Ooohhhmmm….

Once again life has been extremely crazy. Work is as busy as ever, I’m getting ready to move out of the city, and most recently I got engaged so wedding planning has been added to my never ending to do list. I am beyond thrilled, but I never realized how much went into planning a wedding. (Ecstatic in fact!)

Anyway, last week I was able to escape work to attend a meditation seminar and I thought I would share some information I learned about meditation and a little article I wrote about the seminar. Because why not? Everyone can use some relaxation and rejuvenation. I know I can!

Here are some things I learned from the session:

Life can be extremely stressful. Each day we are met with multiple responsibilities from work, family life, and even social engagements. Week after week we try to cram everything we can into our already jam-packed schedules; leaving us exhausted, worried, and honestly at times, completely overwhelmed. While you can’t quit your job or neglect your family obligations, there are some things you can do to help relieve some of your stress.

One thing that many people have found to be very helpful at stress reduction is meditation. Originally meant to help individuals gain a deeper understanding of life, today meditation is used for relaxation and stress reduction. In fact the practice of regular meditation is linked to many benefits including increased self-awareness, increased focus and discipline, stress and anxiety reduction, increased emotional stability, helps you think more clearly, and helps your overall physical health. When you take a little bit of time out of each day to meditate you can begin to clear your mind from the abundance of information that tends to build up each day and causes us stress.

Through techniques such as meditation,  you learn how to quiet your mind so that you can break free from overwhelming stress and get what you really want out of life.

On Monday February 16, 2015, I attended a meditation session at the Junior League of Chicago (JLC), where we learned about a few different types of meditation. These different types of meditation only take a few minutes of our day, but can do so much for our emotional health and overall well being. The four different types of meditation we covered included breath meditation, guided visualization, mantra or affirmation meditation, and finally yoga nidra, or sleep yoga. Each one is discussed in more detail below.

Breath meditation: The overall purpose of breath meditation is to calm the mind and develop a sense of inner peace. With some simple breathing we are able to change the chemistry of our minds, creating more space and making us think more clearly.

Guided visualization: Based on the concept that the mind and body are connected, this technique uses thoughts and suggestions that guide your mind toward a relaxed, focused state. When you imagine the details of a safe, comfortable place you are able to reach a state of complete relaxation. To help with the visualization it is common to use an instructor, tapes, or scripts.

Mantra or affirmation meditation: In this type of meditation you silently repeat a thought or phrase over and over in your mind to help prevent distracting thoughts. Mantra meditation is more challenging, but it is good for building strength and power in your thoughts.

Yoga Nidra: Also known as sleep yoga, this type of meditation brings about an incredible sense of calmness, quietness, and clarity. It is one of the deepest types of meditation where you go into a deep sleep, past the dreaming state, but still remain awake.

At first you may find that no matter what you do you are unable to keep your mind focus, but the idea is to start small and gradually add more time as you go. You will never be able to completely stop certain thoughts from entering your mind, but with practice you can create more space or focus, giving you more control over your mind.

So if you are looking for a way to focus better, stress less, get better sleep, and be a better partner meditation may just be the answer.

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Here’s to Better Mental Health

Most of you have already been going strong with your New Year’s resolutions and while we are already halfway into January, it’s never to late to come up with some additional goals for the new year. After all, there are always ways in which we can improve ourselves.

It has been a little while since I have posted anything mental health related so, with the start of a new year,  I thought it was the perfect time to take a minute and talk about improving our mental health. More specifically, what can you do this year to improve your overall mental health? Well, I’m going to tell you…

With the commencement of 2014, it is a good time to step back and take a look at the past year and identify some areas of your life that you would like to improve over the next year. No matter if you are suffering from a pre-existing mental health condition or not, everyone can benefit from a resolution to improve one’s overall mental health. Many individuals think that New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time because most people will end up failing to keep them anyway. However, even if you were unable to keep them for the whole year you still made some sort of progress toward bettering yourself and that in itself should be praise worthy. Transition and reaching new goals isn’t going to happen overnight, but when you put your mind to it and keep a positive attitude it can be done.

Examples of resolutions for mental health

When you actually sit down to write your new year’s resolutions identify some specific goals you have about improving your overall mental health. This can be anything that is important to you, there are no resolutions that are better than others. In order to get you started here are some ideas that you could include in your 2015 New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Make a commitment to develop better sleeping patterns: When you don’t get enough sleep it can exacerbate many health problems, which includes mental health issues. Getting higher quality sleep will have a more positive effect on your mood.
  • Consider eliminating toxic people from your life: Surround yourself with good friends who are going to be supportive and not bring you down. Identify those who are beneficial to your happiness and are not going to bring about constant negativity or any type of physical or emotional harm.
  • Don’t sabotage yourself: We are the strongest cause for our own unhappiness due to our own thoughts and beliefs that we have about ourselves and the world around us. Changing the way in which you think about yourself and view the world can do wonders for your overall emotional well-being.
  • Identify ways to reduce stress: Daily life can bring about a lot of stress, which can exacerbate the symptoms of a mental health condition. Write down some ways that can help you relax and when you find yourself becoming overwhelmed take a break from the day to relieve some of that stress.
  • Make peace with the past: Many individuals have things in their past that are keeping them from living the happy life that you want to live. Make it a priority to move past those old issues so that they are not able to hold you back anymore. In some instances it may be a good idea to go see a therapist, if you don’t already, to help you work through any issues that may be getting in the way of achieve overall good mental health. A therapist can help you develop a plan that to work through all of these issues and to allow you to take on 2015 as a happier and healthier individual.

Remember that a new year is a chance to start over and to reach personal goals that we have set for ourselves. It is a time for personal growth where we can independently work on our overall well-being, it should not be a stressful time filled with guilt.