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Barriers to Mindfulness and Overcoming Them

mindfulness

Practice makes perfect. How many times have you heard that in your life? A lot of times we see people achieving things that look so easy, not even wrapping our head around how much practice it took for them to be able to make it look so effortless. Mindfulness is no different. Those that have been practicing mindfulness for an exceptionally long period of time often make it look and sound quite easy. But that is not true. Even they had to begin somewhere. If you have had challenges beginning your mindfulness journey, you are not alone. In this post I want to talk about a few barriers that you may encounter in your mindfulness journey.

Racing Thoughts

This is one of the biggest barriers that I have been facing in my mindfulness journey.  Many of us have so many things on our mind all the time that are thoughts are constantly bouncing from one thing to another.  These never ending stream of thoughts can be a hinderance to being present in the moment since being present requires you to focus on the here and now.   It can be a challenge to focus when your thoughts are all over the place, but it can be done.  It just takes practice.  This is much easier said than done but you must practice slowing your thoughts down.  If you find that your thoughts are racing to the point there you cannot focus, shift your thoughts to your breaths, the sounds around you, or even the smells around you.  It takes discipline but you can do it.

Not Enough Time

We all have busy schedules that often lends itself to very little free time.   It seems that there is always something to do or somewhere to be.  When thinking of being mindful, it is quite easy to feel like it is a chore – one more thing to stick into your busy schedule.  You will not get the full benefit of being mindful if you are treating it like a task and not something that is to your benefit.  My suggestion for this barrier is to schedule your mindfulness time for the same time every day.  Whether it is early in the morning before work or in the evening before bed, make it a part of your routine.  If it is in your daily schedule, it will become a part of your routine and not something that you feel needs to be rushed through. 

lady being mindful

Change Takes Time

Many of us want instant gratification.  Our phones give us quick access to our family and friends, latest news, and social media.  You can get almost anything you need in a few seconds’ time. Unfortunately, the practice of mindfulness is not something that will give you that instant gratification.  It is a process just like any journey or new habit that you embark upon. You must keep practicing mindfulness even when it feels like nothing is changing.  Remember that this is a process, and that change comes after consistency and time.

Doubt

Doubt is a mindset that can hinder you if you are not careful. It will have you so convinced that something may not work that you end up not putting your all into whatever it is that you are trying to achieve.  Doubting that your mindfulness journey will be beneficial will have you missing out on the many benefits that it has.  When you begin to doubt that something will work, you run the risk of not fully giving it a chance because you are already doubting that it will work.  Overcoming a doubting mindset is a feat in of itself.  If you choose to begin the mindfulness journey, try your best to push through all doubts so that you can reap all the benefits.

Distractions

Distractions come in so many forms.  There are the obvious distractions to mindfulness such as your phone ringing or being interrupted.  But things such as being hungry, being stressed, or being tired are also distractions because they take your focus off being mindful and onto whatever the distraction is.  The obvious remedy for this is to try to eliminate as many distractions as possible prior to practicing mindfulness.  Also, you may want to try only being mindful for about 3-5 minutes and then work yourself up to longer periods of time.  If you happen to encounter some of these distractions, do not be too hard on yourself.  Just refocus and try again. 

phone as a distraction

Have you encountered these barriers in your mindfulness journey? If so, how did you overcome them? Comment below if you have overcome these barriers or if you encountered different barriers.

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5 Ways to Increase Your Self-Esteem

There are so many things that can affect your self-esteem.  Your upbringing, any traumatic experiences, or even the people you associate yourself with can affect the way you see yourself.  The funny thing about self-esteem is that you may be viewing yourself in a completely different light than how everyone else sees you.  But it does not matter how wonderful everyone else thinks you are if you do not see yourself that way.  Raising your self-esteem is critical because it is a lot easier to reach your goals and dreams if you believe that you can.  The following are some ways to increase your self-esteem.

Think and Speak Positively

It is important to be conscious of your thoughts because negative thoughts often lead to negative words.  Controlling your thoughts is a process but you can start by challenging those negative thoughts that may enter your mind.  If you have a negative thought, stop, and ask yourself if it based in reality or in fears.  Turn that negative thought into a positive one, even if you have to speak the positive version of the thought out loud.  Your words are powerful, and it is critical to your self-image and self-esteem that you speak and think positive thoughts.

Believe in Yourself

Have you ever been in a situation where you were being encouraged by those around, but you had no real belief in yourself?  A huge part of building your self-esteem is believing and having confidence in yourself.  It can sometimes be hard to brag on yourself but thinking about or making a list of all your accomplishments can help build your self-confidence.  The main goal is to be aware of your strengths and weakness and think of yourself in the best possible light.  Genuine belief in yourself will lead to an increase in self-esteem.

Celebrate Success

Sometimes we can be so humble that we do not toot our own horn.  But there is no harm in celebrating your successes.  As a matter of fact, it is an important part of building your self-esteem.  It builds your self-esteem when you celebrate all accomplishments, both big and small.  On those days where your self-esteem may be a little low, remember your accomplishments and know that it if you did it then, you can do it now.  Do not hesitate to celebrate yourself.

Give Yourself the Grace You Give Others

We often give others the breaks and kind words that we do not give ourselves.  A big part of building up your self- esteem is to forgive yourself if you fall short.  Do not tie shortcomings to your self-worth.  When others fall short or do not meet our expectations, we often tell them not to worry about it or that it will be okay. We do not hold it against them.  Give yourself the same grace and forgiveness that you give others.  Your past mistakes do not affect your self-worth so be very conscious of letting it affect your self-esteem.

Face Your Fears

Not shying away and facing your fears takes a lot of strength to do.  When you overcome your fears and succeed in doing those things that you wanted to accomplish, your confidence begins to rise, and you begin to feel that you can do almost anything. This feeling is what gives you the rise in your self-esteem.  Once your self-esteem begins to rise, you begin to have the confidence that you can do anything.  Facing your fears can go a long way in increasing your self-esteem.

What are some things that you do to raise your self-esteem when you feel like it is low?

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Holiday Self-Care: Say No!

Photo by Pavel Danilyuk on Pexels.com

Holidays can be full of invitations.  The celebrations may look and feel a little different this year, but the invitations will probably still come.  You may feel obligated to attend or participate in these events because you were invited or because the event may be something that you would have attended in the past.  There is power in the word ‘no’.  I am talking about a good, old fashioned, solid ‘no’.  The kind of no that does not come with an explanation or an apology.  You deserve a holiday that does not leave you feeling overwhelmed and drained because you agreed to something that you really should have passed on.

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Self-Care for Parents of Children with Special Needs

Mother kissing child

As a special needs parent, your self- care regimen is important. Caring for a child with special needs can be stressful.  In fact, the word stressful may be an understatement.  We all can attest that there are great days where our kids achieve something that we thought would not happen as soon as it did.  Your fellow special needs parents can understand the joy of a child eating a new food or acquiring a new skill or even speaking after countless doctors have told you that your child is nonverbal and will remain that way.

There is another thing I think we all can agree with when it comes to being parents of children with special needs and that is the fact that we often neglect to take care of ourselves.  As a busy mother of four children – one having an autism diagnosis – I am guilty if not taking care of myself like I should.  The following are a few ways that we can practice self-care.

Take 5-10 minutes for yourself

Depending on your situation, this suggestion may seem virtually impossible.  But you can do it.  You can spend this time mindlessly doodling.  Or you can use this time to just taking deep, cleansing breaths.  Deep breathing allows your body to relax and release any stress while giving you a boost of energy.  The life of a special needs parent can be very hectic and stressful.  Taking mental breaks can be just the thing you need to get you through your day.

Every day is not going to be a good day

We would all like to think that we can hold it together all day every day.  We hold the belief so tightly that we often think we have failed if we have a bad day.  Every day is not going to be a good day.  A bad day does not make you a bad parent. A bad day does not mean that you are not cut out to be a special needs parent or caregiver.  A bad day does not make you a failure.  Try your best to keep things in perspective.  Some days are just going to be hard but, as cliché’ as it sounds, tomorrow is a new day.

Allow yourself to feel

Life can be challenging as a special needs parent.  There is the constant worry that all of your child’s needs are not being met.  There is the isolation that your family may experience due to your child not being able to be around large crowds or loud places.  You may feel hesitant to honestly express yourself due to not wanting to sound like you are complaining.  But it is imperative that you allow yourself to feel whatever you may be feeling in the moment. Whether you journal or whether you have a good friend you can share your feelings with, allow yourself to feel. Allowing yourself to feel is a form of self-care because this can release some of your anxieties.

Be kind to yourself

Sometimes we can be our own enemy. We can often become hindered by own negative self-talk and negative thoughts. Do whatever you can to remain positive.  Remind yourself of the great job that you are doing. Find something to do that is just for you. Read a good book even if you can only read a couple of pages a day. Find a show that you like on TV and watch it even if it takes forever to get through the whole series. The point is to not lose yourself and to stay connected to what you enjoy. So write if you like to write, read if you like to read, do whatever it is that you like to do even if you can only do it every now and then. Doing what you like to do it a form of self-care.

Take care of your mental health

Special needs parents experience a wide range of issues. There is guilt, anxiety, stress, depression, the list goes on and on. It is imperative that you take care of your mental health. Surround yourself with people who encourage and uplift you.  This can be achieved through support groups or through connecting with people who have a similar circumstance to yours. Be aware of your mental health and do not hesitate to see a therapist if you feel that that is what you need.  In other words, your self-care journey includes taking care of your mental health needs the same way that you take care of the needs of those that you care for and love.

Mother and son

It is not easy being the parent or caregiver of a special needs child. You always wonder if you are doing enough and you can sometimes be your own toughest critic.  I am here to tell you that you are doing a great job. You get up every day and do it have to be done for your family. Keep doing what you are doing and remember to take care of yourself.

What other self-care ideas would you add to this list?

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4 Common Barriers to Positivity

Stressed lady

So I am going to start this off by acknowledging that there are many barriers to positivity. Getting and remaining positive can be a challenge.  It may be even harder during these times because so many not so positive things are happening right now.  People are losing jobs, businesses are going under, parents are trying to work from home while supervising children who are attending school virtually.  It is a lot.  It is easy to feel that there is not much to be positive about.  I have often thought this myself.  But sometimes positivity is exactly what you need in times like these. 

Looking at Your Reality

It is hard to be positive when your reality appears very bleak.  Our day to day lives are stressful and can feel like a rat race.  We go to work, we take care of our children, we run our errands, and then we wake up the next morning to do it all again.  When our lives look the same day in and day out, it is not so much that you are sad, it is just that there is nothing especially positive happening.  Your rut can put you into a space of accepting that your rat race is all that life has to offer.

Nothing Positive is Happening

You ever experience a space in time where it seems like nothing is going right?  Or let’s make it more relevant to what is going on today.  What if you have had your hours cut on your job due to COVID-19 and now you are wondering how you are going to pay your rent or mortgage.  Then your job search is hindered because you have to supervise your school age children while they attend school virtually.   I have been in situations where people have advised that I be positive and I have challenged them to tell me to find the positive in my situation.  It is very, very hard to think positive when your perception of your reality is very negative. Your perception of your reality can be a huge barrier to positivity.

Making Speaking Negatively a Habit

We all may engage in a little negative self-talk from time to time. Read my previous post on eliminating negative self-talk here.   The key is to not to give that negative voice too much of a place in your thoughts.  If negative thinking and negative self-talk is what normally goes through your mind throughout the day, then it has become a habit.  It is very hard for positive thoughts to break through when the negative thoughts are easier to access.  Negative self-talk can become a habit without you even realizing it.  This can make it very hard for you to think positively.

The Company You Keep

You ever had someone in your circle who always has something negative to say?  Some people call these type of people Negative Nancies or Debbie Downers.  The bottom line is that it is very hard to keep a positive outlook when you have people around you who constantly remind you of what could go wrong, where your shortfalls lie, and why you will not achieve a certain goal.  The company you keep and what they feed your spirit is almost as bad as negative self-talk.  Positive thinking is hard when you surround yourself with negative people.

lady by water who is trying to be positive

So I have acknowledged a few barriers to positive thinking but I am sure there are more.  As you can see, positive thinking is a choice and there are many things that can keep you from thinking positively. 

What other things do you consider to be barriers to positivity?

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Mid Week Reflection: Stepping Back to Move Forward

These past few months have been a struggle for me as it relates to me focusing on both my personal goals and my goals relating to this blog. I just could not get myself together enough to move forward with any of my goals and it was incredibly frustrating. Everything felt forced and nothing was seeming to come together. I eventually just stopped and decided to step back and, when I did, everything became crystal clear.  These are the things that I suggest that you do if you experience this feeling.

  1. Remember why you started. You can have a clearly defined goal that takes many detours before you achieve it. When you are in the middle of one of these detours, it is easy to lose sight of the goal or give up. Remembering why you started is imperative in these moments.
  2. Re-establish your goals. You may have to remind yourself of your goals or create new ones.  Refocus on what the end game was when you decided to begin your journey toward whatever goal you were trying to reach.
  3. Be honest with yourself.  A lesson learned during one of your detours may help you to realize that you need to adjust your plan.  And that is okay.  Make the adjustments and move toward achieving your goal.

Remember to not be too hard on yourself as you go through this process. You may find that stepping back is exactly what needed to be done to move you toward your goals.

Have you ever had to step back and re-revaluate?

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