Taking a step back – Self Awareness

Whenever I reach out inward, by taking a step back for a moment, I see things very differently from what I have in the go-go-go mode.

Just sitting in a chair or couch works best for me to do this mental exercise of self awareness. I then stay in a state of curiosity. This helps me slow down to get into a relaxed mode. Believing in myself helps me in this state, whatever the state I’m in. Then I explore how I feel, what thoughts cross my mind and bring in some kindness to myself to stay gentle in the whole self awareness process. I tend to do this at least twice a week at peak stress days as part of self care to check in with myself and know I can slow down to be aware of my reactions.

What this reveals is a beautiful picture of my day and my reactions to the various happenings. This in turn helps me write out my process recordings with my supervisor in an authentic fashion and process any anomalous reactions in my mind with openness and curiosity. I slowly realized in this field that curiosity about myself and my environment along with critical thinking alone will help me bring a better work – life balance.

Thanks for reading my process for self awareness !

Best,

Shrivi

Breaking the myths behind Mindfulness practice for the benefit of Trauma Survivors

1. Don’t need to close your eyes during mindfulness meditation.

2. Don’t need to sit still to do mindfulness meditation.

3. Staying present in the moment non-judgmentally, even while walking, eating or working, is what is truly being mindful.

4. Don’t need to shut off your mind as your brain is always going to be active, especially with a trauma history.

5. Don’t need to focus on your breath. Trauma victims find this especially triggering with unpredictable outcomes.

6. Mindfulness meditation is not for quick turnaround of results.

7. Mindfulness meditation is not for everyone!

Cognitive distortions

Cognitive distortions arising from negative core beliefs are something to be deeply analyzed on a daily basis, for the automatic thoughts crossing our minds!

Taking a step back and looking at what just happened in our mind is all it takes to stay present with ourself and really being true to our personality.

Measuring the possibility of our core beliefs to be even slightly incorrect based on the existing evidence shown by the people around us and other environmental factors is very critical!

Here’s to looking closely at our thoughts that sometimes make no sense in hindsight! Lol!

Have a great weekend!

Best,

Srivi

Music as a coping strategy 

We all know music soothes our soul. Why not use it to soothe us off sunwanted stress. Here’s how it can work as a great coping skill.

 Music as a coping strategy involves the use of music (either through listening or playing music) in order to reduce many of the psychological and physical manifestations of stress, as well as stress itself. The use of music to cope with stress is an example of an emotion-focused, adaptive coping strategy in that it is typically geared towards the reduction or elimination of perceived feelings that arise in response to stress, rather than the stressor itself. In essence, advocates of this therapy claim that the use of music helps to lower perceived stress levels in patients, as well as lower more biologically measurable quantities such as the levels of epinephrine and cortisol.Additionally, music therapy programs have been repeatedly demonstrated to reduce depression and anxiety symptoms in the long term.
Source: Music as a coping strategy

Need more mindful activities?

here are five ways to help mind and body live in the moment.

Stress reduction

Want to incorporate a bit of mindfulness into your life but not sure how to begin? There are several locations around that offer stress reducing activities for everyday life.

Eating

Do you see chopping your vegetables as an opportunity for a bit of reflection? How about waiting for the kettle to boil? If the answer’s no but you want to change this, there are now classes in how to enjoy and savour these mini moments of calm. There are people who can advice on mindful eating habits.

Relationships

Anger, irritation and those niggling feelings that your partner is not really “present” some of the time are all common issues in relationships that can drive a couple apart. That’s where mindfulness training can help. Instead of snapping or saying the thing you’ll later regret, those in mindful relationships make an effort to live with their feelings, accept them and examine them without acting on them, which sounds easier said than done!

Adventures

Whether you fancy a guided walk, mindful camping or a sea kayaking experience. Wilderness adventures like kayaking and white water rafting aim to help us recognise peacefulness in everyday activity. Just a day break can do wonders.

Spas

Spend a day at the Spa silently walking and revelling in the wonders of nature on this one- that promises to reinvigorate body and soul and reconnect us with the wonders of nature found upon our doortsteps. The day ends with a session about learning to appreciate and recognise the wilderness in our everyday lives.

Inspired by: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jun/23/need-more-mindful-activities-five-things-to-try

How To Walk To Relieve Your Stress

Credits:MAGGIE SPILNER 
What Makes You Want to Walk?
When we posed that question to a number of walkers a few years back, we expected to get answers like “to lose weight” and “to get in shape.” But we were delighted by the number of people who commented on walking’s emotional benefits—in particular, its ability to relieve stress. (Try these 9 exercisese to relieve your stress.)Aerobic exercise of any kind has the power to calm jangled nerves and improve bad moods. And when it’s done every day, it can enhance self-esteem and combat depression. Indeed, research has shown that a brisk 20- to 30-minute walk can have the same calming effect as a mild tranquilizer. (Want to work out more but don’t have the time? Then tryFit in 10, the new workout program that takes only 10 minutes a day.)

Why is walking—or any physical activity, for that matter—such a potent stress reducer? Many experts cite its ability to trigger the release of endorphins, potent brain chemicals that relieve pain and stimulate relaxation. Simply put, the higher your level of endorphins, the greater your sense of calm and well-being. No wonder walking can make you feel so good.

walking to reduce stress

PHOTOGRAPH BY DAVID HANSON/GETTY IMAGES

Stroll Toward Relaxation
To reap the stress-busting benefits of walking, you don’t need to pound the pavement or push yourself really hard. In fact, at least one study has shown that a comfortable stroll can be just as effective as a brisk walk. The key is to use your mind while you’re moving your body. (Here are 5 instant stress soothers.)

For the study, researchers recruited 135 volunteers and divided them into five groups. Three of the groups took up walking—one at a brisk pace, the other two at a low-intensity pace. The fourth group practiced mindfulexercise, which is based on the principles and movements of tai chi. The fifth group served as controls—meaning, they were asked not to change anything about their lives.

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In addition, one of the groups assigned to walk at a low-intensity pace learned a simple meditation technique to practice while exercising. All they had to do was pay attention to their footsteps, counting “one, two, one, two” and visualizing each number in their minds as they went along. If they found their thoughts drifting to other matters, they simply said, “Oh, well” and resumed counting their footsteps.

walking group

PHOTOGRAPH BY SUSAN CHIANG/GETTY IMAGES

The combination of meditating and low-intensity walking produced dramatic results, according to cardiologist James Rippe, MD, who has written several books on the health benefits of walking. (Looking for awalking workout? Here are 3 new walking workouts to choose from.)

During the 16 weeks of the study, the people who meditated while they walked reported decreases in anxiety, along with more positive and fewer negative feelings about themselves. (Are you stressed, or think you have an anxiety disorder? Here is a test to find out.) In fact, the benefits were equal to those associated with brisk walking. Even better, they were evident after just one session, and they lasted for the duration of the study.

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By comparison, the people who walked at a low-intensity pace but didn’t meditate showed no improvements until the 14th week, and even then, the effects weren’t as significant. On the other hand, the people who engaged in mindful exercise experienced results that were very similar to those reported by the walking-plus-meditation group, suggesting that other mental techniques could yield stress-busting benefits.

According to Rippe, one of the most impressive findings from this research is the immediacy with which walking can relieve stress. The study also provided good news for those who aren’t able to engage in high-intensity exercise: They can capitalize on walking’s stress-busting effects just by practicing meditation or another mental technique during their strolls. And for those who find relaxation exercises tedious or boring, the study proved that a brisk walk can do just as good a job of short-circuiting stress.

20 Mindfulness Meditation Benefits

[Credits]

Here are 20 beneficial reasons why you might want mindfulness meditation in your daily life:

1. It lowers stress — literally. Research published just last month in the journal Health Psychology shows that mindfulness is not only associated with feeling less stressed, it’s also linked with decreased levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

2. It lets us get to know our true selves. Mindfulness can help us see beyond those rose-colored glasses when we need to really objectively analyze ourselves. A study in the journal Psychological Science shows that mindfulness can help us conquer common “blind spots,” which can amplify or diminish our own flaws beyond reality.

3. It can make your grades better. Researchers from the University of California, Santa Barbara, found that college students who were trained in mindfulness performed better on the verbal reasoning section of the GRE, and also experienced improvements in their working memory. “Our results suggest that cultivating mindfulness is an effective and efficient technique for improving cognitive function, with widereaching consequences,” the researchers wrote in the Psychological Science study.

4. It could help our troops. The U.S. Marine Corps is in the process of seeing how mindfulness meditation training can improve troops’ performance and ability to handle — and recover from — stress.

5. It could help people with arthritis better handle stress. A 2011 study in the journal Annals of Rheumatic Disease shows that even though mindfulness training may not help to lessen pain for people with rheumatoid arthritis, it could help to lower their stress and fatigue.

6. It changes the brain in a protective way. University of Oregon researchers found that integrative body-mind training — which is a meditation technique — can actually result in brain changes that may be protective against mental illness. The meditation practice was linked with increased signaling connections in the brain, something called axonal density, as well as increased protective tissue (myelin) around the axons in the anterior cingulate brain region.

7. It works as the brain’s “volume knob.” Ever wondered why mindfulness meditation can make you feel more focused and zen? It’s because it helps the brain to have better control over processing pain and emotions, specifically through the control of cortical alpha rhythms (which play a role in what senses our minds are attentive to), according to a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience.

8. It makes music sound better. Mindfulness meditation improves our focused engagement in music, helping us to truly enjoy and experience what we’re listening to, according to a study in the journal Psychology of Music.

9. It helps us even when we’re not actively practicing it. You don’t have to actually be meditating for it to still benefit your brain’s emotional processing. That’s the finding of a study in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, which shows that the amygdala brain region’s response to emotional stimuli is changed by meditation, and this effect occurs even when a person isn’t actively meditating.

10. It has four elements that help us in different ways. The health benefits of mindfulness can be boiled down to four elements, according to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of emotion and regulation of attention.

11. It could help your doctor be better at his/her job. Doctors, listen up: Mindfulness meditation could help you better care for your patients. Research from the University of Rochester Medical Center shows that doctors who are trained in mindfulness meditation are less judgmental, more self-aware and better listeners when it comes to interacting with patients.

12. It makes you a better person. Sure, we love all the things meditation does for us. But it could also benefit people we interact with, by making us more compassionate, according to a study in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from Northeastern and Harvard universities found that meditation is linked with more virtuous, “do-good” behavior.

13. It could make going through cancer just a little less stressful. Research from the Jefferson-Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine shows that mindfulness coupled with art therapy can successfully decrease stress symptoms among women with breast cancer. And not only that, but imaging tests show that it is actually linked with brain changes related to stress, emotions and reward.

14. It could help the elderly feel less lonely. Loneliness among seniors can be dangerous, in that it’s known to raise risks for a number of health conditions. But researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, found that mindfulness meditation helped to decrease these feelings of loneliness among the elderly, andboost their health by reducing the expression of genes linked with inflammation.

15. It could make your health care bill a little lower. Not only will your health benefit from mindfulness meditation training, but your wallet might, too. Research in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows that practicing Transcendental Meditation is linked with lower yearly doctor costs, compared with people who don’t practice the meditation technique.

16. It comes in handy during cold season. Aside from practicing good hygiene, mindfulness meditation and exercise could lessen the nasty effects of colds. Researchers from the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Health found that people who engage in the practices miss fewer days of work from acute respiratory infections, and also experience a shortened duration and severity of symptoms.

17. It lowers depression risk among pregnant women. As many as one in five pregnant women will experience depression, but those who are at especially high risk for depression may benefit from some mindfulness yoga. “Research on the impact of mindfulness yoga on pregnant women is limited but encouraging,” study researcher Dr. Maria Muzik, M.D., an assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Michigan, said in a statement. “This study builds the foundation for further research on how yoga may lead to an empowered and positive feeling toward pregnancy.”

18. It also lowers depression risk among teens. Teaching teens how to practice mindfulness through school programs could help them experience less stress, anxiety and depression, according to a study from the University of Leuven.

19. It supports your weight-loss goals. Trying to shed a few pounds to get to a healthier weight? Mindfulness could be your best friend, according to a survey of psychologists conducted by Consumer Reports and the American Psychological Association. Mindfulness training was considered an “excellent” or “good” strategy for weight loss by seven out of 10 psychologists in the survey.

20. It helps you sleep better. A University of Utah study found that mindfulness training can not only help us better control our emotions and moods, but it can also help us sleep better at night. “People who reported higher levels of mindfulness described better control over their emotions and behaviors during the day. In addition, higher mindfulness was associated with lower activation at bedtime, which could have benefits for sleep quality and future ability to manage stress,” study researcher Holly Rau said in a statement.