5 Ways to Calm Your Mind

5 Ways to Calm Your Mind

One in five (20%) Australians aged 16-85 experience a mental illness in any year. Almost half (45%) Australians will experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2009). National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results, 4326.0, 2007. ABS: Canberra.

Over the years, I have compiled a short list of things that helped when I experienced depressive and anxious symptoms including stress, irritation, hopelessness or deep sadness. Finding ways to manage these symptoms made a world of difference in my life.

Remember, what may work for me may not work for you. Be patient through the process and don’t give up hope!

1. Mindfulness and body awareness.

Sometimes it can be difficult to calm ourselves down when our emotions overwhelm us.

Being mindful throughout your day can help, like noticing how sitting in a chair is supporting your body, or how laying in bed restores your energy – thoughts like this can lead to a calmer mindset. This can also encourage thoughts of gratitude and positivity.

Deep breathing – as simple as it sounds – helps us connect to our body. The main goal with breathing and exercise, is to get us out of our minds and into the PRESENT MOMENT.

Whenever an overwhelming feeling rises, take a few moments. Breathe deeply. Inhale in, slow exhale out. Scream into a pillow if it helps!

NOTE: Using a “mantra” can be useful to remind yourself to stay positive.

Things I say to remind myself:

“I acknowledge my pain but I will not stay in it.”

“I’m safe in this place.”

“Anger is a normal emotion.”

Take some deep breaths, acknowledge the emotion that rises and let it go.

2. Exercise.

Even 10 minutes each day can be beneficial. We hear it over and over how exercise helps — that’s because it really does.

  • Promotes the release of feel-good chemicals in your brain, like endorphins and serotonin.
  • Gives you a sense of accomplishment as your fitness improves and you start achieving your goals.
  • Exercise is usually a shared activity with others so you get the added benefits of social connection.
  • Sharper memory and thinking. The same endorphins that make you feel better also help you concentrate and feel mentally sharp for tasks at hand. Exercise also stimulates the growth of new brain cells and helps prevent age-related decline.

When I struggled with depression and anxiety, yoga and walking really helped to connect my mind to my body.

On YouTube, I frequently watch Yoga with Adriene. She has a calming voice, is humorous and a great teacher of patience/respect towards our bodies.

I always try to encourage my boyfriend to go on walks with me also – having a walking buddy is nice! Even if you go with a friend, this can foster social connection which is a basic human need.

More recently, I’ve started working out at home. I purchased a Home Workout Guide from Madalin Giorgetta to help my confidence while building strength.

Watching YouTube follow-alongs of 10 minute workouts can be a great way to get motivated!

Exercise in general encourages me to stay active and push through any lurking negative feelings or mindsets.

3. Listen to podcasts or guided meditation.

Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Ancient Wisdom Today on Spotify – the guy’s voice is really calming. He has a lot of encouraging words.
  • Guided meditation: Michael Seeley’s channel on YouTube is great for guided meditation.
  • Impact Theory. Watching interviews with leading experts in all things mindset, business and general well-being.
  • Infinite Waters. “Diving deep” into consciousness, raising self-esteem and confidence.

Listening to what other people have overcome in their struggle, can be really uplifting.

Similarly, watching or reading about how people changed their mindset, manage mental illness and find love in the darkest of times can encourage you to keep swimming.

There were moments in my life where I felt like I shouldn’t be here on this Earth but forcing myself to watch positive, encouraging and strength-inducing videos helped me “get out of quick-sand”, so to speak.

Whenever I feel myself sinking, I have a common action plan:

  • Talk to my boyfriend about it.
  • Schedule friendship dates, outings and catch ups.
  • Make sure to vent on my private blog.
  • Schedule an appointment with my psychologist.
  • Watch motivational videos and listen to big-idea podcasts.

This doesn’t always happen in that particular order, but these are my personal tried-and-tested options to get out of a negative mindset.

These days, I would say the most difficult times have passed, but I still refer to my personal action plan whenever I start to notice that dark familiar feeling.

4. Spend time with loved ones.

When we’re feeling irritable, it can be difficult to be social. In small doses though, loving company and light-hearted conversations can really help in uplifting our mood.

In the last few years I’ve become really honest with friends/family/boyfriend about my mental health.

If you feel comfortable to do so, share your struggles. This can unload some of the weight and help you feel calmer in your mind and body.

I’ve told my boyfriend how important it is that he is more encouraging when I feel really anxious or deeply sad and that has helped me feel loved and grounded.

It is okay to ask for help and to tell our loved ones what we need when times get rough.

It is all too common that we feel guilty or ashamed, but there’s no need to — you’re not doing anything wrong by reaching out or being honest with how you feel.

If you don’t feel comfortable or safe to talk to anyone around you, find online communities, mental health pages or speak to a counsellor or psychologist that you can trust.

5. Express your emotions.

What I’ve learned in school about emotion, is that we all need some form of expression or else normal things like anger and sadness can overwhelm us.

Whether it’s through writing, exercise, typing it out in a private blog or having a friend listen, these are good forms of expression.

During high school, I was grounded a lot and my only form of expression was to draw. All the pain, frustration and isolation I felt was put onto paper. Whenever I had the chance, I’d also write it out or type it up on a private blog.

Are there activities you naturally gravitate towards? Skate boarding, dancing, drawing, painting, restoring furniture, DIY projects, cooking, writing, photography?

Whatever it may be, find a way to get the emotion/frustration/joy from your mind out into the world in a creative and healthy way.

Bottling it up can make things worse so it is always better to find a way to let it out – trust me when I say this.

What mental health needs is more sunlight, more candor, and more unashamed conversation. – Glenn Close.

If you or someone you care about is struggling, please refer to the list below for immediate help and/or advice.

If it is an emergency, please dial 000.

  • lifeline.org.au 13 11 14 – crisis support, suicide prevention
  • healthengine – Find a psychologist in Australia
  • healthengine – Find a counsellor in Australia
  • blueknot helpline 1300 657 380 – complex trauma
  • beyondblue.org.au 1300 22 4636 – depression/anxiety awareness
  • kidshelpline.com.au 1800 55 1800 – private, confidential counselling
  • qlife.org.au 1800 184 527 – LGBTI support site
  • vvcs.gov.au 1800 011 046 – veteran, war-related support
  • ReachOut – youth mental health and community forums

Image by Sven.

5 Ways to Function through a Depressive Slump

5 Ways to Function through a Depressive Slump

Taking notice.

Nothing in particular has been overwhelming. Yet strangely, I have noticed a decline in my motivation, I’ve been struggling to sleep at night and I haven’t been able to concentrate during the day. As I type this, exhaustion is ensuing. All I want to do, is sleep. I’ve felt like this for the last month or so.

But, hope is not lost! Continue reading “5 Ways to Function through a Depressive Slump”

Mindful Meditation

Mindful Meditation

What is it?

Mindful meditation is a practice that trains the mind to focus on the present moment, without judgement. Being aware of your surroundings, thoughts and feelings. It can be practiced on your own, in groups or during retreats. Exercises during a meditation session include focusing on the breath, exploring the senses like taste, smell, touch and sound.

My experience.

Generally speaking, I thought I was quite self-aware. However, until I started using mindful meditation, I realised how much I could benefit from such a practice.

Rewind two years. I noticed that my heart would palpitate out of nowhere, constantly feeling that something bad was going to happen. I was exhausted all the time and found it difficult to sleep. I stumbled upon a channel on YouTube that posted guided meditations. The comments seemed to rave on about how this channel helped them through many tough times. I thought, if so many of these comments were saying it helped them, why not give it a try? During the day, I’d listen to these voice-overs to ‘escape’ the bustling world around me. I would sit in my car, just to be alone and listen. I learned to focus on my breath. I also learned grounding techniques, thanks to a counsellor I was seeing at the time.

Although I was working through functioning during the day, I was still struggling to sleep at night. So I decided to listen to guided meditations. This was the best decision I made! Within thirty minutes or less, I’d fall asleep! My phone would be left charging overnight, while the rest of the meditation video played through. However, if you feel safer in doing so, turn off electrical devices just before drifting off to sleep.

9 times out of 10, mindful meditation allowed me to have a deep, restful sleep! Finally.

Fast forward to today. I still use these meditations to sleep at night. Now, I am going to try and practice mindful meditation in the mornings – for extra motivation and focus!

Where do I start?

Personally, I would find channels/podcasts that are popular and have good feedback. Not all channels may appeal to you, so find one that you connect with.

I frequently visit a YouTube channel created by Michael Sealey. He has an array of videos targeting anxiety, depression, chakra cleansing and over-thinking to name a few. His voice to me, is very grounding, making me feel calm and at ease.

Mindful meditation can encourage self-compassion, slowly changing the judgemental tones we sometimes find ourselves using in our heads. You know that critical voice, always making us feel unnecessarily bad about ourselves/actions? Yep, that one. Change that voice and it’ll change your thinking for the better!

The other day, I downloaded an iPhone app called “Calm”. It’s great, because it has different ‘topics’ like mindful eating, mindfulness at work, 7 days of calm as well as many others. So far, I have found it very helpful for focus. It’s helped me feel more motivated in the mornings! Be aware that some topics are locked as it requires a yearly subscription fee.

From YouTube channels, smartphone applications to podcasts, there are many options out there for you to try.

Benefits of Mindfulness

According to a study conducted at Oxford University in England, mindfulness (coupled with cognitive therapy) has been said to reduce symptoms of chronic depression.

According to a study conducted at UCLA in America, mindfulness meditation could be a factor in improved memory and focus. They found that those who had been meditating long-term had more ‘folds’ in the brain’s cortex, suggesting improved information processing and the formation of memories.

In day-to-day life, mindfulness meditation can help reduce stress and anxiousness. It can also raise your self-awareness and help you to recognise thoughts and feelings that may or may not be serving you. Check-in with yourself, from time to time. Make time for self-inventory.

It’s not a smooth journey, but it is a path worth exploring for better mental health and well-being!

Eco Friendly TPE Yoga Mat

If you’d like to learn more, I’ve listed links below:

Applications to download:

  • Calm
  • Mt. Focused (for study)
  • Headspace

Image by Jared Rice.

A lot of us, we feel that meditation is about silence. No, it is about awareness. – Ralph Smart

Let go of what no longer serves you.

You are not your past. 

Namaste.

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Welcome back to my regular readers and thank you for joining me if you are new! This blog is about mental-health wellness as well as lifestyle topics like fashion, food, decluttering and travel adventures. You can stay connected for updates, quotes and general life-happenings on my Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter!

It is possible to create change and manifest positivity in your life! x

How art has helped me: the teen years.

How art has helped me: the teen years.

*To make the post interactive, hyperlinks have been added. Videos and further information are there for maximum learning. Please note some videos may be triggering, so proceed with caution.*

High school was a place of discovery and I enjoyed the new-found independence. However, there was a power struggle between me and my parents. I admit, I was not the easiest daughter to deal with. At all. Restrictions and deadlines simply encouraged me to rebel, further and further. The more restrictions that came, the more resentment I harboured. I couldn’t understand why I felt the way I felt. I couldn’t figure out why I was losing motivation. Some days I was snappy and other days I thought I might burst from feeling loved. During these few years, I had confided in a teacher that I had lost motivation to do anything (including the psychology assignment due that day). She told me to speak to a counsellor to try and help me get back on track. I’d never seen a counsellor before, and my view of counsellors were people who would only tell my parents whatever I would say. I went once, feeling too vulnerable to have a proper conversation. I didn’t return. Continue reading “How art has helped me: the teen years.”