Written by Katie McLaughlin, LPC
It is incredibly easy to become lost in thoughts and worries of the future. Especially in times of great uncertainty or turmoil. In these times, it is probably the last thing on our mind to remove ourself from these thoughts, from the daily grind of life, and intentionally allow ourselves to be still. Maybe this doesn't even seem like a possibility in your life.
I understand how counterintuitive it seems. You have a million things to do today and not enough hours to get it all done. I wonder, though, in your quest to accomplish the million to-do list items, how irritated do you feel with yourself and those you are around? Do you find that you are speaking to yourself and others with kindness or with criticism? At the end of a crazy day, are you looking back and wondering why you behaved in ways that didn't feel true to you?
What if I told you that setting aside just 5-10 minutes of your day could greatly improve your mood and decrease your stress for that day and for the long-run? Even if mindfulness and meditation seems a little out there to you, I bet your interest is raising even slightly at these prospects.
Research studies continue to show the benefits of mindfulness based practices on decreasing anxiety and improving our moods. When we give ourselves even just a few minutes per day to practice this skill, we are giving our brain the best opportunity to think clearly and rationally so we can go about our days feeling our best. Not only that, but this practice also helps our nervous system to improve regulation, meaning that we can calm down faster and with greater ease.
Whether our life revolves around school, work or with families, I would bet almost anything you'd like to respond with intention, purpose and alignment with your values.
If you'd like to take the challenge and see what a daily mindfulness practice can do for you, check out this blog post to get some ideas about informal practices, or this podcast for some guided meditations. My hope is for these practices to simplify the concept of mindfulness and allow you to find easy ways of finding peace in your life. Try them out for a few weeks and see what differences you notice.
Written by Katie McLaughlin, LPC, CCATP
There have been so many headlines recently, and really over the past year, that elicit concern, fear, anger...you name it. It can be hard to get away from the challenges this world brings as we face life in our respective societies. Sometimes these challenges sink into our being without us even being aware of it happening. You may find yourself feeling increasingly irritable, sad or anxious without really understanding why. And of course these difficult emotions so often lead us to project unfair reactions onto those we care about most.
It can be a vicious cycle.
Additionally, our incredible and protective brains take in these challenges and tragedies and make us focus on them even more. This negativity-bias was intended to be helpful, but really it leads us to being in our own world of despair. It's like tunnel vision and makes it challenging to see the good that is happening as well. To honor this process while also giving your nervous system a break, I created this 10 minute gratitude practice.
My hope is for this practice to be a reminder of the good in your life, even when it's hard to find.