As with Yoga, I never, ever would have thought I would get into meditation, never mind enjoying it or even looking forward to it. I used to think of it as something the Tibetan monks do in the high up in the mountains and it required some kind of enlightenment you could possible only achieve, if you dedicated your life to it. However, here I am now, far from being a Tibetan monk, but meditation has become a big part of my life! When most people are asked about meditation, they think of somebody sitting silently in a tranquil setting, in the lotus position, with their eyes closed, whilst relaxing music is playing in the background, but meditation is so much more than that. Meditation can be practiced almost anywhere, without having to close your eyes, without the need for complete silence. It was only once I had learned these facts, that I realised, I had practiced a "kind of meditation" all my life, without even knowing it! Even as a child, every so often I would really feel the need just to be in my own thoughts for a while, instead of running round outside with friends or watching TV. Back then, others would find it weird and at times their reactions could leave me wondering whether there was something "wrong with me", because I sometimes enjoyed time on my own, in my own thoughts. Thankfully it eventually all made sense and I recognised it for what it was. My natural instinct to meditate. I now incorporate meditation into various aspects of my life, to enable me to practice it every day, no matter how busy or hectic my day is. I have found meditation to be one of the most valuable tools, if not the most valuable tool for maintaining good mental health.
No or very little caffeine or alcohol:
I know, a lot of people will probably disagree with me on this one! I have many, many friends who cannot start their day without their beloved cup of coffee and would argue with me, it lifts their spirits, not the opposite. And as for the alcohol, I have in the past met plenty of people who would probably say, they are much more relaxed and sociable after a glass of wine or two. For me, the problem lies exactly in that: how the caffeine and the alcohol effect the nervous system and the mood! Both caffeine and alcohol will produce a temporary "high" in our mood, but that inevitably leads to the "come down" afterwards, too. They both effect our blood sugar regulation, blood pressure, sleep and so much more! The solutions to a lot of problems in our lives can often be found in our daily habits and our lifestyle. Many people will declare they would do absolutely anything to feel better and are happy to make a lot of changes in their life. Yet, when it comes to coffee and alcohol, common sense seems to go out of the window and they will not accept that this very habit could be the one stopping them from gaining health. I too used to see my cup of black tea or very occasionally coffee as a reward and a "pick me up", when things had been stressful and busy. The truth is though, the "pick me up effect" never lasted very long and eventually I figured out for myself, that actually I wasn't gaining anywhere near enough from the cup of tea or coffee or the occasional glass of wine, to justify all the negative side effects that came with it! One of the biggest pro's from quitting caffeine and alcohol was the drastic improvement in anxiety, which I had suffered with for many years.
We all know that good hydration is vital for a physical wellbeing, but what many don't consider, is the importance of sufficient hydration in connection with mental wellbeing. It seems common sense to many, that our body can't function properly without optimal hydration, yet, that the body needs exactly the same basics in order to let the mind function properly, too, is often overlooked and the effects underestimated. Dehydration, even at levels before you feel your mouth becoming dry and you feel thirsty raises stress levels in your body and increased stress levels impact our mind negatively and can effect our mood, our decision making and the quality of our sleep! I drink around 2 litres of water a day, plus herbal teas, a bit of fresh fruit juice and maybe some caffeine free black tea.
For many years, I didn't really read much at all! With the busy life of a mum and work and being a housewife, picking up a book and reading it couldn't have been further from my mind. It wasn't until a lovely friend of mine, Mandy, recommended the book "Fish!" to me, that I rediscovered my love for reading. I suddenly realised, why I hadn't picked up a book in so many years, as the thought of "wasting" the precious little spare time I had on reading a novel, just seemed wrong to me. But reading this inspiring and uplifting book added value not just to my day, but my entire life! I literally devoured the book and once I had finished it, thanks to modern technology and Amazon, I stumbled across more inspiring and equally educational books, which were well worth the investment of my time to me. The good thing about these kind of books is that I can return to them again and again. Each time I read them, I learn even more about them then before. To me, hardly anything beats a book that leaves smiling and feeling empowered!
Affirmations had always been something I just could not "get my head around". I didn't understand, how could "just words" make any significant difference to my life? It wasn't until after I had spent some time "soul searching", when I realised how "just words" other people had said over the years, had shaped me into the person I had become. How "just words" of other people had unfortunately become my inner voice and were shaping my daily life. I suddenly realised the importance of words and how to use affirmations to change my life for the better. I use affirmations daily and just like meditation, I have incorporated them into my everyday schedule and they have made and continue to make such a big, positive difference to my life.
I have always been drawn to very positive people, with a very energetic attitude! I remember when I was growing up, I would always be told, that this was just for show and these people only did that to attract other people, to make money and unfortunately, for many years, I believed what I had been told and would judge inspirational speakers as untrustworthy and would see their doing as nothing but a money making scheme. It was last year, when I finally began to tie all the "lose ends" in my life together and I began to realise, that not everything I was taught when I was growing up was true, that I started watching a few clips of inspirational speakers on You Tube. I suddenly realised that the reason I had always felt drawn to these kind of people as a kid, was because their attitude to life, their energy resonated with my true attitude and energy! I could literally feel what they were saying with their words and it was good! It was making me feel good, it was making me want to do good or even better for others. How could that be bad? I guess, some people can feel threatened by an extremely positive attitude and maybe that is why I had always been told not to believe inspirational speakers. And sure, I guess, there is always an element of selfishness in everything, even in inspirational speaking, if we account the fact that they do it because it makes them feel good and they might sell some books or tickets to fill venues. For me the price of a book or a ticket is well worth gaining the knowledge of these people's wisdom and in my opinion, it's a win-win! But even if you do not want to spend any money on a book or a ticket, the internet is a massive treasure trove of inspirational clips for free and I listen to or watch clips daily.
Yes, that's a no brainer, right?! Wrong! I generally always thought I was a very positive person, until I looked into it a bit more. If I really had been so positive, then how come I had so many things and situations and people to blame for things which had gone wrong in my life? Sure, maybe I hadn't been able to stop bad things from happening, but that didn't stop me from changing my attitude towards the situation. I realised, it is always my choice to either moan and point the finger of blame or whether I accept the fact that I can't change it, but choose to learn from it and move on. Positive thinking is certainly not achieved over night, but with the right tools and practice, it is possible to change your mind set forever and therefore your life!
I am mentioning this one last, as I understand not everybody wants to go down the route of supplements. For me supplements have made a considerable difference in terms physical and mental health. Supplements are a very individual aspect of our lives and what works for one, might not work for the next, although it has been proven that for example Magnesium, Iron and Vitamin D are amongst the most essential basics for a healthy mind when it comes to anxiety and depression! I stick to a basic selection of supplements, which I know works best for me and I can honestly say, they have made a huge difference to my overall health.