Do you want to suffer a little less?

If you suffer pain, notice the way you think about it.

Next time you get a pain in your body try something different. Instead of noticing a pain and attaching a story to it inside your head (such as):

Oh no, my back hurts, here we go again, why is it always aching, every day, this is never going to go away!

This time when the pain comes, don’t even label it as ‘pain’. Tune into the sensation, be aware of the words you use to describe it, and feel what it is, without judgement. Where is it? Is it a needling sensation, is it an ache, does it stop and start? If you can*, just sit with it a moment and really describe it without adding judgemental words.

Don’t add to your suffering by labelling the sensations you are having in a negative way. Just give it a try.

*not intended for emergency situations

Images courtesy of pixabay.com @loilamtan, @StockSnap and @Ruwadium

Adapted from: Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance at Monash University.

Easy way to reduce empathy overload

Have you ever had empathy burn out where you can’t stop thinking about another person’s suffering to the point where you are feeling and thinking too much about the particular issue, almost close to you experiencing the issue yourself?

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image by arnoldus @ pixabay.com

An easy way to alleviate this ’empathy overload’ state is to practice compassion.

With empathy we understand and share the feelings of others, and with compassion we we also understand and share the feelings of others, with a desire to help, or send wishes.

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay.com

So instead of ‘over’ empathising, start send loving kindness to the other person, you can do this via loving kindness meditations. Wish for them to feel better, or to be happier, whatever you want. These meditations will provide you with a feeling of some control by being able to offer the person good wishes, rather than feeling helpless.

Source: Mindfulness for Wellbeing and Peak Performance at Monash University.

8 weeks to new thinking

Practising mindfulness actually changes the brain. After an eight-week mindfulness course, the brain’s ‘fight or flight’ centre, (the amygdala), appears to shrink. This shows there is hope to get out of bad thinking habits that do not serve you.

Can I do it?

There are many online tools and free resources to learn mindfulness, but one tool I found useful is the eight week course contained in the book ‘Mindfulness, a practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world‘ (no affiliation with this blog). I’m sure if you search long enough you can find what you need online to start the course right now (you can download some of the meditations for free on this website).

Mindfulness book - 8 week course
8 weeks to new thought patterns

Need help with creativity?

Mindfulness can help with creativity by making us less preoccupied and more focused. Consider if you are stressed about your lack of creativity. You ruminate on this, unable to think of new creative ideas for your book (or whatever creative outlet is relevant for you). Your mind wanders into questions such as ‘why is this so difficult?’, and ‘I’m never going to think of the next step.’

Try something different. Take a (mindful) walk. Be in the moment, focus on the walk. What do you see around you? Are the trees green? What does the air smell like? Does the sun feel warm on your back? Are the birds singing? Really notice what is going on. If your mind wanders, bring it back, without berating yourself. This is good, you noticed your wandering mind and you now you can bring it back to the present moment, back to your walk.

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If you are interested in further reading, this article shows the four stages of the creative brain and how mindfulness can assist in the process: https://www.mindful.org/apply-mindfulness-creative-process/

Informal mindfulness practice walk through – COVID mask

Pick anything you do, it could be walking the dog, writing, doing the washing. Whatever it is try doing it mindfully. Be really there, in that moment. The example for me this week is crochet (and since my COVID life – a mask to be exact!). You can substitute anything in though, just change it up for what you’re doing.

Five minutes is a good start.

Crochet informal mindfulness practice walk through

Sit in a quiet spot with your crochet.

Focus your attention on the crochet hook (what type of hook is it? wood, plastic, bamboo, metal?). Really observe how it feels in your hands, the texture, is it cold or warm, how thick is the hook, really focus on the hook as if you have never noticed it before.

Grab your yarn. Feel it in your hands. what does it feel like, is it soft, is it thick? What colour is it? Really notice the colour, describe it in your mind as if you have to communicate it to someone so they know the exact shade of colour you have. Have you noticed your mind is somewhere else? That’s okay, just notice it has wandered off, and bring it back to pay attention to the crochet.

Repeat bringing your attention back to being on the crochet for five minutes while you crochet each stitch to get closer to your final creation. That’s all.

This is my finished mask (not for COVID-19 although it has the ‘recommended’ cotton insert, but for my own use, probably for when I'm cleaning!). 

 

If you’re interested in the pattern see below (no affiliation with this blog). 

https://www.yarnspirations.com/row-en/red-heart-fabric-lined-adult-crochet-face-mask/RHC0101-028892M.html

play your anxiety away?

Here is something fun you can try to help you de-stress.

Play.

That’s all.

Oh and there is real science behind it, if you need to convince yourself it’s okay (to ‘indulge’), read on…

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Image courtesy of pixabay.com

The brain on play

Dopamine* (a neurotransmitter in the brain) has been linked to play. Dopamine has several purposes, and is released in the brain when we expect or receive a reward. As rewards are usually good, this can positively affect our mood.

Tips to get you playing

Try and remember what you did as a child to play. What did you spend your time on, just playing, lost in the moment without a care? What did you love? Indoor, outdoor, board games, card games, sports, tips, hide and seek?

Just go play.


*Great video showing the role of dopamine and reward if you are interested:

Limited time? Grab some mindfulness to go!

If you have a limited time budget and want to start a healthy habit without breaking your time bank then keep reading…

Mindfulness has many benefits, including helping ease anxiety and stress. If you can’t seem to get started, why not try something small like this awesome mindfulness meditation, it is only five minutes and puts the focus on listening to bells:

Oh and since I’m new to posting videos on WordPress here is the YouTube video with a quick ‘how to embed a YouTube video on WordPress’ guide that helped me:

Enjoy!

This post was originally published 16/11/2015 and was updated 12/04/2020 to remove a link to the 5 minute fitness video.