5 ways to finding Calm and Focus

Stability

How to find calm and focus, especially for during stressful times.

Do you find yourself losing calm and focus and not being able to get it back again so easily? I know I can, especially during times of lots of change, even with all the techniques I know, without putting them in place and using them regularly, I can easily lose my focus and find myself heading in to a stress spiral.

With the Christmas period fast approaching us, I wanted to share with you 5 ways you can quickly pull yourself out of any stressful spiral and bring back your calm and focus. When these are maintained with consistency you can then maintain  calm and focus as a primary state.

It is about daily practice and so occasionally when we are confronted with lots of changes to lose our focus is to be expected, however if we can quickly  employ methods that work most well for us individually then we can regain our calm and focus easily again. Here are my top 5;

5 ways to finding calm and focus

  1. Deep diaphragmatic breathing - When we find ourselves in demanding or stressful situations our breathing can become stressed, this is where we are tense and breathing shallowly from the chest. In fact many of us can be breathing  this way almost continuously without realising it.  The correct way to breath for calm and focus is from the diaphragm, just as you see a baby do. By breathing in this way we are naturally more calm and focused. The following video offers a great demonstration in how to do this.

2. Finding Flow - Essentially by this I mean using a method of  artistic flow to express where your currently at. This will help to release the current tension you have and bring you back to a more centred space where you can feel relaxed and focused again. To understand more about how you can do this please read my post on Finding Flow , which gives you a more detailed explanation.

3. Acceptance - Just letting go and accepting where we are at can be immensely powerful. A lot of stress comes through resisting something and when we just accept it and surrender to the moment we will find ourselves in a state of peace. This is a very simple practice but one of the most important and powerful that you can do.

4. Exercise - Exercising works by taking us out of our minds, we almost instantly become more centred when we are physically active. Whilst exercising you will also release endorphins which are the body's natural feel good hormone and by being more body- centred your thought processes will become clearer where you can find yourself coming up with solutions that you could not see before.

5. Meditation/ Relaxation - Meditation and relaxation can be achieved by taking yourself in to a quiet space and simply allowing yourself to single-mindedly focus on one task that you find relaxing or absorbing. You can also use a specific method of meditation or relaxation that you find suitable, around 15-20 minutes is the optimal amount of time for you to regain your calm and focus again.

The above tips are what I find helpful and recommend most often. The important thing is to find which work best for you, realising that we don't have to become overwhelmed by stress and that regaining our focus can be easily achieved. By making these practices more consistent we significantly reduce the chance of stress taking over in our lives.

I hope you have found the above tips useful, please  feel free to also share in the comments below  some of your own experiences, it would be great to hear from you about what you have found most helpful or challenging.

To discover further how you can regain and maintain a calm and focused state of mind with coaching, please drop me a message to discuss coaching options for your ultimate health and wellbeing.

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It’s not all black and white

black and white thinking
How do you see the world?

In support of World Mental Health Day I wanted to discuss a topic that I feel is important within the discussions of mental health, both in how it is viewed and at the same time how we all may view the world as individuals.

This is the topic of' black and white thinking', it is thought that this way of thinking can often be a cause and/or result of depression, however I believe it to be something that many of us do to a degree and how mental health can be viewed is also an example of this.

'Black and white thinking' is thinking in terms of 'all or nothing' and more often it seems we are encouraged to think in these terms of something being all good or bad, or black or white, such as in being a success or failure. Yet it doesn't have to be  this way at all and when we do see beyond this we realise that it is not so cut and dry and that the world of grey in between is actually in really beautiful colour, in all its completeness as it is and as you are just as you are.

We are all different and have an array of outlooks, interests and  beliefs. We do not need to judge each other, our mission I see as being only in acceptance and love, emotions are a part of this, labelling is not. In terms of our health, thinking in a very black and white way can not only make us more prone to depression but also the need to seek a perfection that is based on external pressures, in order to just feel good about ourselves or our life.

If you find that your struggling with this way of thinking,  choose to let go and begin to see all the colour instead. The colour comes in accepting, loving and seeing ourselves, others and the world as a whole.  As the oneness and beauty that you are, just as all of nature is.

You will never see any other form of nature resisting or suffering in this way, it flows and adapts and when we too choose to be and see ourselves as whole and complete, we won't need to attain some form of perfection and we then also begin to flow in this way.

Love yourself enough to know that you are enough, that we all make mistakes, that no- one is perfect. Yet paradoxically in your wholeness and uniqueness you are perfect, just as each plant and tree has its own beauty so do you and each and every other person.

If you feel inspired by this blog post in some way and would like to book a free introductory coaching session to discover more about how you can change your outlook and life ahead, then please get in touch with me and we can arrange your session.

Until then,

Wishing you much health and happiness,

Miranda

Forming Healthy Habits for a Healthy Lifestyle

We first make our habits, then our habits make us. ~ John Dryden

The power of good habits is well known but the most difficult part can be in forming the new habit or in breaking the old one. One thing that can be very helpful in the formation of new habits is having a good routine, sticking to regular workout times for example helps it to become part of your daily/ weekly rhythm to the point you can become naturally motivated to do your workout without having to think about it. This can apply to any healthy habit we wish to form - meditation, healthy diet etc.

With any healthy habit I have personally formed such as regular meditation , exercise and healthy eating this has always been the case. I have come to a point now where I even consider these routines to be essential , through experience of how well this works, I find myself being far more effective and motivated when I have formed these good routines which then become my habits.

This is something I would recommend to anyone who lacks the motivation to exercise; if you can form a plan and stick to the same time and days each week for long enough then it will become a habit, you will then without doubt be motivated to do it. It will become part of your physiology, you will feel like you need to do it, just like how you naturally feel the need to brush your teeth and wash everyday.

'You won't really feel like doing anything out of your ordinary routine until you are in the habit of already doing it.'

This is also how many of us form bad habits,where they have become a fixed part of our routine, such as when we come in at night and veg in front of the T.V, or get drunk on a saturday night. It could even be said that such routines have become habits of the nation, even to the point where those who spend their evenings at the gym or choose not to drink or get drunk are seen as 'fitness freaks' or somewhat abnormal. The saying that 'we are creatures of habit' is a very true one and we will naturally form habits throughout our lives, but ultimately we are the ones in control of our habits, we just have to consciously make the choice; to decide what to do and who we want to be.

Forming a good routine is a very powerful way to form good habits as it puts you back in the driving seat of your life. Habits are not mindlessly formed, at one point we have to learn them and it is then formed through repetition, we can therefore at any time we wish choose to learn and develop new ones.

If forming new healthy habits is something you want to do then a helpful way to begin is by adding it in to your routine. You can begin this process by writing in your diary the times and days that you will workout in each week, the same for your healthy meals and any other new healthy habits. From there the important thing is to be strict with yourself and stick to it, no matter what, no excuses, and within a month you will have formed yourself a very good habit that if you keep it will serve you well for life.

This can also help with quitting bad habits by using the new routine to form a good habit that will replace the old bad habit. Taking your focus off the bad habit and onto something new in a new routine will actually make it much easier than just trying to quit the bad habit, because your focus will then be on something new that will drive you to quit your bad habit when your new routine becomes more important.

Like many things in life it is also about balance, but ultimately which would you prefer; a life of health and vitality, feeling good and in control of your life or one of following the herd and being a tv or junk food junkie 😉 Of course choose the one which you think is right for you, but know which serves you best and that it is you that has the choice.

Habits are said to be hard to change but this only makes us less likely to do it, when you make the focus positive and part of your routine it will feel much easier.

Some helpful tips:

  • Define your goals and what you want to achieve - using the SMART approach.
  • Write down your goals and break it down in to actions that you will add in your daily and weekly routine.
  • Write down the days and times that you will be doing your new activities such as going to the gym/ meditating etc
  • Stick to it without fail, if any excuses enter your mind - ignore them :)

For the first 4 weeks it can feel difficult, but the key here is to focus on all the positives (such as how good you feel after a workout or meditation.) - also keep these written down and remind yourself of them regularly. Then once you have formed the habit it will become an enjoyable and life changing part of your lifestyle worth every single bit of initial effort.

For more help and advice on forming new healthy habits you can contact me using the form below, thank you. Miranda.

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' The self is not something ready made, but something in continuous formation through choice of action.' ~ John Dewey

Managing Stress

Managing stress in todays society is something that many of us are faced with, we may be overworked, juggling many demands in life or just not getting enough sleep, exercise and/or the right diet.

Some of these factors can seem difficult to overcome in our daily lives and we can often feel that we just need a little support or help in some areas to take the pressure off, this is often the case but it can also be that maybe we feel unable to ask or are not sure who to ask for help to reduce the level of stress in our lives.

The most important factor to remember about stress is that if it is left unmanaged in the long-term it can become detrimental to our health.

Long term stress when left unmanaged, can lead to;

  • Poor concentration
  • Poor Judgement
  • Aches and Pains
  • Fatigue
  • Poor immune system function
  • Irritability
  • Loss of joy and enthusiasm for life
  • Depression
  • Poor short term memory
  • Decrease/ Increase in appetite
  • Anxiety/ Worry
  • Chest Pain/ Rapid heart beat (In some cases prolonged stress has lead to severe cardiovascular problems)
  • Lack of motivation/ procrastination

This above list is not exhaustive, it is scary to look at but this is how much damage long term stress can do to our bodies and minds if left unchecked. The good news is that there are also many ways to overcome stress on a daily basis and all it requires is the knowledge and openness to take it on and apply it to your life on a daily basis. For every difficulty in life there is always a method to overcome it , this may not always be the same for each person but  there is a specific toolbox and all you need to do is take which tools work for you and then apply them to your daily life. Having the right help and encouragement is of course also important.

Don't be afraid to ask for help,  we are social beings and require support in certain areas if not all at some point. Society has developed in such a way that there is a certain pressure or perception that we need to be independent as much as possible, to fight on in every and anyway we can. This state of mind is in fact the state of mind of stress causing us to be in 'Fight or Flight mode' which is healthy where needed in the short term such as in a risky situation where we may have to act alone,  however in the long term this mind state in unnecessary and unhealthy.

With the way that society has formed there has become a mind-set of competitiveness and independence, this mind- state  has now developed in to somewhat of a cultural norm. Everything in society has been designed predominantly to fit this lifestyle and mind-state, right down to the food we eat (why else would we even consider eating  food that is full of chemicals and preservatives and of which we have no idea and/or concern of where its come from?) We have become conditioned in to a way of life that is unnatural and unhealthy because it goes against the ways of nature of which we are all a part of.

We can however  take this part of ourselves back and reconnect with our inner nature again to then find our peace from within, there are many ways to do this and the more techniques you combine  the more centred you can become. Your environment and society may stay the same but your ability to reconnect with your inner peace and natural self will be much quicker and more effective, then when a stressful situation comes up you will feel able to manage it much better.  The following list is an outline of ways you can reconnect with your inner self to find peace and equilibrium in a stress conditioned society.

Ways to overcome stress and reconnect with your inner self;

  • Regular exercise
  • Regular meditation
  • Positive thinking
  • Deep and correct diaphragmatic breathing
  • Laughter
  • Social time
  • Support from others
  • Self- expression (ie  through art)
  • Contribution to society
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Holistic Therapies ( i.e massage)
  • Taking time for yourself ( doing anything you enjoy)
  • Journaling
  • Time in nature

All of the above will have variants within them and will be specific to what works uniquely for you, this is where having a health coach can be very valuable in identifying and prescribing specific methods that will help you to manage stress in daily life and then avoid it becoming a long term battle. If this seems like something you could benefit  from then please don't hesitate to contact me on 0793500505 or at Mirala.health@gmail.com  where we can discuss your needs and go forward from there. An initial consultation of up to 30 minutes either over Skype or telephone is at half price.

Compassion

Compassion is something that is necessary and important for us all, as The Dalai Lama stated;

"Love and compassion are necessities not luxuries, without them humanity cannot survive."

I think we all do desire to be compassionate on a deep level, it is part of who we are and necessary to our survival. I also think that it is a natural state of our being, we are born to be this way but todays' demands can sometimes detach us in many ways from who we really are. Many of us are busy and have so many demands on us, so much so that we can forget ourselves, let alone have enough time for those in our lives and others beyond that.

This part of ourselves is however essential, a life without it is limited. We can chase success or money all day and night but it will not bring us any type of connection and what are our reasons for chasing success anyway, do we ask ourselves this question? Does it not always come back to our innate need for love and connection.

Connections are essential to our survival and everything we do is connected to this. Although in modern society we can easily become disconnected and lose sight of this. The world is so fast and everything comes so much easier to us now, we do not always know where are clothes and food come from for example, but we are connected to all involved in the process, we just dont see it.

After meditating on the topic of compassion and what it means to me personally to be able to give to others, I have come to some realisations that I wanted to share. I have found compassion to be somewhat of a paradox and perhaps that it is more complex than we realise. Our modern world today can make it difficult to know where to start when we begin to feel disconnected in anyway.

Compassion in general terms is often thought of as giving and being there for others, the definition itself says; 'Sympathetic pity and concern for the suffering and misfortunes of others.' Having sympathy for others of course enables us to give more, however if we do wish to be able to give more and have true connections with others I believe there are many more elements to it.

One part we can easily lose in our busy world is to truly be there for ourselves. How can we be there for others if we are not really there for ourselves? Equally so if we are never there for others we are not connected either. Neither of these are compassion. We are all connected so it is essential in this sense to show compassion to both ourselves and others, what we do is also the example we set for others and our children too.

In a complex world everything seems to become more complex, we can then be compassionate in some ways and not in others. From my own reflection I came up with the following meanings and components of compassion.

Compassion is;

  • Setting examples for others to follow
  • Speaking the truth and standing up for yourself & others
  • Treating people equally - Equality
  • Asking for help - It is essential to look after ourselves to be able to do so for others
  • Giving-in any way possible
  • Treating yourself as you wish to be treated
  • Treating others as you wish to be treated
  • Not judging ourselves or others harshly
  • Being Understanding
  • Loving wholeheartedly
  • Making time for others and yourself
  • Believing and seeing the best in all people and yourself
  • Acceptance
  • Empathy
  • Caring for yourself and others

The hardest part for us in todays' world is finding the correct balance. It can be easy to sway one way or the other, giving more time to oneself or more time to others, either of which can lead to stress and disconnection. Most important I think is to be gentle on yourself, by doing this you are setting this example for others and therefore giving as well. Although our lives require a lot from us, we are not machines, and if we try to be we will sooner or later burn out and then be no good for anyone. So spread yourself evenly in all areas of life if you can.

If we neglect ourselves then without a shadow of doubt we will unintentionally neglect others, likewise if we forget others in our lives we will forget ourselves and who we really are.

Compassion starts with us, we are the example we set to others for ourselves and to others from ourselves for how to treat and be treated, how to give and be given to. We do this through our behaviour, through our words and actions. This is how we teach and how we learn and we are all teachers in this sense.

If it feels as though you are giving a lot and not receiving perhaps you are not giving to yourself or maybe you do not ask for help where you need it. Bring your attention closer and meet your needs as well because you are equally important to all others. Start here and then you can give more. Equally if we focus too far inwards then others can be forgotten, find your balance.

Some ways that may help;

  • Meditate regularly - this is time for ourselves but it also helps us to connect to others by connecting to this part within us.
  • Take time to care for yourself so you can care for others.
  • Exercise and eat well so that you feel good and have more energy for others.
  • Take time for those who take time for you.
  • Make connections with others wherever you can
  • Give where you can.I hope you found this post useful, please share and comment on your own experiences of what constitutes compassion.
    Thank you for reading.

'Love and compassion are neccessities not luxuries, without them humanity cannot survive.' ~ Dalai Lama



Self-Belief and Equality

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I believe for it to be vital for each and every one of us to have a strong sense of self- belief, as this is what really empowers us to achieve our dreams and reach our true potential. Without it achieving our goals is far more difficult.

When I speak of self-belief I mean knowing and understanding your true inner potential before you even see it, having absolute faith in yourself and your abilities. Knowing that you can achieve whatever it is you set your mind to, despite what others may say or do to cause disbelief. Perhaps more importantly to do so inspite of this and to encourage and build others up at the same time.

One thing I have to admit that I really dislike is when people put others down to inflate their own self importance, this is not only damaging to both parties but also unecessary. Some may think it to be human nature, but I like to think that we can operate at a higher level than this animalistic state. This type of behaviour only operates from a false sense of self, based on the ego creating a temporary sense of hierachy, which is not only false but also destructive to both parties.

We are all equal in sense of our importance and value, no-one has more rights or is more important or valuable than anyone else even if some would like to have you believe they are, it is simply untrue. We may look different and have different abilities and interests but on the inside we are all the same, we all have fears and desires and we all have the same needs, based on this we are all one and the same.

By respecting our differences and recognising our true similarities we can realise true peace and harmony. We can encourage each other to reach our full potential without having to fight or put others down, this behaviour is part of our animalistic state but we can operate at a much higher level than this, we have the ability and choice to do this.

Each one of us is capable of achieving so much in our lifetimes and with self belief and determination it is possible to do so. It doesnt matter where you come from, what your 'abilities' are or what your social status is - these are societies conditions. What you can achieve comes from within you and is infinite, regardless of whats society suggests.

We all have unlimited potential and we are all equal in humanity, so why not encourage each other to achieve our true potential and believe in ourselves wholeheartedly. Lets believe in and encourage ourselves and each other and let go of any judgement and discrimination. How beautiful will our societies be then?

Believe in you and you will inspire others too.

'With realization in ones own potential and self- confidence in ones ability, one can build a better world.' ~ Dalai Lama