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4 Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

Often times when we are trying to start something new, we want to know how it will benefit us. Mindfulness has many benefits to our physical health and wellness. This post will be discussing a few health benefits of mindfulness and meditation. If you are already practicing mindfulness hopefully these benefits will assist you with continuing in your journey. If you are on the fence about practicing up on this, or practice it inconsistently, hopefully this will help you see how much mindfulness can benefit you in the long run.

lady who needs to practice mindfulness

Mindfulness to Manage Stress

It should not surprise anyone that one of the major benefits of mindfulness is the reduction of stress. Everyone experiences a certain level of stress. According to the American Institute of Stress, 33% of people feel that they are living with extreme stress. 77% of people experience physical symptoms because of this stress. Mindfulness can help you manage stress as it keeps you in the present and makes you more aware of what is going on right now. Being present helps you to evaluate what you can and cannot control. Realizing that a lot of what is causing you stress is outside of your control will hopefully help you alleviate the unnecessary stress,

Mindfulness to Lower Blood Pressure

When you are stressed, your heart rate is elevated which leads to your blood pressure rising. This increased blood pressure leads to a greater risk of heart disease which is one of the leading causes of death. Mindfulness relaxes the body and the body’s response to stress. Overtime, this relaxation of the body will lead to a lower heart rate which leads to lower blood pressure. Your overall health is impacted because you will be at a decreased risk of heart disease.

Mindfulness to Improve Immunity

Managing a great deal of stress on a daily basis is hard on your body. Your body always being at a heightened level of stress can lead to your immune system being left in in a vulnerable state. Stress can wear down your immune system over period of time. Research shows that, over time, meditation can change how the body functions. When you are experiencing lower levels of stress, your immune system does not have to work as hard to protect you. If your immune system does not have to work as hard to protect you, then it has a chance to strengthen and protect you from anything that may cause your body any harm.

Mindfulness to Increase Productivity

Have you ever had so much to do that just the thought of doing it all made you tired? Or you have so much to do that you just did not do it and ended up with a major case of procrastination? Having so many things that need to be done bouncing around in your head can be very frustrating. Practicing mindfulness can help calm your mind, especially when it is full of things that you need to do. Having a calm mind that is not full of racing thoughts can help you to concentrate and focus on one thing at a time. Increased productivity comes when you are able to focus and gets things accomplished without your mind going to other things.

What are some other benefits of mindfulness that you have experienced on your mindfulness journey? Let us know in the comments below!

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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 Reasons You Lack Motivation

lady looking unmotivated

Feeling unmotivated may be one of the most frustrating feelings ever.  You have goals, you have things that you want to do, you even make plans.  But then, when the time comes, you just cannot get yourself together.  You reschedule, you push back your timelines, or you just do not do anything.  All motivation is gone and all you have is a bunch of unfulfilled plans and goals.  If this sounds like you, you are not alone.  This post explores five ways why you may feel this way.

Lack of Self-Discipline

Any goal that you have that is going to require a change in habit is going to require discipline.  If want to start eating healthier, you are going to have to be disciplined enough not to purchase the unhealthy foods that you might prefer.  Self-discipline is a vital part of your motivation to achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.  You may have to deny yourself of those things that make you comfortable but are not getting you any closer to your goals.  Many people fall short of their goals because their lack of self-discipline keeps them from creating those new habits or learning those new skills that can get you motivated to achieve your goals.

No Clear Goals

It is very hard to get motivated to achieve a goal that is not clearly defined.  It is important to clearly define the goal and how success will look.  Without clear goals you may know you want something different for yourself, but you will float through each day not feeling really motivated to do anything.  Real motivation can be found in clearly defined goals.  Clear goals increase motivation as it will make it more likely that your actions will be intentional as you move towards success.  Many times, there is a lack of motivation because, while we may desire a change, we do not clearly define where we want to end up.

Waiting for the Right Time

So many of us are guilty of this.  We are not truly motivated because we are waiting for the right time.  We are waiting for our kids to get older, waiting until we are totally out of debt, or for some other thing to fall perfectly into place.  Motivation can be lost during this waiting period.  This is because the right time never seems to arrive as other things always seems to come up and we push back out timeline more and more.  Life moves fast and time seems to move even faster.  The right time may never come so it is imperative to keep our motivation high by starting to work on our goals now.

Self-doubt

Doubt can keep you from doing a lot of productive things that can move you towards your goals.  Doubting that you deserve all good things that come your way and doubting that you can reach your dreams are all motivation killers.  Self-doubt will keep you from doing all that you can to achieve your goals.  Depending on the type of goal you are trying to reach, half-trying may be the equivalent of not trying at all.  Self-doubt will keep you stagnant in life and will deplete you of all motivation.  Begin that you can accomplish all things and your motivation will begin to rise.

Negative Outlook

Have you ever met someone who had a bleak outlook on everything in life?  Whenever someone comes with just a little bit of good news, they come to the conversation with a bucket of water to throw on your good news.  Having a negative outlook on life can limit any motivation that you may have.  It is much easier to be motivated to do what you need to do to meet your goals when you believe that you can.  Try to pay attention to your thought patterns and how you view certain circumstances.  Begin to consciously frame any negative thoughts that you may have into more positive ones.  Hopefully, this will begin to increase your motivation.

unmotivated young lady

What other things would you add to this list? Comment below some strategies that you use to increase your motivation.

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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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3 Ways to Begin Living in the Present

lady looking off in distance

It seems as if we are always in a rush. We are in a rush to get out of the door in the mornings. We are in a rush to get our children to school and to their extra-curricular activities. We are in a rush to get to work and then we are in a rush to get back home. And when we are not rushing from here to there, we have our faces in our cell phones either on social media or texting away. I am guilty of this and many of you probably are also.

It has only been very recently that I have come to the realization that my thoughts are often on my past or future but not often on the present moment. There is a lot of joy to be had and lessons to be learned in the present moment. Here are a few ways to stay in the moment and enjoy the journey of life.

Making Peace With Your Past

It is hard to live in the present moment when you are constantly looking behind you.  Past hurts, regrets, what ifs, and bad choices can rob you of the joy of living in the moment. It is critical that you make peace with your past so that you can move forward. What does make peace with your past look like? It looks different for different people. Your past experiences, whether good or bad, helped shape you into the person you are today. You cannot always erase memories, but you can make the conscious decision to not allow past experiences to hold you hostage.  Some experiences or memories may be so painful that you may need the help of a therapist to assist you in moving past them. Do whatever needs to be done to move forward so that you can enjoy the journey of life.

Know Your Destination But Enjoy the Process

As my daughter is starting to research and narrow down her college choices, the goal is to choose the college that is the best fit for her.  I am having to constantly remind myself not to rush through the process. I want to enjoy every moment. If you have a goal set for yourself, try to remember to enjoy the process. We often go through the motions with are minds on the destination but there are memories to be made in the present moment when you are working towards the goal. Remember to slow down and enjoy the process as you work towards your goals.

Discover What You Can Offer Others

Everybody has a story to tell. Most people’s story can serve as a lesson to others. I have learned many lessons in my lifetime that can help people, but the lesson was always realized in hindsight. Taking your time through life will allow you to recognize the lessons, good or bad, in what you are going through. Life is a series of lessons for yourself as well as lessons that you can share with others. Sometimes the lesson is to take care of your health before you end up in the hospital. Other times, the lesson is not everyone or every issue is worthy of your time and energy.  Being able to get the lesson in real time can put you in a better position to cope in the present. This could help others benefit from the lesson and avoid unneccessary hardships.

In our fast-paced society, slowing down is a challenge. There will be times when you will have to consciously tell yourself to slow down. There are moments when I wish I had slowed down and really relished the moment. And then there are times when I wish I had slowed down long enough to get the lesson in the moment instead of realizing the lesson later.  I am getting better at this, but I am by no means there yet. It takes time and conscious effort but learning to enjoy the journey of life is a practice we should all strive for.

Do you feel like you are enjoying the journey of life? If so, comment below and share some things that you do to ensure that you are living in the moment.

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