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Slow Living: Letting Go with the MindPanda Stress Ball

Slow Living is a mindful practice that encourages us to reduce our attachment to both material possessions and people. Often, our suffering arises when these attachments inevitably shift or vanish. In my practice as a counselor, this is a difficult concept to understand. There are times when it is helpful to provide my clients with an easily accessible example, and this is where the MindPanda stress ball plays a helpful role.

As a counselor, I understand this clinging concept can be challenging. Sometimes, providing clients with a relatable example can help put them on the path toward understanding. Enter the MindPanda stress ball, a simple yet powerful tool.

I think many people believe stress relief comes from tightly squeezing the object until those intense feelings begin to dissipate, but the relief really comes from letting go. Picture yourself gripping something tightly, such as a MindPanda stress ball, squeezing harder and harder until exhaustion sets in. It’s only when we release that tension—when we take that breath and let go—that relief floods in. This technique heightens our awareness of physical sensations and their connection to emotional responses. While therapeutic discussions are valuable during sessions, it’s the practice outside the office that truly fosters change.

Follow these steps for tension and stress relief

  1. Pick up your stress ball and feel its weight in your hands.
  2. Visualize the ball as representing something in your life that causes you suffering or distress.
  3. Squeeze the ball tightly, just as you might be holding onto something positive that has now become a concern.
  4. Focus on the tightness in your hand, feeling it travel up your arm, into your shoulder, neck, and face.
  5. Release your grip on both the ball and whatever may be troubling you.
  6. Take a deep breath and reflect on the comfort that gradually seeps into your muscles, your breath, and the shift in your emotions.

Remember, this exercise can help you let go of tension and find a sense of relief.

Even though this practice is symbolic, it mirrors the changes we seek in our lives. Are we clutching too tightly to worries about finances, relationships, or seemingly crucial daily routines? Consider the stress ball as a representation of these ideas, squeeze tightly, and then release it. Our imagination, often underutilized, becomes a powerful tool for wellness. Sometimes, even the fantasy of letting go can move us forward in life.

Allow me to share a short story about letting go. Imagine a child reaching into a vase to retrieve a coin. No matter how hard the child pulls, their tightly clenched fist remains trapped while holding onto the coin. Only when they finally let go does freedom arrive. This is the essence of practicing release. Clasp the stress ball as tightly as you might cling to aspects of your life, and then observe the transformation in your emotions, tension, heart rate, and breath as you release it, and see if this practice can become a part of daily life.

USE CODE : MP15 to get 15% OFF MindPanda Stress Balls today!


Author – Daniel Wysocki Ed.S.
BIO – Wysocki Psychological Services in Jonesboro, Arkansas (wpsychservice.com)

Achieving Career & Financial Balance


Introduction:

In the captivating dance of professional life, while career and finances play the riveting tango, we often find ourselves two-stepping behind, trying to catch the rhythm. It’s a common tale – chasing professional milestones only to realize that financial wellness is trailing or vice versa. But what if you could master the choreography of both? Embark with us on this insightful journey as we harmonize career aspirations with financial tranquillity, ensuring you not only lead in the waltz of life but also dance with joy.

The Intricacies of Career and Finance:

Before we wade into the depths of balance, it’s imperative to understand the intertwined relationship between career and finances. A flourishing career often signals promising financial prospects. Yet, it’s not just about the income but how we manage, save, and invest it that crafts the true financial narrative.

5 steps to achieving career 7 financial balance

1. Setting Clear Career Goals:

Carve Your Path: Every successful journey begins with a destination in mind. Set clear, tangible career goals. Whether it’s climbing the corporate ladder, mastering a skill, or even transitioning to a new field, having a vision guides your efforts.

Continuous Learning: The corporate arena is ever-evolving. Engaging in regular upskilling or reskilling ensures you remain a valuable player in the field. Not only does it enhance job security, but it also opens doors to higher-paying opportunities.

2. Mastering Financial Planning:

Budget Like a Pro: If your finances were a play, budgeting would be the lead actor. By tracking your income and expenses, you gain clarity on your spending habits. This lucidity empowers you to make informed decisions, ensuring your hard-earned money is used wisely.

Emergency Fund: Think of this as your safety net, cushioning you against unforeseen financial setbacks. A sound emergency fund can cover 3-6 months of living expenses, ensuring that sudden medical expenses or job losses don’t throw you off balance.

3. Integrating Career and Financial Growth:

Invest in Yourself: Use a portion of your income to further your career. Whether it’s taking a course, attending workshops, or even networking events, consider it an investment promising substantial returns.

Financial Literacy: Just as you hone your professional skills, familiarize yourself with basic financial concepts. From understanding taxes to exploring investment avenues, this knowledge equips you to maximize your wealth.

4. Achieving Work-Life and Financial Balance:

Time Management: Your career is crucial, but so is personal time. Efficiently manage your hours to ensure you’re not always consumed by work. A rejuvenated mind is more productive, which can lead to better career prospects and, subsequently, improved financial outcomes.

Spend Wisely: A well-balanced financial life isn’t about stringent frugality but making conscious choices. Enjoy your money, indulge occasionally, but also ensure you’re saving and investing for future goals, be it retirement, buying a home, or world travel.

5. Seeking Expertise:

While it’s commendable to navigate the maze of career and finances independently, seeking expert guidance can offer invaluable insights. Career counselors can provide clarity on professional choices, while financial advisors can tailor strategies to bolster your financial health.

Conclusion:

Achieving career and financial balance is like mastering a musical instrument. Initially, the notes might seem scattered, but with practice, patience, and persistence, a harmonious melody emerges. It’s not about vast fortunes or illustrious titles but feeling content, secure, and poised in both spheres. As you refine your skills in this delicate dance, remember that the goal isn’t just to keep pace with the music but to find joy in every step, turn, and twirl. So, tighten those dancing shoes and embrace the exhilarating journey of career and financial balance.

5 Things You Can Do Today To Improve Your Physical & Mental Wellbeing

The Importance of looking after our physical and mental health.

In the grand orchestra of life, physical and mental health are the lead musicians, setting the tone for the symphony of our existence. Physical health, more than just the absence of disease, empowers us with the vigor to chase our dreams, turning aspirations into achievements. It’s the energy that fuels our daily endeavors and the resilience that aids in bouncing back from life’s challenges. Parallelly, our mental well-being orchestrates our thoughts, emotions, and reactions. A nurtured mind becomes the sanctuary of positivity, clarity, and creativity, allowing us to navigate the complex maze of emotions, relationships, and decisions with grace. Neglecting either is akin to trying to sail a boat with a hole in it – eventually, the journey becomes arduous, if not impossible. Hence, maintaining both physical and mental health is not just vital for survival but is the essence of a life lived fully, vibrantly, and with purpose.

No lets not waste any precious time, and have a look at some simple ways we can work on our wellbeing each day.

5 easy ways to improve your physical & mental health each day.

1. Break a Sweat (But Make It Fun!):

You don’t need to sign up for an intense boot camp or practice yoga on a mountain peak to reap the benefits of exercise. Physical activity can be as simple as a brisk walk in your local park or a dance-off in your living room (bonus points if it’s in your pajamas). The key is to find something you genuinely enjoy. So, whether it’s cycling, swimming, or even a lively game of tag with your kids, get that heart rate up! Not only will it enhance your physical stamina, but the release of endorphins will sprinkle a touch of joy on your mood.

2. Nourish the Temple (Yes, That’s You!):

Eating right is not about chasing the latest fad diet that promises a slim waist in seven days. It’s about nourishing your body with what it genuinely needs. Incorporate a rainbow of fruits and vegetables into your diet, as each color brings its own set of nutrients to the table. And while you’re at it, drink water like it’s going out of style! Hydration is the unsung hero of health. Remember, occasional treats are okay; after all, what’s life without a little chocolate or that slice of grandma’s apple pie? Just ensure it’s in moderation.

3. Master the Art of Mindful Breathing:

Ever noticed how your breathing becomes shallow when stressed? Deep, mindful breathing can be an anchor in turbulent times. It’s like a mini-vacation for your overworked brain. Even a few minutes of focused breathing can reduce anxiety, sharpen your focus, and offer a fresh perspective. You can practice it anywhere, be it during a tense meeting or in a bustling supermarket aisle. Inhale positivity, exhale the chaos, and watch as the world slows down, if only for a few precious moments.

4. Declutter the Sanctuary of Your Mind:

Our external environment often mirrors our internal state. A cluttered desk or room can amplify feelings of overwhelm and stress. Set aside a few minutes today to tidy up your space. But don’t stop at the physical. Take a digital detox, even if it’s for a short while. Unsubscribe from those pesky promotional emails, unfollow accounts that don’t inspire or uplift you, and give your mind the space it craves. As the old adage goes, “A tidy space is a tidy mind.”

5. Connect, Truly Connect:

In an era of instant messaging and video calls, genuine human connection often takes a backseat. Reach out to a loved one today, not just with a customary text or emoji but with genuine interest. Share a laugh, reminisce about old memories, or even share your worries. This simple act can fortify your emotional well-being and remind you that, even in the labyrinth of life, you’re never truly alone.

To sum it all up.

Improving your physical and mental health doesn’t require a Herculean effort or a complete overhaul of your current lifestyle. It’s the little things, the seemingly insignificant choices that weave the fabric of robust health. So, the next time you feel bogged down, remember these five simple yet potent remedies. After all, in the grand theater of life, it’s not always about the big, dramatic scenes; sometimes, it’s the subtle moments in the background that steal the show. Here’s to making those moments count, one step, one breath, one connection at a time. 🌱🌟

7 techniques for personal growth that you can do each day

Introduction: Personal growth and why it matters.

Each day is a blank canvas, presenting a new opportunity to paint strokes of progress, learning, and self-discovery. Personal growth, an enriching journey rather than a destination, can be woven seamlessly into our daily rituals. By infusing our routine with small, yet potent techniques, we can pave a path towards a more enlightened, self-aware, and evolved version of ourselves. Ready to dabble in the palette of daily self-improvement? Let’s explore seven transformative techniques.

7 Techniques for personal growth.

1. Mindful Meditation – Cultivate Inner Peace:

The Technique: Begin your day with a 10-minute session of mindful meditation. Focus on your breathing, the rise and fall of your chest, and the sensations it evokes. Let go of fleeting thoughts without judgment.

Why It Matters: Meditation anchors the mind, reduces stress, and heightens awareness. It’s a sanctuary where clarity flourishes, allowing us to approach challenges with equanimity.

Studies indicate that consistent meditation can bolster cognitive abilities, making it a favorite tool in the arsenal of many high-achievers.

2. Gratitude Journaling – Foster Positivity:

The Technique: Each night, jot down three things you’re thankful for, no matter how big or small.

Why It Matters: Gratitude shifts the focus from what we lack to the abundance we possess. Over time, this fosters a positive mindset, deepening contentment and happiness.

With the burgeoning interest in positive psychology, gratitude journaling has surged in popularity, touted for its potent mental health benefits.

3. Continuous Learning – Quench the Intellectual Thirst:

The Technique: Dedicate at least 20 minutes daily to learning something new. It could be a podcast, an online course, or even a chapter from a thought-provoking book.

Why It Matters: Continuous learning ensures we remain adaptable in an ever-evolving world. It sparks curiosity, creativity, and elevates our professional and personal spheres.

Platforms like Coursera, Udemy, and Audible have democratized learning, making personal growth accessible to all.

4. Physical Activity – Energize Body & Mind:

The Technique: Incorporate a minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity into your day. It could be a brisk walk, yoga, or a rigorous workout session.

Why It Matters: Regular physical activity invigorates the body, releases endorphins (feel-good hormones), and sharpens cognitive functions. Plus, it’s a stellar mood-booster!

The connection between physical health and personal growth is widely recognized, making daily workouts a staple in many successful individuals’ routines.

5. Reflective Practice – Gain Insight & Clarity:

The Technique: Set aside a few quiet moments each day to reflect upon your actions, decisions, and experiences. Analyze what went well and areas for improvement.

Why It Matters: Reflection cultivates self-awareness, accountability, and fosters growth from experiences.

6. Foster Connections – Nourish the Soul:

The Technique: Make it a point to connect with a loved one daily. It could be a heartfelt conversation, a quick check-in call, or even a thoughtful message.

Why It Matters: Human connections feed the soul, offering emotional sustenance, perspective, and a sense of belonging.

7. Set Clear Intentions – Navigate with Purpose:

The Technique: Start each day by setting clear intentions. What do you wish to achieve? How do you want to feel by day’s end?

Why It Matters: Intentions act as the compass guiding our actions, ensuring we move purposefully through the day.

Conclusion:

The mosaic of personal growth, composed of myriad tiles of daily actions, illuminates the profound truth: progress is a culmination of consistent, intentional efforts. By integrating these seven techniques into our everyday life, we not only inch closer to our best selves but also revel in the journey, cherishing each lesson, insight, and breakthrough. Embark on this daily odyssey of self-improvement, and watch your canvas come alive with hues of growth, wisdom, and fulfillment.

Signs of Health Anxieties & OCD in Childhood Post-Pandemic

OCD in childhood

After almost two years of hand-washing, sanitizing and fear of a scary sounding virus, it is unsurprising that OCD in childhood is on the rise as children are suffering from fears of getting ill and germs in general. 

With such an emphasis on hygiene, and daunting news reports of deaths and disease ever present on TV, newspapers, and social media, there is a high risk for health anxieties and OCD in childhood to develop.

Research studies estimate that between 1.9% and 3% of children suffer from OCD. It is likely that this could rise post-pandemic. So, it’s important to notice if your child is showing signs of OCD or symptoms of health anxiety. Recognizing common traits could mean that you can help them to negotiate triggering situations, and realize when they may need professional or medical assistance. 

Spotting early signs of anxiety and OCD in childhood is important,  the sooner a child can be diagnosed, the quicker they can receive the treatment and help they need. Children as young as 5 have been diagnosed with OCD, so getting help early could mean that they find coping mechanisms that help them for the rest of their lives, or even never experience a bout of OCD again. 

In this article, we will explore the similarities and differences between health anxiety and OCD as well as how they cross over. We will then look at signs you can look out for to identify if your child is suffering from OCD, where you can go for support, and the many ways that OCD can be treated. 

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What is health anxiety? 

Health anxiety, sometimes also called hypochondria, is a challenging condition that means sufferers spend a lot of time worrying that they are, or will get, ill. These thoughts can be all-consuming and overwhelming, and impact the quality and enjoyment of their day-to-day life. 

Often, but not always, traumatic events can result in health anxiety. It can also be triggered by experiencing a serious illness, the death of someone close, or other early years trauma. Other times, it can have no clear origin.

In the midst of a pandemic, where children may have experienced the loss of loved ones due to COVID-19, and lockdowns potentially inducing trauma, we could see a rise in health anxieties in children in a post-pandemic world. 

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) 

Like health anxiety, OCD was originally classified as an anxiety disorder, due to the intense anxiety linked to its symptoms. But since 2013, it has its own, separate classification. As the name suggests, OCD is related to obsession and compulsions, so severe that they can be debilitating; they can take over those suffering, leaving them unable to perform basic tasks.

Obsessions are intrusive, involuntary thoughts, ideas or worries that constantly run through the person’s mind. Compulsions, or rituals, are repetitive behaviours that are performed to reduce the anxiety brought on by obsessive thought. 

There is no recognized ‘cause’ for OCD in childhood, though it is believed that some children may be more vulnerable. This could be genetic, with some being more prone to anxiety-related disorders. Sometimes OCD can be triggered by an event that a child may perceive as frightening.

There are many types of OCD in childhood. This could include fears about contamination and germs, and health-related obsessions, like fear of catching a sickness bug. This makes it hard, at times, to differentiate between health anxiety and obsessive-compulsive discovery.  

During this public health crisis, the constant emphasis on washing hands, social distancing, and being hygienic may trigger OCD in childhood or could result in relapses for those formerly managing their symptoms.

Signs Your Child May be Suffering From Health Anxiety 

Health anxiety can be more obvious, as sufferers are often vocal about their concerns. Look out for these common symptoms or signs of health anxiety in your child:

  • Constantly worry about their health
  • Frequently check their body for signs of illness, such as lumps or a temperature.
  • Are always asking you for reassurance that they’re not ill.
  • Act as if they are ill, but more seriously than ‘pretending’. 
  • Requesting to stay home from school, for fear of catching a bug at school. 

Often you will be able to tell quite quickly if your child is actually ill. Be careful though, as anxiety itself can cause symptoms like headaches or a racing heartbeat. These symptoms can easily be mistaken for signs of illness.

Signs of OCD in Childhood 

A big difference between OCD and health anxiety is that those suffering OCD may try to hide their compulsions, and often lots of their obsession is internal. That being said, there are some physical symptoms you may notice in a child suffering from OCD, which includes:

  • Repetitive behavior, such as asking the same questions over and over.
  • Touching things a specific number of times, or counting steps 
  • Checking things multiple times, like if a door is locked. 
  • Avoiding touching certain surfaces, for fear of catching germs
  • Obsessive and repetitive washing of hands
  • Preoccupation with death, illness, or abstract concepts such as good/evil

Some things that you may not notice as easily include counting, perhaps under their breath or even in their head (look out for them being distracted, or unable to focus on what you are saying to them) or repeating compulsions, like repeating certain phrases in your head or out loud, to a point of obsession. 

It is worth remembering, some of these behaviours are part of normal childhood development. All children process worries at different stages. If it lasts a long time or begins to interfere with daily living, that’s when it becomes a problem!

The relationship between health anxiety and OCD in Childhood.

There are overlapping symptoms, and triggers, with health anxiety and OCD. Some treatment techniques can be used by people suffering either. However, they are defined as separate disorders. 

One significant difference between OCD and health anxiety is awareness of the sufferer of their problem. While someone with OCD may, deep down, realize that their thoughts are intrusive and often irrational, someone with a health disorder truly believes that they have a serious illness. However, for a child suffering either, it may be unclear if they are aware of the rationality of their fears, given their continued development in early years, through to preadolescence. 

Managing these conditions can feel impossible for children, young people, and their families. What are the ways to treat health anxiety and/or OCD, and how can you support your children?

How to support your child with health anxiety or OCD

In a time of ‘unprecedented’ and ‘unforeseen’ circumstances, and lots of ‘unknowns’, it could be hard to offer your child reassurance about their health worries. However, there are ways that you can support them, before and alongside formal diagnosis and medical treatment. 

Talk openly about their fears and give them a safe space to share any worries they may have. This could also mean talking about COVID-19, as it could lighten the fear of the unknown. Being honest means you will build trust, and show that you aren’t angry about their anxieties. 

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It can be easy to facilitate fears in your desire to lessen stress and suffering in your children. But in the long run, this could be more detrimental and strengthen their fear. Similarly, it can be tempting to try and overly explain why a fear is irrational by making them face it. While this is a similar method seen in exposure therapy, it should only be practiced by mental health professionals and/or practitioners. Forcing your child to ‘face their fear’ could, actually, mean they hide more from you. 

Routine can really help with anxiety. So work with your child to create a schedule or regime that suits your entire family, yet offers comfort for your suffering child. Explore mindfulness options, and try some easy mindfulness activities that are perfect for children

Source Link: YouTube

Learn what triggers your children, and see if there are ways you can avoid stressors, without leaning into their fears. For example, when entering a triggering situation, warn your child ahead of time, and build an action plan of how to tackle the occasion, with clear boundaries and even a code word if it all gets too much.

Seeking Further Support

Even if you are practicing some of the above ways to help manage your child’s health anxieties or OCD symptoms, it’s important to seek support and advice from professionals. 

Ensure that your child knows before you speak with their GP about symptoms, as they may be able to explain better how they are feeling. Speaking with your doctor is usually the first step towards getting a referral to CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service). 

There are 2 main treatment paths for health anxiety and OCD; psychological therapy and/or medication. Psychological therapy, such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT), can help to face your fears and obsessive thoughts, gradually, without “putting them right” with compulsions. Therapy like this gives sufferers the tools, coping mechanisms, and strategies to manage their symptoms, and deepen their understanding of their condition. 

Sometimes, medicinal routes are taken, often in very severe cases. Certain types of antidepressant medication can help to alter and stabilize, the balance of chemicals in the brain. This can be used alone, or alongside therapy. 

There are also many OCD charities and support groups, like OCD UK and OCD Action. These can offer advice and help you, as a parent, to understand more about your child’s condition. 

Final Thoughts

Both health anxiety and OCD can be overwhelming and difficult conditions to manage at the best of times, let alone during a pandemic. It is unclear now what the ongoing, lasting impact the past two years may have on our children’s mental health.

But, looking out for early signs of health anxiety or OCD in your children could mean that you are able to get them professional help, and maybe even prevent these conditions developing into more severe, disabling issues in later life. 

Early signs your kids are suffering from anxiety

Early Signs of Anxiety

With just over 7% of children aged 3-17 years having been diagnosed with anxiety, it has never been more important to recognise the early signs of symptoms and suffering in youngsters. There are many signifiers that your child may be suffering from anxiety or associated disorders. These can be obvious physical signs, emotional changes or subtle behaviour alterations. 

Early Signs Of Anxiety

Noticing and managing anxiety in young children can avoid worsening conditions later in life. Untreated mental health disorders have the potential to lead to much more severe issues during adolescent years or intensified anxiety over time that can affect the quality of life and ability to function in adulthood.

Teaching your kids mindfulness is a very good way to alleviate stress and feelings of anxiety. But, sometimes anxiety can take over. Understanding signs of mental health struggles could mean you are able to spot some of the tell-tale signs that your children may be struggling more seriously with anxiety.

In this article, we will outline some of the early signs to look out for that indicate your kids may be suffering from anxiety. 

Physical Signs 

Some of the easiest signs that your child may be experiencing anxiety are physical symptoms. These are a result of the ‘fight or flight’ response, the body’s normal reaction to feeling fear or danger. This can trigger the release of natural chemicals in the body which causes certain physical bodily functions or actions. 

Though these physical symptoms may be occurring internally within your child’s body, like an increased heart rate or feeling hot, these can also impact them physically. Listen to their breathing pattern, and notice if it is quickening or they seem short of breath – this could be a sign they are experiencing anxiety. 

Similarly, spotting if they are sweating, or trying to rapidly adjust their temperature, like removing some layers to counteract temperature increase. With their consent, feel if their face is hot, or their hands are clammy.

Anxiety can also disrupt digestion, so look out for complaints of stomach aches or avoiding food due to ‘feeling sick’. Similarly, headaches without a medical cause could be worth exploring further. 

Although these symptoms can be more obvious, sometimes they can be misunderstood as physical illnesses, rather than mental health disorders. If you begin to notice any of these signs, look out for some emotional or behavioural changes that, together, could indicate they are suffering anxiety. 

Emotional Signs 

Emotional signs of Anxiety

Source: Unsplash

You may notice emotional changes in your kids, but this doesn’t always mean they are experiencing anxiety. Roller-coaster emotions can happen in key growth periods when hormones are surging, and before puberty hits. 

However, some emotional changes could be an indication that they are struggling with anxiety. This could present itself in your child being more ‘sensitive’ than usual, or crying more often about seemingly small things, or over nothing at all. 

They may have a shorter fuse, becoming angry quickly or without a clear reason. Similarly, being generally grouchy may be a sign of mental stress, or lesser through being irritable or argumentative. 

Another way mental health can manifest is subconsciously in dreams or worrying about situations that may not happen. This could trigger when in periods of transition, like at the end of school holidays. 

Generally, encouraging your children to talk to you, or someone they trust, about their feelings and emotions, is good practice. Having open communication could mean that you pick up on these emotional signals early and help your child regulate their emotions. 

Behavioural Signs 

Early signs of Anxiety for kids

Source: Unsplash

Often, people who suffer from anxiety experience behavioural changes. Sometimes this is on purpose to avoid triggers, and others it is unconscious. However, behaviour changes are important to recognise. 

This could be seen in changes to their sleeping patterns; either sleeping too much, or not enough. If your child is having difficulty falling asleep, or they try to stay up later to avoid sleeping, this could be indicative of nightmares or feeling overwhelmed by many thoughts. 

Alternatively, they may sleep far more than usual. Feeling anxious all day can take a lot of energy, so oversleeping is something to look out for. Wanting to sleep more could also be avoidance, to get out of situations that cause them anxiety

Suddenly being more clingy than usual and suffering from separation anxiety could also be a sign. Typically this could also link to refusing to go to school or feigning illness to stay off school and be with you. 

Similarly, difficulties socialising with other children and being obviously uncomfortable meeting new people may not just be shyness. If they are usually chatty and suddenly seem more quiet or even silent, this could also be something to note. 

Many of these symptoms are linked. For example, grumpiness could be caused by tiredness as a result of avoiding or struggling to sleep. If you think your child is showing some, or several signs of anxiety, you may want to keep a note and look out for any patterns. This could help you determine if it’s time to seek further help.

Next Steps  

Experiencing anxiety at any age can be scary and overwhelming. Remember not to confront your child or accuse them of anything. This could lead them to be more secretive with their struggles, or even increase their anxiety. 

Approach the conversation in a safe environment and allow them room to talk when they feel comfortable. Don’t ask leading questions and most importantly, remind them that you are there to help and to listen. Reiterate that their feelings are completely normal and many others experience it. 


Encouraging them to try mindfulness activities, ensuring they eat a balanced diet and live an active lifestyle can all help with their overall mental wellbeing. But don’t forget to seek professional help from doctors or psychiatrists if you’re worried about your child’s anxiety.

This article was written exclusively for MindPanda by mental health writer Sophie Bishop

8 Easy & Effective Breathing Exercises (for kids and adults)

Woman practising breathing exercises on the beach

In Western cultures, many people take for granted the healing power of breathing exercises. We rely too much on pharmaceuticals as remedies and ignore the preventative ‘medicine’ of simple breathing exercises.

In the last few decades, Western cultures have adopted eastern philosophies such as yoga and meditation for stress relief. And the results speak for themselves.

This article will look at how breathing exercises help with a wide range of conditions and the importance of taking time out for yourself.

Happy woman practising a self-love dance outdoors

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What are Breathing Exercises?

Breathing exercises take many forms, but most people relate breathing exercises with mindfulness and meditation. No matter what breathing modality you practice, the activity always involves taking time to focus on the breath.

Three common breathing exercises focus on through:

  • The nose and mouth.
  • Only through the nose.
  • Only through the mouth.

Why Breathing Exercises are Important

Adults in breathing exercise class

In a 2015 study, researchers found that:

Detrimental effects of stress, negative emotions, and sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system have been shown to be counteracted by different forms of meditation, relaxation, and breathing techniques. We propose that these breathing techniques could be used as first-line and supplemental treatments for stress, anxiety, depression, and some emotional disorders.

2015 study: Self-Regulation of Breathing as a Primary Treatment for Anxiety

This 2015 study is just one example of many studies about the healing power of breathing exercises.

We should compare the importance of breathing exercises to caring for our teeth.

We brush and floss to preserve our teeth and gums and to avoid regular visits to the dentist. But we don’t do the same with breathing. And it’s FREE!

If a daily breathing exercise is proven to reduce all sorts of physical and mental ailments, why do we not place more importance on practising daily?

Breathing Exercises for Stress and Anxiety

Woman mediating on the floor

Most people look to breathing exercises to help reduce stress and anxiety. Even the NHS recommends breathing exercises for stress

Breathing is an effective self-regulation treatment to calm the mind during moments of stress. You can even practise breathing exercises at your desk or before heading into a meeting to improve focus and cognition.

Here are three breathing exercises for stress and anxiety.

Simple Breathing Exercise for Stress

You can do this simple breathing exercise sitting down or standing up. Whichever you prefer, make sure your feet are flat on the floor in line with your shoulders with an upright posture.

  1. Close your eyes or hold a steady downward gaze.
  2. Breathe in deeply through the nose and out through the mouth.
  3. Be mindful of each inhalation and exhalation by focusing on how the air enters and leaves your body. A good area of focus could be the stomach or chest, noticing how either rises and falls as you breathe.
  4. Count to ten in your mind before restarting at one.
  5. You can either set a timer or stop when you feel calm and relaxed enough to continue your day.

Breath Retention Exercise

Often when you’re stressed, anxious or on the verge of a panic attack, your heart rate and breathing increases. You take short inhalations, which reduce the amount of oxygen your body retains with each breath, further compounding your feeling of anxiety.

Retention breathing is an excellent way to calm yourself in moments of extreme stress and anxiety.

  1. For this breathing exercise, it’s best to sit upright with your eyes closed.
  2. Inhale through the nose for five seconds. You can do this by counting to five in your head as you breathe in.
  3. Retain or hold your breath for five seconds.
  4. Breathe out through the mouth for five seconds.
  5. You should notice the calming effect after the third or fourth cycle but try to continue this breathing exercise for 5-10 minutes.

If you find that you can easily manage five seconds, try to increase the intervals to eight or ten seconds.

Single Nostril Breathing

Single nostril breathing exercise

Single nostril breathing forms part of pranayama, which is a healing yoga and breathing modality. Studies of pranayama breathing have shown to reduce stress, improve cognition and even help with asthma.

  1. Single nostril breathing is best practised sitting upright with the eyes closed. You can sit in a chair, but some people also sit cross-legged on the floor.
  2. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out.
  3. With your right hand, use your thumb to close your right nostril and breath in through your left nostril for five seconds.
  4. Let go of your right nostril and use the index finger to block your left nostril and breath out until you empty your lungs.
  5. Repeat by breathing in through the left nostril and out through the right nostril.
  6. Repeat steps three to five for 5-10 minutes.

Breathing Exercises for Sleep

Breathing is an excellent way to prepare the mind for sleep. To be effective, don’t look at any screens or devices after you complete a breathing exercise for sleep. The point is to switch off the brain; any activity after a breathing exercise will wake the mind again!

Bhramari Pranayama Breathing for Sleep

Bhramari pranayama breathing (also referred to as the humming bee breath) has proven to reduce breathing and heart rate, placing you in a calm state for sleep but can also be used to reduce stress and anxiety.

This Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise does require making some sounds, so it’s probably not recommended if you are close enough to disturb other people. We’ll look at two variations of the Bhramari pranayama breathing.

The first Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise is simple and easy.

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach and one hand over your heart.
  3. Take a deep breath in and exhale with a “mmmm” sound until you empty your lungs of air.
  4. You can continue breathing like this for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Alternatively, after 10-20 breaths, you can switch to placing your hands over your ears and repeating step three.

Here is a step-by-step guide to this simple Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise.

The second Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise is a little more complex but highly effective at immediately reducing your heart rate and breathing.

  1. Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out.
  2. Gently place a thumb over each ear lobe, applying enough pressure that you close the ears. It’s important to emphasise this is a gentle amount of pressure.
  3. With your thumbs over your ear lobes, place the index fingers above your eyebrows and your other three fingers gently over your closed eyelids. Don’t apply any pressure with your fingers; simply allow them to rest on your face.
  4. Take a deep breath in (a five-second inhale) and exhale with a “mmmm” sound until you empty your lungs of air (try not to exceed 15-seconds).
  5. Continue breathing like this for a minimum of 5-10 breaths but try to go for 5-10 minutes.

Here are the step-by-step instructions for the second Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise.

Breathing Exercise in Bed

This breathing exercise for sleep is best when you’re already lying in bed.

Woman lying on her back for a breathing exercise for sleep

  1. Lie on your back with your hands at your sides or resting on your torso.
  2. Close your eyes and begin breathing in and out only through the nose. If you can’t do this, you can breathe through the mouth instead, but it’s more effective if you only breathe through the nose. 
  3. Allow yourself to breathe normally without forcing or influencing the breath in any way.
  4. As you breathe in, notice how the air passes in through the nostrils. As you breathe out, notice what the warm breath feels like over your upper lip.
  5. Once you feel calm and relaxed, take your mind through the day from the time you woke up until the moment you lay down in your bed. Don’t overthink the details or interactions, just the steps you took in about 20 – 30 seconds. For example: woke up, showered, ate breakfast, drove to work, had a meeting, ate lunch, etc., until you arrive in bed.
  6. When you arrive back in your bed, take another deep breath and as you breathe out, feel like the exhalation is pushing you down into the mattress.
  7. Continue breathing as instructed in step four until you feel yourself falling deeper and deeper into unconsciousness.

If your mind is busy, it may take some time for this breathing exercise to take effect, but it’s important to stick with it and not get frustrated. When the mind wanders, simply bring the attention back to the breath. If you find you’re too distracted, try the Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise first and then get back into bed.

Breathing Exercises for Kids

Kids breathing exercise

Breathing exercises can be effective for kids mindfulness. Studies have shown that mindfulness for kids can improve mood, self‐esteem, and self‐regulation.

Kids Bee Breath

The kid’s bee breath is a simplified version of the Bhramari pranayama breathing exercise. This breathing exercise is excellent for calming kids and could be used before a nap or at bedtime.

  1. Kids need to sit upright on the floor with their eyes closed and their hands resting in their laps.
  2. Breathe deeply through the mouth. On the exhale, make a “mmmm” sound until all the air has exited their lungs.
  3. Encourage kids to focus on what the vibrations feel like within their bodies as they breathe out. 
  4. Continue breathing like this for ten cycles.

Kids Deep Retention Breathing

This deep breathing exercise is excellent if you want to get kids into a calm state. You might need to guide children through this breathing exercise.

  1. Ask kids to sit cross-legged and upright on the floor with their eyes closed.
  2. Take a deep breath in through the nose. Hold for a count of two and exhale through the nose until all the air has left the body.
  3. Repeat the exercise for ten cycles.

Kids Woodchopper Breathing Exercise

The woodchopper breathing exercise is a little more active and fun. It’s a fantastic exercise for kids to start the day or if they have been sitting for an extended period.

  1. Ask your kids to stand upright with their feet in line with the outside of their shoulders. So, just slightly apart.
  2. Ask the kids to imagine they’re holding an axe with both hands like a woodchopper.
  3. As they breathe in, lift their axe over their head. On the exhalation, bend down and swing the axe through their legs like a woodchopper making a chopping action.
  4. Hold for two seconds before taking a deep breath to bring the axe back over their head.
  5. Repeat steps three and four for ten cycles.

Here is an example of how to do a woodchopper breathing exercise for kids.

Conclusion

We hope this has given you some insight into how breathing exercises benefit our mental and physical well-being.

Breathing exercises are not a quick fix but rather a continuous practice to incorporate into your everyday life. Breathing is a vital part of a daily self-love routine that will positively affect your mental health.

Our 30-Days of Mindfulness pack is an excellent way to get into a mindfulness routine with meditation and light yoga exercises.

How to Easily Teach Kids Mindfulness

Mother and daughter practising a kids mindfulness yoga

Kids mindfulness is a vital part of a child’s development these days. Compared to a decade ago, children have far more information and communication to process.

If you think this deluge of information is stressful for adults, imagine what it does to kids who don’t fully understand the world or how to manage their emotions.

With global lockdowns in 2020, kids also have to deal with remote learning and playdates, something none of us ever had to grapple with as youngsters.

We will show through several references to studies that mindfulness for kids is highly effective for self-regulation, reducing anxiety, and increasing working memory and cognitive function.

What is Kids Mindfulness?

2020 study by Andrea Browning described kids mindfulness as:

…the practice of cultivating attention to foster greater self-awareness and self-knowledge about thoughts, feelings, and sensations, and how they can affect one’s actions.

Kids are naturally curious, so mindfulness is about developing a curious introspection to become more self-aware and familiar with their feelings and emotions.

Why do Kids Need Mindfulness?

Mindfulness is an essential tool to help kids, and adults, improve social, behavioural, and academic skills. 

A 2013 study in the Journal of Children’s Services found that a regular kids mindfulness practice will help children to improve their long term mental health and well‐being, mood, self‐esteem, self‐regulation, positive behaviour and academic learning.

Boy engaging in mindful drawing exercise

Another study in 2016 found that regular mindfulness activities for kids improved self-regulation and long-term developmental outcomes.

By starting early with mindfulness for kids, you can ensure that your child has the tools to navigate the complexities of life with a calmer, more focused mindset.

Kids mindfulness exercises also allow parents to interact and spend valuable time getting to know their child on a deeper level.

Benefits of Teaching Kids Mindfulness

In a two-year study, researchers monitored two groups of preschoolers. The first group followed a regular preschool routine, while the second introduced a kids mindfulness program.

At the end of the two-year study, researchers discovered improvements in working memory, planning and organising, higher vocabulary and reading scores in the mindfulness group.

How Do Kids Practice Mindfulness?

Kids mindfulness strives to achieve the same goal as a regular mindfulness practice—to develop an awareness of the unconscious mind.

We use mindfulness activities that encourage kids to be more mindful and curious about their feelings and emotions. For kids, this is often through play.

You don’t have to get your child to sit and meditate to practice mindfulness. All you have to do is look for opportunities where you can play mindfully.

This mindful play will usually encourage children to describe what they’re doing and how they’re feeling. As your child gets older, you can start more challenging mindfulness activities for kids like breathing exercises, journaling and eventually meditation.

Be Mindful as a Parent

Parents also influence children through their activities. For example, if you’re teaching mindfulness to your children, you need to be present yourself. 

Put away the phone or other distractions and give your full attention to your child during any mindfulness or quality time with them.

Mindfulness for Infants and Toddlers

Most parents unknowingly teach their infants mindfulness. Have you ever touched something or eaten something and encouraged your child to do the same?

For example, getting your baby to feel a blanket and then encouraging them to repeat “blanket soft.” Or maybe fed your child a lemon, “sour.” In their most basic form, these are mindfulness activities for toddlers.

It isn’t easy to get infants and toddlers to sit still, so you need to turn everyday activities into mindfulness exercises. Bathtime, meals, and playtime are all fantastic opportunities to practise mindfulness for a baby.

Preschoolers Mindfulness (4 – 6 years)

Preschool is a great time to teach your kids mindfulness. With a growing vocabulary, insatiable curiosity, and seemingly endless amounts of energy, you can introduce fun mindfulness activities for preschoolers.

If you want to teach your kids yoga, this is the perfect age to start! Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube provides youngsters with a fun introduction to yoga with lessons as short as 3 minutes.

Also, consider toys and games aimed at mindfulness for kids. We developed HappySnap, an emotional awareness game for parents to play with their children. HappySnap encourages kids to identify and talk openly about their feelings and emotions. As a parent playing HappySnap with your child, you may be fascinated to learn about their comprehension of complex feelings and emotions.

Mindfulness for School Kids

In a 2010 study in the Journal of Behavioral Health and Medicine, researchers found that attending behaviours improved in grade one and two kids exposed to daily mindfulness programs. 

Another study from 2004 showed similar results, noting that: “Results from three attentional measures administered to the students show significant differences between those who did and did not participate in mindfulness practise training.

Consistency is essential to see the positive results of kids mindfulness, but some studies notice behavioural changes within a few days!

Kids Mindfulness Exercises

Here are a couple of examples of the kids’ mindfulness exercises used by researchers in the Journal of Behavioral Health and Medicine study mentioned above.

These kids mindfulness exercises are effective in a classroom setting, but parents can also use them at home.

The Silent Game

The silent game is an effective exercise to introduce mindfulness to young kids. The aim of the game is simple; the kids must sit still in their chair until the teacher tells them the exercise is over.

  • Kids must either close their eyes or gaze down at their desk without looking around.
  • Kids must sit in an upright position, practising good posture.
  • The teacher can start at 30 seconds with the aim of increasing the duration.

With its short duration, the silent game can be used at the start or end of a lesson to provide kids with a “calming reset.”

Kids Mindful Breathing Exercise

The kids mindful breathing exercise is a continuation of the silent game, but with guidance and instructions. Instead of just sitting still, the teacher guides students with mindfulness statements, similar to a guided meditation.

Kids must sit upright in their chairs and close their eyes. Once settled, the teacher can begin with the mindfulness statements. The aim is to encourage kids to focus on their sensations, senses, and feelings.

kids sitting in a classrom

Here are some examples:

  • “Notice the feeling in your chest/nose/mouth as you breath in and out.” Pause. “Try and become aware of how this feels. is it the same every time or are there slight differences?”
  • “Notice how your body feels as you’re seated in your chair.” Pause. “How does the chair feel against your back and legs?” Pause. “Notice how your feet rest on the floor, supporting your legs.”
  • “Without reacting, notice any sounds you can hear inside (outside) the room.” Pause while they listen. “Imagine what you would see if you could hear what’s making the sound or sounds you hear.” Pause again. “How do you feel when you hear that sound?”

Noticing Self was another guided mindfulness breathing exercise teachers used in the 2010 study. In this kids mindfulness exercise, teachers offered a lot more guidance. Below is an example of one of the guided meditations (you can find all of the activities under the paper’s methods section).

Kids mindfulness guided meditation

Kids Mindful Eating Exercise

The kids mindful eating exercise has several layers of education. It encourages kids to think about where their food comes from while taking the time to savour and appreciate the experience.

Depending on the size of your group, this mindful eating exercise can take up to 30 mins to complete. It’s best to use fruit like mandarin or orange.

Child with orange used for mindful eating exercise for kids
  • Kids each receive a mandarin which they place in front of them.
  • Before peeling it, discuss the supply chain from the tree to the grocery store.
  • Next, allow the kids to peel the mandarin, taking their time to observe as much detail as possible. This process can take up to 5 minutes, and kids should be encouraged to focus on the task and not talk amongst themselves.
  • Before eating, discuss the process with the kids, including textures, smells, and any feelings or emotions associated with the peeling process.
  • Before the first bite, without answering, ask kids to take a few moments to imagine how the mandarin will taste, the textures in their mouth, what they might smell.
  • Next, ask the kids to break off a segment and take the first conscious bite without eating the whole piece. Kids must chew slowly until the entire piece of fruit dissolves in their mouth.
  • Again, discuss the experience with the kids. How did the mandarin taste? Was it what you expected? How did it feel as you swallowed? Did eating the mandarin make you feel anything?
  • Now ask kids to finish the fruit but in the same slow manner. When they’re finished, have a final discussion. How do they feel having finished the mandarin? Have they noticed any change in their body? What have they learned from the experience? Is this a good way to eat, and why?

Mindfulness for Teens

Mindfulness could be a vital tool to help teenagers navigate this challenging and sometimes confusing period of life.

Several studies have shown a regular mindfulness routine improved cognitive function and working memory for teenagers. Essential qualities at a time when teenagers are required to absorb, memorise, and articulate school work.

A daily five-minute guided meditation also reported to reduce anxiety and increase a sense of calm for students.

Teenager practing mediation

But where do you start? And how do you get your teenager started with mindfulness?

Our 30 Days of Mindfulness package is the perfect introduction for teenagers (or anyone looking to get started in a daily mindfulness routine).

The package includes 35 cards to guide you through your month of mindfulness, including yoga, meditation, and self-care exercises. We have also included a journal with prompts to get you started with journaling, an essential mindfulness tool.

Guided Meditation for Teens

Guided meditation is an excellent way to get your teenager started, and it’s a practice you can do together. It’s a beautiful way to connect and share a meaningful experience. 

Here are a couple of guided meditations for teenagers:

30-minute guided meditation for teenagers.

3-minute body scan meditation for teenagers.

Conclusion

We hope this article has given you some insight into how simple a kids mindfulness routine can be. There are so many feel tools available for parents, and you don’t have to be a guru to teach your children how to be mindful.

Kids mindfulness is about encouraging and fostering their natural curiosity. Most important is, to be effective, a kids mindfulness practice needs to be a consistent, daily practice.

How to Empower Yourself with Self-Love Tips, Meditation & Exercises

Happy woman practising a self-love dance outdoors

With the heightened awareness of mental health, self-love has become an essential tool for healing.

Self-love is a commitment. Think of self-love as a relationship with yourself. And, like any relationship, it needs work to keep it going.

But what is self-love? How is self-love important? And how do we practise self-love? Hopefully, we’re able to answer these questions for you in this post.

Self-love Definition

Self-love isn’t a narcissistic love for yourself; that’s vanity. Instead, self-love is about accepting and valuing who you are. It’s about knowing your worth and not selling yourself short.

While the term self-love suggests some level of narcissism, it’s actually the opposite. Self-love requires us to accept who we are, and therefore project that love and acceptance onto others.

Self-love affirmation on a stencil board - be kind, be true, be you

Some examples of what self-love might mean to you could include:

  • Having a positive image of yourself.
  • Valuing your strengths.
  • Being honest about your weaknesses and having the strength to work on self-improvement.
  • Choosing a partner who values who you are and treats you with dignity and respect.
  • Choosing to associate with people who share your values and treat you with love and care (and you treat them the same way).
  • Prioritising your well-being.
  • Taking time to work on personal growth.

Why Self-Love is Important

Without self-love, we develop low self-esteem and low self-respect. We’re willing to take whatever we can get to validate ourselves, often in all the wrong places. Low self-respect leads to bad relationships, eating disorders, bad drinking habits, and other negative social issues.

Self-Love Exercises

Now that you have a better understanding of self-love, let’s look at some self-love exercises you can do at home.

The idea of these self-love activities is that this is time for yourself. You’re allowed to be a little selfish. If you have kids, ask your partner for 1 hour where you can take the time to be alone with yourself and practice the self-love exercise that best suits your needs.

Like anything in life, the benefits of self-love exercises will only come from repetition and consistency. Daily practice is the most effective way to develop self-love and a positive self-image.

Self-Love Meditation

Self-love meditation is a fantastic place to start. This exercise could form part of our morning meditation to instil confidence as you start your day.

You can practice self-love meditation sitting or lying down, whichever makes you feel most comfortable. This simple meditation incorporates a self-love mantra to help manifest confidence and positivity.

A simple self-love mantra might be:

  • Inhale, I am worthy
  • Exhale, I am enough

Here is a quick self-love meditation you can practice. Allow for a minimum of 5 minutes to complete this meditation. Remember to choose your self-love mantra before you start.

  1. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes and start with a big inhale and exhale.
  2. As you exhale, return to a normal breath, noticing your current state of mind.
  3. After a few regular breaths to calm the mind, start reciting your mantra. As you inhale, I am worthy. On the exhale, I am enough.
  4. If you can, try to say the mantra out loud. Hearing yourself say the words can be very effective.

If you usually meditate for longer, start with a 5-minute self-love meditation and then go into your regular mediation routine. 

If you prefer a guided self-love meditation, here is an excellent 15-minute exercise.

Self-Love Affirmations

A self-love affirmation is another powerful way to develop a confident and positive mindset. Many leading life coaches, including Tony Robbins, recommend affirmations as a way to manifest your goals and desires.

Affirmations could form part of your morning or evening routine, but you could have a weekly self-love affirmation that you repeat throughout the day, even if it’s just a reminder to yourself while you’re working at your desk.

Woman smiling with positivity after self-love affirmation

Here are 30 affirmations of self-love:

  1. I am worthy of love.
  2. I respect my own boundaries.
  3. I love the person/man/woman that I am.
  4. I am loved.
  5. I am deserving of love.
  6. I am worthy of infinite compassion.
  7. Happiness flows from within me.
  8. I let go of negative self-talk.
  9. I am capable of reaching my goals.
  10. I accept myself unconditionally.
  11. I don’t let fear hold me back.
  12. I am grateful for who I am.
  13. I am strong and resilient.
  14. My capacity for love is infinite.
  15. I forgive myself and learn from my mistakes.
  16. I am valued.
  17. I am open to receive love.
  18. I am exactly who I need to be in this moment.
  19. I send love to my fears and doubts.
  20. I believe in myself.
  21. I deserve dignity and respect.
  22. I release any need for suffering.
  23. My life is filled with love and joy.
  24. I release negativity and embrace optimism and positivity.
  25. I feel pride in myself.
  26. I am not the sum of my mistakes.
  27. I feel beautiful. I am beautiful.
  28. I overflow with creativity and good ideas.
  29. I love and treasure my body.
  30. Every part of my body radiates beauty.

Self-Love Journaling

Journaling for self-love is one of the most powerful exercises you can do for yourself. Your self-love journal is an opportunity to reflect on your daily wins and list the reasons why you’re grateful.

Woman sitting at a desk self-love journaling

Here are 10 self-love journal ideas:

  1. Write about someone you are grateful for and how you think they would describe you. (allow yourself to be a little playful with this one).
  2. What is your favourite thing about your personality?
  3. Write down 5 things you’re grateful for today.
  4. What are 5 things you do that make you unhappy, and what can you do to stop doing them.
  5. When do you feel most confident, and what are ways to carry that confidence into other aspects of your life?
  6. What is something you need to forgive yourself for?
  7. What traits do you admire in someone close to you, and how can you learn to develop those traits yourself?
  8. What negative beliefs do you hold about yourself, and what actions can you take to manifest positivity?
  9. What is one thing you have the power to change to become more confident?
  10. What are your biggest insecurities? And what actions can you take to reduce those insecurities in line with your values?

Self-Love Tips

Once you’ve developed a self-love routine, you’ll want to carry these ideas into all aspects of your life. Here are some practical self-love tips you can use to build a positive self-image.

Eat Better

Diet plays a crucial role in our health and well being. According to the NHS, “Making healthy choices about your diet can make you feel emotionally stronger. You’re doing something positive for yourself, which lifts your self-esteem.

Kitchen with healthy ingredients on the counter

As part of a self-love journal entry, write down your weekly eating habits and look at ways to improve your diet. We’re not suggesting you go on a diet but instead giving yourself the nutrition you deserve.

The NHS has excellent nutritional resources as part of its Eatwell campaign. If you have the financial resources, consider setting up an appointment with a nutritionist to develop an eating plan to suit your lifestyle.

Set Healthy Boundaries

Setting boundaries and learning to say no is an essential step to developing self-love. You need to set limits or avoid any work, relationships, or activities that cause stress, physical or emotional harm.

Sometimes, it’s hard to eradicate these activities or relationships, but you must be honest about your limitations and set healthy boundaries. 

For example, you shouldn’t have to make yourself available to answer work emails or calls late in the evening. Or have to listen to a friend’s problems when you’ve committed to spending quality time with your family.

Know your worth and define your boundaries.

End Toxic Relationships

Toxic relationships can affect our self-image negatively. People who don’t treat you with dignity and respect don’t deserve your time. If you feel that someone doesn’t treat you the way you should be, perhaps it’s time to remove that person from your life.

Two female friends talking

If you love that person, give them a chance and be honest about how they make you feel. Perhaps there’s an opportunity to salvage the relationship. For example, there might be something they tease you about, or you know that they talk about you behind your back.

Confront this person about the issue. Tell them that what they do harms your self-image, and if they don’t change, sadly, you will have to limit or remove them from your life.

As social beings, removing someone from your life can be extremely difficult, but it might be necessary for positive self-development.

Forgive Yourself

We all make mistakes in life. Sometimes is hard to let go, especially if it’s something that’s hurt ourselves or a loved one. Continually punishing yourself is not going to help fix the past and will negatively affect your self-image.

Woman alone thinking about something

We’re human, and we make mistakes. The fact that you show remorse for your actions is a good thing.

As part of a journaling exercise, write about your failure or mistake.

  • What did you do wrong?
  • How did you make yourself or others feel?
  • What have you learned from the experience?
  • What can you do to avoid making the same mistake?
  • How are you different from the person who made that mistake?

Writing about your mistakes and failures allows you to put things into perspective and recognise these events don’t reflect who you are.

Be Kind to Others

Part of self-love is loving others. If you want people to accept who you are, you must be willing to do the same. 

For example, do you have a friend or relative that you know is alone? Find some time to give them a call. Ask how they are and what’s going on in their life.

These small gestures allow you to build a positive self-image. When you repeat the affirmations, I am worthy of infinite compassion, or my capacity for love is infinite, you know those statements are the truth.

Conclusion

We hope that from reading this, you realise that self-love is not about loving yourself. It’s about acceptance. Not just acceptance of who you are but others too.

Self-love is a process; it’s not the goal. It’s something you need to work on daily to develop a positive self-image.

Self-Love FAQs

Is self-love selfish?

Self-love is about knowing your worth, which isn’t a selfish endeavour. Self-love becomes selfish when someone starts to believe they’re better than others.

How can self-love change your life?

Self-love is about developing a positive mindset and positive self-image. By working on healthy self-love goals, you can change your life for the better.

Is self-love narcissism?

Self-love can fall prey to narcissism. If you start to believe you’re better than other people or pursue goals at the expense of others, then you’re not practicing self-love but narcissism.

How to Start Your Day with Morning Meditation (Including a short 5-minute practice and videos)

Man sitting in a pagoda for morning meditation

Morning meditation is a fantastic way to start your day. Meditation not only reduces stress but boosts your mood, giving you clarity of mind as you begin your day.

You’re not going to see results straight away, but if you incorporate morning meditation as part of a morning routine, you’ll begin to see incremental changes over time.

 

What is Morning Meditation

Morning meditation is any form of meditation or mindfulness exercise you do to start your day. There is no right or wrong way to do a morning meditation, but the core idea is that you spend time in silence. 

Young woman sitting on a yoga mat meditating
Processed with VSCO with k3 preset

In this article, we’ll share several morning meditation exercises to help you get started.

Why Morning Meditation is Important

Just as we use meditation in the evening to calm the mind after a busy day, morning meditation can bring a sense of peacefulness to carry you into the day.

Think of morning meditation to clear the mind for positive thoughts and energy to take over. 

How to do Morning Meditation

Morning meditation is about finding a routine and making it as much of a habit as your morning coffee or breakfast.

To get started, find a quiet place in your home where you won’t be disturbed. For some people, this might be easier said than done!

Woman sitting on a yoga mat for morning mediation
Woman With Digital Tablet Using Meditation App In Bedroom

For this reason, you might want to wake up at least 30 minutes earlier than usual to ensure you get your “me time.”

We recommend allocating at least a 5 minute morning meditation with 30 minutes to an hour to get optimal results.

In addition to meditation, you might also want to include an affirmation, journaling, yoga, and even reading something empowering. Our 30 Days of Mindfulness Package has everything you need to start a morning meditation routine.

Morning Meditation Exercises

Here are some morning meditation exercises to consider. We have included guided morning meditations and practices you can do on your own.

Guided meditation is an excellent place to start. But the goal should be to find a practice that you can do on your own. This way, you eliminate the necessity for devices and other distractions to just focus on being present.

Guided Morning Meditation

Suppose you’re just getting started or prefer some guidance. In that case, a guided morning meditation can be highly effective to start your day.

If you do choose a guided meditation, try to listen on a set of headphones. Headphones don’t only block out your surrounding environment but also enable you to lock in, focus on the instructions and be present.

Here is a 10-minute guided meditation to start your day.

5 Minute Morning Meditation

If you don’t have a lot of time, then a quick 5 minute morning meditation is certainly better than none!

For beginners, 5 minutes is a fantastic place to begin. When you first start meditating, the first thing you’ll become aware of is just how long 5 minutes can appear.

Embrace the practice knowing that you don’t have to be anywhere else in the world but right here. Present with yourself and your breath. 

Here is a 5-minute morning meditation we recommend.

Morning Breathing Meditation

Once you feel you’re ready to ditch the apps and guided morning meditations, it’s time to progress to a simple breathing meditation.

Unlike guided meditation, you won’t have someone telling you when to stop. For this reason, it’s best to have an alarm set for your morning meditation.

Find a comfortable, peaceful place to sit.

Woman sitting on a yoga mat infront of a laptop meditating.
Shot of confident sporty young woman doing hypopressive exercises following online gym classes via laptop on floor in her living room at home.
  1. Set your alarm for the amount of time you want to meditate.
  2. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath.
  3. Follow your breath in and out. 
  4. If at any point you get distracted, just gently bring your focus back to your breathing.

For some people, this simple breathing exercise is a challenge. Your mind wants to continually wonder.

If you are battling to stay focused on the breath, try counting one on the inhale and two on the exhale. This simple technique will help to focus on the breath better. As you progress, try to focus on your breath without having to count.

This simple breathing technique is also a great morning meditation for kids where you act as their guide. Before the meditation, you might ask your kids what they are grateful for so that they have something positive to focus on while meditating.

Morning Body Scan Meditation

A continuation of the breathing meditation is a morning body scan meditation.

Find a comfortable, peaceful place to sit.

  1. Set your alarm for the amount of time you want to meditate.
  2. Close your eyes and bring your awareness to the breath.
  3. Once you feel a sense of calm, you can begin your body scan.
  4. Start at the top of the head and scan slowly down to your feet.
  5. As you scan, notice every inch of your body feels. Whatever sensation you feel, briefly acknowledge it, and slowly move on.
  6. The idea is to become aware of your body and be present.

A body scan meditation is a little more challenging but incredibly beneficial for mental focus and awareness.

Morning Meditation for Anxiety

Poor sleep, a busy schedule or life, in general, can cause morning anxiety. Anxiety is often caused by things that have not happened yet – an important meeting, an exam, just getting to work on time!

If you feel stressed or anxious, a morning mindfulness meditation is a fantastic way to calm the mind.

Start with a simple breathing meditation as described above. As negative thoughts and emotions come to mind, notice them, label them, and let them go.

For example, if you are anxious about a meeting, as it comes to mind, notice how that makes you feel. Stressed. And then gently bring your mind back to the breath until the next thought comes to mind.

The same thought may reappear several times; each time, label it, let it go and return to the breath.

The more you practice this sort of mindful meditation, you’ll notice the time between distracting thoughts becomes less. You become more mindful of that which you cannot change.

To get the best results, you might want to include a morning affirmation to steer the mind towards a more positive mindset.

Morning Meditation Gratitude

Suppose you’re lucky enough to wake up in a positive mindset. In that case, a morning meditation for gratitude will help build on that positive energy.

Here is a 10-minute morning meditation gratitude practice.

Morning Affirmations

A morning affirmation can be an effective tool to build confidence and motivate you to start the day. 

You can combine your morning affirmation with your meditation or do one and then the other. We recommend starting with mediation to bring a sense of clarity and then move on to your affirmation to take you into the day.

Our Mindfulness Starter Pack contains self-reflection questions that help with journaling and setting a daily intention.

What is an affirmation?

An affirmation is a positive phrase or statement, usually tied to a goal or emotional state you want to manifest.

Affirmations also help counteract negative thoughts and emotions by focusing on the positive. For example, suppose you are nervous about a speaking engagement. In that case, your affirmation might be, “I am a confident and articulate public speaker.”

How to do a Morning Affirmation

The most effective way to do a morning affirmation is to incorporate it into your morning meditation.

Once you have finished your meditation, set another alarm, 1 to 2 minutes is fine.

Set your intention for the day. A simple yet effective morning affirmation might be: today, I focus on what makes me feel good.

  • Close your eyes and focus on your breath.
  • Breath in and out naturally, and after each exhalation, repeat your affirmation out loud. If you’re not able to make a noise, either whisper the affirmation or repeat the words in your head.

That’s all there is to it!

Morning Journaling

We highly recommend adding a morning journal to your morning routine. Your morning journal could be something as simple as things you’re grateful for or ways to achieve your intention for the day.

Man writing in a morning journal

Here are three ideas to add to your morning journal:

  1. What 3 things you’re grateful for?
  2. What is your intention for the day?
  3. How are you going to achieve your goals for the day?

Writing these down enables you to reflect on what’s essential for the day. Remembering will help you stay on track for what you want to achieve and, most importantly, what you want to avoid! 

Our mindfulness pack comes with a guided journal to take the guesswork out of what to write.

Conclusion

The key to a successful morning meditation is to be consistent. Consistency will be your biggest challenge when starting with any form of mindfulness practice.

That’s why we created the 30 Days of Mindfulness. To help you develop a routine that becomes your morning habit.

Consider your morning routine as a holistic exercise with journaling, meditation and even an affirmation. This will likely be your only ‘me time’ for the day, so make the best of the opportunity for self-improvement!

FAQs

Can I sleep after morning meditation?

The purpose of morning meditation is to get you into a mindset to start your day. By going back to sleep, you’re undoing the benefits of meditating. It’s best to start your day once you have finished your morning meditation.

What is a good morning meditation drink?

If you need to drink before your morning meditation, it’s best to have water or herbal tea. You do not want to consume stimulants like coffee or energy drinks before meditation.

When should I meditate in the morning?

It’s best to meditate straight after you wake up before you shower, eat breakfast or begin any other tasks. You might want to splash some cold water on your face before you start so you’re awake and alert.