3 Ways to Achieve Mindfulness

Woman in orange shirt achieving mindfulness
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A lot of us have heard the term ‘mindfulness’ when conversations about positivity and positive thinking comes up.  But do you know what it really means to achieve mindfulness?  And do you know how mindfulness is related to positive thinking?  This post will be about the benefits of achieving mindfulness and how it relates to positive thinking.  My previous post talked about barriers to positivity.  Read it here so you can be aware of the things that can prevent positive thinking and mindfulness.

Mindfulness is being totally aware of how you are feeling in this current moment.  It is being aware.  Being conscious of your emotions, how you are physically feeling, and just being aware of your mind is.  Mindfulness is something used in the context of being happy, joyful, and positive but you can achieve mindfulness and come to the conclusion that the thoughts you have are mainly negative thoughts.  Or you can come to the conclusion that you are emotionally off.  Mindfulness if awareness – an honest awareness – of how you are feeling in a specific moment.

But, of course, what we strive for is positive mindfulness.  So let’s look at a few ways to achieve positive mindfulness.

man sitting near waterfalls achieving mindfulness

Slowing Down to Achieve Mindfulness

In order to achieve mindfulness you must slow down.  We run through life so fast that we do not often slow down to really take inventory of what we feel.  Are you taking deep regular breaths or are you taking quick shallow breaths?  Are your thought coming slow and steady or are they racing? Slowing down and becoming aware of your thought patterns can help you see what areas you need to focus on.  You may realize that you have a tendency to take things more personally than you should.  Or you may realize that you need to become more assertive.  You may even come to realize that your energy is low and that you may need to enhance your diet.   Slowing down to really analyze all aspects of your being is crucial to being able to maximize your mindfulness. 

Jump to Positive Conclusions

It is our natural inclination to sometimes jump to negative conclusions but we sometimes have to force ourselves to jump to positive conclusions and expect them to happen.  I am notorious for always thinking something will end badly and I defend this way of thinking but saying that I am just planning for the worst case scenario.  While that may be true, if I am not careful, I may also be setting an expectation that something will go wrong.  Imagine what would happen if I put as much energy planning for a positive outcome as I do planning for a negative outcome.  Being intentional about having the expectation that things will go as planned and have a positive outcome go a long way.  Training ourselves to jump to positive conclusions will eventually lead us to achieving mindfulness which leads us to having a more positive outlook on life in general.

Feed Yourself Positivity

We have all heard the phrase, “you are what you eat.”  The assumption being that if you healthily then you will overall be considered healthy.    But if you do not eat a healthy diet you will likely feel run down and sluggish due to you not obtaining the nutrients needed to keep your strength up.  The same is true with positivity.  Be conscious of the company you keep – make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who speak positively and negatively.  You must be careful of what you allow yourself to read and hear.  Be intentional with what books you read, what music you listen to, and the conversations you have with people. It is a lot easier to be positive when positivity is continually being fed into your spirit.

man standing on mountain top
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These are just a few of the things that you can do to try and achieve mindfulness.  It takes discipline but it is worth the benefits that can come from it.  Here are just a few of the benefits that has been shown that can come from achieving a level of mindfulness.

  • Better relationships
  • Become happier
  • Less stressed
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Better sleep
  • Becoming more creative

What else has helped you achieve a state of mindfulness?

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3 Ways to Sustain the Changes that You Have Made

So maybe you have overcome or are working on overcoming a flawed mindset and may have even overcome some barriers to change.  Now comes the hard part.  Maintaining the change that you have worked so hard to make.  This in of itself can be a monumental task.  Here are a few things that you can do to maintain your change.

  1. Reset if necessary.  It is almost inevitable that you will slip back into old habits.  Do not become discouraged.  You are more than capable of making whatever changes that you desire to make.  Remember this as you reset and continue those changed behaviors that you have already began to implement in order to reach your ultimate goal.  Try not to dwell on your setback.  Just move forward and try again.
  2. Anticipate challenging areas.  The best way to achieve success is to know where your challenges lie.  If you know that you always eat unhealthy foods for lunch when you are at work, pack you a healthier lunch so that you do not even have to be tempted to buy something unhealthy.  Or if your goal is to journal or meditate or anything else that requires time that you feel you currently don’t have, try to wake up earlier and do whatever your goal is before you begin your day.   The goal is to see what could possibly present a challenge and plan around it.
  3. Maintain positive attitude.  Let’s face it. Change is not easy – especially when whatever you are trying to change is something that has become a habit.  Stay positive.  Remember why you decided to make this change and keep that in mind as you maintain your changed behavior.  Try your best to be kind to yourself and be mindful of your self-talk.  You can make and maintain your desired change!

What would you add to this list? Comment below with what you has helped you sustain any changes you have made.

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4 Barriers to Lifestyle Changes and How to Overcome Them

In my previous post I discussed mindsets, now let us discuss some of the things people would like to change. Most of us have something that we want to change as it relates to our lifestyle. Some people want to eat better, some want to be able to sleep better some want to become less anxious or stressed, and others want to feel more satisfied. All these things go back to a change in lifestyle because all these things are connected.  Exercise and a better diet can lead to having a better mood. A better diet and more sleep can lead to less stress. Improving all these things can lead to improved mental health.

Leading a healthy lifestyle has so many benefits. There is absolutely nothing negative that can come from a healthy lifestyle. The benefits of a healthy lifestyle include a reduced risk of cancers and diabetes, improved memory, improved mood, improved cardiovascular health, among many other things.

Changing your lifestyle sounds easy but it can be particularly challenging. Let us briefly discuss some things that can be barriers to lifestyle changes.

  1. Not enough time. This is the first thing that is normally said when someone must incorporate something new in their lives. Between the responsibilities surrounding work, home, children, and so much more, finding time to implement anything new can be a challenge.
  2. Old habits die hard. If you have been doing something for many, many years and decide that you now want to change, it may not be as easy as you thought. What often happens is that change is easy in the beginning but once things get challenging, we often resort back to our old habits.
  3. Procrastination. The discomfort of the change in our routines and habits make us continue to procrastinate. Procrastination will have you talking about something forever but never moving forward.
  4. No motivation. Any kind of change is extremely difficult if you are not motivated. Lack of motivation to change your lifestyle will either have you not changing or not having sustained change even if you happen to change for a moment.

I do not want to spend a lot of time on barriers, but I think they barriers should be identified so that they can be recognized for what they are. You will be able more likely to make a sustained change if you can identify the things that will hold you back and make plans to combat those things. Now, let us talk about ways you can overcome those barriers.

Incorporate change into daily routine

Since the number one barrier is lack of time, try ways to make changes in your daily routine. It is hard to incorporate a major change like cooking healthy meals or starting an exercise regimen overnight. If the change you want to implement is your diet, start small. Purchase healthy foods at the grocery store or make healthy choices if you eat out. Or if you want to exercise more, instead of purchasing an expensive gym membership that you may then feel you have no time to use, try to incorporate more walking into your day. Park further away from the entrance to where you want to go or walk around while waiting for your child to finish their practice instead of sitting in your car. To avoid feeling overwhelmed, incorporate small changes into your daily routine.

Set small goals

 It is sometimes best to set small, attainable goals on your journey to change as opposed to making sweeping changes overnight that may not last.  This can be helpful when making a change such as eating healthier.  Instead of tossing out food from your old diet and buying all new food, you may want to consider slowly buying new food and incorporating your new, healthier food into your diet slowly.  Over time you can let your unhealthy food choices go and eat more of your healthy food choices until your entire diet is made up of your healthy food choice.  You may decide to eat healthy twice a week, the four times a week, before changing over to health food completely. 

Accountability partner

An accountability partner is someone who can ensure that you maintain the goals and commitments that are made when you are trying to change something.  Before you get an accountability partner, you need to ensure that this is someone who will be completely honest with you. You also need to ensure that you are ready to receive whatever feedback that the may give you.  The role of an accountability partner is to cheer you on when you are doing well but to also let you know if you start to slack off your commitments and goals.  Accountability partners can be great if you are looking to change and are willing to accept honest feedback.

Reward yourself

Rewarding yourself is a great way to stay motivated as you work to make a change in your lifestyle.  The caveat to this is to ensure that your reward is not detrimental to the change you are trying to make.  No matter what your goal is, it is okay to have a cheat day if that cheat day is not going to pull you back into your bad habits.  A good reward could be something such as binge-watching your favorite TV show, treating yourself to a night out or staycation, or allowing yourself a weekend morning where you can just sleep in. The point is to reward yourself for a job well done as you continue to make the changes that you want to make.

Be kind to yourself

Do not be hard on yourself if you have a setback.  Setbacks will inevitable happen especially if you are breaking a habit that you have had for an awfully long time.  If you have a setback, just get back on track and pick up where you fell off.  It is okay and no one is perfect.  Establishing a different lifestyle, even if it is a healthier lifestyle, can be hard to do so cut yourself a break.

So many things can be addressed when you say that you are going to change your lifestyle.  Lifestyle encompasses everything to your diet, your habits, your preferences, and even how active you are.  Changes to some of these will come easy while changes to the others will be a little more difficult.

Have you ever made a lifestyle change? Were you able to maintain it? Share what worked and what did not work for you.

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4 Barriers to Overcome to See Sustained Change

I have always believed that feelings of restlessness or discontent were signs that some sort of shift was about to occur. I have been feeling this a lot lately – in many areas of my life. From re-examining my personal goals to even my re-examining the direction of this blog, I have had a heightened level of anxiety whenever I considered the different levels of change that was needed for me to get to where I wanted to be. It was such an odd feeling. Wanting to do more but almost feeling stuck when it came to doing what needed to be done to see a significant change.

Change can be hard. For some, significant change can seem impossible. During this series on change we will be talking about different aspects of change and how we can overcome whatever may be preventing us from making significant change.  People seek to make one of several types of changes to include changes to their financial situation, changes in their jobs, changes in their diet, changes in their lifestyle, the list goes on and on.

Let us look at why making changes can be so hard for some people.

  1. Being afraid.  Oftentimes people desire changes but are apprehensive about how that change will look. Some of us take such comfort in what is known – our routines, our habits, our jobs – that we will stay where we are instead of changing. Snuggling in and getting comfortable in your comfortable zone will make real change virtually impossible. The unknown of how life will be once the change comes or being unsure if the change can be maintained can make some of us unable to take that first step towards change.
  2. No motivation – There are times when people may desire change but have no real desire to do what is necessary to make that change. Many things can contribute to the lack of motivation, but this lack of motivation can make it hard to move forward toward any type of meaningful change.
  3. No clear goals. It is extremely hard to get motivated to make a change if you have no clear goals. You may feel as if you want or even need to make a change but if you do not have a clear vision of what you want that change to look like then you will always feel like nothing is changing. Attempting change with no set goals will result in you always trying to change but always being disappointed because you do not have clear enough goal to know when have achieved it.
  4. Pride. There are times that you may need to make a change, but your pride keeps you from doing so. Not wanting to admit that change is needed can keep you from the change that you may so desperately need to change your life.

What other barriers would you add to this list?

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In the next few blog posts we will be talking about different things people often need to change. As we discuss and you determine whether they apply to you, keep these barriers to change in mind and check to see whether you are guilty of any of these. And if you find that you are guilty of some of these, do not be so hard on yourself. Just make the necessary adjustments and try again to make that change.

Join me next time as we discuss changing your mindset.

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Mid Week Reflection: Today is a New Day

Have you ever tried to work on a goal, and it felt like you could not shake the thoughts or habits of your past? This is me all day long. I can clearly establish a goal but thoughts of “you are too old to start this” or “you never complete anything you start” are whispering in the back of my mind as I work toward my goal. Some people can articulate a goal, work at it, and achieve that goal with no setbacks or barriers. Others must overcome many barriers. Here are some ways to help you push through when you come upon these barriers and setbacks.

  1. Get the lesson and move forward. Some of us are guilty of not moving forward because we are too busy looking back. The only good reason to look back is to get the lesson. You run the risk of being pulled back into past behaviors when you continually look back. Once you get the lesson, move forward and do not look back so you can achieve your goal.
  2. Stay focused. Setbacks are inevitable so it is vital that you remain focused. Remember why you set your goal and stay focused on that. Be intentional and remember the reason you set the goal in the first place.
  3. Let go. If you find that something is holding you back from reaching your goals, let it go. I would even go as far as to say let go of any person who is holding you back. Achieving your goal is bigger than any negative thought, person, or habit.  If the thought, person, or habit is not helping you make steps towards achieving your goal, them you need to let it go.
  4. Eliminate negative self-talk. We can sometimes be the cause of our own setbacks.  Our own thoughts can be our biggest enemy when we are trying to achieve a goal and do more for ourselves.  Be conscious of your thoughts.  Replace negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as a negative thought begins to push its way into your mind. This one takes practice but will make a world of difference once you master it. Check out my previous post on negative self-talk here.

Setbacks are normal when working towards a new goal so be gentle with yourself. Today is a new day where you can shake old thoughts and habits and establish new ones. Hopefully, these tips can help you conquer the obstacles that stand between you and your goal. What else would you add to this list?

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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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Managing Your Stress (Part Four)

Today is the final day of this series about stress and I wanted to end on a high note.  I hope to assist you with ways to help alleviate your stress. Please remember that, although stress is all around us, stress can be managed and there are quite a few things that you can do to manage your stress.  Hopefully one of these things can assist you on your quest to alleviate your stress.

1. Journaling.  Get some of those thoughts out of your head and on paper. Journaling can also help you notice patterns in your behavior and can help you with your self-reflection.

2. Exercising. Stress can be relieved through exercise because exercising produces endorphins which reduce your stress levels. Regular exercise can go a long way in your efforts to manage your stress.

3. Laughing.  Have you ever had a good, deep belly laugh that pulled you out of a bad mood? Laughter can take your mind off of your stressor while easing a lot of muscle tension.

4. Meditation.  Meditation allows you to get to such a deep place of relaxation that you are able to sort through all of your jumbled thoughts. Your anxiety may be eased if you are able to sort your thoughts and tackle them one at a time and not all at once.

5. Eat healthily. Eating foods high in nutrients can help improve your mood and energy which can reduce stress. Foods that are rich in Vitamin C, as well as some herbal supplements, can help to reduce stress.

6. Reading.  Reading allows you to escape your reality and enter someone else’s reality. This allows you to take your mind off of the things that are stressing you out and allow you to relax.  This temporary escape from your reality can keep you from being overwhelmed.

7. Slowing down your thoughts.  This may sound simple but it is one of the hardest things to do. Slowing down my thoughts has helped me greatly. Stress can sometimes come from the feeling of being overwhelmed and having to figure out everything at once. Slowing down your thoughts allows you to focus on one thing at a time.

8. Breathing deeply. Breathing deep breaths when stress threatens to overwhelm you helps to relax your body and relieve tensions. It also helps you with being able to clear your mind to the point where you can put your stressors in perspective.

9. Therapy.  If the stress that you are trying to manage feels that it is unmanageable, please consider getting help from a therapist. Excessive stress can be an indicator of other mental illnesses that need to be addressed by a professional.

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Please remember if the stress is so overwhelming that you just feel like nothing you do is helpful, please see a professional. Comment if there are some things that you have done to alleviate stress that was not included on this list.

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Mid Week Reflection: Go Get It

Do you want more than what you have now? “More” looks different to different people. More, for some, means buying a bigger house. More, for others, means getting a better paying job. To get more, you have to do more. Sounds logical, doesn’t it? Many people want more without doing any extra than what they are doing right now. If the salary from your job is not allowing you the lifestyle that you desire, you should either find another job or create an additional stream of income. I have always wanted more but for so long, I was waiting for something to drop out of the sky and fall into my lap. I was missing the part where I had to do something extra to make it happen. Eventually, I realized that I had to do more to get more. The victory is sweeter when you have worked hard to get where you want to be. What extra thing are you going to do to get to the “better things”?

Procrastination: What are You Waiting For? – Part 2: Fear of Failure

I talk about the fear of failure a lot in The Serenity Room.  That is because it can be linked to so many different things as it relates to how we respond or not respond to different aspects of our lives.  As it relates to procrastination, the fear of not succeeding at a task keeps us from moving towards its completion.  For example, If you are tasked with putting together a presentation as part of a job interview, your fear of not doing well during the presentation could cause you to procrastinate with creating the presentation.  This could cause you to have to rush to put it together.  The job that could have been yours now may not be due to the procrastination that then leads you to create a sub-par presentation.  The fear of failure leads us to wait until the last minute which leads you to not do your best.  This can be seen in many areas of our lives.  The struggle to get started because of the fear of the results is a common one.

So how do you combat this fear of failure?  The simplified answer to this question is to change your way of thinking.  Yes, I already know that it is not that easy but that is the most basic way to combat the fear of failure.  You have to question your thoughts.  Doubt your doubts.  When you set your goals, you set it with the intent of succeeding. No one makes a goal that they intend to not achieve.  But somewhere along the way self-doubt, fear, and negative thinking come into play and all of a sudden you feel that you can no longer reach the goal that you have set for yourself.  Change the thoughts that cause you to fear that you will never be successful – challenge those thoughts and move through fear.  Think about why you started your journey.  Think about the joys of success.  Think about how much you can accomplish as you reach goal after goal after goal.  The sky is truly the limit if you face fear head-on.  And if you don’t reach your goal, step back and see what was done wrong.  Then make your adjustments and try again.  Whatever you do, do not give up.

Coming Up Tomorrow: Perfectionism

Procrastination: What are You Waiting For?

Stalling.  Putting off.  Hesitating.

All of these words are synonyms of procrastination.  Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines procrastination as “to put off intentionally the doing of something that should be done.  A lot of us procrastinate in some shape or form.  Sometimes it is as small as putting off cleaning the kitchen until your favorite TV show goes off.  Sometimes it is you putting off a major goal because the time is not right.  Whatever the reason for the procrastination, procrastination itself is one of the reasons why we often find ourselves in ruts – unable and unwilling to move forward with the goals and dreams we seek for ourselves.  This week we will be examining the reasons why we procrastinate and the steps we can take to overcome it.

Coming Up Tomorrow: Mental Exhaustion