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Mental Health Mindfulness

Mindfulness

As someone who has dealt with my fair share of anxiety and stress, I have gotten to know mindfulness pretty well over the last few years.  I first heard of meditation when I was a kid but always thought it was a woo woo practice that only Buddhist monks did.

In 2015, I read about mindfulness/meditation online and learned about the positive affects it could have on your overall body, mind, and soul.  I was going through a particularly stressful time and figured it was worth a try.  So I began trying guided meditations and instantly felt more relaxed and like my stress was melting away.

The gist of mindfulness meditation is to focus on the present moment and let go of any thoughts that come into your head.  It’s an opportunity to be completely present in the “now” and let go of all the worry thoughts in your head.  It can be really hard at first because many of us are so used to constantly being distracted by the constant stream of thoughts in our head (at least I am!).  That’s why it was a welcome relief when I first tried meditation and was able to let go of my thoughts for a little while.

I started a meditation practice in 2015 and have been on and off with my consistency since then, but I definitely have noticed that during the times when I am sticking to it on a normal schedule that it helps me with relieving stress and feeling more balanced.

Something that has helped me to stay consistent with mindfulness lately is subscribing to the Headspace app.  My goal is to do a 10 minute mindfulness meditation each day.  The series I am doing now focuses on managing anxiety.  It mostly teaches you how to become aware of your thoughts and train yourself to let them pass by.  I have found that actually subscribing to an app helps me to stay accountable.  And 10 minutes seems to be the perfect amount of time for me; It’s enough to feel really relaxed without taking too much time out of my busy schedule.  I highly recommend giving Headspace a try!

What are your thoughts on mindfulness meditation?  Have you tried it?  Do you have a favorite app or program that you use?

Be well!  Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog by dropping your email in the subscribe box below!

-Coach Lauren

Mental Health

Tips to Cope with Stress during COVID-19

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. This is a great time to spread awareness about mental health, especially as we collectively live through a global pandemic. A lot of people are dealing with stress and anxiety in a way that they never have before. There are fears about health, safety, jobs, finances, the list goes on and on. The CDC recently released a Public Service Announcement called “Be Kind to your Mind”, and it includes 5 tips to cope with stress during COVID-19. Today I’ll be sharing those tips with you.

  1. PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel : We’re all caught up on the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We’re taking care of our families, working while homeschooling kids, caring for loved ones, or just trying to make it though the day. Make sure you are taking time to pause, breathe, and notice how you are feeling. Becoming aware on a regular basis of how you feel is a great first step in helping you improve your overall mental wellbeing.
  2. TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content : This one is so important. I had trouble with this at the beginning of the pandemic. I was so dumbfounded by what was going on that I was glued to the TV watching the news at all times. After a few weeks of this, I noticed that it was starting to pull my mood down. It’s ok to stay informed but turning off the news and focusing on activities you enjoy is crucial.
  3. MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise : Lately our routines have all been thrown into a tizzy. No matter what your daily life used to look like, there is a good chance that it looks a lot different right now. Make sure you are taking care of the basics – getting enough sleep and exercise. Taking care of your body is the foundation of having a healthy mind. Also, exercise releases endorphins which promotes stress relief!
  4. REACH OUT to stay connected : Social distancing is very difficult because we are wired to be social beings. The quarantines, lock downs, and social restrictions can have us all feeling very isolated and disconnected. Now is a great time to set up zoom calls with friends, call family members you haven’t talked to in a while, and make sure you’re connecting with people on a regular basis, even if it looks different than it used to.
  5. SEEK HELP if overwhelmed or unsafe : These really are unprecedented times, and it’s perfectly normal if you are feeling overwhelmed by all of it. If it starts to become too much to handle, seek help. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member, a therapist, or a doctor. The CDC website also has hotlines that are available if it’s serious.

For more information on managing stress during COVID-19, you can visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/managing-stress-anxiety.html.

Be well!

-Coach Lauren

Faith Mental Health Running

Running for Mental Health

Disclaimer: We are not mental health professionals. This post contains personal experiences, thoughts, and opinions and are not intended to replace medical care or professional help. If you need help, please consult a health care professional or licensed therapist.

Did you know that 1 in 4 people struggle with mental illness in any given year? The odds are you have a close friend or family member who has struggled. Or maybe you have. Today I want to talk about something really important and personal and that is mental health. People still don’t talk about mental health very much, but lots of people are affected by it.  Today I will be sharing my story and how running has been an important habit to add to my self care routine.

I want to be open about one of the main reasons why I run. Running helps me to manage my anxiety. I have struggled with anxiety for as long as I can remember. For a long time in my life, I wasn’t even aware that I had anxiety and just thought that worrying all the time about every possible worst case scenario was normal. I thought that my overwhelming fear of social situations just meant I was an introvert. We all feel anxious sometimes, but when it is chronic and starts to interfere with your life, it isn’t normal. I didn’t have the awareness about the anxiety to be able to know that I had a problem until I was in my 20’s, and that’s when I was given the ability to get help and break free.

For me, seeing a therapist has been the most crucial part to finding peace and working through my struggles. I have grown so much through therapy that sometimes I don’t even recognize my old thought patterns. I also take medication. Taking medication was something I resisted for a long time, until it became clear that it was the right choice.

Another thing that has greatly helped me to cope with anxiety has been placing my faith in God. I used to worry about every possible thing that could go wrong and try to control the outcome of situations, which was impossible and self defeating. I’ve learned to lean on God as my rock during times of uncertainty and fear. One of my favorite bible verses is 1 Peter 5:7 – “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you”. I’ve learned to give up my anxiety to God and it’s like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders.

And of course, running is another way that I manage my anxiety. I like to tell people that I fell in love with running by accident, and I never set out to be a runner. I only intended to do a 5k to get in shape for my wedding, but I I instantly fell in love with the mental health benefits I was experiencing. When I was feeling down, I would go for a run and it would instantly lift my mood. When I was feeling anxious, I would go for a run, and it would bring me to a sense of calm that I couldn’t achieve elsewhere. Running releases endorphins and makes you feel good. There are lots of studies that show the mental health benefits of running.

Don’t get me wrong – running in no way replaces therapy or medication. I still see a therapist and take medication, but running is a very helpful tool in my self-care toolbox that I am so happy I have.

I am fortunate that I have become well-equipped to manage my anxiety effectively, and at this point, I am in a really good place. With the Coronavirus pandemic, the whole world is struggling through a new challenge that has thrust a lot of people into an anxiety that they might not have experienced before. If you are struggling, know that you are not alone. You deserve to get the help you need. Reach out to a friend, tell someone about your struggles, schedule a virtual appointment with a therapist, talk to your doctor about it. Life is short and relief is available.

Be well!

-Coach Lauren