February 27, 2015
We often hear that enjoy every moment of this beautiful life. Nobody will deny the fact that we want to enjoy! Yes! we want to be happy, always! Nobody loves stress. However, we have work pressures, deadlines, traffic, and noise, social media, and everyday changing technology.
Mindfulness practice has the answer to our search for bliss in the demanding life and tight hectic schedules!
What is Mindfulness?
- Mindfulness is being aware, being present in every moment. Being present means neither past nor future. It seems very difficult to practice if we decide not to think about past and future. However, it is very simple to learn and experience, staying in the present!
- You don’t need to change your beliefs for practicing mindfulness.
- Mindfulness can become the part of your daily routine and life, if practiced with commitment.
Here are 6 easy steps to practice mindfulness in your day-to-day life!
When our mind is totally involved in the work we do, we really enjoy it. Our stress vanishes and that moment becomes a blissful memory.
1. Mindful Breathing
- Daily sit relaxed in a quiet place for some minutes.
- Observe your natural breathing.
- Notice the natural rhythm in the breathing for 2-3 minutes. Don’t try to focus, just try to observe that how breathing goes fast sometimes and slows down naturally.
- Observe how oxygen enters your nostril, brain and body. And how it exhales.
2. Practice Self-Care and Self-Love Mindfully
- Bestow care and love for yourself. Yes! When you learn to love yourself the way you love others, this world, you become a better human.
- Give full attention to everything you do for yourself! Here are some examples:
- Face cleaning and massage
- Beauty care
- Massaging hair with full love
- Drinking your favorite beverage, enjoying every sip you drink just because you love it
- Eating your favorite food
- Carry out all these acts mindfully, you’ll discover the hidden beauty within you, you have ignored so far!
- Let your face, your hands, your palms, your legs, your body and mind feel cared.
- Perform all the care activities with love and compassion just like the way you love to offer others.
3. Accept and Heal Physical Pains Mindfully
- Experience the physical pains you are going through, for some moments. Accept it and then, try to heal it. Yes! It sounds weird, but give some time to listen to your body.
- Your body says something to you that you are hungry, you are thirsty, you are tired and now you need sleep, you are worried and now you need to take deep breath, you have worked hard for a long time and now you need some relaxing moments.
- Listen to those bodily senses, mindfully and treat them well mindfully.
- Accept wounds and pains if you have any.
- Heal all your wounds from small to chronic pain. Take proper treatment whenever needed.
- Let your body feel happy!
4. Accept and Heal Wounds of The Mind, With The Power of The Mind
- Don’t avoid the wounds of the heart.
- Experience the pain your mind is feeling, for some moments. Accept and decide to heal them. Anxiety, depression, loneliness, and grief; let them go!
- If you are feeling happy, enjoy it consciously.
- If you are excited, enjoy those moments mindfully.
- Give some time to mindfulness experience and some time to distract from the pain. In the end, you’ll be victorious.
- Don’t try to run away from them, they are there in your mind and your mind is the best healer.
- Having those heartaches in life isn’t anything wrong; you shouldn’t feel guilty for them. Experiencing the pain will reduce its intensity gradually.
5. Build Strong Bond of Love in Your Relationships by Mindful Compassion
- Connect with relationships with kind words, soulful acts, and a heart full of love.
- Listen to your loved ones carefully; develop active listening skills. You can learn active listening skills by the active listening guide at 7 Cups of Tea.
- Giving full consideration to what others are saying will make them feel valued.
- Care for everybody around you.
- Give a simple smile to friends and strangers.
- Make others smile. Brighten up someone’s day.
- Be compassionate; help others. Even if sometimes we can’t offer any help, just being kind makes people feel better.
- Your simple smile, small motivation, random act of kindness can change the life of others.
6. Enjoy Nature Mindfully
- Notice the birds around you; listen to them. Observe the beauty of birds.
- Notice the changes happening in nature with season change. Notice their hidden beauty.
- Observe lakes, oceans, waves, their stillness, and their movements. Listen to the music ocean waves create.
- Enjoy the daily growth of plants.
- Enjoy fragrance of flowers.
Continue the conversation in the 7 Cups of Tea support forum!
Written by 7 Cups of Tea Listener: CaringSmiles20
February 20, 2015
Much of the research on compassion fatigue and burnout has focused on counselors and first responders who work with trauma victims. But in recent years a lot of research has been focusing on volunteers in order to highlight the impact that care work may have on them.
What is Compassion Fatigue?
Compassion fatigue is similar to that burned-out feeling we are all too familiar with, that makes us feel sadness and despair to the extent it can impair our own health and well-being. It isn’t unusual in the spectrum of volunteering to find many people who become vulnerable to stress, which can interfere with their personal and professional lives and mental well-being, resulting in compassion fatigue.
This fatigue and burnout is often a result of people caring too much. Really dedicated volunteers can sometimes use so much of their own inner energy to go above and beyond, to make everything right, that it ends up affecting their health. Being in a helping role involves attending to the needs of others and being exposed to negativity and suffering. In addition to these external pressures, Volunteers may often have attitudes that increase susceptibility to burnout.
How Does Compassion Fatigue Impact Volunteers?
So, Compassion Fatigue explains how volunteers can be affected by regularly hearing, and bearing witness, to those who experience ongoing pain, loss, suffering and hardship. It gives us a framework for understanding how Volunteers may be impacted by the work they do and it also creates an understanding of the types of strategies that can be used to minimize the chance of developing it.
We also know that empathy is a double edge sword – it’s a tool to help you care for others, but it’s also what can lead to Compassion Fatigue. So it makes sense that being a Volunteer puts you at risk for developing fatigue and burnout.
What Are The Early Warning Signs That You May be Struggling with Compassion Fatigue?
In the early stages of burnout one will have less energy and will need to make more of an effort to deal with everyday pressures. One may be more negative, quick to anger, have a reduced sense of accomplishment, feel tired more often, become more withdrawn and experience increased interpersonal conflicts. One may also feel numb, disillusioned, hardened and overwhelmed. In extreme cases a Volunteer may even become preoccupied with someone’s story, suffering intrusive thoughts and helplessness.
4 Questions To Ask Yourself If You Think You May Be At Risk of Developing Compassion Fatigue:
- Is it easier for you to give than to receive?
- Do you have the tendency to take on other people's suffering?
- Do you go above and beyond what is expected of you?
- Is it challenging to set limits?
If You Answered Yes To Any of The Above Questions, Here Are Some Areas You May Need To Work On:
- Set your limits more effectively.
- Stop putting others' needs before your own needs.
- Stay empathic but without taking on your person’s problems.
- Learn to prevent and/or work through burnout by developing a self-care plan.
- Recognize the unique stress involved in helping others.
- Identify attitudes that limit your attention to self-care.
- Overcome obstacles that limit attention to self-care.
- Practicing self-care can help you to avoid burnout or compassion fatigue Here are some steps that you can take:
- Care for others by caring for yourself. This means eat, sleep and take time to relax.
- Exercise in a healthy way to help relieve stress.
- Aside from prescribed medication don't use chemicals to enhance performance or induce rest.
- Talk with friends and family about things that are weighing you down.
- Journal, blog, tweet, write poetry – any form of writing can be very therapeutic.
- Try deep breathing exercises, guided imagery sessions or meditation. These simple techniques can help you relax and become more self-aware.
- Write about or share one good thing each day with somebody.
- Look for lessons to be learned from even the worst situations.
- Celebrate even small victories and personal accomplishments.
- Make time to enjoy your favorite hobbies and interests.
- Step away and take a break.
Practicing Self-Care Can Help You To:
- Strengthen boundaries and self-esteem.
- Combat fatigue.
- Prevent and counteract burnout.
- Enhance your interpersonal relationships.
- Improve self-efficacy and self-regulation – this relates to one’s ability to believe in themselves and their sense of personal power
- Get more of what you want from life.
- Improve effectiveness: being able to stay focused and managing your time.
Why is Self-Care Important?
Self-care actually increases a volunteer’s capacity to care for others. Self-care, however, is not just about making healthy lifestyle choices - it is about being present with one’s feelings, sensations and intuitive guidance in order to detect what is best in any given moment.
In addition to making healthy lifestyle choices, self-care is about being true to oneself, being attuned to what is in your best interests and taking a proactive stance toward your needs and goals. Self-care is not about selfishness or being self-absorbed.
It is worth remembering that acknowledging the importance of self-care alone won’t enable you to take better care of yourself. It is important to address the obstacles that limit attention to self-care and perpetuate stress such as excessive expectations, perfectionism and having an exaggerated sense of responsibility. These obstacles lead to destructive survival strategies like people pleasing and unhealthy giving styles.
Remember, when you neglect self-care it takes a toll on your effectiveness as a helper, your health and your relationships.
Written by 7cups Listener and Mentor, Soulsurfer
February 13, 2015
We all know the golden rule: reciprocity. But what if we view others far more kindly than we view ourselves? Self-compassion — treating ourselves to the same compassion we hold for others — is one way to counter excessive self-criticism born from fragile self-esteem or perfectionist tendencies. Dr. Kristin Neff, a leading self-compassion researcher, offers a test to help you examine your self-compassion here.
How do you score? In what ways are you most self-compassionate, and where do you have room to be kinder to yourself? How might you practice treating yourself more fairly?
If you need a little help doing unto yourself as you would ‘do unto others,’ here are four ways to increase your self-compassion:
1. Treat yourself like you would a friend.
Imagine sitting next to yourself, striking up a heart-to-heart conversation and simply listening to your concerns. After listening to and accepting your thoughts and worries, try responding to them like you would for a loved one — what feedback would you give someone you cared about deeply? How does it differ from what you have told yourself in the past? Another way to try this: write yourself a letter about a problem in your life. Re-read it carefully, then write a compassionate response.
2. “Treat yo' self,” period.
Ask yourself, if a friend was feeling the way you do now, would you offer to take them to the beach, to the movies or an improv comedy show? Would you lend them a favorite book, offer them a cup of tea, bake them snickerdoodles or sticky buns? You deserve these affectionate gestures as well! They don’t have to come from someone else — why wait for someone else to treat you the way you would like to be treated, when you can jump-start that kindness yourself? If you are feeling lonely, you can invite a friend to join you. Not sure you have a companion who will help you vent? Treating yourself to a chat with a listener is another way to exercise self-compassion.
3. Look for case studies.
Feeling alone, embarrassed, or stuck? You are not alone! If you research your situation, you can read about, and even engage with, others who have faced similar scenarios and really ‘get it.’ Looking for a less involved way to work through your feelings and reflect on your situation? You could find a song or album that speaks to your feelings, take a relaxation break to listen to it, and consider sharing it with a friend or loved one to help them understand how you feel. See how many people you can relate to. You might be surprised by how much you have in common.
4. Don’t measure yourself against others.
It would not be kind to tell someone else, “She’s prettier than you,” “You’re weaker than him because he got over the breakup faster than you,” or, “If you’re smarter than her, you’ll win this debate.” Isn’t it equally unkind to send yourself these unnecessarily competitive messages? With respect and acceptance for yourself — where you’ve come from, where you are today, and where you’d like to go tomorrow — can you think of kinder, more realistic and productive messages to tell yourself?
By honoring yourself with the same understanding, generosity, fellowship and respect you would offer a friend — truly being your own best friend — you can break self-defeating cycles of negative thinking that hold you back day-to-day. Improving your self-compassion can give you the emotional support you need to lead a more courageous and fulfilling life.
Contribute to our conversation on self-compassion in the forum!
Written by 7 Cups Listener & Mentor: OliviaButler
February 4, 2015
Self-care is first and foremost mindset. It is a way of thinking and believing that enables one to continue to learn and grow in themselves. When done right and in a way that is appropriate and helpful to the individual, self-care can be incredibly effective in character development.
Through a conscious, proactive, self-designed self-care practice, you free yourself up to be creative, experiment and be emotionally fearless. It gives you the freedom to experiment in your life with an emotional cushion funded completely on your own, unrelated & untouched by anyone else.
At it’s core, self-care is self-love. Developing a loving and supportive relationship with yourself must be grounded in self-care. By this, we do not mean, be selfish or self-involved. Rather, use your knowledge of yourself to continually work to develop the best version of yourself.
I know we all face many challenges in our lives and as a result, self-care will mean something different for each of us.
Being proactive to take of yourself is something that feels slightly uncomfortable. Putting yourself first, at least part of the time, is important for developing a grounding belief system about yourself. A belief system that every day, reminds you that:
- I am worth it
- I am strong
- I can handle this
- Everything will be okay
- There is nothing I can’t try or do
There are many situations in life which test our self-care, even for someone with a self-care regimen, you will always tested.
In our community, whether you are a listener or a member, self-care takes on a new meaning. In order to be your best self, put yourself in an emotional place in which you feel safe and comfortable to grow and learn, you must practice self-care. We challenge you all to think through your personal self-care. What does this mean to you? What are my beliefs about myself?
Here are some questions you can ask yourself as you develop a self-care practice:
- What do you do when you feel sad?
- What is the most effective way to vent your feelings?
- When you feel upset, do you prefer a quiet place or a noisy place?
- What do you do to let off some steam when you feel angry?
- What is something that you should avoid when feeling down?
Examples of self-care practices:
- Listening to music
- Getting some exercise
- Writing in your journal
- Do a craft or something artistic
- Talk to a trusted friend
- Cook a delicious meal
No matter where you are in your life's journey, a self-care practice should be part of your regular routine. The hardest part can be maintenance and keeping your self-care practice on track. If you want to talk about your self-care, our listeners are here to support you!
Written By: LauraS