Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 14

The challenge for this week was… 5 Minutes of Deep Breathing!

Here is a small overview of how I got on with the challenge.

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This week, I tried a few different ways to practice deep breathing. On the days I was feeling tired, I would stay lying in bed after my alarm went off and do the deep breathing on my back, starting the day with a calming breath. I think it helped me feel more awake!

Other days, I sat on the edge of my bed, and practiced deep breathing whilst looking at my vision board. This was a great way of setting positive intentions, whilst also exhaling out any stress simultaneously. I enjoyed letting my mind wonder and think about my future, but also reigning in the breath and reminding myself of the present moment.

The problem with deep breathing (or any meditation) is that I find it hard to make a consistent routine. I often forget to do it, or my mind automatically dreads the time I have to sit still – because I’m rearing to get up and get things done! But then I’m happy to spend that same amount of time scrolling social media – it’s hypocritical!

As a result, it’s all about creating a mind shift. I must associate deep breathing with something good – and it is something good; it increases wellbeing and productivity.

Perhaps I need to stop talking so much about meditation and start doing it!

Have you been practicing deep breathing?

How does it make you feel?

Weekly Wellbeing Challenge: Week 4

The challenge for this week was… 5 minute meditation!

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I’ve been dipping in and out of meditation for a while. When I was first introduced to it a few years ago, I really didn’t like it. But now, I think I have a better insight into how it helps the body and mind.

I chose meditation for this week because I want to start meditating regularly. I find it difficult to get into a routine because often I keep it up for a certain length of time, and then I stop and forget about it (which I’m sure is relatable for a lot of things!)

At the moment, it’s harder to create that routine, now that we’re all at home. As the week went on, I kept forgetting to meditate after my shower, but often I would remember during the day and do it then instead.

What I’ve noticed from meditating:

  • It encourages me to breathe more deeply, which makes it easier for me to relax and not tense up my muscles
  • At times, it’s not easy, especially if I’m already feeling anxious, or I can hear my heartbeat
  • It’s worth sticking out the bad patches because, once I’ve finished meditating, I feel calmer and more present within myself

 

I found that the best times to meditate are:

  • As soon as I wake up (but after I’ve got dressed/showered so that I’m not so tired I will just fall back asleep again!)
  • When I need to take a break from work (meditating genuinely re-energises me so much! it’s like a little nap)

 

Overall, meditating is a good way of acknowledging my presence in the world, living in the moment and noticing when I’m feeling uncomfortable or anxious and making the changes to reduce it (rather than continuing to distract myself).

My aim is to continue to meditate as much as I can over the next week, month and year. Even if it’s only a 5 minute break between finishing my work and grabbing my lunch, it’s worth something.

What are your thoughts on meditation?

Let me know in the comments below!

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My Goals for Tackling Stress/Anxiety

As some of you know, I shared a personal post a month ago about post viral fatigue. A lot has changed since then so I’m here with an update, as well as my plan and goals for the future.

After a lot of doctor visits, I eventually got referred privately to see a consultant. I finally got a chance to share all my struggles with no interruptions and a listening ear which was exactly what I needed. I had multiple tests – ultrasound scan on my neck and a lot of blood tests. It ended up being more blood tests as I would have liked since I’m a bit of a “mystery case” as the phlebotomist put it (they can never seem to get blood out of me!). I had 1 on the arm, 2 on the hand and 2 on the foot and they still got nothing! So that was a fun journey of returning to the hospital the day after with my warmest hoodie, a hot chocolate, gloves and some spontaneous jumping around. Got some interesting looks.

Once it was completed, I got all the results back and turns out nothing is wrong. I didn’t really know how to feel at all. I was so relieved there was nothing majorly wrong but I also didn’t have an answer to my problems. I’ve been told by the consultant that it could have been a virus that’s thrown my system completely off, or it could be the result of chronic stress/anxiety that’s manifesting itself in a different way.

The way forward is for me to now tackle my stress/anxiety and live the best possible healthy lifestyle I can, in the hope that my symptoms will fade (which they already are, so that’s progress!).

 

Here are my goals for 2019/2020! 

 

  • EXERCISE MORE

Over the last two years at university, I’ve been exercising through badminton club and the occasional walk around the park/lake. On reflection, this isn’t really enough. Aside from the fact I probably spend most of badminton sitting around chatting and not actually playing, when I do participate in exercise it’s not intense enough, nor is it a good duration. As much as I love badminton, I’m thinking of quitting it this year to focus on other forms of exercise that will be more beneficial (and I don’t want to overcommit myself to both). I’m planning on doing yoga and zumba classes, as well as possibly joining a walking group/club. I’m actually really excited to try something different and I’m feeling positive about the effects it will have on my stress levels.

 

  • DRINK LESS ALCOHOL & CAFFEINE

I say drink less, but to be honest I’m going to try not to drink any at all if I can. Both alcohol and caffeine are stimulants which means anxiety/stress feeds off of it. Realistically, if I ever want to reach a consistent stress-free state, I will have to cut out things that will purposefully cause spikes in my progress, so alcohol and caffeine has to go! I think cutting caffeine will be easier since I love chamomile and sleep teas so I will live off of them! In terms of alcohol, I normally only drink it socially anyway, but I’m aiming to avoid clubbing this year because that’s the only time I feel as though I have to drink.

 

  • SCHEDULE IN SELF-CARE

I am the worst person ever at self-care. I spend way too much time working, I get too invested in other people’s problems, and I have a habit of just ignoring how I’m feeling in order to make others feel better. But I’ve decided that now I need to be a little bit selfish, otherwise my health will suffer. I’ve created a list of self-care ideas (which I will probably share with you all sometime) and I’m aiming to complete at least a few of them each week.

 

  • DIVERSIFY MY DIET

In terms of the average uni student, I’d say my diet is pretty good. I eat 3 meals a day, I remember to eat a good portion of fruit/vegetables and almost always buy fresh food. However, I do get into a bad habit of repeating the same meals. To improve my digestion, but also for a little excitement, I’m going to switch around my meals and try some new things, as well as replacing my go-to vegetables (onions, peppers, mushrooms) with ones I don’t have so often (aubergine, carrot, green beans). I love cooking so this one should be pretty fun!

 

  • USE MY PHONE LESS

Since my phone/social media detox on holiday, I’ve learnt I need to live in the moment more. I’m so much more relaxed this way. I’m going to create more of a distance between myself and my phone and check it less throughout the day (maximum 15 minutes on it). I know there will be times when I break these rules because I can’t instantly change myself, but it’s something to work towards and eventually succeed at.

 

  • PRACTISE DEEP BREATHING

For some reason, I’d got it into my head that deep breathing just wasn’t working for me. My body naturally reacts to it with a faster heart rate and I instantly assume that it’s just making things worse. However, I think this is because I don’t breathe enough; my body is constantly stressed and it’s used to breathing shallowly. The only time I notice my breath is when I’m anxious so it’s no wonder I associate focusing on my breathing with anxiety. To change this, I’m going to focus on my breathing more, regardless of my body’s initial reaction. I’ve found that after 15 minutes or so of breathing, my heart rate does eventually drop. If it doesn’t, I grab a hot cup of chamomile tea instead and that normally does the trick.

I think the biggest thing I’ve taken away from all of this is to listen to my body more. I’m starting to notice more and more when my body gets stressed/anxious and instead of ignoring it, I am now doing something about it. It’s easy to feel as though you have no choice but to plow through, but a few minutes out of your day to just breathe, or have an apple, or do yoga, is nothing in the grand scheme of things.

 

My goal for 2019/2020 is to live a healthier and stress-free lifestyle – what’s yours? 

 

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