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mindfulness

By Laura Lynch

It’s no big secret that we have all become phone, screen and social media addicts. It seems we are rarely present in the moment these days, as we always feel the need to capture all the big (and small) events in our lives, on our phones. Whether it’s at a concert, at the gym, on holiday, or even just at the dinner table… why is it so hard for us to put our phones away for a few hours?

This addiction to our phones and the online world was certainly something I had become accustomed to over the past five or so years, and it puzzled me, why was I so hooked to my phone?

What good was this constant scrolling, checking for notifications and need to keep up with the Kardashians' daily lives actually bringing to my life?  

After discovering a video online, about a girl who quit social media for one month, I decided to challenge myself and try to do the same. I deleted all social media apps from my phone (Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook).

The first week was WEIRD. I was finding myself feeling quite bored at little gaps throughout the day, such as on my commute.

While everyone else was staring at their phones, I had nothing to look at. I wondered if I might be missing out on some big celebrity news that may have come out online. I kept going to click into apps on my phone, even though they weren’t there anymore.  

The second week was NICE. I was already noticing lots of positive changes at this point, in myself and in my life and I found it was easier to continue the detox from this point on.

The first month came and passed and I never even for a second considered going back online at that point. I had come so far, I was enjoying the freedom and my new outlook too much to go back.

Five months later, I was still offline and living a completely new, happier life. I felt different, it was like a weight had been lifted and I was so motivated to share my story. I was finally beginning to understand the importance of self-care and started seeing everything in a new light.

Here are the important things I noticed during my Social Media Detox:

  • During the first two weeks of my social-media-free life, I noticed just how often I glanced down at my phone, without even thinking, and it was staggering.

  • I was sleeping much better and for longer – the less grumpy and less stressed version of me began to appear.

  • My anxiety reduced by 90 percent – this was by far the most significant change I noticed and loved about this whole experiment.  

  • JOMO – the joy of missing out has actually become a thing. It was lovely just doing my own thing and not knowing, or worrying about what everyone else was up to. When I wanted to hang out with my friends, I just messaged or called them, and this worked perfectly. I didn’t have a fear of missing out on anything (FOMO), which is something I worried I would experience, before the detox.

  • I just stopped caring about the crazy things we do for social media, like taking photos of our food whenever we go out to eat and sending it to everyone.

  • I didn’t feel any pressure to get that perfect Instagram photo or Snapchat story everywhere I went. I went to an outdoor concert and felt there was no pressure on me now to look perfect and get lots of amazing photos to post online. I felt I enjoyed the whole experience much more than I would have in the past.

  • I read books on my commute instead of staring aimlessly at influencers or celebrities, who I once compared myself to not realising how toxic these comparisons were.

  • I felt like there were more hours in the day and there was. I was amazed by how much more free time I had when I took social media out of my life.

  • I genuinely felt happier, more confident and less stressed out.

After my detox, I did return to the online world, but in a totally different way. I felt it was really important to share my story with others and encourage people to try this Social Media Detox Challenge for themselves and see the impact it could have on their lives. I decided to start writing my thoughts and ideas down. This led to me starting up my own blog on Mental Health & Wellness, called ondayslikethis.com.  

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I have returned to Instagram and Facebook but don’t have the apps on my phone anymore as I feel that constant scrolling throughout the day can be toxic for our mental health and body image. I have created a new Instagram page called ondayslikethisblog, where I share only motivating posts, news and information about my blog.

I have also only chosen to follow pages that uplift and inspire me and this most definitely makes a huge difference.

I never returned to Snapchat and still don’t miss it, which is crazy as this is the app I would have used the most before my detox.

With all the above said, I would encourage everyone to detox from social media for a few weeks. I promise you will definitely notice so many nice changes in your life.

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It has long been claimed that flowers have a therapeutic effect on those who surround themselves with them, but science had yet to truly back it up.

Research conducted by the American Society For Horticulture Science has recently revealed that fresh flowers can have the ability to ease feelings of anxiety, and even physical pain. 

The study evaluated whether or not plants have an influence on surgical patients, and we're pretty surprised by these results. 90 participants were split into rooms with plants or without, and those with foliage feelings have different outcomes.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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According to the research, those who were exposed to flowers had lower heart rates and blood pressure, decreased ratings of fatigue, anxiety and pain, and harboured more positive feelings and higher satisfaction about their rooms.

It's now suggested that flowers should be 'complementary medicine' for recovering patients. It's time to click your fingers and insist that a crowd of men throw a bouquet at you every few minutes…for health reasons.

Flowers are often the go-to gift for celebrating milestones, or for offering messages of hope or condolences. Good old science has just given us the opportunity to buy our own blooms, for self-care.

According to a study published in Complementary Therapies In Medicine, bouquets of flowers can reduce our stress levels.

The researchers gave college-age women a fresh vase of roses for their accommodation, and the subjects felt more relaxed than they did before. Whether it's psycho-somatic, or true therapy, it seems to work.

It seems like an easy breezy way to experience multiple health benefits while keeping your home aesthetically lush. Apparently, indoor plants and gardening come with health advantages similar to gym workouts.

We like this, we like this A LOT.

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We pity the girl who sits in the cafe on her own, nursing a cup of coffee with nobody but herself for company, but news flash- people enjoy spending time on their own and it’s time for us to break down the stigma surrounding it.

As kids, we were fooled into thinking our self-worth was measured based on how many friends we had. You were a nerd if you spent lunchtime by yourself. You were sneered at when you were picked last for the basketball team. You were viewed as ‘unpopular’ if you celebrated your 14th birthday with five friends.

It is time for society to stop looking down on the guy who goes to the cinema by himself and give up addressing people as ‘loners’.

An army of wonderful people have shared why they love being on their own to help me beat this ridiculous notion.

Anna Keat said: “For a 19-year-old, I'm an extremely avid knitter and given how I also have anxiety, time to myself plus something as rhythmic as knitting really gets my head back in check.”

“I moved abroad and only had a handful of friends when I first moved over so I started doing some things alone and I found it SO peaceful. Not having to rely on others is a blessing at times,” said Shauna Kiely.

“I always love spending time with myself. For a myriad of reasons (not too draining, don’t have to make conversation, won’t panic about the way I behaved later on) but mostly because I’m the only person who won’t let me down,” Grace Latter shared.

“I found myself living alone suddenly after a relationship breakdown and was terrified but I had the time of my life!  I learnt to be happy in my own company & as a result I know myself so well now. We should all be our own one true love!” Penny revealed.

Victoria Teasdale, professional stress consultant and coach explained why we need to accept the fact that some people simply prefer time alone.

“Humans are made up of our own unique genetic code. When you realise that there are approximately 3 billion base pairs in the genome and that each of us can house variations of them that are infinitely unique, it’s about time that the word ‘normal’ is dropped from the vocabulary used to describe people.”

She explained: “While there is a benefit for us to be social, oxytocin release, problem-solving etc, some of us simply aren’t designed to be social people.”

“As a society, we do not teach people how to define their individuality.  In fact, it's better for corporations if we all aspire to be the same, we're easier to market to that way.

“What you're doing by saying 'it's unhealthy not to socialise' is pinning everyone as the same, discounting the fact that there's a LOT of variation in people who don't fall into the 'abnormal enough to be labelled' category."

So, what can we do to make a positive change? “What is needed is a shift towards teaching people how to discover their unique identities, their strengths, struggles, quirks and needs.

"To allow them to express themselves however they see fit. And if that means sitting at home with a book on a Friday night… That's ok by me!”

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By Kate Brayden

If you have any knowledge at all about ‘alternative’ medicine, you have most likely heard whispers about crystal healing. Some refer to it as a pseudo-science, others call it life-saving. Either way, it can be an incredibly fascinating experience to try.

Before I had tested it out for myself, all I knew about the fad was that the crystals are used are normally minerals or fossilized resins, believed to have beneficial properties for both physical and spiritual wellbeing. The use of crystals as a form of medicine goes back centuries, though today this has mostly transitioned to modern or conventional forms of medicine. The practitioner of crystal healing places the crystals on different body parts based on their intuition of the client’s needs, and often corresponds to the seven chakras. Other types of practitioners place crystals around the body to construct energy grids, and surround the person with a type of healing energy.

When it comes to crystal healing and science, the topic becomes contentious. Scientific investigations have yet to validate claims that chakras or energy grids exist, and any scientific arguments for it have not been peer-reviewed; meaning they maintain unconfirmed. Other researchers argue that the crystals have the placebo effect, hence why it’s considered a pseudoscience when it comes to medical journals. Stuart McClean examined folk medicine in the past, and alleges that crystal healing contrast with other forms of alternative medicine because participants view the practice as "individuated", in other words; dependent on extreme personalisation and creative expression. Make of that what you will, but essentially it suggests that each of us can have completely different experiences when it comes to alternative medicine, dependent on our minds and spirits. If we refuse to accept it, then we can achieve no positive energy, for example. In the same way as physical, medical treatments in the modern field, not every drug or surgery will heal 100% of patients. When it comes to healing, we are all unique.

However, just because those in the medical and scientific communities who go on concrete facts alone cannot physically see the effects does not mean that the crystals don’t have any basis behind them. None of us can ever experience the physical emotions or feelings of another person, and just because the trend can’t be understood by all doesn’t mean there isn’t any validity to it. I decided to interview a crystal healer and attend a healing in order to greater comprehend the interesting practice, get a more rounded view of the type of clients who visit these practitioners and ask a healer about their experience.

One of the things which struck me when I was conducting background research into the matter was the feeling that some forms of alternative healing ‘take advantage’ of a patient, or vulnerable person, in a way. I’m assuming these people imagine tarot card readers who read a person’s pain and tell them exactly what they desire to hear in order to profit from them and their emotional needs. When I met Rebecca Singleton, I immediately knew that, at least with my chosen crystal healer, she was not using her profession to profit from the pain of others.

Rebecca Singleton
Image credit: Metta Healing

I felt a connection to her straight away, and she was both kind and empathetic, as well as noticeably calm in her demeanour. She refrained from pushing her practice or beliefs onto me, she never encouraged me to spend my hard-earned money on healing; I was there to gain a sense of relief and energy release in any way possible and she most definitely wanted to help me achieve this. Hearing about healers who are unqualified, or simply capitalising off the pain or vulnerability of others must be difficult for healers like Rebecca who aim to work with integrity; “You’ll see that a lot. Some people can be a bit pushy sometimes. I never try and be forceful, or say you have to do ten sessions or anything. I also say to them that there’s no need to come back if you don’t want to.”

I was drawn to a crystal healer for the dominant reason of my own personal experiences with the Irish healthcare system. After it took three years, three countries and thousands of Euro to find a diagnosis for my own physical pain, I felt massively disconnected from my own body. I went through rigorous physical therapy, testing, physical exams, surgeries, injections, hormones and multiple types of medication in order to find some sense of relief, most of which failed. Suffering immense pain in silence and having your voice stifled in every single GP clinic, every consultant’s office, every hospital waiting room can take it’s toll on a person. It’s easy for others to ridicule alternative healing when they haven’t been failed continuously by modern medicine. So what exactly do these other forms of feeling have which draws in hundreds of clients? I decided to experience it for myself to find answers.

Image credit: Metta Healing

According to Rebecca’s website Metta Healing, she studied numerous forms of energetic healing from; Reiki, Angelic, Seichem, Elemental, Crystals and Rahanni, using her experience to help clients individually. She ascertains that channelling energy flows brings the most dynamic healing experience possible; “It is for many a space and time just to be.” According to Rebecca, she works “intuitively” by channelling the high healing frequencies of crystals and angelic healing. It’s about peace, compassion and achieving a sense of balance.

During my healing session, I laid down on a table underneath a blanket, in a warm and dimly lit room with candles. It’s a relaxing space, with scents and an indescribable calm. One of the first questions I asked Rebecca was about cures, whether she is expected to totally cure a patient or if she ever claims to;  “I’d never claim to cure anybody of anything – never- but it would sort of speed up the healing process. If you broke your arm and the regular physical healing was two months, but you came for regular (crystal) healing, it might heal in one month. It helps your body work faster.” She works with “imbalances” in the body; alternating energy levels and the seven chakras. ”What I’d be doing is going to the root causes of pain. Let’s say you were holding emotional trauma, you’d be trying to release that. This would have a knock-on effect in terms of pain relief.”

I was intrigued by her background as a healer; how long she had practised the trade and her path from discovering crystal healing to the present day.

Image credit: Metta Healing

”I started training, doing healing, in 2006. 14 years ago, then I started practising full-time in 2009. As part of the healing training you do a bit of counselling. I was a practising yoga teacher as well. I have crystal healing, spiritual healing, angelic healing, naturopathy, homeopathy.” Fascinatingly, Rebecca’s background was in the corporate world after studying arts in college. “I found it really difficult. The company I worked for shut down and we were made redundant. I hard started doing the healing part-time. I worked in gaming, and got offered a job pretty much immediately from a big company. Everyone said I was mad when I turned it down, but I just thought that if I don’t do it now, I’d never do it. I could never go back to a 9-to-5 office situation. Even when I was on maternity leave, it’s hard coming back but I love my job, and there’s not many people who can say that. It’s traumatic, you see a lot of people who are experiencing trauma, which can be very humbling.”

How does she begin with a brand new client, who may be nervous or sceptical? “With clients, I’d sit down and try and get a background of where they’re coming from while having a chat. There are clients who just come to see what it’s like and don’t want to open up, it takes them a couple of sessions to really open up to me. “After chatting to them and doing a couple of healings with them, other stuff will come to the surface.”

The long-term healer ponders the reasons why sleep problems, fertility issues and stress are the most common notions plaguing some of her visitors. ”I have quite a few clients coming with fertility issues; it’s the stress of that. They come not necessarily for me to heal their fertility issues, but ultimately they end up getting pregnant, which is great. Of course, I’m not saying that’s just down to me, but it’s the relief of stress.” Healers can see an upsurge in business during unusual times in Irish life. “In the recession I was quite busy. I kind of thought that this was a luxury and people wouldn’t come to me, but people were stressed. People want different options nowadays; they’re getting disillusioned with modern medicine. With social media as well, people don’t get a break. There’s also disillusionment with the institution of the Church, and are seeking peace elsewhere.”

I was also curious about gender and healing, whether some are more open-minded than others about the trade; I have seen men, but most of my clients are women. I certainly have male clients though. Women are just more open to it, I think men are just a bit more cynical, and that’s fine. Usually you’ll find that if a man gets into it then they’re really into it.”

As far as the recommended length of time for visiting a healer goes, the process is intended to give you the tools to balance your own energy after seeing a professional; ”I’d usually recommend to a client to come four or five times, because the healing energy builds up over time. It might take four or five sessions every two weeks, and after that they may come every couple of months. It depends on the person, how open they are. Some people release loads of energy in the first healing, and others take three sessions to start releasing anything. It’s about trusting me and feeling comfortable, and it also depends on the issue. Some people have inner-child things going on, trauma, which can be difficult to be release. The release of it is stressful and upsetting, because it’s bringing it up again. Every day it’s a different scenario,” Rebecca muses.

Dealing with the emotional energy of another can be incredible exhausting, so the prospect of employment which features the release of a client’s burden arguably puts a strange sense of responsibility on a healer’s shoulders. “Quite often people get upset. I’d much prefer for someone to get upset and cry and release it than holding it in, because by crying you’ll release it. People often say they have no idea why they’re crying, they might have come here for something different and then they’ll end up crying. People often don’t know why they’re upset or why they’re stressed. They just think life is busy. I embrace people crying. You might find when somebody leaves, that they become emotional in the evening. I usually tell them that they might experience emotions that evening, but that they’ll feel better tomorrow.”

How does she explain her actions to new clients who are experiencing crystal healing for the first time?

“People aren’t always relaxed in the first session, they’re often wondering what exactly I’m doing. For crystal healing, crystals absorb negative energy. Let’s say there’s an imbalance in the body, or a disease in the body. If an organ was overstimulated or overactive, you’d use the crystals to sedate the organ. You’d use the organs to stimulate an underactive organ alternatively. With women who have fertility issues, I’d stimulate the reproductive organs and that area, release any heaviness or sadness that they may be carrying in this area. You might find with some women who have had a miscarriage, they are carrying huge sadness in the reproductive area, and can’t get pregnant because there’s a complete blockage in that area that I’d work on releasing. I try to make parts of the body work to their optimal levels, and you’d work with crystals and chakras. We have seven chakras in the body, they’re like energy centres. They spin with a certain amount of energy, they all should hold equal amounts of energy.”

What are the use of these mysterious crystals, and why are they unique to an individual’s needs?

”For millennia, they have used crystals in healing. In Ancient texts, they used crystals in ancient Chinese medicine. It’s transferred down over time in healing practices. People are naturally drawn to crystals. You can also use any crystal and programme it to your need. One client was going through a really bad break-up, and I gave her a big rose quartz to put beside her bed, and it actually shattered. They draw out any negative energy but they hold it as well, so you have to keep cleansing crystals. They’re like sponges. You can’t use those same crystals on other clients, you’d be putting negative energy on them. It’s so important to clear them. You can also programme crystals to do whatever you want, it sounds daft but you’ll find people get attached to them and put them in their foundations of the home or under their pillow. It’s very individual.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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I’m intrigued by her loved ones and their reaction to her trade; especially seeing as certain forms of alternative healing are ridiculed online or in the medical trade. It has garnered quite a strange reputation, which does not always match expectations. Many people envision Professor Trelawney from the Harry Potter franchise when they picture a crystal healer; armed with crystal balls, horoscopes and bohemian-styled attire. Rebecca doesn’t exactly fit this mould, she is simply a woman trying to explore unconventional ideas of peace, with the support of her family; ”My friends and family are so used to it. My own daughter is only eight months but I have four nieces and nephews and they love the crystals. They’d be asking can I do crystal healing on them, and they’d come in and play with the crystals. They’re just used to it. My own husband wouldn’t have ever had a healing before I met him, but he loves it now. He works in the corporate world and it’s very different. He begs me for healings even when I’m incredibly busy.”

Does she take offence when the media or those who work in conventional healthcare fields manipulate the idea of healing, or patronise her about modern medicine?

“My own GP is quite interested and says she wouldn’t mind coming to see me herself. My friend is a GP and she says I’m mad, so it’s all individual. Personally, I’ve had clients with really bad skin conditions, for example, and they’re just prescribed an antidepressant. That’s sort of upsetting for them, many clients are just prescribed medicines instead of holistic methods. Obviously there are times when you need modern medicine, without a doubt, but there’s a certain amount of misunderstanding with GPs. Look, they’re just looking at what’s wrong with you and then giving you a prescription, they’re not looking at the root cause. That’s what I’d be doing, trying to go to the source of the problem.” It can be argued that a large proportion of the healthcare industry only see you as the body part that you are complaining about. There is often a sense of coldness, of clinical apathy when it comes to doctors, in my own experience. A ground-breaking series of books released by Dr. John Ernest Sarno in the 1980s and 1990s changed the belief that pain was entirely physical. He consistently maintained that most non-traumatic instances of chronic pain (e.g. back pain, gastrointestinal disorders, headaches and fibromyalgia) are actually the human body manifesting of deep-seated psychological anxieties. His best-selling book, Healing Back Pain: The Mind-Body Connection, sold millions of copies and connected pain to emotions. Of course, pain is not psycho-somatic, but Sarno claimed many of his patients improved by learning and thinking about the psychosomatic connection to pain, and undergoing therapy. Our mind is extremely powerful; in my experience of pain flares, my chronic pain improved after seeing a pain counsellor, therapist and practising meditation and self-care.

Rebecca Singleton
Image credit: Metta Healing

Rebecca is skilled in multiple forms of healing, many of which are completely new to me. Soul healing immediately grasps my interest, as the idea of one’s spirit seems so inescapably difficult to understand. Rebecca has a relationship with the supernatural which appears simultaneously powerful and honest;

“Spiritual healing is a deeper level, you’d be focusing on childhood trauma, soul healing, even past life healing. I’ve often have clients who have past life coming up. It’s a bit out there, but yes I certainly believe an aspect of it. Oftentimes I would see and be aware of things during healing and I wouldn’t tell people. You know they’d be frightened or think I’m mad. There’d be people who are really open to it. My intention would never be to frighten anyone, but some people are more open than others. I’ve been practising nearly ten years full time and I definitely think people have become more open-minded and more disillusioned with modern medicine. Certainly, I’d often see things in a healing session or be aware of loved ones present in healing.”

While you can forgive the sceptics, there is something undoubtedly sincere about Rebecca and her beliefs. Whether it’s her energy, or a type of calmness and compassion which she transmits, I never had a doubt that she was intentionally misleading me with her answers. Whether or not healing is ‘the placebo effect’, or the power of the brain to connect to emotions and senses, is another story which one person alone cannot answer.

Image credit: Metta Healing

So what did Rebecca report after my 45 minutes of crystal healing? After almost an hour of quiet contemplation and meditation while she placed crystals all over my body, I was extremely curious to hear her prognosis.

“I used the amethyst to clear the third eye, first of all. Your third eye is your psychic, it’s connected to the sacral block between them. I placed a clear quartz to clear it. Funnily enough, your throat showed up. It was like a blockage of energy over the throat. It felt like, the throat shows up when you can’t communicate. I suspect it’s because people weren’t listening to you when you were saying you were in pain, and you couldn’t express it. It was being blocked. I used blue lace agate, which is good for communication. If you needed to do a presentation, blue crystals are great, they help you speak your truth. I placed rhodonite over the heart. There has never been a client I have treated who didn’t have heart stuff going on. I used a lot of rose quartz over the reproductive area. You poor thing, you’re red raw." This certainly fit with my diagnosis of having been born with far too many nerve endings in my cervix, causing intense pain in my stomach, abdomen, spine, pelvis and legs."

"Even when I was scanning the energy, all I could see was red. It was just really inflamed. I know you know this already, but even on a spiritual level, you poor thing. The crystal that I used was nearly channelling tubes of light into all your organs. It was like a blockage of energy. Whatever’s going on with your spine is causing secondary pain in the legs. You’re not grounded, so I did a good bit of grounding, I used carnelian, a dark red crystal. All seven chakras should be spinning and vibrating a similar amount of energy. Some of yours are spinning so fast, trying to keep everything going. That’s why you’re getting hot flushes, they’re just working so hard. You have a complete imbalance, so I rebalanced the area. You’d need more than one healing to sort out that area, but I would hope that you’d notice a difference, even for a couple of days."

"You get one healing, and usually lasts a few days, but it lasts longer the more healings you have.You are quite sensitive energetically, I’m sure you’re working with different people and we’re like sponges; we absorb negative energy and release it. If you’re around people who are zapping your energy, we can feel it sometimes. Shield your energy if you can. Focus on yourself, you’re great at giving out your energy but aren’t great at accepting it when others give it to you. Giving and receiving is a balance. By cooling the area down, it should give you pain relief. Every morning, visualise a blue light within your whole pained area. The power of the mind can do anything.”

For my experience, it’s about empathy. I was never believed by doctors who couldn’t physically see my pain, there wasn’t a hole with blood pouring out, there wasn’t a broken bone, signs showing on scans. If they couldn’t see it, especially from a young woman, they simply didn’t believe it. To enter a space where I was immediately relaxed, where I felt listened to and comforted, was massively valuable to me. For someone to look at my words and my emotions and spirit, and say, “You are in a great deal of pain” was monumental, it was a relief like no other.

Belief is also half of healing, and if a person attends crystal healing and truly has faith in their power, then what harm are they causing? There is no black and white when it comes to pain, whether it’s physical, emotional and spiritual.

Everyone is unique and finds peace through different methods. To only see a human body clinically, in my view, totally undermines your emotional and spiritual pain. 

Check out Rebecca Singleton's website Metta Healing if you are interested in exploring the world healing.

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Mindfulness is defined as ''a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.'' 

In this insanely busy world that we live in, life goes by fast.

Between social media meaning that we always have to be ''on'', the working day stretching into the evening, it's like we're in a permanent state of exhaustion.

So, it's more important than ever to take a few moments a day to gather your thoughts. 

To just be.

And that's where mindfulness comes in – so here are a few easy ways to grab a quiet moment and centre yourself before all the madness starts again. 

1. Essential Oils

Essential oils are amazing for a range of things. 

Not only do they smell delicious but they can help soothe the mind more than you think. 

So how do they help bring about a sense of instant calm when you're in a chaotic day?

Apply one to your wrists, temples, behind the ears and the soles of your feet. Enjoy the relaxing smell; breathe in and out slowly and deeply.

Notice your breathing and your posture. Be aware of your body and any thoughts just let them flow by you for a few minutes. 

2.Tea

Nothing beats a cuppa tea.

And now you can try a mindful tea-drinking ritual that will remind you to be conscious in the now.

Pour a cup of your choice and find a quiet place to sip it – and make sure to just sip it.

Taste each mouthful and close your eyes, challenging all your energy into you, sitting in the chair, enjoying how it tastes and smells.

Be aware of your sensations and if you have a thought, let it enter into and then pass through your mind without following it.

3. A Bath 

A bath is a pace of privacy, serenity, and relaxation – what better place to practice mindfulness?

make sure that you won't be interrupted, before filling the bath with bubble bath or salts.

Again, let go of all other thoughts and try to focus on the sensations you feel in your body – the warmth of the water on your skin, the bath against your back.

You won't want to get back to the real world – but when you do, you will feel reinvigorated and full of energy. 

4. Yoga

Some people adore yoga while others think it isn't for them.

To get a few moments of peaceful mindfulness, it is an ideal thing to try.

When sat on a mat, forget about wanting to be more flexible or losing weight and just take a deep breath in and out. 

Focus on every part of your body while you are doing each pose – empty your mind of anything but how your body is positioned and how the feelings in each muscle.

5. Breathe

Try this one technique known as The Stimulating Breath – it raises energy and increases alertness.

Inhale and exhale quickly through your nose, keeping your mouth closed. Your breaths in and out should as short as possible. 

Try three in-and-out breath cycles per second – this produces a quick movement of the diaphragm.

Breathe normally after each cycle and don't do for more than 15 seconds on your first try. 

6. Eat Lunch

It might sound stupid, but taking time to zone in on what you're actually doing can shift your whole mindset. 

With a small portion, take a minute or two to appreciate the healthy food on your plate. 

Then, while taking small bites, bring all of your sense to the meal.

Chew thoroughly and try to identify all of the flavours and seasonings. 

Eat your food slowly and you might find that you're enjoying the meal a lot more than you normally would…because you're present in the moment.  

7. Walk 

A breath of fresh air is always good for the mind – but you can actually go for a 10-15-minute stroll and practice mindfulness the whole way through. 

When you're out,  pay attention to each step you take – to the lifting and falling of your foot.

Notice movement in your legs, how your arms swing, how your back feels. 

We know our mind wanders, so try to bring it back to the present moment when it does. 

Shift your attention to the sounds around you – a bird crowing, someone mowing their grass.

Also, tune into the smells as you walk – flowers blooming, etc.

As you finish your stroll, bring your mind back to your body and the sensations in each part.  

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Meditation has been long regarded as an excellent way to clear one’s mind and help centre and focus the brain for specific purposes. For some, it means improving their overall mental health or outlook on life.

Many doctors even recommend meditation for helping reduce various symptoms or also promote healing from specific ailments and diseases.

If you happened on this article looking for information about meditation and how it relates to education, you are in the right place. You might also want to take things a step further by collaborating with service like essay help to maximise your grade on the paper.

Every effort you make to excel in academics will help boost or maintain your GPA.

Meditation Increases Self-Discipline

Students, in particular, can gain much from learning how to meditate. Meditation is a discipline and, like any other, it takes time to develop the ability to do it well.

The upside is that it is one of the most powerful avenues of self-discipline there is and it can help in all areas of academics, particularly study, and test-taking.

Let’s have a look at a few of the ways it can assist students to perform better on the test.

Meditation Improves Focus

The act of clearing one’s mind and controlling incoming or outgoing thoughts, regardless, of external stimuli, can help with exams in some ways. Most notably, it teaches the brain how to block out unwanted stimuli.

This is an integral part of staying focused while studying as well as keeping one’s mind on the task of taking an exam.

Students who meditate are less likely to let their minds wander during tests or study sessions. They don’t worry about other classes, work responsibilities, or relationship woes in the middle of study sessions.

Those extraneous details don’t interfere when it is time to take the exam either.

Meditation Reduces Stress

Being able to relax body and mind at will also gives the mind a chance to regroup and prioritise emotional stimuli. Learning how to meditate makes the brain more efficient at managing negative emotions like anger, fear, worry, nervousness, and more.

These things don’t just go away, but they become more compartmentalised. This also makes it easier to deal with the stresses of studying for and taking exams.

Meditation Helps Students Retain More When Studying

Students who meditate tend to remember more of the fine details when studying for tests. Having a deeper understanding of a subject than average puts students in the position to perform better on tests and even turn in more detailed written assignments.

Ask the students on campus who tutor or provide homework help what their secret is for retaining so much great information and it is very likely that more than a few will cite meditation as one of their most significant strategies for learning.

Meditation Builds Confidence

Meditating is not easy. It can take years to develop the skill to do it for more than just a few minutes at a time. Students who strive to get better at it also feel more motivated to excel in other areas, particularly academics.

As they surpass milestones in meditation, they also develop confidence in their abilities to reach difficult milestones in education, like performing well on exams under challenging classes.

Learning how to meditate and getting good at quieting your mind will help in many areas of life, particularly in academics. The more you do it, the more you will see its applications in other areas as well.

Job performance, relationships, and increased mental clarity are just a few of the many benefits of committing to meditation as a discipline.

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Our generation often gets branded as lazy and entitled, but this couldn't be further from the truth.

Most of us are constantly working, thanks to the Internet.

Being able to be online or connected to your email means that we rarely just work our 9-5 job.

Often our work spills over into our weekends and evenings.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jamie White (@jamiewhite) on

Now research from VHI has shown that nearly 80 percent of employees believe that mental health issues are of increasing concern.

Additionally, 67 percent of those surveyed said they need to take more care of their mental health.

Even though workers are drawing these conclusions, they're still hesitant to reach out for help. 

A staggering 61 percent have never sought help and half of the people surveyed actually believe that they must hide the stress they feel at work if they are to maintain their career prospects.

Furthermore, 41 percent said they would even hide their mental health from a friend.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Jamie White (@jamiewhite) on

Researches said the report represents worrying levels of unhappiness, dissatisfaction and stress amongst a significant proportion of the working population.

In particular, those under 34 and people working in the tech industries characterise their levels of stress as problematic rather than as part of the normal cut and thrust of life.

Attempting to tackle this problem by giving young professionals the tools to maintain their mental and physical health is Jamie White alongside The Happy Pear.

On January 5 in Dublin Castle, the duo along with Alison Canavan, an award-winning author and wellness coach, and Fiona Brennan will be offering their expert advice.

The Fresh Resolutions Conference will be covering topics such as nutrition and training, wellness and mental health, goal setting and personal motivation, budgeting and financial planning.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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If this sounds like something that would float your boat, you can get tickets here

If you're struggling with your mental health, help is only a click away.

You can find helplines and support services here.

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Whether it’s going for walks, coffee breaks with friends or a weekly yoga class, we all know how necessary that glorious ‘me time’ can be. 

Taking some time out of your busy day to focus on yourself is hugely beneficial for your body and mind, and it's not as difficult or time-consuming as you might think.

Mindfulness is the practise of simply being aware of your emotions and accepting them for what they are. 

The technique is best described with the acronym RAIN

R – Recognise the emotions you’re feeling

A – Accept the experience you’re having

I – Investigate your experience. Where are the emotions in your body?

N – Non-identification – remember that the emotions you are experiencing are only temporary and do not define you.

Benjamin Reisterer, a therapist at Mindful Counselling GR, described the practice:

"It's really about just slowing down and paying attention in a non-judgmental way."

"Take a deep breath and really understand what's upsetting you in that moment you can communicate on more of a mindful level and a more authentic and respectful level."

He added, "The more that you slow down and kind of pay attention to it the more you'll understand what's going on and how it's affecting you.’’

Benjamin also created, MetaFi, a mindfulness app, designed to help strengthen the user's emotional connection between their mind and body. 

He likened mindfulness to physical exercise. The more you do it, the stronger you get.

"The more you do it, the more results that you have. But if we're really paying attention to the physiological responses, sometimes that's our first clue to what we're actually experiencing in that moment."

By simply taking the time to become aware of our emotions and letting them exist as they are, we can regain some control and over time develop a healthier, more positive outlook on life, 

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With winter quickly approaching, most families dread the onset of seasonal ills. From contracting the common cold to coming down with a serious case of the flu, there is nothing as frustrating as a blocked nose and a sore, scratchy throat when you’re trying to sleep during a long cold night.

Why does the air become so dry in the winter? When the cold winter weather sets in, we tend to crank up our heating system which causes overly dry indoor air. While your heater increases the temperature in your home, there is no moisture added to the air. As a result, the relative humidity drops considerably.

If you haven’t thought about the benefits of using a humidifier, here are five reasons why you should consider humidifying your household when the cold winter weather sets in.

 

1. Reduction in the Spread of Viruses

Unlike those old wives’ tales, there is research behind why you should keep your air moist. There was a time when doctors would suggest leaving windows open for those suffering from colds and flu. Although they didn’t have the science yet to prove it, we now know that influenza viruses hate moist air and are less likely to spread throughout the household if you use a humidifier. No, you don’t need to open a window to let the snow in, get a humidifier!

2. Relief from Sinusitis

While you may not come down with a cold or flu—sore, dry noses are prevalent in winter months. Most households are heated with dry heat and, as a result, many people suffer from what is called sinusitis. It’s simply an inflammation of the sinuses, but you can find a great deal of relief from a humidifier.

3. Hydrates Dry Skin

The same dry heat that causes an inflammation of the sinuses can create havoc on your skin. If you find that you suffer from dry skin, humidifying your household can bring you relief. Some people have reported that they can even cut back on the amount of moisturizer they apply during the winter because the moist air in their homes helps to protect their skin.

4. A Better Night’s Rest

As silly as this might sound, humidifiers can offer the benefit of improved sleep, especially if your partner is known for those loud snores that keep you from drifting off. Considering that humidifiers keep the air moist and moisture keeps the nasal passages clear, a humidifier just might offer the relief you are looking for.

5. Promotes Faster Healing

A humidifier can help reduce the symptoms of a common cold, influenza or even allergies.A humidifier keeps your nasal passages clear which helps speed up the healing process if you’re feeling under the weather. For people with bad allergies, there are even humidifiers which can help purify the air.

When all is said and done, keeping the home humidified in the winter months can truly be beneficial to your health. However, if you don't want to spend the money on a humidifier and would like to use natural solutions to combat dry air this winter, try these alternative ways to increase humidity at home.

Keep in mind, if you’re struggling to fight the dry air in your home, it is vital not to overuse your heating system, especially when a simple jumper may suffice. It will obviously take intervention on your part, but these are five very important reasons to use a humidifier during those long, cold winter months.

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We'll be honest, we don't tend to spend too much of our day debating the merits of a morning shower over a night time one, but that's because we'd rather leave it to the experts.

And according to those in the know, there are actually advantages to both routines.

With a background in the study of sleep disorders, Nancy Rothstein advocates for a night time shower, telling Glamour: "A night time shower is an integral part of your 'preparing for bed' routine."

"It's time for you – no phone, no emails, just the luxury of fresh, warm water flowing over your body. Call it an opportunity to shower yourself with mindfulness!"

However, the focus on mindfulness isn't exclusive to a night time shower, with Dr Mona Gohara, associate clinical professor of dermatology at the Yale School of Medicine, keen to remind the public that a morning shower is the perfect opportunity to practice mindfulness before a busy day.

"This mindfulness can decrease inflammation in the skin by keeping levels of a hormone called cortisol [which is released when you're stressed] capped."

And the morning merits don't stop there.

Research concludes that the best time to shave is at the start of the day as our body has a surge of platelets, which are involved in the clotting of our blood, so if you do cut yourself, your body will heal faster before breakfast than after dinner.

Anyone else just plan it around mandatory socialising?!

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The United Kingdom is currently facing a mental health crisis, one of which the country has never seen before. Two committees of MPs recently warned that the current support available on the NHS is inadequate and runs the risk of failing a generation who desperately need help.

The average Brit works 43.6 hours a week, with more than four million workers spending more than 48 hours a week in the workplace. British workers also face an average commute to work of 54 minutes, almost 20 minutes more than the EU average.

This means that Brits are struggling to find a work life balance, which some experts believe is fuelling the mental health crisis in the UK and increasing levels of obesity as workers have less time to live a healthy lifestyle.

Did you know? In France there is a law allowing workers the ‘right to disconnect. Employees in an organisation of more than 50 people are forbidden from sending or receiving work emails outside of their standard working hours.

Why is a work-life balance important?

If you are one of the workers that is dedicating nearly 60 hours a week to work, you are at serious risk of burn out. Living in a bubble of all work no play can lead to a disconnect with the world around you and cause you to ignore your mental and physical health.

Although there are no direct figures for work-related suicides in the UK, suicide rates have risen markedly among young people in recent years. Reports suggest that certain occupational groups such as doctors, nurses and farmers are deemed to be at high risk of work related suicide – due to job pressure and the isolated nature of their work.

That might be hardly surprising when you consider that in these professions 60+ hour weeks are the norm. So finding ways to unwind and relax in your spare time are vital to your physical and mental wellbeing.

But what are the best ways to relax outside of work?

1. Go to the gym

Finding the time to go to the gym is often difficult for those in busy occupations, but it can be done. The vast majority of gyms offer guided classes in the evenings and at weekends to appeal to those with a busy lifestyle.

The benefits of going to the gym are tremendous. Firstly, your physical health will improve dramatically as a result of increased physical exertion. Secondly, attending classes or regularly visiting the same gym can broaden your social circles, opening your horizons to future social activities.

Most importantly, exercise has been proven by scientists to improve mental wellbeing. The NHS recommends regular exercise as a way of combatting mild depression and warding of the sceptre of anxiety.

2. Practise mindfulness

Mindfulness is a mind-body based approach that helps people to process their thoughts rationally and reconnect with the world around them.

If this sounds like a new-age, hippy technique then simply think of it as unwinding. It’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of becoming too involved with the day-to-day processes of going to work, eating, sleeping and avoiding your emotions. Mindfulness can take as little as 10 minutes a day and allows you to unwind, evaluate your emotional state and relax.

Did you know? Mindfulness has been proven to decrease depression by 63%, anxiety by 58% and perceived stress by 40%.

3. Play poker

Playing games with people – such as poker – requires social interaction on some level, and it’s a popular way to meet people and socialise with existing friends.

What makes poker so popular is the relative ease you can play the game. The strategy involved in poker can improve your mental agility and provide a distraction to take your mind firmly away from work.

But if you don’t fancy going to a casino, or you don’t live near one, don’t worry. Gamblers are increasingly going online to play their favourite games. Playing online is so much more convenient than having to find your local land-based casino – as you can play from the comfort of your own home, or if you’re on the move.

What’s more, online casino technology has evolved so much that the games feel as immersive and engaging as they would do in a real casino experience. One option out there for online gamblers is video poker. With its cool retro style and simple gameplay, video poker is an entertaining way to unwind – and it gives you a great opportunity to get your game up before playing against other competitors for real.

Check out this video poker game and you’ll put yourself in the frame for all these benefits, plus one more: winning a huge jackpot.

4. Ditch the phone

Mobile phones have revolutionised the world and given people almost everything they’ve ever wanted at the tips of their fingers. Yet overuse of mobile phones and tablets has been proven to negatively impact on people’s mental wellbeing and social lives.

Putting your phone down for an hour a day and interacting with those around you can have huge benefits to your life. You will develop more meaningful relationships with the people around you and avoid the social isolation that social media can cause.

Added to this, time spent away from social media can be beneficial to your mental outlook. Scrolling through Instagram and Facebook can be chastening as you are constantly confronted with images of people’s successes.

It’s easy to forget that you are only seeing a glimpse of someone’s life, the best bits, and unfairly judge yourself against other people. Take time away from social media and viewing other peoples amazing lives, and instead make memories of your own.

Did you know? Teens in the US using their phones for more than five hours a day were 70% more likely to have suicidal thoughts than those using their phones for one hour a day.

5. Join a social group

Regardless of who you are, you will have your own interests and hobbies, and it’s important to continue those hobbies, preferably with other people. If reading is your number one relaxation technique, then you can join a weekly book club and use your passion to expand your social circle.

Likewise, if you’re a sports fan there are a plethora of amateur sports clubs that you can join to expand your social circles, as well as improving your physical well-being.

Summary

A work life balance is important to your mental and physical well-being, and it’s too easy to neglect that fact in modern life. Taking steps to improve your mental wellbeing, physical health and social life are all important factors in having a healthy life.

Take the time to look at your life objectively. Imagine you were talking to a friend and giving them some advice, what would you say to them? Slow down, take a break, do more of the things you enjoy? Whatever it is you would say, apply that advice to yourself.

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She may not have won Love Island, but Megan Barton-Hanson has truly won over the hearts of the public with her honesty about her past.

Taking to Instagram, Megan opened up about just how quickly her life has changed in the space of a year. She bravely shared her mental health struggles in the touching Instagram post: “How times have changed! This time last year I was in really a bad space. My anxiety was at an all-time high and looking back now I can see I was actually depressed.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Barton-Hanson (@meganbartonhanson_) on

Megan admitted she felt like her life was going nowhere. Her dreams felt like they were out of reach, but fast forward to 365 days later and her life has completely changed for the better.

She gushed about attending the TV Choice awards in a dress designed especially for her by Julien MacDonald.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Barton-Hanson (@meganbartonhanson_) on

She encouraged her followers to keep going no matter how hard life is for them: “I can’t quite believe that so much can change so quickly. If you’re feeling shitty today just know that everything can change.”

Megan’s honesty about her mental health issues will reassure her followers by showing them that things do get better, even when you feel like they won’t.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Barton-Hanson (@meganbartonhanson_) on

"Just because you aren’t where you want to be it doesn’t mean you aren’t going to get there,” she wrote.

Megan stressed the importance of believing in yourself. “Stop being afraid of aiming high, stay focused on goals and most importantly try to enjoy the journey of getting there.”

“Sending you all love and huge thanks to everyone believing in me and helping me get to where I want to be.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Megan Barton-Hanson (@meganbartonhanson_) on

Megan praised her boyfriend Wes who has been there for her since they left Love Island: “I love and appreciate you more than you know. Have a great day everyone. Dream big!” she added.

Megan’s positivity is simply infectious. Her upbeat and encouraging words have really lifted our spirits this morning.

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