I think it’s working :-)

Wow, what a difference in how I am feeling and behaving!

Argh I’m going to sound a little bit preachy now; believe me that is not the intention I just want to share how helpful I’m finding keeping a bullet journal.  It’s like a paper PA that has seen a massive increase in my own personal productivity in the week that I’ve been keeping it.  Like paying outstanding invoices promptly, signing up for things, working out, meditating and being more aware of what I’m eating.

 

I love being able to set daily goals for myself and the satisfaction of crossing off each task as I complete it.  In addition, because I have been able to keep better track of it I have been meditating almost every day (only times I didn’t were after an evening of drinking – not really the best frame of mind for me to sit still!) and working out at least every other day.

 

I really like doing kettle bell workout videos on YouTube.  As husband does kung fu, he finds it helpful as well to do between classes and I love that it’s something we can enjoy together.  As the videos range from 15 mins to 30 mins I find myself sometimes doing a couple a night, it’s getting addictive!  I am pleased with past me for picking up a couple of kettle bells from Aldi when they were on offer a while ago, will definitely be looking to purchase another soon with a heavier weight.  I haven’t noticed any difference in my weight/body shape yet but it’s only been a week and I am enjoying the fact that I have made a commitment to myself and am sticking to it more than anything else at the moment.

 

I also found out that my surgey will be on 2nd July.  I’m scared – not going to lie – and to be honest the worst bit will probably be when they cannulate me!  But I plan to use the techniques I have learned through CBT and mindfulness to try and make it as least stressful experience as possible.  Plus husband has 2 weeks off work so I know the boys and my mum (who I work with) are going to be OK.

The mindfulness meditations I have been doing have made me feel overall calmer; in particular when dealing with children who refuse to sleep/settle/not sleep through the night and also feel more positive despite the resulting lack of sleep.

I have been trying to do the loving kindness meditation over the last 7 days but to be honest, I’m having trouble getting into it as much as those that focus more on the breath/body so will be trying that kind this evening.  So yeah, it’s nice to have something positive to talk about!

I also managed another period of the boys playing with balloons… husband even blew another one up (sneaky man!) and was releasing it much to the boys’ delight.  I feel like I cheated a bit as it was mainly whilst I was in the kitchen preparing dinner but this for me is progress, and I kept popping my head into the living room to see what they were up to.

 

Definitely feeling a lot better than I did a year ago.  Give meditation and mindfulness a try, I’m still very much a beginner but already feeling the benefits!

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Kettle bells and plans for the future.

Since my last post, I have generally been feeling a lot happier and brighter. Husband is embarking on his dream of starting a PhD in October, and my own academic aspirations look to be partly fulfilled next September as I am hoping to start my MSc in Psychology!  It will be difficult both mentally and financially, with the added challenge of two small children but we want to do it so much so I will be sharing that journey here no doubt.

In addition, I was in touch with my former undergraduate superisor and my independent study has been accepted for publication in an actual psychology journal! Exciting!
An update on my 32@32: things hadn’t been going so well until Friday just gone when I ran my first 5k in ages. I have also been trying to meditate each day for 10 mins and find it really relaxing. Tonight I did fitness blender (on YouTube)’s 30 minute kettle bell beginner workout and am proud to say I am sat here in my own sweat having successfully completed it and enjoyed it. Definitely ready for a bath though!

I have a wedding to attend in 2 weeks and anothrr in just under 3 weeks. If I want to fit into my planned outfits this needs to continue!

Behaviour Experiment: Giving the Children (old) Balloons to play with before bed.

A while ago, I brought home a binbag of about 5 balloons from my mum’s church hall, with the intention of using them as therapy balloons. A few months later,  they are still all pretty well inflated but with enough “give” that they won’t burst easily. 

Last night I read some pretty inspiring words in a Mindfulness for Overcoming Anxiety book which I will share here; 

Know your purpose

Know your feelings

Do what needs to be done 

To wait for your feelings about something to change before you do it doesn’t work because they won’t change until you do it. We have control over our behaviour. We do what needs to be done to fulfill our purpose even though our feelings want to push us in another direction,  hence undertaking behaviour experiments willingly.
So tonight I decided it would be a good idea to let the children play with the balloons. Which was fine until 3 year old decided he wanted them all for himself, and his little brother wasn’t allowed any.

This ended up in daddy confiscating all of the balloons and the children being sent up to bed (it was bedtime anyway) where I then spent 15 minutes calming and undressing a devastated 3 year old who needs to learn to share!
But I did it 🙂 I was brave and unleashed the balloons anyway, and feel like I could do it again tomorrow. Success!
And none of them burst. 

32@32

Bizarre title, no?

I turn 32 on Thursday so I decided to create my own 30 day challenge, but as it turns out it will be a 32 day challenge.  And when I say challenge, I guess I mean more of a plan to help me grow physically, mentally and to a degree spiritually. It’s tailored to me personally, because we all have stuff going on that might make it difficult to follow a pretty determined 30 day challenge (in my experience anyway) so I will see how this goes! 

Before that, I have to contend with the reality that my biggest small turns 3 tomorrow. He is a little boy rather than a baby. 

This is when he was all new and squidgy 🙂

And here is is 2 days ago, posing on his buggy board!

No doubt I will be totes emosh tomorrow. And that isn’t a phrase I actually use in real life. Tonight; cake baking, challenge planning and (mostly) sugar free cookie eating! 

Working the Body and the Mind

This week it appears I have got my mojo back!  Or obtained some mojo from somewhere; either way it’s brilliant and I’m not complaining!  I’ve felt more energised and involved in my work, and have also had the motivation to try out new workout experiences AND meditation the last couple of nights!

I realised that 30 day challenges, although a guaranteed way of getting fit if followed properly, are not for me.  I can’t commit to doing it daily (which isn’t too bad) but I just put too much pressure on myself and so have decided to go my own way rather than follow someone else’s plan.

 

Last night, 6 months after purchasing them, I tried out a 10 minute kettlebell workout on YouTube.  I was amazed how hard I worked in that short time, and was feeling the after effects for most of the day today.  So this evening I decided to try Yoga, thinking it might be a bit more on the relaxing side and maybe do something to relieve my hard-worked muscles.  Again, I searched for a beginner 10 minute video and boy was I wrong… my heart rate was going and some of the moves were quite difficult.  Needless to say it was not the relaxing, gentle experience I was hoping for!  But did I enjoy it?  Yes!  Will definitely be doing more!

 

Since finishing Sons of Anarchy, I definitely feel at a bit of a loss of what to do in the evening.  I am still playing the Witcher 3 after almost a year but I don’t want to spend every night in front of the TV, I want to do things that are going to make me feel good and be good for me in the long run.    And in addition, tonight I decided to undertake a Mindfulness meditation and ask husband very nicely to be on small person alert so I could be uninterrupted, and hopefully not fall asleep.

 

I can totally see why people do this.  It was only short – again 10 mins as I don’t want to overwhelm myself and it’s been a while – but to perform a proper, mindful meditation felt like my mind was having a lovely hot bubble bath with a Lush bath bomb.  I didn’t want it to end, so must be a good sign!  The night is still young, so I might be totally rock n roll and get into my jamas and read my book in bed.

Oh, Hello Hurdle! (Also, a Look at the Authentic Self)

I am currently trying to clamber over a hurdle.  It isn’t pretty, it isn’t graceful, and more often than not I am landing in mud. I am learning so much about Mindfulness yet am struggling to put it into practice, letting everyday occurrences and my own ego get in the way. I feel like I have no power over myself, and this is affecting my mood. Sometimes it feels like there’s a barrier between how I am behaving and how I want to behave and ultimately be.

My attitude to past, present and future events mostly relate to my diet.  i have good intentions to eat better and exercise more but I focus too much on enjoying unhealthy food NOW, telling myself I will eat better in the future to make up for it.  Unfortunately for me, this future does not and never will exist as long as I am not present in my current healthy eating goals.  So right now, I am being present in it by ignoring the salted caramel fudge in the fridge and bag of popcorn by the toaster.  If I can get through this evening without eating any of them I will be proud, as pitiful as that may sound.

Referring to my last post, it’s the being I’m struggling with! This leads me to share my latest insight through study; the authentic self.  So, apparently there are 5 simple ways to move to a more authentic self.  This is according to one author so I shall give my views for each one.

  1. Appreciate Kindness. (This is something I try to do anyway, whether it’s directed at me or an opportunity to show it to others.  I think we should all be kind in general, so I like this and can live with it.
  2. Listen to people’s stories with full attention, not just politely, because they matter. (Absolutely agree, and I am guilty of not doing this, usually when I am wrapped up in reading something, watching something, playing a game or otherwise occupied.  I mean on a day-to-day level, sometimes it might not be appropriate.)
  3. Ask a colleague for their opinion on something not work-related (currently, I am self-employed although I do work with my mum.  it is something I have practiced anyway in previous roles and would also give opportunity to exercise point 2.)
  4.  (ITalk to anyone who approaches you in the street whether begging, trying to sell something or doing a survey. (I don’t feel comfortable doing this; usually I have my boys with me and at aged 1 and 2 I would rather get to where I am going with no delay, distraction, meltdown or fire.)
  5. Don’t take mobile phone calls when with someone. Concentrate fully on being with them. (Guilty of not doing this one this afternoon with having a drink with my best friend; husband was messaging me updates with what he and the boys were doing at home! I totally get not texting or using social media, however I wouldn’t want to not be accessible by phone due to a small with possible ASD and a small with allergies.)

It would be interesting to see how these suggestions lead to the authentic self but at the very least would lead to being more present, focusing attention and making others and yourself feel more valued and respected which can never be a bad thing.

I find, as I mentioned above, that my barriers to my own authentic self are anxiety, phobia and my tendency to catastrophise things.  I am also guilty of pretending to have knowledge of things I don’t in order to gain favour from another person; it’s best just to be honest and learn from and listen to them than pretend and potentially look foolish further down the line.  It’s also to be honest with your opinions and, well, don’t be a dick.

As part of my own study, I also answered questionnaires on whether I tended to fixate on the past, future or present; authenticity regarding whether i have issues and what effect those have on my life and concentration, how much attention I give to certain aspects of my life including listening and reading.  I have chosen to keep my answers to these private so it’s something I can reflect on again in the future.

 

Thank you for reading this post.  Although I have primarily written it for me, I welcome any outside guidance or comments.  A lovely gentleman called Luke in my previous post linked me to his podcasts – well, one in particular but I enjoyed it so much I found his website, downloaded all the material I could sign up for and plan to enjoy further podcasts (even installed iTunes on laptop so I could!) – so already writing in this medium is paying off!  Here is the website http://herohealthroom.com/

There, I got to the end of the post and still haven’t eaten the fudge or popcorn.  I am going to take part in some more study, reflection and have a peaceful, mindful sunday evening!

Te

 

 

Mindfulness and Emotion: Acceptance or Avoidance?

I had a realisation today.  Being a long-term anxiety sufferer, I have an automatic tendency to over-analyse practically everything.  I am aware I do it, and am actively working on trying not to do it so much, using mindfulness to breathe, let go of the thoughts and be more present in what’s happening now.  It’s quite funny then, (and it’s OK to find it funny, I find humour a wonderful way of managing and understanding my interactions with the world) that the practice of mindfulness itself should spark a raging internal debate as far as emotions are concerned.  Now, bear with me whilst I try and make these thoughts into readable words that you will understand.

 

My last post addressed the nature of being; being present and accepting and not dwelling on events, thoughts or feelings in the past or future. My inner monologue, upon addressing emotions and their positive and negative effect on one’s feelings, went pretty much as such;

 

“So, the idea isn’t to let any emotions have any affect on your state of being?”

“Yes, I think so,”

“Good ones as well as bad ones?

“From what I gather… being  is living in the now and so that would mean not dwelling on the past, including happy feelings.”

“That doesn’t sound right.  Are you quite sure?”

No. I think I need to think about this a bit more,”

So I thought, and thought, and thought a bit more.  I had over-analysed to the point I had (wrongly) drawn the conclusion that in order to practice mindfulness, I would have to become distant and cold and avoid all emotions, both positive and negative.  After some further careful pondering, I realised the error of my ways, the first being that I had over-thought it!

It’s not about avoiding emotions, whether they are positive or negative.  A popular analogy, one I try and implicate myself, is to observe my emotions as an outsider, or like a train passing through a station.  It’s bloody difficult and I am still working on it, but being aware of the emotions I am feeling and the effect they are having on my body.  Being aware that the emotion will pass; just as the train is passing through the station and that I just have to ride it out for now.  It’s about accepting.

It seems  bit wrong, having to accept anything that leads to unpleasant feelings both mentally and physically. To me though, acceptance doesn’t mean the same as putting up with.  To me, acceptance of negative emotions means accepting that they are happening, being aware of how they are affecting me and trying to use mindfulness to centre myself and relax so that the effects aren’t as harrowing.  With positive emotions and feelings, I endeavour to use mindfulness to really make myself aware of what I am feeling, and the physical and mental effects it’s having on me.  Gosh I hope this makes sense and doesn’t seem to wishy-washy!

Would it be too cheesy to add “It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it?” in this case, the experience of emotion?

 

In summary: mindfulness isn’t detachment from or avoidance of emotions.  Otherwise we would be just like zombies and never have any kind of fun and that isn’t cool.  Mindfulness is about accepting emotions for what they are without letting them have a detrimental effect on our wellbeing.

 

 

 

 

 

Being vs Doing

I have had a much better day today, probably because I have had better sleep thanks to the baby sleeping in his own bed all night last night!  I have eaten better, and managed to ration myself to one episode of Sons of Anarchy so I could spend some time with my “Practical Mindfulness” book.

 

Tonight, I have been reading about the difference between being and doing.  To be mindful is to have a mind that is experiencing “being” rather than busy “doing”.  I shall try and articulate this a little more clearly; a busy mind with distraction and anxiety is not in the moment but elsewhere, so is therefore not able to experience mindfulness.

 

When the mind is busy doing, it is occupied by

  • Judgement
  • Self-Criticism
  • Problem-Solving
  • Engaging with feelings, past and present
  • Remembering
  • Speculating
  • Reacting

 

When we are simply being, (simply,ha!) our minds are aiming to experience the now with

  • non-judgement
  • Acceptance
  • Passivity
  • Non-Engagement
  • Living in the Moment
  • Attention
  • Responsiveness

 

It looks a lot when listed like this, however the latter list to me encompasses what mindfulness is all about, and how i can use it as a tool to deal with everyday anxieties and to help cope with addressing my phobia.  I found today that a few times I felt a bit short with the children; their behaviours were making me very quickly feel annoyed or angry (tell me a parent who doesn’t ever feel like this at one time or another) so I was really working on accepting my feelings, and responding to them without reacting.

 

I found that when I was putting toddler to bed, writing down my feelings helped me to deal with them so that I wasn’t dwelling on how angry and frustrated I felt when he decided it was time to squawk and climb out of bed several times.  And of course my patience and calm mindset paid off as eventually he stayed in bed and is sleeping soundly!  But my focus was on being mindful. accepting what was happening and letting any emotion I felt drift away onto the paper.

Ironically as I am typing this i can hear the baby stirring so it’s time to pack up the laptop and go settle him, but I am glad to be back on it with my studies and getting pleasantly lost in the world of Mindfulness!

Little bit Lost

Here is my confession; I’m struggling. With diet, exercise, CBT and generally looking after myself both physically and mentally. 

My mindfulness studies have become stalled, my diet is atrocious despite sticking to my lentern promise (aside from a pizza Hut last week) and I feel bloated, tired and a bit down.
I am struggling to recapture the motivation I had mere weeks ago. All I want to do is eat popcorn and watch sons of anarchy so it’s probably a good job I am on the final series. I never was able to ration things or have self control when it came to little pleasures. This is why ice.cream doesn’t last long in my freezer.
Hopefully I will come out of this soon and be back to maintaining myself physically and mentally. 

Here I Am!

It’s been a little while, and in that time I have not been following my exercise plan, practising Mindfulness minimally and becoming obsessed with watching Sons of Anacrchy whilst making a good go of consuming my own bodyweight in popcorn. I also had a battle with conjunctivitis, or rather the littest small did. Today is day 9 and his eye is still swollen, he has been quite poorly with it but is thankfully on the mend now. I also managed to scrape the side of the car on the fence this morning pulling out of the drive. 

I have, however, managed to stick to my lent commitment of giving up chocolate, sweets and takeaways for the duration. Only a few weeks left now!  Anyway, after talking to a friend on a rare night out at the weekend, I have decided to pick up my fitness challenge from day 20 and resume my commitment to good health. I have done as a bonus 50 squats and 50 crunches that I didn’t even need to do today. 
Not going to punish myself or feel bad for taking some time out, back on it onwards and upwards 🙂