world.

As we get hit with tough times, it’s clear that many of us have not learnt (or been given) the tools to cope. I’ve had some undue stress of my own these past two years. And some of my most hardy mindfulness practices have been getting a workout!

I’d love to share some of these mindful tools for dealing with tough times with you. These are the evidence-based, tried and tested practices that I use to stay mentally strong through challenging times. I hope they help you too.

dealing with tough times hand on rainy window

LIFE CAN THROW US CURVE BALLS – AND EVEN BOULDERS

Truth bomb? During the past couple of years, my life has been hard (like many of you I’m sure). I’ve been separated from the man I love, due to border restrictions. So, I’ve been missing him like crazy, and coping with the stress of everything while running two businesses, experiencing a very difficult health challenge, and trying to navigate a housing crisis in my town.

You might be going through similar stuff. If so, like me, your mental wellbeing has probably taken a bit of a beating.

There was a point where I found myself getting depleted and overwhelmed. I had to use everything I knew worked. To have faith in it, when I couldn’t quite see the light at the end of the tunnel yet.

DEALING WITH TOUGH TIMES EFFECTIVELY, MEANS GROWING MENTAL STRENGTH

Through all that struggle, and using different tools and practices, I was gifted with some new insights. And a new understanding of what mental strength really means. How we grow it, how we sustain it and how we use it to rise up to meet the hard moments of our lives with the best of who we are. I’ve also seen how growing mental strength can unlock the best in human nature. And how that can help us come together to solve the world’s most meaningful problems.

I have been making some big changes in my life. You might be ready for some too, and I’d love to take you along with me. I’m in the midst of developing some powerful new offerings to help you grow your mental strength. I can’t wait to share them with you soon.

In the meantime, here are a few practices I’ve been re-visiting. I highly recommend putting these in the toolbox for when you need them…

MY TOP THREE MINDFULNESS TOOLS FOR DEALING WITH TOUGH STUFF

1. DOWN-REGULATE THE NERVOUS SYSTEM TO STAY CALM UNDER PRESSURE

When we are experiencing ongoing stress, the so-called ‘smart part’ of our brain (the frontal cortex) can get hijacked by our ‘fight or flight’ system so it goes offline. Unfortunately, that’s the part of the brain that’s great at thinking things through rationally, planning ahead and solving problems. That’s why you’ve probably noticed you become more reactive and are prone to make bad choices when under stress.

When we release stress, we bring that smart part of the brain back online. Then, we can think clearly and make wise choices again. By giving ourselves small regular breaks from the stress, we down-regulate the nervous system so that we also just feel better more times throughout the day.

We promote feelings of calm, happiness, and wellbeing. We also improve our ability to think clearly and problem-solve well. What’s more, we’re less likely to downward-spiral towards burn out or sickness, from chronic stress.

Here’s a simple but powerful way you can release stress throughout the day when you’re dealing with tough times.

Down-regulate with a moment of pause

Pause from what you are doing for one minute (you might like to put a timer on) and take some long slow deep breaths.

With the inhale you might like to say to yourself mentally “breathing in calm” and on the exhale “breathing out worries and stress.”

Even if you can’t remember what to say in the moment, just the breaths on their own are enough to soothe your nervous system.

2. THE F.A.C.E. CHALLENGES METHOD

When you’re experiencing a challenge or crisis in your life, and you feel that sense of overwhelm, struggle or stress kicking in, this method gives you an empowering, wise and grounded way to approach things. What’s even better about it, is that it has an easy acronym that can come to mind quickly when it all goes pear shaped.

F – Focus on what’s in your control

A – Accept what you cannot control

C- Come back to the present moment

E – Engage in action guided by your values.

Learn more about how to implement the F.A.C.E. Challenges method here.

3. KEEP YOUR MIND CLEAR WITH ‘OFFICE HOURS’

When you’re facing stressful challenges, difficulties or have a big problem to overcome, it’s easy to tip into the unhelpful habits of rumination and worry. Allowing your mind to race with frantic thoughts ramps up feelings of distress. Using the ‘office hours’ practice can help you to learn to handle things with more calm and clarity. With office hours you can dedicate a specified time to constructive problem solving around your issue. Then, for the rest of the day you can de-stress and let it all go.

 

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