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5 Techniques for Inner Peace in Trying Times

Would you like to achieve inner peace? Are you exhausted by the guilt, pain, and resentment you have carried through life? Are you tired of responding impulsively, negatively or overreacting? If everyone was being honest, they would admit that negative moods influence them sometimes.

It doesn’t matter how sincere you are, these old habits die hard. They aren’t harmless bad habits; they are stealing your joy. It all throws us off-center and ultimately, it makes you unable to effectively cope with life.

You cannot find inner peace and tranquility when you don’t feel great. That means you need to look after every aspect of yourself, spirituality, physically, emotionally, mentally, and intellectually. Look after yourself and your body will respond in kind.

1. Meditate

Meditation is not new and it’s power cannot be underestimated. In fact, there are several Biblical references that suggest meditation be a part of your every day life. My suggestion is that you create a daily schedule that dedicates 10 to 15 minutes to meditation. I personally find it comforting to choose a scripture that speaks to my Spirit. During my meditation time, I repeat this scripture over and over allowing it to permeate my being while seeking revelation.

I also recommend learning to focus on your breathing as you meditate. When you focus on your breath, it allows you to push everything else out of your mind. With every inhale/exhale, push negativity from your mind and embrace the inner peace and tranquility. Meditation is a great solution when you’re feeling stressed out. It’s something that you can do anywhere and everywhere, but make sure you dedicate that time to meditate quietly at home.

2. Mindfulness

Mindfulness is not the same as meditation, though it’s possible to practice mindful meditation. When you’re mindful, you’re fully present. You become completely aware of your sense of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight.

You can practice mindfulness when you eat, when you listen to music, when you take a hike. It’s simply about engaging all of your senses to push everything else out of your mind. There is less time to worry when you’re focusing on the reality, you’re living in instead of thinking about what-ifs.

3. Deep Breathing

Deep breathing is an activity that promotes inner peace and tranquility, similarly to meditation and mindfulness. There are a wide variety of deep breathing exercises that you can use. However, there is one I prefer when it comes to promoting inner peace and tranquility. I imagine my breath as colors. I assign a color to positivity and one to negativity.

As I inhale, I see myself drawing in blue air, it’s all positivity. When I exhale, I imagine a rush of black air being expelled from my lungs, it’s all negativity. I inhale positivity and I exhale negativity. This simply adds an extra layer of stress relief to the deep breathing practice. The purpose of deep breathing to promote inner peace is that your mind is drawn to the process of breathing and it’s life-enhancing properties.

Take a deep breath in through your nose, focus on your diaphragm and lungs as you do and hold it for a few beats before you expel it from your mouth. Repeat this five times.

4. Be True To Yourself

How can being true to yourself be an activity? When you are in harmony with yourself you will behave how you think and feel.

The problem comes in when you see yourself as one thing but are perceived as something else. You can use a notebook to keep track of incongruence. This is something you can correct if you develop self-awareness and try to act in line with your values.

5. Gratitude

If you want to promote inner peace and tranquility, then you need to focus on all of the positivity in your life. A gratitude journal is an excellent way to remind yourself of everything you love in life. Once you start writing out what you’re grateful for, you will find it easier to see more positives. It’s all about training yourself to be more aware of the positive things in life.

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Where I Find Moments for Self Care During the Day

Living in the twenty-first century is a hectic, fast-paced, and stressful experience for many of us. Trying to juggle work, family, and social lives is a constant pressure with very little time for chilling out and relaxing. Finding time for self-care can be challenging, especially when as women, we have been taught to put everyone else’s needs before our own. Here are some I have found to look after myself, even when I am on the go:

Stretch

Stretching the body is so good for you and it only takes a minute. Stretching helps to maintain your body’s flexibility, can help release toxins from the body, and increase blood circulation. Try range-of-motion stretches such as shoulder shrugs, wrist and ankle rotations, and straightening and bending the knees. Do this for all your joints. You may find you are able to move with less stiffness and pain as a result. I do these simple stretch exercises while I sit in traffic, wait at the grocery store checkout and while I am on the phone.

Breathe

Whenever you feel stressed, take a few minutes to just breathe. Breathing is something you can focus on at any time. Contrary to what your mother might have told you, don’t “Take a deep breath.” Science tells us that breathing in increases the stress response while breathing out helps to relax us.

Try breathing in for two and out for four. Exhale all the way out and allow your body to breathe in when it is ready. Let the breath find its way into your lower belly. This is a relaxed way to breathe.

Relax

Practice relaxation regularly. This helps alleviate your stress levels, and when you are relaxed, your mind will slow down and you will not think such worrisome thoughts. You will feel peaceful and calm. Progressive muscle relaxation is a good way to start: I begin by clenching my toes for 7 seconds and then releasing.

I move to the next muscle group, i.e., my calf muscles, clench for 7 seconds and then release. Eventually, I work my way around my entire body. When you do this, notice how different you feel now compared to when you started the exercise.

Be Grateful

Research shows that people, who regularly practice gratitude experience greater life satisfaction, have increased levels of happiness and are less prone to depression. An attitude of gratitude can improve sleep and bring about a feeling of contentment, as opposed to a sense of emptiness, hopelessness, longing, and constant dissatisfaction encouraged by our materialistic society, which tells us, we can never, ever have enough. You can say your “thankyous” silently to yourself as you go throughout your day. Make sure you really feel a sense of gratitude.

Stay In The Moment

Mindfulness is a form of meditation, but you don’t need to subscribe to any religious or philosophical belief system in order to practice it and gain the benefits. Mindfulness is the art of staying in the present moment, without worrying about the future or obsessing over the past.

Some aids to helping you stay centered in the present moment include focusing on your breath, the experience and sensation of breathing gently in and out or using the five senses to keep you rooted in your present moment experience.

Final Thoughts

All of these tools can be incorporated into your busy day, whenever you have a moment or even as you go about your daily tasks. Take a 30-second break from your desk and do some stretches; remember at any time to breathe and to stay mindfully focused on the task at hand. Learn to feel grateful for all the riches in your life and you will become calmer and more relaxed.

When you are stuck in a situation you cannot change, try the muscle relaxing technique. With a little dedication, you will have created a self-care routine that doesn’t take time away from all your responsibilities, and you will feel so much happier for making the effort.

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How I Found “Me” Time

I, like most women, am pre-programmed to take care of everybody else before me. It’s hard in this day and age when we seem to be doing it all. We’re daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, professionals, and we feel the pressure every single day.

But we all know how we can be after a couple of nights (or months) of not getting adequate sleep, or how frustrated we get when we don’t get even 15 minutes a day to ourselves.

Taking time off to do something you enjoy as a means of taking the edge off and releasing the pent-up pressure of your daily responsibilities isn’t a luxury – it’s a must!

Studies show that when you don’t prioritize yourself and your needs for, at least, a few minutes each day, you become resentful of those taking up your time and space. Then you start taking it out on them by lashing out, being frustrated all the time as opposed to your usual calm and sweet self.

Taking a breather gives you the opportunity to relax and recharge so you come back with a better ability to carry out your commitments with more clarity and a sense of enjoyment. Learning to be “in the moment” is crucial to your own personal sense of happiness.

This is what those who practice meditation refer to as “practicing mindfulness.” It gives you the power to control your emotions and lower your stress levels. When stress levels are low, your perspective on things tends to be more balanced, and positive, you’re not angry as much, you’re more organized, in control and energetic.

“We’re a multitasking society. If we’re having a conversation with a friend, we’re thinking about the other things we have to get done,” says Allison Cohen, a marriage and family therapist in Los Angeles. “Instead, you need to be present in the moment…”

Often people ask me how I do so much. My response is I have learned to be in the moment. Whoever I am with, whatever I am doing, I concentrate on that and only that. No additional phone calls, no extracurricular activity, nothing. Just that encounter. It keeps things in perspective and creates clarity and strategic moves.

Here are a few tips to remind you how important it is to carve out some time for yourself.

You deserve it.

In order to lower stress levels, women need to stop feeling guilty about leaving the dishes unwashed, leaving the kids to play on their own for a few minutes, or leaving their work at work. So the first step is to consciously make the decision to free up some minutes during the day for you – everything (and everyone) else can wait.

“You have to build in battery recharge time,” says Margaret Moore, co-director of the Institute of Coaching at McLean Hospital/Harvard Medical School. “We’re very good at project management in our work lives, but not so well in our personal lives. Treat it like any project…”

Decide how you’d like to spend these precious minutes.

Some women exercise, others read a book; some do yoga, while there are those who just want a cup of coffee and some quiet. Whatever provides you with relaxation and a chance to free your thoughts and release some of the pressure, then that’s what you should do.

Remember, though, that you should treat this time as you would any other appointment and don’t get bullied by your sense of guilt into doing housework or running errands during your special time.

It takes practice, but you’ll quickly discover that you become a much calmer version of you when you make time for yourself, and who doesn’t want that!

Practice smart time management skills.

Whether it’s scanning emails, surfing the net or answering personal calls during your workday, then it’s time to put a stop to anything that wastes time and leads to nothing. Learning to organize your responsibilities should be your top priority, this will eliminate stress and free up time, which you can use for something more enjoyable.

You can even sit down during the weekend to organize your time, and write down everything that should be accomplished for that week. Sometimes, this means that there may be times when you have to say “no” to some obligation or other that you don’t want to participate in that doesn’t bring satisfaction or joy into your life.

On the plus side, if you’re facing a problem at work or at home, sometimes the best way to find an answer is to stop thinking about it altogether.

Channel your energy into doing something creative. Being creative could be what you need to grease those brainstorming wheels and regain your focus. It could also be the exact thing you need for better sleep.

Find the time.

Well, unfortunately, there are only so many hours in a day – you won’t ever be able to change that. However, what you can do is free up some time here and there to your own personal gain. Juggling your work or study schedule, traffic and everything in between can be freakishly difficult to handle.

However, all you need are some smart organizational skills, and you can be the one in control of your time and not the other way around.

  • If you drive, use this time to listen to music or the radio. You can even enjoy the quiet and your own thoughts.
  • If you can ditch your car and use public transportation, then you can use that time to do something you enjoy, like read a book or writing or even meditation.
  • If you can walk, all the better. This way, you’re doing some exercising; you can listen to music or an audiobook.
  • If you have an appointment, try to get there 15 minutes, or even more, early so you can have those minutes to yourself.
  • If you can, have lunch by yourself at least once a week. Go to the park to get a break from all noise pollution, or if you can’t, stay in your car or a quiet cafe or restaurant where you won’t find any distractions. Many associate being alone with loneliness, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. Being by yourself allows you to enjoy your own company. You get back in touch with your interests, likes and dislikes so you know exactly what makes you happy, and a stronger version of yourself.

“Solitary time can help you have a better understanding of yourself, your thoughts, and your emotions,” says Katherine L. Muller, PsyD, associate director at Center for Integrative Psychotherapy.

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Setting Boundaries

Healthy relationships at home and work are a priority for a healthy, well-balanced individual. One of the best ways to have a healthy relationship is by setting up boundaries. Personal boundaries are the emotional, mental, and physical limits we set up to protect ourselves, as well as assert our individualism while realizing the same in others.

Having a strong sense of self helps you identify with who you are and your likes and dislikes. Otherwise, you’ll just derive your sense of worth from others’ opinion of you. Those who haven’t set up strong personal boundaries suffer from fear of rejection, of being not good enough. And they usually attract those who disrespect and take advantage of them.

If you can’t seem to say ‘no’ to others, feel constantly overwhelmed and get sick more than you’d like to remember, chances are you’re not setting up boundaries very well.

Learning to trust your instincts and respecting your strengths, abilities, and individuality takes practice. It also takes strength to stand up for what you want. But it’s a crucial part of enjoying a positive self-image. When you learn to stand up for yourself, you feel a strong sense of empowerment and confidence.

For women especially, it’s particularly hard to set boundaries. People tend to lean towards pleasing others because we want others’ approval. But for women, it’s tenfold that sometimes so much, so that it turns into a major dilemma.

Women are famous for making lists, and their needs are usually pushed further and further down the list to make room for what others want, thinking that if she puts herself first, she’ll be seen as selfish and an unfit mom. In fact, it’s the complete opposite.

When the main caregiver of the household has energy, clarity of thought and is in good mental and physical health, then everyone will be happier and better cared for.

Being assertive requires patience and persistence. When you assert your personal boundaries, you’re sending a clear signal that you respect your space and expect others to do the same. And the best way to do that is to create your very own self-care plan as a way of enhancing your health, managing stress levels and boost your self-esteem. In the medical world, self-care is defined as the actions that one would carry out for optimal health.

There are roughly 3 main self-care categories:

  • Physical: the basic day-to-day activities of everyday living. Physical exercising and good sleep is also part of this category.
  • Emotional: managing stress, being able to unplug from the pressures of work and home, finding time to be alone for relaxation and recharging.
  • Spiritual: practicing mindfulness, volunteering, connecting with nature

When you take care of yourself, you refocus so you work smarter, not just harder without having anything to show for it. It also helps prevent you from burning out and diminishes the negative side-effects of stress.

Here are some ways to practice self-care while fearlessly drawing up your personal space:

  1. Make self-care a priority. Putting yourself first allows you to enjoy a more positive outlook on life, as well as more energy to get things done throughout the day for you and those around you. “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, coworker, or friend,” says psychologist and coach, Dana Gionta, Ph.D.
  2. Be direct. If you’ve scheduled an hour for yourself to read, knit or do nothing, then stick to it no matter what. If something comes up, make it wait until your time is up. Same goes with people. That’s why it’s important to clearly name and state what the limits are of your personal boundary.
  3. Keep a journal. Just writing down bullet points is cathartic. It’s a good way to deal with anxiety and stress.
  4. Practice self-awareness by acknowledging your feelings.
  5. Start small. Even as 3, 60-second breaks a day will do wonders for your health.
  6. Be patient. Self-care should be fun, enjoyable, and definitely relaxing, so if it turns into a chore, try something else.
  7. Send yourself reminders to take care of yourself on your smartphone. You can schedule texts to yourself even 2 years in advance. This way, you can never forget to take care of yourself no matter how hectic your life gets.
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Ladies: What’s Stopping You from Taking Care of Yourselves?

Women take care of everything and everyone usually falling asleep at night from sheer exhaustion. Shouldn’t that be enough? But it isn’t, because the most important person in that equation is being the one most marginalized.

Women are predisposed to be the caretakers of the family, no matter what role we’re playing; daughters, wives, mothers, friends. And it’s sucking the life out of us. Meanwhile, the men in our lives sometimes don’t get how much we sacrifice to make sure their lives are running smoothly

We have to take a step back and ask ourselves one fundamental question: “If we don’t start taking care of ourselves, who will?”

The answer is, no one!

Almost always, you’ll find women with too many commitments, being pulling in each and every way. These women know that they should start exercising, eating better and sleeping more. But they don’t’ know where to start.

And since they’re already overwhelmed with things to do and people to take care, they see taking care of themselves as just another “job”, so they just keep pushing it down the list.

But one of the things we don’t take into account when we neglect to take care of ourselves is that through this behavior, we’re setting the bar of how we want the people around us to treat us. You can’t expect them to put your needs first when you don’t do the same.

Here is how I started down the path to some much- needed self-care:

The first thing you need to do is to stop feeling guilty about taking time off for yourself. I know it’s easier said than done but it is necessary. I still struggle some days. However, I remind myself that it is essential for others as well because I cannot take care of them if I haven’t been taken care of.

The second thing you should do is to find the things that you like.

The third, and probably the most important, is to schedule in time for yourself just like you would any other appointment so you reduce the risk of forgetting or cancelling. This is an amazing tactic. It is intentional and it works.

The final step is putting the plan in motion. Writing all of this down on paper is great but if it’s not implemented it’s just words on paper. Don’t think of it as a selfish act, because when you’re happy and relaxed, you bring a sense of calm and contentment.

Here are a few things I have tried to do to take care of myself:

  • Take time to do something for you and only you – even if it’s just for 10 minutes each day.
  • Meet up with friends and family, or talk on the phone at least once a week.
  • Read something that inspires you – it can be a book or even a short quote.
  • Don’t be passive. Learn how to be the one in control of your life, not just react to things as they happen. This is a reflection of how emotionally stable you are.
  • Stop prioritizing others’ opinions over yours. Don’t allow anyone else’s expectations to dictate who you are and what your likes/dislikes are.
  • Make sure you look and dress in a way that boosts your confidence. You’d be surprised how this can improve your outlook. I know I was.
  • Have goals and work towards them. From the small, daily goals to the big, life-changing ones, having something to strive towards helps keep things in perspective.
  • Ask for help. This is still the most difficult for me because like many women I see myself as being able to do it all, with no outside help. But that’s not being realistic and it’s stressful. And you’ll quickly resent those you’re taking care of because the load is too heavy for you to carry on your own. No successful woman ever did everything by herself all the time – it’s just not possible. When you ask for help, it means you’re wise enough to know your limits and you love yourself and your family enough to know when it’s time to take a step back, reassess, rest then come back a happier, calmer version of yourself.
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4 Self Care Rituals I Practice Every Day

As women, we lead very busy lives. Juggling work and family leaves us with little time for ourselves. Traditionally we have been taught to put others before ourselves. However, if we are to care for others it is absolutely imperative that we care for ourselves first.

We must maintain our own health and well-being if we are to care adequately for those around us, not to mention maintain responsible positions at work. Here are four simple, self-care rituals that I have managed to work into my day, without having to take too much time away from my never-ending “To do” list.

Stretch In The Morning

A few minutes of gentle stretching when you get up in the morning can help increase your blood circulation, improve flexibility, and reduce pain in your muscles and joints. When done on a daily basis you may be surprised by the results.

Try stretching your muscles to incorporate their full range of motion: Shoulder shrugs, neck rolls, wrist and ankle circles, and forward/back movements, and so on. After a few weeks of daily routine, you will notice you are much more limber and can get dressed, tie your laces, reach, etc. with way more ease.

Meditate Morning And Night

Another easily incorporated daily ritual that I use to improve my sense of well-being is meditation. Meditation is known to help improve mood, deepen sleep, and develop a sense of inner peace and calm. It can reduce stress levels, decrease cortisol, and contribute to an increase in immunity and relaxation.

It can reduce high blood pressure and even aid concentration. I choose to meditate on positively affirming scriptures while listening to praise and worship music. But you can use whatever works for you.

With so many benefits for just a few minutes a day of your time, this is one self-care ritual you don’t want to miss out on. Try just 2 to 3 minutes per session at first and build up gradually over time.

Drink Eight Glasses Of Water Per Day

The jury is out on exactly how many glasses of water you should drink in a day, but if you aim for eight, you will avoid dehydration and keep your skin soft, smooth, and supple. My personal best is a gallon a day, but that’s when I am in full exercise mode. Drinking water can help you stave off hunger pangs; in fact, feeling hungry is a sign that you are in fact, dehydrated.

Next time your tummy tells you to eat, drink a glass of water first, and see how you feel. Chances are you won’t need to reach for the cookie jar! Staying hydrated keeps your kidneys working optimally and aids in healthy digestion and excretion of wastes.

Smile

I have often been accused of being “too” happy whatever that means. But the truth is, a smile doesn’t cost you anything and can change your entire outlook. Even if you don’t feel like it, science has discovered that if you turn up the corners of your mouth, into a smile shape, you actually start to feel happier! Smiling releases neurotransmitters called endorphins. Endorphins make you feel happier. The brain doesn’t know how to differentiate between a fake smile and a real one; it reads the positioning of the facial muscles and acts accordingly. How cool is that? Practice smiling at others and notice the responses you get. A simple smile can help you feel better, and make others feel better too. Everybody wins!

Final Thoughts

Even though you are a busy woman with many responsibilities, you simply have to learn to put yourself at the very top of your list of priorities. After all, if you don’t look after yourself, how will you be able to do all that you do?

By incorporating these few easy self-care rituals into your daily routine, you will feel a lot better and able to continue caring, working and living your life to the full.