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Mindfulness for Chronic Pain

mindfulness for pain

Chronic pain. It’s horrendous, obviously painful, often debilitating and causes a plethora of other issues when conventional treatments fail. Chronic pain sufferers commonly experience anything from anxiety and depression to pain medication side-effects and addiction. All of this on top of excruciating pain that can’t seem to be controlled. Using the mindfulness approach for chronic pain may be just what the doctor didn’t know to order.

Mindfulness is, in a nutshell, paying close attention and maintaining direct focus. Being unafraid to gracefully embrace a moment, good or bad, and know that it’s okay to let it go. Yes, it sounds terrifying to a chronic pain sufferer to pay more attention to the pain. Don’t stop reading! It will become clear how mindfulness for chronic pain can be highly advantageous and even help eradicate pain almost completely when practiced properly.

Practical Mindfulness Methods

A common relaxation technique over the years has been to tense up each part of the body, individually, count to 10, and then release your hold. The object is to notice exactly how tense you were to begin with, and to physically feel the tension go away. You would typically start from head to toe and gradually work your way down each body part until your entire body is completely relaxed.

For instance, you could start with your face by crinkling your forehead, squeezing your eyes together, pursing your lips and clenching your teeth. Inhale through your nose, hold the tension as tight as you can for 10 seconds and then slowly exhale through your mouth. Feel the muscles relax in your face and head.

Feel the tension and stress leave your body. Notice how you can actually feel the blood start to move again and how revitalized yet relaxed and calm it makes you feel. How completely aware you feel. This is the same premise as mindfulness for chronic pain.

The idea is to get closer to the pain, acknowledge it, appreciate it, and let it leave. Accept that the pain is there, without judgment, which is the hardest part really. Naturally we associate chronic pain and all that tags along with it as negative.

Focus On the Relief From Pain

But just for this exercise, try and view it neutrally. Shake hands with the pain as if it’s the first time you’re meeting a new neighbor. Visualize the pain. And when you exhale, let the pain move on.

Substantial pain relief may not be immediate, but if you are mindful and continue practicing mindfulness for chronic pain, the decrease in pain will gradually happen. It takes practice and focus, but it’s well worth the reward considering the damage other treatment modalities can potentially cause to your body, mind and spirit.

It also helps to alter your mindset on the pain itself. Your approach should be to understand your pain, individually describe the sensations you notice with and without the mindfulness exercises, and create a deeper awareness of balance.

If you enter this with the only idea that your pain needs to be “fixed”, if you aren’t extremely successful on your first shot of meditation, your mind will interpret that as “failure”. And mindfulness for chronic pain is so much more than simple success and/or failure.

Mindfulness will help you achieve a more accurate perception of the pain. You essentially retrain your brain to calculate pain differently. Think about it; your mind doesn’t actually feel the pain, but it sure tells you on a scale how bad it might feel.

In order for your brain to differentiate the intensity of pain, it first had to send signals all the way down to the core of the pain, which was then interpreted as even greater pain. It’s like poking a really bad bruise. Ouch!

Mindfulness and Pain Connection

Food for thought: Mindfulness for chronic pain isn’t about eradicating pain. Mindfulness is a phenomenal and powerful modality to help you live a full life even with the pain. Your focus is no longer on the outside obstacles but on accepting what’s going on inside your body and having a different relationship with it.

You can choose your reactions, believe it or not, and mindfulness for chronic pain assists in just that. With practice and determination, you can and will alter your pain response. Think of all the added benefits like less narcotic pain medication, less chance for addiction to medications, as well as decreased anxiety and depression symptoms.

What about the fact that you can begin again to live a meaningful, active life without spending the majority of energy on avoiding any pain breakthrough?
Mindfulness for chronic pain has endless potential and the results can effect multiple areas of your life. There’s really no reason not to try it.


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Mindfulness for Busy Moms

mindfulness for busy moms

Life with kids is hectic, to say the least. If you’re lucky enough to get one down for a nap, the others will inevitably require your immediate undivided attention, the third snack for the day or your taxi skills to get to another activity. Moms are on the move! They typically don’t get the luxury of scheduled breaks or the end of their shift.

Which is exactly why mindfulness for busy moms is essential! When you think about it, being a mom is all about balance. Whether you work outside the home or are a stay-at-home mom, you’ve got a ton of things to accomplish on any given day with a mental checklist and any number of screaming kids in the background offering constant distraction.

Mindfulness for Self-help

Somehow, you pull it all together and make everything happen for everyone else, but what about you? To keep balance you’ve got to find a way to take care of yourself, because if mama falls apart, the whole operation falls apart!

Mindfulness has become such a popular method for lowering stress levels and helping with all sorts of medical and mental health issues. But mindfulness for busy moms might just be the real jackpot here. Sometimes finding a yoga class matching our skill level seems just as impossible as allotting the time to get away and show up for the class itself.

The same applies to running out to a spa for a massage, not to mention massages aren’t exactly budget friendly these days. And forget about a weekend getaway or even a girls’ night out; that’s entirely too much planning and don’t we already do enough planning for our own crew?

Mindfulness Can Fit to Your Schedule

The best part about mindfulness, other than the obvious and immediate release of tension, is you can do it first thing in the morning, smack dab in the middle of the day, the end of the day and at night. You can practice mindfulness once a day or find mindfulness moments for busy moms all throughout the day.

Yes, mindfulness can be just that simple. It’s all about being in the present moment and being aware of what’s happening right now. You take a moment to embrace the moment and allow it to happen, without pondering how it should or could be different.

Here are a few ways to incorporate mindfulness activities into everyday life any time of the day:

1.) Deep, cleansing breaths. Ok, this one seems pretty obvious and probably at the top of all the lists. It’s easy, quick and can be performed all throughout the day. But for busy moms, this one is particularly helpful first thing in the morning before you’ve even gotten out from under the covers.

Here’s why: Your mind is already processing the days’ activities before you even get out of bed. Take three or four deep breaths, count the seconds of each inhale and slowly count out the exhale. Even if you hear the kids pitter pattering down the hall or fighting over the bathroom, take this couple of minutes no matter what. Allow yourself to exist, without worry or contemplation, fear or anticipation. Just breathe and be.

2.) Bring on the java! Maybe coffee isn’t your thing, but whatever is, take a moment to sit down and enjoy it. Here’s how to do it mindfully; find a quiet space and don’t dive right in. Maybe while everyone is busy getting ready for school or maybe during snack time when all the littles have their mouths full of all those healthful snacks.

Get your cup of goodness, sit down and take a mindful approach. Smell the aroma, notice how you feel before you’ve taken the first sip, take care to appreciate the first sip in all its splendor and how it feels going down. How does it taste? Is the cup warming your hands? These simple measures to keep focused on this exact couple of minutes, without distraction, is exactly what mindfulness is all about.

3.) Hide. It sounds ridiculous but it might just save everyone’s sanity that day. If you’ve ever gotten to the point of breaking, before you scream and yell and later regret it, go hide. Run to your favorite closet (consider the pantry, there are probably cookies in there) and just be with yourself.

No little people begging for your attention or squealing on each other. Close your eyes and take deep breaths. Take in your surroundings. After a couple minutes of solitude you are more likely to respond rather than react to the situation.

The world isn’t going to fall apart if you appear to disappear for a few minutes during the day, but your state of mind surely could crumble if you don’t make time for yourself. These are just a few suggestions to help you get started and more comfortable with the concept of mindfulness.

You could also incorporate meditation, prayer, journaling, or a brisk walk (even if it’s just the perimeter of the backyard). Maybe coloring or spending a few minutes crocheting is more your style. The point is to find the mindfulness approach that’s most effective for you as a busy mom.


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Drying and Preserving Medicinal Herbs and Plants

aroma aromatic assortment bottles

Being able to properly harvest and preserve your herbs after planting them is a very important part of creating your own herbal pharmacy. Below are all the steps you can take to easily preserve your medicinal herbs.

Step 1.) Harvesting

Flowers

For flowering herbs like calendula, rose and lavender; harvest just before the flowers open. You should do your harvesting on a dry day in the morning just after the dew has evaporated. Harvest flowering herbs with stems, to make drying easier. You can separate them once they have sufficiently dried.

Leaves

For leafy herbs like basil and oregano; harvest before they begin to flower. Do this harvesting on a dry morning as well. When you harvest, cut each stem just above where it meets the main stalk.

Fruits

For fruiting plants like elderberries, you would definitely want to harvest them when they are ripe. This will depend on the type of fruit it is, so be sure you keep your eyes open if you have multiple fruiting plants you want to use. Harvest simply by picking the fruits off.

Roots

For roots like ginger, marshmallow, and turmeric; harvest at the end of their growth cycle. This will also vary by plant, so make sure you know what’s what when your plants have begun to go dormant. When you’re ready to harvest, you just dig up the root and set it aside for preservation!

Seeds

For seeds like fennel and flax, wait for the seeds to fully mature before harvesting. Make sure they are still on the plant when harvested, so you can take advantage of them while they are still intact and the most potent.

Step 2.) Preservation of Herbs

Flowers

Small flowers can be dried whole, while larger flowers should have the petals carefully separated for best drying results. Lay out your petals and flowers on clean tea towels or paper towels in a room with good circulation and low sunlight. It is important that they be laid out in one layer without any overlap to avoid making a big compost pile. Turn and check on them throughout the day, to make sure they are drying properly.

Leaves

Like flowers, some leafy herbs can be dried whole; while others do better with their leaves removed and laid out. For leaves alone, you use the same technique as you would with the flowers above. For whole stalks, you can gently tie them together by the stems in little bundles. Then, you hang these bundles upside-down until the herbs dry. You will want to keep your hanging herbs in a similar, if not the same place as your laid out herbs—High circulation, and indirect sunlight.

Fruits

Fruits can be most easily preserved by drying or freezing. When freezing or drying fruits, it is best to remove the skins and seeds from larger kinds, as well as chop them into chunks or slices. However, for smaller fruits like berries, you can simply wash and freeze/dry as they are. Just make sure you choose fruits that are ripe and not bruised or damaged in any way, so that they will last as long as possible and retain their nutrients.
To dry fruits, you can use your oven or a dehydrator to dry them out. For dehydrators, you would simply follow the instructions that came with it. If you want to use your oven, however, there is an easy way to do it… Preheat your oven to the lowest temp it has—this should be under two hundred degrees Fahrenheit. Then lay your fruit out in one layer on a nonstick, oven-safe tray. Place in the oven and leave it alone until your fruit is completely dried out.

Roots

The best way to preserve roots is to freeze them and grate off what you want as needed. However, it is important that they be frozen in a vacuum sealed bag or container. This maintains their freshness longer, and keeps them from developing freezer burn over time.

Seeds

As long as bugs and moisture are completely kept away from seeds, they are the easiest to store. You can simply air dry your seeds of any moisture the same way you would flowers and leaves; then place them in airtight containers. Keep seeds in a cool, dry place for most long-lasting results.

Step 3.) Storage

This is the simplest part of the whole process! Whatever you freeze can stay frozen, and anything you dried out simply needs to be kept in airtight containers in cool, dry places. Check on your stores often to make sure mold or pests have not taken hold, and enjoy creating your very own personal preservation paradise!

Herbs You Can Grow at Home that Make Great Natural Remedies

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Herbs You Can Grow At Home That Make Great Natural Remedies

six potted plants close up photo

Having an herb garden can be useful for a lot more than adding fresh herbs to your favorite recipes. Herb gardens are actually chock full of amazing natural home remedies! Below are just a few really easy-to-grow herbs you can grow at home, as well as what natural remedies you can use them for.

Basil

This green, leafy herb is full of vitamins and antioxidants that make it quite a fantastic tool for natural medicine:

  • Chewing the leaves helps with stomach pains.
  • Drinking basil tea relieves coughing fits.
  • A facial steam with basil and water soothes headaches.
  • Basil paste takes the pain and toxins out of bug bites and stings.
  • Essential oil of basil works to fix ear infections and aches.

Lavender

These lovely, purple flowers are more than just beautiful! They can be used for many different things:

  • Use lavender tea as a hair rinse to clear up dandruff.
  • Add the dried flowers to oatmeal for an anti-inflammatory facial scrub.
  • Apply lavender essential oil to burns to help soothe and heal them.
  • Spray a mixture of water and lavender oil anywhere you want to keep bugs away.

Dill

Adding this bright green herb to recipes strengthens your bones, and also improves your cellular function. However, that’s not all! There are more things you can use dill for:

  • Dill essential oil can help relieve cramps from menstruation, indigestion, gas, and even in the muscles.
  • Small doses of dill tea can help soothe colicky babies.
  • Eating the herb helps with milk production in nursing mothers.

Fennel

The seeds, in particular, have the most benefits to offer you and your family. Fennel is purifying, helps with digestion, and can even improve eyesight in some people! The most common home remedies of fennel include:

  • Soak fennel seeds in water overnight, then drink to help with heat stroke.
  • Eat a small handful after meals to aid digestion.
  • Fennel powder mixed with grape juice and cumin powder lowers fevers when you drink it.

Oregano

This velvety herb is anti everything! Anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and antibacterial. It also had lots of antioxidants to boost all these benefits as well. Here’s what you can use oregano for at home:

  • Drink oregano tea to help with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS.)
  • Oregano essential oil mixed with salt into a paste is an effective cure for Athlete’s Foot.
  • Add the essential oil to olive oil as a rub for muscle and joint pain relief.

These are just a few herbs with a few go their home remedies to get you started. Nearly every herb you can grow is full of benefits and potential natural medicinal properties you can take advantage of! Use this as the first step to your future of making your very own natural remedies. Happy herb gardening!

5 Herbs to Grow
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Chicken Soup: Makes Almost Everything Better + Recipe

Everyone has been sick at one time of their life or another. We all have memories of that one bad cold we had once, and one of the things that helped make us feel better—Chicken soup. Maybe it was from a can, or maybe it was an old recipe passed down through your family… Whichever it was, it helped sooo much! Keep reading to find out how.

Chicken soup is one of the most common home remedies. It has tons of benefits, and really does help with colds and flus! Several studies have shown that chicken soup has the ability to reduce symptoms as well as help the body recover from these types of sicknesses. Let’s break down how:

Broth

It is very important to stay hydrated when you are sick; and a warm, flavorful broth is the perfect way to do that. Broth is just as important as the rest of the soup, and can also be a great vehicle for extra spices with their own added benefits.

Chicken

Chicken is full of protein and B vitamins. Protein is a great fuel for the body, and also helps you feel full longer; while B vitamins boost the immune system, as well as cell and brain function. This will help you feel less foggy and more alert… Not right away, though! First, you will need to have a nap induced by the tryptophan chicken also has. Rest is another vital part of healing properly from sickness.

Noodles

Depending on the noodle, there are a lot of different possible vitamins and benefits. Vegetable noodles add extra vitamins; while regular or egg noodles give you a boost of carbs and help you feel satisfied as you eat. Plus, they are just plain fun to eat!

Vegetables

Veggies provide the necessary vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants your body needs to recover more quickly from colds and flus. Be sure to use a good variety of vegetable to take advantage of as many benefits as possible. Think rainbow, eat the rainbow—and not the skittle kind! 😉

Benefits

All of these ingredients work together to create an incredible powerhouse of soothing and healing abilities. Studies prove that chicken soup helps with all of the following:

  • Thins Mucus.
The combination of steam and nutrients work together to thin and drain mucus more effectively. This means it is much easier to expel this mucus through coughing and nose blowing—which can be a huge relief.
  • Boosts Immunity.
With all the nutrients all mixed together, chicken soup is a true recipe for immune function success. Not only does it help you heal, but it helps your body recover as well; preventing lingering coughs or other symptoms from sticking around!
  • Reduces Inflammation
It has been proven that chicken soup works to slow down certain white blood cells that contribute to inflammatory symptoms in the sinuses. This greatly relieves that inflammation as well as any built-up congestion.

While chicken soup does not magically make colds disappear, it DOES make the experience more bearable. So next time you feel a flu or a cold coming on, whip up a pot and enjoy!

Recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup

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A Case For Old-Fashioned Natural Remedies

flat lay photo of alternative medicines

Old-fashioned remedies have their (literal) roots in herbal and natural medicines. Plants are the original medicine where all our modern day pharmaceuticals come from! They are also free of all the synthetic and potentially harmful chemicals people have put into medicine today.

Hundreds of years ago, before there were huge corporate drug companies; there were apothecaries. These were essentially pharmacies full of natural medicine, run by experienced herbalists of the time. These people worked hard to figure out what plants to use to help the people that came to them. They worked on medical advice, medicinal trials, mixtures, and some even grew their own plants to be sure they could offer quality medicine to their “patients.” Another thing apothecary proprietors would do is sell their natural remedies to the practicing physicians at the time as well. Apothecary owners were very well-versed in the ways all different kinds of plants work, and often devoted their entire lives to these studies. You could definitely say they were early versions of the fancy scientists we have today!

Then, with modern civilization came GREAT breakthroughs in medicine. We found penicillin, developed chemotherapy, and even discovered ways to survive deadly diseases through vaccines! However, with these fantastic developments also came a huge dependency on pharmaceutical drugs… With this came all the issues we have today with price-gouging, severe side effects, and blind trust in whatever these drug companies say. This is why natural remedies are making such a huge comeback in the western world… People are starting to realize that herbal medicines and old-fashioned remedies actually still have a LOT of merit.

Most pharmaceuticals seem to work very well, but they actually function more like band-aids. They work fast, yet they effects are only temporary symptom control… Take cold medicine, for example. Your most common over-the-counter medicine simply masks the symptoms. To get real healing and relief, you need to get something with an expectorant. Those symptom hiders are STILL on the shelves, though; pulling in money into useless pockets every day.

Meanwhile, herbal remedies (when prepared properly) do what they say they will do. Natural medicine works more like a cast—restorative and healing over time. They also come in endless forms so you can find the best kind for your needs, no matter what. Essential oils, teas, pills, raw, gummies, dried, etc. are all examples of mediums that herbal medicines can be found in. Natural remedies are also much more affordable and accessible, with fewer side effects than prescription or over-the-counter drugs.

Some things that can be healed through natural remedies include:

  • Anxiety
  • Arthritis
  • Depression
  • Digestive Issues
  • Heart/Circulation Problems
  • Hormone Levels
  • Inflammation
  • Insomnia
  • Oral Care
  • Pain
  • Skin Conditions
  • …and so much more!

Get in touch with a licensed naturopathic doctor today, and find out how you can take advantage of the amazing benefits from old-fashioned, natural remedies!

Meanwhile, check out our Chicken Soup article and Recipe – Here

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Mindfulness for Bipolar

Mindfulness for Bipolar

Many prominent psychologists and counselors are employing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Behavior Therapy (MiCBT) as a practical approach for their clients. In particular, therapists are using this technique more and more for bipolar disorder.

This should not be limited to therapists and professionals in the mental health field. There’s no reason why anyone who is afflicted by bipolar disorder can’t apply mindfulness and reduce its symptoms within the comfort of their own home.

Mindfulness focuses on the here and now using our senses to become present in the moment. Many times during the day we experience the same mundane tasks and our brain unknowingly goes to autopilot.

Picture your drive home from work. Every single day. The same route. Passing by the same streets and houses and buildings. You’ve got the radio on the same station, as always, and your mind is off somewhere in the distance. By the time you get home you have no real recollection of the drive or how you got from point A to point B, but you did. On autopilot.

And during that drive you probably spaced out and thought about a ton of things. Perhaps you revisited an unpleasant conversation with your boss and thought about all the things you wish you would have said. Or you could have been scrambling your brain trying to figure out what to cook for dinner as you forgot to lay out something this morning. Whatever the case, you weren’t in the moment.

Mindfulness helps us control where are thoughts go and how to reel them back in when they slip back into autopilot. It helps us to become aware of sensations and thoughts and emotions occurring right now.

Mindfulness for bipolar specifically helps stop:

  • The “Autopilot” cycle.
  • Worrying about the future.
  • Reliving the past.
  • Regretting decisions long past.
  • Obsessive thinking.

Bipolar, as you are probably aware, has peaks and valleys of complex moods. These can be similar to anxiety and depression symptoms. However, in bipolar these moods are much more prominent and can even encompass delusional thinking. The depressive symptoms can be extreme and boundless, often including thoughts of suicidal ideation.

To get control of these moods would be life-changing for those dealing with bipolar disorder.

Potential benefits of mindfulness for bipolar:

  • Improved attention and focus.
  • Decreased worry and rumination.
  • Less emotional reactivity.
  • Greater self-compassion.
  • Better stress management.

This isn’t an easy way out or a fix-all solution to every symptom. Employing mindfulness takes times to develop the techniques unique to your situation, to your particular set of needs. It’s a daily practice, not something you can just pick up and try out whenever you have a break and need a little bit more help.

But the great news is, it does work. Maybe it won’t eliminate all of your symptoms or stop an episode of mania from happening, but if the mood could be even a little less intense and frightening, mindfulness is worth it.

Getting started with mindfulness practices is much like anything else, you jump in and find what fits for your lifestyle. The first and easiest step is to find the anchor that works best for you.

Common Mindfulness Meditation Anchors

  • Breathing – counting inhalations/exhalations
  • Body sensation – paying close attention to how your body is feeling right this second, wherever you are, how your feet feel, legs, arms, neck, face… everything. Are you sore? Energized? Exhausted? Hot or cold?
  • Mantra – a set or words or phrase on repeat either out loud or in your head.
  • Movement – a meditation walk or some stretching exercises, or even yoga.

The point of the anchor is having something you can mentally grab hold of and create an unbreakable focus. If your mind moves and slips into autopilot, gently pull yourself back to your anchor. It’s going to happen, again and again.

The goal is to be in control of your mindfulness experience. Accept what’s going on in the present moment even if it’s uncomfortable and realize it’s fleeting. It will pass. You’ll give yourself less attachment to the storm brewing because of the bipolar and be able to focus more on working through the sensations and mindful decision making.

It takes time to develop a good mindfulness for bipolar routine, and lots of practice. The outcome is worth the time spent. Not only will you feel better about your bipolar symptoms and moods, but mindfulness will spill over into your everyday life offering an overall peace and confidence.

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Mindfulness for Anxiety and Depression

Mindfulness for Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression for many can be disheartening, terrifying, and even debilitating. The symptoms of anxiety can strike at any moment it seems and are usually related to a future event that may or may not happen, but the thought of it happening alone is quite enough to start the downward spiral.

Depression seems to be a slower beast in onset, takes a little longer to combat and commonly closes in on past events and things and/or situations we regret. In any event, mindfulness for anxiety and depression can significantly reduce the symptoms and potentially slow down the frequency of invasive thought patterns in general.

Mindfulness is all about being in the moment, accepting the moment, and then moving past the moment. Mindfulness helps a person pay closer attention to their internal and external surroundings any given moment. The very act of focusing on what is happening and how it is affecting them as it happens, leaves the conscious mind with less time and space for the anxieties of what may or may not happen, or for dwelling on things in the past.

In it’s most basic form, mindfulness for anxiety and depression is about training your brain to accept what’s happening without complicating the matter by adding forecast or re-hashed imagery. These imaginings and ruminations inevitably will exhaust your mind and body, delay recovery and invite more frequent outbreaks.

Practical Applications of Mindfulness

Picture the first thing you do when you get up in the morning. Okay, after you hit the snooze four times and thrown the covers back over your head. You’ve probably already started worrying about all the things you’ve got to accomplish today, and if you don’t get them done, you’ve failed. Anxiety starts nearly from the moment you open your eyes.

Mindfulness for anxiety helps us accept the anxiety we’ve dished out to ourselves, and then move past it. Okay, yes, we’ve got a lot on the to-do list, but if we aren’t able to get it all done, there’s always tomorrow. The world won’t end. You aren’t a failure. You’ve already got a frown on your face and your brow is furrowed, heart rate is escalating, and you haven’t even gotten your hindquarters out of bed yet.

Instead, focus on how good it feels to get that first big morning stretch and how amazing and cool and fresh the carpet feels between your toes. Keep going, with positive, mindful thoughts. Be aware of what’s going on internally and externally, remember? In this moment. Stay in this moment. Don’t allow anxiety to suck away your time like an aimless vacuum. Acknowledge it, accept it, and be mindful in the thoughts after that moment. It takes practice, but it’s worth it!

Mindfulness for depression is a different story, yet similar in tactic. The object is to be purposeful in thought, right? Be mindful. So when you get home in the evening and realize you were only able to check of four of the 10 items on your list of chores for the day, it might be a trigger for depression. You’ve failed, yet again. You can’t get anything right. How will you ever get that list accomplished. One day at a time, that’s how! Just like every other human being!

When you feel depression rearing its ugly head, the first step is always to accept it. Be real with it. Depression is about things in the past, and unless you are a time traveler you can’t change the past. So once you’ve acknowledged that you are in fact depressed about something, get back to the present moment, as quickly as possible.

Practice giving your attention to breathing; shorter breaths in, longer breaths out. Think mindfully about what is happening in this very moment, inside and outside of your body, in place of allowing the depression to monopolize your thought process.

Give mindfulness for anxiety and depression and try. You’ll be surprised with the results! Like most things in life, it’s going to take some practice. Be patient with yourself as you figure out the best methods of mindfulness to help combat your particular levels of anxiety and depression, too.
Charles R. Swindoll said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.” Being aware of your minute to minute existence will help you learn to control your reactions, which will greatly help in overcoming the symptoms of anxiety and depression.

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Mindfulness for ADHD

One can argue mindfulness for ADHD is a bunch of hooey just as easily as they can deny ADHD even exists, but when Dr. Lidia Zylowska and her team blew the minds of disbelievers with a 2008 study, many doubters had to reassess their position. Over recent years mindfulness has caused quite a stir in just about every life aspect, but mindfulness in ADHD deserves a special look. Here’s why!

In Dr. Zylowska’s 2008 study “Mindfulness Meditation Training in Adults and Adolescents”, 78% of participants who practiced mindfulness awareness reported a reduction in ADHD symptoms. That is an incredible statistic!

Mindfulness Avoids Regretful Ruminations

First, let’s go over the mindfulness concept as a whole. This approach, which uses meditation as one of its tools, encourages an individual to pay special attention to here-and-now moments without judgement. In practice, this means avoid thinking back and pondering what could have been, and don’t freak out over the future, just be here. Right now.

That’s not to say mindfulness is suggesting we ignore past or future events in total, but dwelling on them will rob us of time, and time is something we can never get back. There is certainly no problem with learning from mistakes if it leads to a better outcome.

However, there is no value in bemoaning what could have been, or holding on to bitterness and regret. This is especially so where events or actions where beyond our control, whether they were enacted by others, Acts of God, or natural events. Beware of “if only” statements.

To employ mindfulness to its best advantage, if non-productive past and future thoughts intrude, allow the thought, replace it, and move on. With purpose.

Mindfulness for ADHD, as one could imagine, is a dream come true for many. There are parents refusing to medicate children for fear of side-effects, and adults trying to find a natural way to cope with ADHD to avoid being addicted or dependent on yet another prescription. Stimulants are the first prescribed line defense for ADHD, and yet they don’t work for everyone. Sure, Omega-3 and Omega-6 are great, but is that going to fully fix the problem? Probably not in most cases. Managing ADHD symptoms is challenging at best.

The researchers in Dr. Zylowska’s study knew what they were doing. You can’t put ADHD participants on a rigid schedule and expect them to stick to it. They made special adaptations to the study so it would be successful:

  1. Started with shorter mindful meditation practices and gradually increased.
  2. Incorporated visual imagery as ADHD folks are typically very visual learners.
  3. Helped combat ADHD negative self-talk.
  4. Emphasized mindful awareness with right-here-right-now, non-judgmental practices.

Distraction and focus. Those are the key components of both ADHD and mindfulness, oddly enough. Although they are working at opposite ends of the spectrum and fighting for different causes, so to speak, they both primarily juggle the same tenpins.

In mindfulness for ADHD the idea is to push your thoughts back to the present moment and regain focus on the task at hand. ADHD sufferers are constantly challenged by intrusive thoughts pulling their attention in one direction or another and they often lose sight of what is happening right now.

Beginning another task, completely unrelated to the first task, is par for the course in ADHD patients. By the days’ end they’ve got multiple unfinished tasks, have spoken a plethora of self-deprecating comments, and are left feeling discouraged and defeated.

We all have goals, right? That’s the object in our day-to-day life efforts, and long-term, to obtain or attain our goals. However, not everyone has the ability to keep their nose to the grindstone and hammer out results one after the other.
Mindfulness with ADHD helps strengthen attention span, it helps manage emotional surges and it helps in achieving goals. Of course, the person with ADHD will be resistant to focusing and consider this approach quite a workout. Studies, including the milestone one mentioned above, have proven that with time, patience and practice, the ability to immediately redirect themselves can become second nature.

When focus is mindful and redirected back to the present, tasks get done. When tasks get done, jobs are kept and paychecks keep coming. Homework gets done and GPAs stay good. Chores are finished before parents get home and nobody gets grounded. Laundry gets done, folded and even put away!

It’s amazing what can be accomplished when distraction gets beat down by focus through the use of mindfulness by those suffering with ADHD. It may mean little to those who aren’t directly affected, but to someone with ADHD, or maybe even more so, the parent of a child with ADHD, this gives incredible hope for dealing with the condition.

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Start Your Day Off Right with Morning Pages

Morning Pages

Your morning routine is perhaps the most important part of your day, as it sets the
tone and gets you ready for what’s next. One popular trend that has helped people
from all walks of life improve their morning routines is morning pages. These morning
pages are a form of daily journaling that you do right after you wake up.

Although daily journaling in general is good for you, morning pages are especially
beneficial, and there’s a reason so many successful people swear by them. This
guide will cover everything you need to know about morning pages, from how you
can get started with them to their many benefits.

Coming up, you will learn:

  • How Morning Pages Work
  • The Benefits of Journaling in the Morning
  • Ideas for Getting Started
  • How to Be Successful with Them

Keep reading to learn more about morning pages.

How Morning Pages Work

The way morning pages work is simple enough. While any form of journaling in the
morning would work, the most widely known method of doing morning pages has the
following requirements:

  • You must do your morning pages immediately upon waking up.
  • You write until you’ve completed three pages in your notebook, which is about 750
    words.
  • Morning pages must be handwritten.
  • You can write about whatever comes to mind. For the first half-page or page, you
    may find that you’re filling the page with blasé observations, but if you stick with it,
    you will likely end up with some gems in the rest of your writing. It’s all about being
    patient and committed.
  • While how long morning pages take depends on how quickly you write, people
    typically complete theirs within about half an hour. You’ll likely find that you get
    through yours a bit faster when you get used to writing them.

Although you don’t need to follow the requirements above, as morning pages can be
whatever you want them to be, there are reasons for those requirements.

It’s best to do your morning pages right away when you wake up because at that
time, your mind will be too tired to second-guess or censor anything. You’ll be able to
put down more honest thoughts from the inner depths of your mind.

The three-page requirement is because that’s a good amount to produce in-depth
writing. If you stopped after one page, you’d only be scratching the surface with your
journaling.

As far as the requirement about handwriting your morning pages, there are a few
reasons for this. Many people feel that the act of putting pen or pencil to paper
results in a stronger connection between what themselves and what they’re writing.
Computers, on the other hand, can stifle creativity.

It’s also much easier to jump into your morning pages when you wake up if you’re just
grabbing a journal, not turning on your computer and loading your word processing
program of choice.

That being said, if you prefer using a computer for your morning pages, you can do
so. There are even sites specifically for that purpose.

Since morning pages are intended to be private, it’s best not to let anyone else read
yours. This makes it easier to write honestly, because you don’t need to worry about
being judged for what you write. In fact, you may not even want to reread yours later.

The Benefits of Journaling Daily with Morning Pages

Morning pages are a great way to encourage you to not only journal daily, but get a
lot of use out of them. While there are many forms of journaling, none of which are
wrong, journaling in the morning is often great for stream of consciousness, bullet
journaling, and planning out your day.

Take a look at the many benefits of morning pages.

It’s Your Own Private Form of Therapy

Since you’re the only one who sees your morning pages, they give you the perfect
opportunity write about your thoughts and feelings. With how busy life can get, it’s far
too easy to bury your emotions, which can make you unhappy in the long run.
Sometimes just focusing on how you feel and what’s bothering you can make a world
of difference.

Maybe journaling will help you better understand where your partner is coming from
when you two argue and how the two of you can communicate better. Or perhaps
when you break down something that stressed you out the previous day, you’ll
discover why it bothered you and steps you can take to solve the problem.

You’re Free to Express Whatever You’d Like

Your morning pages are your own world, and you can do whatever you want with
them. While writing about how you feel is a popular choice, that’s far from the only
topic you can cover. You could use your morning pages to map out goals for the next
few weeks and months, or take a more long-term view of what you want to
accomplish in life. You could use your morning pages to write your own short stories.

There’s no limit to what you write. If you want to go past three pages, that’s an option,
as well.

It Stimulates Your Creativity

It’s not easy to be creative. There’s a misconception out there that artists and other
creative types are simply born that way, but in reality, you need to put in the work to
develop your creativity. The two most important factors in being creative are devoting
time to it and having the right setup. Fortunately, those are two areas where morning
pages can help.

One of the most common reasons people fail at creating anything is because they’re
constantly waiting for inspiration to strike instead of simply setting aside time and
working at it. If you expect it to just happen, it never will. When you do your morning
pages, you’re making a commitment to put in the work.

The other roadblock to creativity is your setup. When you’re typing ideas into a
computer program, there’s a disconnect between you and what you’re creating, and
you can immediately edit anything you don’t like before you’ve even fleshed it out.
The same isn’t true when you’re using a pen and paper. The ideas flow much better
this way, especially when you’re just waking up.

Keep in mind also that stimulating creativity isn’t only useful for artists. If you’re an
entrepreneur, your morning pages could be where you come up with great new
business ideas.

You Clear Your Head

Morning pages are great for reducing anxiety and helping you be in the present
moment. How do they help with that? They allow you to clear all those little thoughts
and stressors from your mind so that they aren’t weighing you down the rest of the
day.

Everyone knows how overwhelming it is to have a variety of thoughts flooding your
mind as you try to focus on what you need to accomplish that day. By putting those
thoughts to paper in the morning, you set yourself up for a more focused and
productive day.

It Helps You Value Your Time More

The interesting thing about morning pages is that even though you’re adding a 30-
minute task to your daily routine, you’ll likely actually find yourself making better use
of your time. One reason is that you’ll have fewer distractions that take you off track,
but just as important is that you’ll have a conscious desire to make the most of every
moment.

When you see how much those 30 minutes of writing can improve your life, you’ll
want to use the rest of your time just as wisely. That means less procrastination and
killing time on mindless tasks. You’ll move through life far more efficiently.

Ideas for Your Morning Pages

Even though there are some recommendations on how you approach your morning
pages, there really is no right or wrong way to do them. This is your personal mental
playground. However, if you’re unsure how to start writing your morning pages, here
are some ideas that could help.

Dig into What’s on Your Mind

This is a popular choice for morning pages, as it’s great for clearing your head and
ridding yourself of stress. You’re essentially playing your own therapist here by
analyzing how you’re feeling and why you’re feeling that way.

The key here is to keep asking yourself “why” as you write about how you feel. The
first paragraph or two may just be a surface-level look at things, but you’ll make more
progress as you break down your thoughts further.

Let’s say you wake up feeling worried. In your writing, you can pinpoint exactly what’s
causing that worry and how you’re going to handle it. If you hadn’t done your morning
pages, you may have spent your whole day stressed.

Write a Plan of Attack for the Day

Your morning pages are the perfect place to write what you’re going to do that day,
including everything from the mundane tasks to bigger goals. By writing all these in
the morning, you’re less likely to forget anything.

One trick for improving your life when you plan out your day is to visualize everything
as you go, and make sure you have a positive mindset about it.

For example, instead of just writing that you’ll be meeting with your project manager
at work, write that you’re going to have a fantastic meeting with them where you’ll
confidently explain how the latest project is coming along. Often all it takes is belief
that things will go well, and positive results will follow.

Have a Brainstorming Session

If you’re trying to get those creative juices flowing, you could use your morning pages
to brainstorm new ideas. Sometimes you’ll find that ideas come naturally even as
you’re writing about other things. You could be writing about a recent annoyance,
which then gives you an idea for a new product.

It can also be helpful to dedicate entire mornings of journaling to brainstorming,
though. Your morning pages give you a place to work through ideas, even ideas that
may seem silly at first. Remember that not every idea is going to be brilliant, but you
should still give them all a chance.

Combining Different Ideas

As you decide how you’re going to approach your morning pages, consider
combining different ideas and giving them each a portion of your writing. You could
spend your first page and a half on getting your thoughts down and clearing your
head, and then use the next page and a half on what you’re going to do that day or
week.

Or, you can just dive in and see where your writing takes you. It’s fine to start your
morning pages talking about how tired you are and how much you’d rather be
sleeping. The stream-of-consciousness approach tends to work very well for morning
pages, and you may be surprised with what you come up with.

Finding Success with Your Morning Pages

To be successful with writing morning pages, you need to turn it into a habit. Start by
carving out 30 minutes in your morning routine, even if that means waking up earlier.
If you figure you’ll just fit your morning pages in, odds are that start skipping them
because you don’t have the time.

Make a commitment to writing your morning pages for 30 days in a row. Here’s why –
it can take time to see the results of your new morning routine. You’re selling yourself
short if you stop after five days because you haven’t noticed a difference. When you
set 30 days as your first goal, it gives you enough time to see the results in action
and make morning pages a habit.

Morning pages are one of the easiest and best ways to lead a better life. All it takes
is a notebook, a pen or pencil, and about 30 minutes of your time to make yourself
happier and healthier.