Spiritual well-being

Taking care of your spiritual well-being is a journey of self discovery which allows you to learn many new principles, life changing techniques and mantras along the way. This journey of self discovery can ignite, excite, energise and empower you. It can also re-ignite that creative spark which had become a dim flicker, threatening to burn out.

Over the summer I took a blogging hiatus. I gave myself time to relax, recharge my batteries and get my priorities straight. It gave me time to shift my focus and direction on what I wanted for myself. This also gave me the chance to detach from negative situations and environments I had found myself becoming more involved with than I wanted to be. Taking a break gave me time to gain clarity and realise these situations were doing nothing for my mind, body and spirit.

That article also referred to one I previously wrote for Wear Your Voice Magazine about how it is important to find ways to rediscover and love yourself. Giving yourself the breathing space to rediscover what is important to you and what makes your soul happy is something I believe firmly in and put into practice. You can read that article here

I have always been a spiritual person although I am not religious. Over the past few months I have found myself revisiting the need to take care of not only my physical health, but also my spiritual well-being. I have also examined areas where I have needed to do some emotional healing.

Emotional healing is a practice that I have been putting in place as this too contributes towards your spiritual well-being. Negativity does nothing but drain me and actually has a knock on effect with my physical health quite quickly. I absorb any energy very quickly and anything negative, detrimental or of ill feeling is not what I want around me. Distancing myself from any negative situation (whether my own or someone else’s) instantly stops the feeling of being suffocated by that engulfing black blanket of misery. I believe strongly in self love and self worth and want to attract as much positivity as I send out. I recently came across this article on Emotional Healing by Stephen Connor in the “Healer” magazine and thought it was simply brilliant.

I take inspiration from a few different spiritual beliefs, practices and concepts. I find myself grounded when I am with nature. The beach is one of my favourite places. I can sit and watch the ocean for hours. I enjoy being amongst the trees and feeling the grass under my bare feet. I find great power and beauty when watching a sunset. I am in awe of the moon and the stars. I often sit outside on an evening embracing the peace and quiet of a still evening. I enjoy feeling that final bit of warmth from the sun on my face before the night sky appears, bringing with it the hypnotic twinkle of the stars.

I find that meditation helps to create inner peace. I am an anxiety sufferer and meditation helps to ground me and decreases my stress levels. I am aware that I have developed a better sleeping pattern since starting meditation. Meditation is fabulous as it can be done anywhere where you feel comfortable enough to practice it. I recently went on holiday to Portugal and did meditation on the plane whilst we were descending to land. I also did some meditation on the beach whilst the sun was rising.

I do several different meditations depending on what mood I am in. I often do a Chakra meditation visualising each of my chakras opening like tulips, or a Ho’oponopono meditation which is based on the Huna Principles. This Ho’oponopono meditation teaches you how to have forgiveness to help with the fulfillment of life.

I like how Ho’oponopono talks about the implication of carrying around unnecessary baggage of anger, hate and negative emotions. This is a burden of problems we should not have to carry around with us. It teaches how you can forgive and forget so that you can move forward with your life without dragging our past with us. This is something a lot of us have done for many years.

The Huna Principles apparently originate from the Hawaiian philosophy of life, although there is some scepticism about where Huna actually does originate from. However, I was still drawn to these principles as I think they are a simple, basic but beautiful way to live your life.

These 7 principles are similar to what we should all practice whatever our beliefs. The world would be much more peaceful and we would all live in harmony if we practiced treating others with respect, love and kindness.

I also like to have things around me that raise my positive spirit. I have particular items in my home such as candles, incense burners, dream-catchers, wind chimes, crystals and I even have some tarot cards. I bought these in 2010 and forgot I had them until recently when I found them in a cupboard. These cards have beautiful images on them and I find them uplifting.

I have found that taking care of my spiritual well-being has had a positive and uplifting affect. I like that I have the choice to “mix and match” my meditations, principles and mantras. In the eyes of some, it might not be as “consistent” or as “rigid” as believing solely in one thing, principle or a specific religion but I like to choose what works for me.

I am forever learning and forever growing. I like to spread my wings and soak up as much positive influence as possible. I like what I am learning about life, myself and others along the way. I am doing this to nurture my soul, my mind, body and spirit.

I am embracing the journey that I am on.

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*Some images courtesy of Google 

Article for Wear Your Voice – 5 Tips for Stopping Anxiety in its Tracks

I wrote this article for Wear Your Voice. The link to the article is below where you can also subscribe to their website –

http://wearyourvoicemag.com/identities/ableism/5-tips-stopping-anxiety-tracks

At the worst of my anxiety, I did not want to leave the house. I would have a panic attack and rush back indoors. This would therefore have a knock-on effect the next time I wanted to go out. Remembering what had happened previously, I would become fearful of what might happen again. I would become overwhelmed and consumed with several “what-if” imaginary situations.  By doing this, I was creating my own private bubble of anxiety, allowing myself to become trapped and a prisoner in a vicious circle of fear and worry.

Over the years I have tried various methods to help me overcome my anxiety. I found Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to be the most successful for me.

There are lots of tools I learned through CBT which are helpful when you start to feel worried, fearful and anxious.  I still practice and implement this method in my daily life now. When I recognize bad habits returning, I can bring the tools of CBT into practice.

Once you start to use what you have learned from CBT, you learn to recognize bad habits when they try to return. Keeping a mood diary can also help pinpoint anxiety triggers.

Here are five practices from CBT that have been very helpful for me:

 1. Ground yourself and break the cycle.

You can very quickly end up fixating on something that will trigger your anxiety and affect your mood. It can be nerves about an interview, worrying about something you did or becoming wound up over something someone said to you. You can prevent this by learning to break the cycle.

Do not allow yourself to sit there stewing on something. The more you allow yourself to focus on it, the more agitated you will become. Get up, leave the room, leave the house and take yourself to a new place, a new environment. Put some distance between yourself and those negative thoughts. Focus your thinking on something else.

If you allow yourself to fixate on what is guaranteed to alter your mood, then your whole demeanor and perspective will change. This can then trigger your anxiety or launch a panic attack.

Grounding yourself is another way to bring yourself back to the moment and stop your thoughts racing. One thing I do is to ground myself is to focus on my five senses. I visualize different scenarios where I can see, hear, taste, smell and touch. For example, I might imagine myself to be at a fair, in a park or at the beach and think of five things in these environments: seeing the green grass, hearing the birds tweeting, tasting an ice cream, smelling the ocean air and touching the sand with my fingers. I repeat this exercise, alternating the locations and what I can focus on with my senses. I find this is a helpful way to bring myself back to the present. It stops that “stinking thinking” and it helps to calm me. This is a good way to stop the negative fixation.

2. Take deep breaths.

An anxiety attack can be terrifying, and your body will react to how you are feeling. The more you feel like you are panicking, the more your blood will pump faster and your breathing will increase. This will make you feel as though you are having a bigger attack, making you even more fearful. This can be a scary vicious circle. Take some deep breaths. Deep breathing is a good way to lower your heart rate and pulse and help to calm you down. This will help to return your body back to its natural state and stop the feeling of panic.

3. One thing at a time.

At the height of my anxiety and panic attacks, I would freak out about how I would get home if I was out of the house. My home was my sanctuary and I needed to return there as quickly as possible.Rather than focus on the overwhelming bigger picture of desperately needing to be indoors, I would do things in more manageable steps. For example, split your journey into stages. Focus on getting to something or somewhere else before you reach your destination. Focus on getting to the shop, then the post-box and then reward yourself by sitting on the wall for a few moments. Breaking the journey down into smaller stages makes the end goal not seem as overwhelming.

4. Think positively.

I was amazed how much easier things became when I faced them head on with a positive attitude rather than a negative one. Thinking positively really does change your whole outlook and demeanor. If you allow negative thoughts into your life, you will be surrounded by a black cloud. Nothing looks bright if you are constantly focusing on the negative.

There is always something to be grateful for. A gratitude list is another good way of grounding yourself. The things you can be grateful for can be small or big! Bring yourself back to the present by making a list of things you are grateful for.

When I struggled with my anxiety, it would take all my strength to leave the house. If I was faced with an angry, negative and miserable person, my anxiety would be worse and my confidence was affected. But if I was faced with positive and friendly people, I found it was easier to venture out into the world.

As an anxiety sufferer, being around positive, happy and bubbly people can have a big effect on my overall mood. I now distance myself from negativity because it is not something I want or need to be around. It is unhealthy for me and I cannot sacrifice my happiness or health.

5. Say no.

I can be merrily walking down the road, happy and content, when I have a moment of panic. Did I send that email to the correct colleague? Did I turn the oven off? Have I locked the door? If you allow these controlling thoughts to engulf you, you can easily convince yourself you have done something wrong.

The more you allow these thoughts to consume you, the bigger fear becomes. Say no to it! As soon as that little niggle or irritation of anxiety enters your thoughts, tell it to go away. Shut the door on it. It is not welcome. Do not allow it to grow.

You have the overall control — it is incredible how, at times, we can be the creator of our own anxiety. We just don’t always realize it. While we have the power to allow anxiety to take control, we also have the power to stop it in its tracks.

Article for Wear Your voice – Rescue yourself from the Toxic Swamp

I wrote this article for Wear Your Voice. The link to the article is below where you can also subscribe to their website –

http://wearyourvoicemag.com/more/culture/rescue-toxic-swamp

In one of my darkest periods, some of my friends chose to cut me off. Looking back, I don’t blame them. Some might think they were selfish, when I look back, I agree with their choice.

At that particular time, you could say I was a toxic person. I wasn’t necessarily to blame for what I went through, but it wasn’t the fault of my friends and family. And yet I took my anger out on them.

I would expect people to drop everything so I could rehash the same story. If their advice wasn’t what I wanted to hear, I would become defensive and cut the conversation short. I didn’t care how they were doing. It was all about me — and not in a good way.

It took a long time for me to work my way through everything. It was something I had to do on my own. I had to make my own way, learn to figure out which paths to take. I had to stop burdening other people. I had to change a little bit of myself at a time. I had to stop being mad at the world and teach myself how to live with gratitude and positivity.

Related: 10 Ways to Rediscover (and Love) Yourself

I also had to realize that friendship could not be on my terms only. Although I used to be a toxic person, now I won’t tolerate those who are toxic and demand attention.

Over the years I have also experienced toxic working environments. I have learned that how I respond and react to these environments affects how toxic the situation can become.

These days, my anxiety antenna instantly goes up at the first sign of anything negative or stressful. I will nip it in the bud. I have learned how to protect myself from these situations.

Throughout life we continue to grow. We become better people. Our tolerance for bullshit is not as high as it once was. We shouldn’t have to put up with unnecessary drama. Anything toxic needs to go, including relationships and environments.

Here are some examples:

Toxic people.

How often do you drop everything for someone who doesn’t appreciate it? How often has this particular person let you down? How many times have you vowed that this will be their last chance? How often do they phone you at an unreasonable hour to thanklessly monopolize your time?

Yes, we can practice being kind and positive. We can be patient and understanding — but if a particular person causes you unnecessary stress and drama you have to let them go. We have to set boundaries and be realistic about what we want from a friendship and how long we are prepared to allow toxic people to monopolize our lives.

A relationship is like a bridge. If both parties are not giving equal amounts, the bridge won’t meet in the middle. If you are giving more than you are receiving, you need to take a step back to analyze the situation. We need to protect ourselves.

People can use us as a way to offload, rant and vent. Once they have passed their negativity onto us, we are left feeling drained and deflated. They then move onto the next person. They thrive on drama. They crave validation and justification for their choices. When they don’t receive it, they move on to someone who will give them what they crave. We cannot allow ourselves to be used like this. We need to set boundaries.

Toxic people will never apologize for monopolizing your time. If you tell them you’re too busy, they will sulk and give you a guilt trip. When the tables are turned and you need advice or want to get together, they will ignore you until they need something.

We need to stop enabling and encouraging. We need to stop telling them what they want to hear. We have to let them figure things out by themselves and not allow ourselves to be picked up and dropped when it suits them.

Unfortunately, some of the most toxic people around us are family members, but that doesn’t mean you have to live with their behavior. Do not feel guilt tripped into keeping them in your lives just because they are family.

Toxic environments, places and situations.

People sometimes become trapped in toxic work environments because they are afraid to take that leap of faith and look for another job. They cling, hoping that things will change or return to how they used to be.

I have worked in several places over the years where I allowed myself to become a shadow of the person I once was. I would cancel vacations to help if they were short-staffed. I would take phone calls late in the evening. I would bring my work home with me. My weekends would be spent worrying about Monday morning. These experiences left me mentally and emotionally drained. Environments like this are not healthy.

Personal battles between staff and line managers can harm the productivity of the business, causing tension and leaving everyone feeling like they have to walk on eggshells.

Toxic situations make for toxic people. One way of preventing yourself from becoming a toxic person is to learn to love yourself again. You have to learn to let go. If a situation or particular place is making you feel uncomfortable, leave.

Anything toxic isn’t just dysfunctional, it is very unhealthy. We cannot prosper. After all, you cannot put a flower in toxic waste and expect it to bloom.