Splish, Splash are you taking a Bath

Splish, Splash are you taking a Bath

Ok, so this blog is more about Soaking Away Stressors rather than Splish Splashing…. It’s a Whole Person Compassion Technique but you can chuck water about should you wish to.

Stress Release - Soothe the Body Mind Spirit

Stress Release – Soothe the Body Mind Spirit

It is a successful technique I share with my tribe, and it’s your challenge for day 5 of a 7-day challenge.

How often do you get to a point where you need to give yourself a bit extra? Not just at Physical level but Public/Mental/Emotional/Spiritual levels too?  Without a doubt, you will also need to cleanse your energy after a busy day undertaking all you have to do and all the people and situations you come into contact with.

You will need to set some ground rules with your nearest and dearest so that you can have a bit of space and time just to indulge in this stress reduction Self-Care routine.

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Self-Care vs Social Media – should it be a contest?

Self-Care vs Social Media

Should it be a contest?

Over the next 7 days, I will set a little Self-Care challenge each day for those who want to take it. I know that many will say they don’t have time; well if this is the case get over and see The Time Doctor…

Those of you who read my Blogs know that even though you get a few Musings of a Vintage Diva you also get my take on Mindfulness and Self-Care. After 40 years of ‘People-Work’ I have a bit of insight into what makes them tick or explode having been both sides of the coin myself. However there is only one constant and that YOU.

Mindfulness as a Tool

If you haven’t tried Mindfulness properly then let me remind you what Jon Kabat-Zinn said,  “Mindfulness is not a special state you achieve through a trick or a technique. It is a way of being.” so when you drink a cup of tea, just drink a cup of tea.

So why is Mindfulness so necessary in the 21st century? In truth I believe it helps bring balance and wellness back into lives. It aids combating tiredness and helps to increase energy levels; many students find it can also help with reducing challenges like;

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Low self-confidence
  • High stress levels

Several of my tribe use most of the techniques we practice find that tension in their body reduces considerably. Headaches are reduced and that they believe it aids coping with day to day lives in this busy world. Significantly it helps them to focus on the present rather than rushing furiously into the future or getting caught up in the past.   They keep all these excercises and techniques in their Tookbox/Bag.

Customise your Tool Box

Customise your Tool Box – Bag

Undertaking practice on a regular basis can enable individuals to take further control over their lives and ultimately find time to have more FUN.  In fact just 5/10 minutes essential relaxation included into your daily life will help you greatly and 5/10 minutes a day is far better that 1 hour a week. The daily habit begins to embed into the brain and becomes part of your routine  –  Relaxation is the first key to emotional well-being and helps reduce stress and other ailments once you can learn to relax effectively then Focused Relaxation, Mindfulness & Meditation will be the next stages.

Brain Spam/Mad Monkeys

One of the biggest distractions of learning to relax is the millions of thoughts that come hurtling through the brain.  Buddhists describe the mind as: ‘the mad monkey’ and that relaxation and meditation is a way of training that monkey.

Tame the little buggers!

Tame the little buggers!

Because when we are at the beginning of undertaking our relaxation practice, we are leaping from one thought to another just like the monkey jumping from tree to tree with no purpose, planning, we are illogical, erratic and irrational.   However, if you use the monkey as an analogy for your attention then you can begin to train your attention gently to focus on breathing, subtle feelings, symbols or images and thus cut down the times you leap from tree to tree until you become proficient in just focusing on relaxation

Lets start with DAY 1 – Practial Relaxation

 PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN!

PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN! Let Go of Social Media for 10 Minutes

Have a Practice  this one I have used for years; similar can also be found at; Quick, on-the-spot relaxation:

  1. Sit up and back in your chair so that you feel firmly rooted, legs slightly apart, feet flat on the floor. back straight, this keeps you energy flowing
  2. While you take a deep breath, letting it out slowly and drop your shoulders. Close your eyes if it helps. Focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly to a count of three or four – hold for a count of three – breathe for a count of three or four – pause for a count of three. Repeat at your own even, comfortable rhythm.  It can help to imagine yourself relaxing more each time you breathe in and the tensions flowing away with every out breath.
  3. Next, slowly tense, hold, and release the main muscle groups, working up through your body. Start with toes and feet; tense as much as possible, hold and release. Move on to legs and thighs, stomach and torso, in the same way.  Paying particular attention to your back and shoulders, this is where we hold a lot of tension.  Then work on your fingers hands and arms..  If you are brave enough, screw up the muscles of your face and neck and slowly release.
  4. Return to focusing on your natural breathing and check your body for any remaining tension just like a slow bar-code machine.
  5. Finally, check your seating position, drop your shoulders again, and place your hands comfortably on your upper legs and concentrate on the sensation of warmth as it flows out through your hands.

The Payoff

Everyone is aware that research shows that most people use Social Media for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, TV much longer, are you worth just 10 minutes. Should it be a contest or should you put yourself first? #JustSayin

Check out Tiny Buddha for more Self-Care ideas

Learning to use relaxation as a Self-Care tool in this way can be invaluable if you get anxious in public places and need to sit somewhere to compose yourself . Use it at work when you feel overwhelmed, it is well worth the 5 minutes to put your pen down or leave the computer and completely erase the scrambled thoughts from your brain! (some of my tribe go off to the loo to relax for a few minutes to get away from the distractions.). Can Social Media do this for you?

Give Mindful Relaxation a go, with practice you will embed it and use it as a tool from your toolbox/bag.

Day 2 tomorrow….Watch out for it…..

Diva x

 

 

Mindful Monday – Gently emerge into the New Week

Mindful Gentleness works wonders…..

Oh, how the weekend appears to flash by and then we return to Monday. Mindfulness goes out of your brain, for many of you the school holidays have started and the pressure is on to entertain the children regardless of age.

This is the time you are continually spinning plates with all you need to do. Therefore NOW schedule some techniques or exercises you can do just for you – ones you can slip into quickly that will give you an energy boost.

How Many do You Spin at a Time?

How Many do You Spin at a Time?

My gift to you today is three you can take and use – just enjoy.  Once you practice them, they embed and become part of your repertoire of routines you regularly use.

A quick tension release especially when you are sitting for a long time at a desk/on a plane/in conferences/with the in-laws/ boring lunches or at any time you notice you are tense.

To relieve tension in the body have a quick go at this, it’s wonderful just to stay in the moment with it:

 Mindful Foot flexing.

One of the most disregarded parts of the body – how often do you acknowledge them?  They get abused something rotten – give them a pamper once in a while – and talk nicely to your toes, without whom you would topple over!

Say HELLO to your Feet and Toes!

Say HELLO to your Feet and Toes!

Sit down with your legs outstretched.

  • As you breathe in slowly, tense the muscles of your feet as tightly as you can;
  • Hold the tension as you pause your breath;
  • As you breathe out, slowly let the tension go
  • Feel the relaxation spread up your legs
  • Mindfully notice how this feeling moves throughout your whole body.

Do this 5/10 times….it’s great for circulation if you have been sitting for a while.

Quiet Space

      Tranquillity

Tranquillity

  1. Choose a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted.
  2. Before you start, do a few gentle stretching exercises to relieve muscular tension.
  3. Make yourself comfortable, either sitting or lying down, remember you need a straight spine
  4. Start to breathe slowly and deeply, in a calm and effortless way. Notice the breath in and out and the pauses between each
  5. Gently slowly tense, each part of your body on the in breath and then relax on the out breath, starting with your feet and working your way up to your face and head.
  1. As you focus on each area, think of warmth, heaviness, and relaxation.
  2. Push any distracting thoughts to the back of your mind; imagine them floating away.
  3. Don’t try to relax; simply let go of the tension in your muscles and allow them to become relaxed.
  4. Let your racing thoughts go. Some people find it helpful to visualise a calm, beautiful place such as a beach; garden; meadow; hilltop.
  5. Stay like this for about 5/10 minutes, then take some deep breaths and open your eyes, but stay sitting or lying for a few moments before you get up.

Remember, your thoughts will come in and out, let them go but make a note of what distracts your practice when you have finished as often you will need to address them – keep your records

Mindful Visualisation and Music

Why Visualisation you may ask…well you may remember as a kid you would daydream.  You would imagine, at a physical level when playing games like film hero’s/heroines; have superpowers; or just lie in the sun and let your thoughts dwindles and your imagination come to the fore.

Remember that space where you could escape from the day to day stuff that crowded in on you. I used to drape a tarpaulin over the washing line and make a sort of tent with is and sit under it in the rain….I was in a rain forest and could just listen to the sounds the water main as it hit the tent…I knew I was safe and warm.

For you,  just take 5 minutes and absorb the scene and music……..HERE!

See, you can do it….lovely was it? I have more to come.

Now that’s all for today – just a bit of good old Diva Spirituality for all my hardworking entrepreneurs out there….just Chill for a bit.

Until next time

Diva x

 

 

Your world spills out of your bag

Could your world spill out of your bag?

I’m not going to collude with you – you bring about your own stressors by the choices you make. I don’t wish to sound uncompassionate but it’s the truth. However, that’s for another time.

Stress is a response by the body, mind or spirit to either too much or too little PRESSURE. We all need ‘stress’ in a positive sense; it’s what gets us up in the morning; out to work; off on holiday; everyday tasks; it keeps us bouncing around all day.  What we don’t need is too much.

Come and get it.....

Come and get it…..

How much is too much? That depends on each individual; some can absorb lots more than others.  We each have a responsibility to ourselves to understand our parameters. We don’t need to try and match everyone else.

Since we all have some stress in our lives it’s  worth knowing a very simple little equation as to how stress materializes:

“Stress = High Demands + High Constraints + Low Support, therefore, an excess of demands over the individuals ability to meet them gives and we have the Outcome – ‘Dis-Stress’”

It this YOU?

It this YOU?

SYMPTOMS OF DIS-STRESS

So what are the symptoms you ask! Simply put they come under four headings:

  1. Loss of self-worth which covers; Low self-esteem; depression; withdrawal; lack of confidence.
  2. Loss of control covering; Confusion; compulsive behaviour; weepiness; irritability; difficulty in completing tasks; de-motivation.
  3. Loss of health body reactions these cover; Headaches; tension in muscles; indigestion; a backache; palpitations; high blood pressure; unaccountable pains and more.
  4. Loss of the ability to relax covering; Inability to sleep properly; waking too early; not able to settle to any one activity; can’t stay still; not easy to relax with others.

Most of all, each of these can be broken down further but starting somewhere maybe all anyone needs….Do any of the above strike a chord with you if so now maybe the time to start to take back control.  Not easy but small steps and don’t beat yourself up if you go backward occasionally – you can do it!

My Stress Journey – the big adventure….

I had a very big meltdown in my early 30’s which took me on my path to where I am now. I was a busy mom, a full-time manager in social services, young son, completing the 2nd degree, marriage disintegrating and I dropped my handbag. That was the point my life shattered, and I had a breakdown – yes that’s all it took my world spilling out of my handbag  across the floor and my life forever more changed.

Just gauge the state of your handbag/manbag with the state of your mind and well-being. It changed for the better (although it took me a while to realise that!) and my journey into who I took a new pathway and I never looked back. After several months of talking therapy, I began my search with extra help from my favourite mnemonic – 5WH when; where; why; who; what; how. It began with re-learning our lost  skills.

What I was told 6 years later by my brilliant psychiatrist was that I was one of the sanest women she had met but I needed to learn to say ‘NO’ more often and believe in my capabilities.

When does it all start?

Remember; babies aren’t born with ‘stress’ we chuck it all over them layer upon layer just like the skin of an onion….set them up to fail and wonder why we have troubled and dysfunctional youngsters.

Is this you? (Tick each that may apply –  source )

* persistent tiredness; exhaustion

* deliberate avoidance of things that need doing

* bodily tension, leading to headaches, migraines, upset stomach

* sleep problems; either can’t sleep or sleeping too much

* loss of appetite or increased eating of ‘comfort foods.’

* too much to do; no motivation to get started

* mind in a whirl; can’t think straight, concentrate or work effectively

* feeling under pressure; no time; often in a panic

Sometimes these symptoms can indicate a medical problem, and it is worth checking this out with your GP, but if you are looking for ways to manage your stress levels it is worth considering some of the things you can do for yourself at home.

So, where to start if you decide to break free of the ‘stress’ cycle? My suggestion would be:

RELAXATION

Because we have often lived and still live busy lifestyles we have forgotten the skill of RELAXING.  However, the good news is that it is possible to re-learn this skill and benefit from it.  There are a variety of ways to relax, and it is worth exploring several to find out which suits you.

REMEMBER – Thinking about Relaxation will often make you feel more tense, if this happens, please don’t give up, as it does take time and practice like any other skill you may try and develop.

FIRSTLY – you need to remember that it is o.k. to take a short time for yourself each day to practice, it also gives you the time to rest, thus enabling your body to slow down and re-energise.

SECONDLY – you will need to think about each part of your body in turn and spot where the tensions are, (when was the last time you gave conscious thought to your poor toes?  Just wait I have a blog coming up just about feet!).

DON’T FEEL GUILTY TAKING, THIS TIME, YOU DESERVE IT. BE NICE TO YOURSELF AND ENJOY  !!!!.

Spotting the tensions will come quickly with practice.  Try tensing and relaxing various parts of your body, feel the difference between the two stages.  With practice, you will be able to identify tension quickly and its causes, and also releases tension without too  much conscious effort.

And Relax........

And Relax……..

GUIDELINES FOR RELAXATION.

1.)   Get to know when and why you get tense and make changes in your lifestyle where possible.

2.)   Spot tension at an early stage; get to know where your body gets too tense and what triggers it.  Use this as a signal to deal with it and put into practice your new techniques

3.)   Relax – Practice as often as you need it, not just at the end or the beginning of each day.  Use what you learn and slowly you will become able to relax just by thinking about it.  Don’t at any point force yourself take it gently and slowly – be kind to you.

4.)   When you have found a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a length of time ( you know who might!) turn off ‘phone’s and computers, so the sound is minimized.  Some people lie on a bed; others sit in a chair or on the floor.  Then off you go.  (After a time you will learn to switch off and relax in noisy places!!!!)

5.)   KEEP PRACTICING – How will you keep going?  It takes a time to break old habits like tension. It might seem too difficult at times, keep going, YOU WILL GET BETTER AND BETTER.

Quick on the spot Exercise

There are many approaches to stress reduction through relaxation, and no one method is right for everyone or in every setting.

and chill......

and chill……

Here’s a quick exercise  I learned years ago that helped me; many students use in all sorts of situations:

  1. Sit up and back in your chair spine straight so that you feel firmly rooted, legs slightly apart, feet flat on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes, Taking a deep breath in drop your shoulders each time you breath out slowly. Just focus on the breath, in for a count of 3/4 hold for a pause, breathe out to the count of 3/4 and repeat for a few minutes.
  3. Begin to imagine yourself relaxing more each time you breathe in and the tensions flowing away with every out breath.
  4. Finally, when you bring yourself back be mindful of how you are sitting nicely relaxed and feel the difference in comparison to when you began.

FINALLY…….

Learning to relax is invaluable if you get anxious and remember not just breathing can help, but Meditation/Tai Chi/Swimming/Yoga great techniques that can support stress reduction to – get out there and find that works for you.

Yes, our lives can be stressful and pressured.  It’s difficult to imagine finding the time and energy to do something about it.  However, it is worth the relatively small amount of effort it takes to learn some relaxation techniques.  Relaxation is a ‘transferable skill’ which will not only serve you well in exams, presentations or interviews but also at the dentist or in any other stressful setting, or as a way of helping you to get to sleep.

Enjoy the rest of your journey in a less stressful Mind and Body

Until next time

Diva X

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t try to belly breathe in an under-wire bra

‘Don’t try to belly breathe wearing an under-wire bra’

This was a top tip from one of my students a few years ago.  Absolutely right, the air won’t get past the chest as the underwire stops it.  Therefore soft-cups peeps when you practice.

Never ever when Belly Breathing!

Never ever when Belly Breathing!

So, why air this top tip today?  Some of you may wonder what on earth my musings are about and that they seem a bit random. Let me enlighten you; each of my Blogs has an underlying message it’s down to you to decode it…the more enlightened you are the more you decode…. Simples.

Those of you who spotted the washing machine know what I’m on about.  But, today I will make it stress-free and easy-going and offer a little confab about ‘Belly Breathing’.

This particular Blog is totally lifted from my up and coming book. If you are interested in Mindful Breathing this is a great way to start.

The breath is the most important technique to practice; although we breathe all the time we often don’t do it properly. Therefore, to get started keep it simple.  To begin with, it’s all about the Breath, the posture, and a quiet place so you won’t be disturbed and then you move towards your centre/zone.  The magic is about to begin…

Choose a quiet space that you can customize for yourself – it can be as simple as a chair and a little space. Somewhere you can feel comfortable – turn off all distractions and get ready.

Start with sitting in a chair, keeping the back straight so your energy can flow and your feet uncrossed flat on the floor. Just notice how the chair supports you and where you feel the pressure.

Your Nose is Key

Next, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Begin to watch where the breath goes – it should go up the nose, down the throat into the lungs, then into the belly at which point the belly should inflate like a balloon – however when most people breathe in they seem to pull everything in. Just pay attention to the breath as it enters the body – the tip of your nose is a good starting point.

Tip of your nose is a great anchor to bring you back to your breath

Tip of your nose is a great anchor to bring you back to your breath

A couple of great tips.

  • Watch babies breathing and see how the belly inflates on the breath in and deflates as the breath moves out.
  • Now lie on a bed and as you breathe in notice how your belly rises and falls. None of this pulling it in malarky.

It takes a bit of practice, but you will get it and start breathing properly again — one warning though if you breathe too deeply, to begin with, you may feel lightheaded so just go back to a more gentle breath.

Just practice noticing the in and out flow of each breath and then notice the slight pause in between the in’s and the out. All you are doing is mindfully being aware of your breathing and your pauses.

Check out this visual aid

Here’s a quick little exercise to get you motivated

The following simple exercise is an effective method for achieving a mindful state. Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed and practice the following exercise twice for several minutes each day: Find a comfortable sitting posture or lie on your back. I advocate sitting in a chair as this can be done most places anytime anywhere.

  • If you’re sitting, keep the spine straight and let your shoulders drop –relax your body checking for any tensions- try to let it go.
  • Close your eyes if it feels comfortable (less distraction)
  • Focus your attention on your tummy, feeling it rise or expand gently as you breathe in and fall as you breathe out.
  • Concentrate on your breathing, ‘being with’ each breath count 1 when you breathe in, and 2 when you breathe out – up to 10 then start again. If you forget, go back to Breathe in for 1 and out for two keep these going for 3 minutes.

Every time you notice your mind has wandered off the breath, then your job is simply to bring your attention gently back to your breathing and the feeling of the breath coming in and out.

Practice – (just like cleaning your teeth it will become habit)

Practice this exercise for 3/5 minutes at a convenient time twice every day, whether you feel like it or not, for one week – and see how it feels to incorporate relaxation practice into your life – Try to do it at the same time each day, so it becomes a habit.

Be aware of how it feels to spend time each day just being with your breath, being ‘in the moment’ without having to do anything

Write down the things that distract you from your breathing practice and share them with someone.you can do this anyway this suits you; book; computer; verbally into your phone;  But, keep a timeline so you can see you progression you will be amazed and your growth.  Many of my tribe keep some sort of journal/diary those that don’t often forget chunks of their journey.

Use the best method of recording for you.

Use the best method of recording for you.

Remember that you won’t get it right all of the time and that’s great as no one is perfect.  With practice you will develop – Olympic Champions had to practice for many years before achieving their medals.

Start slowly and build your foundations

These are my Building Foundations

These are my Building Foundations

With basic mindfulness breathing, you want to try to increase to 5/10 minutes daily, to begin with, this will help you greatly. However if you  undertake all your daily tasks mindfully when you remember you are increasing the mindful habit incredibly.

Mindful breathing is the key to emotional well-being and helps reduce stress and other ailments. Remember you are looking to achieve a state of relaxed body and alert mind.

Keep checking breathing   – In through nose out through mouth; what happens to your diaphragm?  Remember to look at your posture and check out where tension is, breathe into it and release.

Although this exercise may sound very simple, it’s not.  To begin with, it requires time and commitment. Peeps often want to learn to meditate straight away without learning the basic building blocks.  THERE IS NO QUICK FIX – yes I was shouting at you!

As a result of practice, step by step the breath builds into great habits.  You become Mindfulness and Mindfulness is You….its Yin & Yang – complete balance.

     Life/Work Balance

Life/Work Balance

Further Top tips from students:

  • “It is very useful to make notes on your progress, a journal/diary maybe.” “Preparation is KEY.”
  • “Any breathing technique is useful ….I love them all. I use belly breathing throughout the day. I also find flexing my hands or feet on the in breath and relaxing them on the out breath is a good way of clearing the mind in order to get back to sleep. (J.E. 2016)
  • “Breathing and counting, you can’t panic about work and count” (V.W. 2016)

Until next time, happy breathing.

 

Diva x

ENERGY BOOST 2016

So, Energy Boost 2016: What is energy and when was the last time you felt your energy was depleted? We all know Einstein proved energy existed in everything and now the mass of quantum physics/mechanics evidence shows that energy is within us and outside of us affecting our everyday lives.

So what slurps away your energy? Here’s something a bit off the wall…..your ‘STUFF’ yes…. your ‘CLUTTER’.

Did you know, your clutter/stuff holds onto energy and not always yours, energy you bring back into your home on your clothes & shoes from work/shopping/friends/all outside activities/pavements it ‘sticks’ everywhere (that’s another Blog.)

For years I have cleared clutter only for it to reappear within weeks; it replicates itself magically – do you find yourself in a similar situation? Continue reading