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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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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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Procrastination: What are You Waiting For? – Part 3: Perfectionism

This can look a lot of different ways.  It can be you saying that everything needs to be perfect before you even began to work towards your goal.  This thinking makes you think that everything has to be perfectly aligned for you to begin working on your goal.  Or this thinking can make you feel that everything has to be perfect once you reach your goal. 

This type of thinking makes it hard for you to start your goal of, say, writing a book because you are unsure if you will complete the book.  Or even if you complete the book, what if nobody likes it?  What if you cannot get it published?   What if there is pressure to complete a second book?  You get the picture.  Perfectionism will keep you stuck because the perfect scenario that you have created in your head may never happen.  And there is no way you can predict how things will turn out once you begin. 

The key to getting past this type of procrastination is to change your mindset.  Just like with the fear of failure, this will not come easy at first but it can be done.  For starters, you must begin to believe that everything will work out for you.  If you never believe that things will end positively, then you will never begin.  Also, you must understand that everything will very rarely align perfectly.  And if it does, it is very unlikely that it is going to stay that way.  You must keep moving forward, even when things are not lining up the way you feel that they should. 

This was a challenge for me as I began this blog.  Understanding the commitment that it would take to start and sustain a blog, I felt like everything had to be in place in my life before I got started.  I felt this way for several months until I finally realized that I would never get started if I waited until the perfect time.  So I just started.  And I have continued even when circumstances made it difficult to continue.  Understanding that there may be setbacks along the way is key to realizing that not many things will be or remain perfect.  But you must keep moving forward – even if you are moving forward slowly. 

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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

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Procrastination: What are You Waiting For? – Part 1: Mental Exhaustion

I am going to speak for myself today but I am almost certain that I am speaking for a couple of other people also.  Many of us have such full schedules that just the thought of adding another task is exhausting.  Exhausting to the point where I put it off again and again and again – you get the picture. 

I believe that we often make goals with great intentions but sometimes the idea can be great but the actual implementation of the idea is a different story.  The same can be said for the things we have to do like making an appointment and essential things that must be done in day to day life.  Just the thought of doing these things can be mentally exhausting.  Often, procrastination gets us to a place where we put these things off and then we end up feeling bad about putting them off.  This puts us in a bad place mentally.  This can lead to feelings of guilt and anxiety about not getting things done and the list continuing to pile up. 

So how can we combat this? The first step would be to not allow ourselves to get mentally exhausted and overwhelmed in the first place.  Taking mental breaks by stepping outside, stretching, or taking a nap goes a long way in helping our brain slow down from racing with the millions of things that we need to do.  To help with procrastination that is due to mental exhaustion, break down your tasks so that they are not overwhelming.  A good friend of mine suggested selecting one or two things on your to-do list daily and literally schedule them into your day.  This actually worked for me once I realized that I was so mentally exhausted that just the thought of adding something else to my list was too overwhelming.  And the thought of the energy that would be needed to actually complete the task was even more overwhelming.  For me, using the alarms on my phone helped me to get things done at different times of the day to avoid feeling overwhelmed – the times I actually could do it.  Remember the goal is to be productive so take your tasks in small chunks to avoid being overwhelmed.  Hopefully, you will not become mentally exhausted if you break things down in a manageable way. 

Coming Up Tomorrow: Fear of Failure

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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