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Browsing Tag

mental health

Finding Space to Think & Hear My Thoughts

I sit writing this blog perched on my bed with a cushion under my laptop & me sitting upright in a crossed-legged position in front of the cushion. Its 8:43 am and we have finished breakfast and baba is ready to have her morning playtime. Usually, it would be mama who plays with baba while dada goes to work. However, its Saturday and dada is home. I have decided to take 30-40 minutes of alone time in the bedroom to write. Just as I write the first 3 words of this blog I hear the excited breathing of my 9-month-old crawling towards the open bedroom door. A little scratch on the door to push it open and she appears with the biggest brightest smile. She found mama. It’s so hard to resist such a cutie, the love I feel for her is so strong it’s hard not to pick her up & go play with her. However, I have learned over the past 10 months that I must carve out a little time or space for me to think, read or write every day. This time however it failed as baba wanted her mama.

Our little girl is almost 10 months old; she is still very much attached to me. I am still nursing her and will continue until she is 12 months. Until then she will still be very attached to me. As a new mom, I have found the lack of personal time the hardest thing. The interrupted sleep I can deal with, it’s not having the opportunity to turn off or reset when I want to is the hardest. I run by baby schedule, which changes all the time & keeps me on my toes. The only thing I can do is accept this and know that I will get my quiet time back someday and to comprise a little until then.

Quiet time for me can be just 5 minutes being left alone. That can be 5 minutes in the bath, drinking my tea really slow, reading, sitting and doing nothing, staring into space & having the capacity to let thoughts pop up. These are the moments that I miss, however, I have been trying to intentionally fit small snippets into my day so I can breathe, take note of where I am, what I am doing, how I am feeling and basically being aware of that moment of time.

One thing that is guaranteed in my day is my daily walk. My walk is a ritual that I prefer to save for myself & my sleeping baba. I prefer to savour this time for me. I prefer not to meet people for a chat on my walk as I use it as a time to think, clear my head and just be aware of my mood, my body & my surroundings. It may seem unsocial & it is but I need it. Others may crave the opposite they need human connection & to chat to feel better, I’m not like that, quite the opposite, I like to be alone and think things through myself. It makes me come across as a little bit unsocial at times. To be clear I am a very social person but there is a time and a place for me. Being social with people I need to be in the right headspace, to get there I need space to decompress before meeting others.

Once evening comes and baba is in bed, I am wrecked physically & mentally. My ritual is to make a pot of camomile tea and have a treat. I savour this simple moment before moving forward with the evening. I like to sit in silence for at least 10minutes before chatting George. I usually have 2 hours in the evening before bed to unwind. My favourite ways to unwind are to read, play a board game or watch a funny tv show. For now, my evenings are spent inside as baba takes a while to really settle down to sleep, I’m the only person who can settle her right now.

Our baby is still very much dependent on me and because of that the freedom of doing what I want when I need it is not available. Lately, I have been dreaming about going to a yoga/mediation retreat in some warm place to rest & relax. Perhaps the reason for this is because I watched “Eat Pray Love” recently or its because I really need rest. I know this period of my baby’s development is short and she will sleep through the night and will need her father more in the very near future. For now, small snippets of peace & silence will do & I will try fit them in as many places as possible. Dreaming of future silent retreats in sunny destinations will also help. My aim moving forward is to keep my daily habits of walking by myself & meditating 15 minutes a day, to this I will add as many minutes as possible of quiet alone time to do nothing. Wish me Luck;-)

 

Thanks for reading,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa xxx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How important is the space you live in to your health & happiness?

We absolutely love our apartment. It’s our little haven from the outside world. To many it would not seem like much, it’s small, old, the floorboards creak, the bathroom is 1970’s pink, the kitchen is the size of a wardrobe & we can hear our neighbours’ conversations through the paper-thin walls. Lol!!

So how could we possibly love a place where there seem to be so many faults? Easy, we have made it our own, keep it tidy & have worked darn hard to get it. When we arrived in Vancouver 9 years ago, we had nothing, only the bags we brought on our backs. A true immigrant story. All the clothing we had was inappropriate for a Vancouver winter which was unusually cold that year, it took us between 8 weeks & 3 months to find work in our fields. We had very little money left by the time we got work. We lived on a shoestring budget for years. We quickly learned the value of our money & how hard we had to work to get the money we needed for rent, food, transport & life.

Going through the above experience was very difficult at times & extremely frustrating as we moved to Canada for a better standard of living than at home and we didn’t see it. Now 9 years later we are finally getting there. My Aunt Kathleen, who lives in California once told me that it takes 10 years at least to set established in a new country. At the time I thought she was mad but now I agree.

We went through career changes, we got married, we had a baby, we lost family members, we went back to school, we took on new courses…. all of these events affected us financially which meant we had to sacrifice in other areas. Where we saved money was rent on our home. We live in a one-bedroom apartment in Kitsilano, a seaside area in Vancouver, which has the feeling of a small town.

Location was an important factor when it came to deciding where we were going to live. We are 2 blocks from the most beautiful seaside with mountain views. We can walk to the beach every day for fresh air, this is what we wanted, nature & beauty on our doorstep.

We absolutely love the location of our home & truly believe it has a massive positive effect on our health. Last night was a restless night with the baby, a nice cold fresh walk down by the beach for an hour really helps with lack of sleep & puts everything in perspective very quickly.

Besides the location of our apartment, I believe the interior of the home can have a huge impact on your health & wellbeing. For us, a clean & tidy home is essential for clarity and relaxation. Recently we have sold furniture we simply didn’t need so we could create more space. We love our less cluttered apartment now. We also have cleared out everything we don’t need or want; we are surrounded by the things we love & need. There are no “junk” drawers or cupboards. Honestly having organised cupboards, wardrobes, closets, drawers & files is so rewarding. In addition, everything remains tidy because we have a place for everything & at the end of the day things are placed where they should be, nothing can get lost this way which avoids time spent looking for things!

We find our home to have a calming effect when we walk in the front door. We have decorated it to our taste & style which works for us. Knowing how hard we had to work to get our apartment & have the luxury to live where we do, its easy to focus on all the positives of our place and ignore the items listed in the first paragraph.

Nowhere will ever be perfect but by keeping your home clean & tidy and surrounding yourself with what you love will definitely have a positive effect on your mental health.

Take a look around each room and see what you love and don’t love. Take your time to remove/replace the unloved items to create space, we need space for creativity & a focused, calm mind.

Create your own little oasis which doesn’t have to cost much, maybe a good clean & purge is all you need to do……it worked for us;-) Oh and brilliant white walls did wonders for our small space. So bright & uplifting.

In Summary, the space where you live doesn’t have to be a mansion or penthouse suite, it can be a 1970’s one-bedroom apartment which you adore by having only what you need & love. Surrounding yourself with love, space & the essentials creates clarity, calmness and relaxation. Therefore, I truly believe your space has a massive effect on your mental health & happiness.

Wishing you all the best.

Chat soon,

Theresa xxx

A Daily Meditation Practice: Make It Work For You

From trial and error over many years I have come to realize the success of a daily meditation practice for me is to be realistic. We would all love to meditate for an hour in the morning and an hour before bed but for the majority of us that is not possible. How much time can you spare and can you find a similar time of the day to practice meditation? Making the effort to carve out time for meditation is the first step. The next step is sticking to your commitment of time & place for your meditation. This is where you need to create a habit so like brushing your teeth in the morning, you do not pass a day without meditation.

For me the best time of day for meditation is first thing in the morning. I have set my alarm 15 minutes earlier in the morning to get up to meditate. I wake up, go to the washroom, put on an extra layer, drink lemon water, take out my meditation cushion, press start on my meditation timer and sit in silence for 10 minutes (additional 1 minute warm up to get settled). So why on earth do I get up earlier to meditate and not savour that extra 15min of extra sleep? Am I crazy? Possibly! The answer is I’m not sure. I was so close to googling why meditation is good and writing a paragraph about that to fill this paragraph with but let me try and figure out why I choose to wake up earlier to mediate and why you should too?

Is sleeping not better for me than waking up earlier to sit in stillness? This is a fair question since the majority of the population suffer from sleep disorders and don’t get enough sleep at night. However, sleeping and meditation are completely different and both bring amazing benefits and both are super important. If you are a person who doesn’t get enough hours of sleep at night, I would say don’t set your alarm 15minutes earlier to wake up for meditation, sleep and let your body recover. Choose a different time of the day to meditate, simple. On your lunch break, go find a quiet bench to sit on, an empty office to sit in, the restrooms to hide out in…. honestly anywhere you can find that you feel safe & at ease in. Don’t feel you need to sit on a meditation cushion, in yoga pants at 4:45am to mediate, you don’t.

Personally I don’t have an issue with sleeping which I am very grateful for and we go to bed early in our home, around 9:30 pm. Therefore, I get enough sleep so I can wake up 15minutes earlier to meditate. This routine works for me but find one that works for you, one is not better than the other. It really doesn’t matter when, where and what you are wearing, just take 10minutes to focus the mind to meditate.

So, what is meditation? Again, the temptation to google is there but I will answer from a personal place. For me meditation is a very active practice. From the outside you may look like still with very little movement but on the inside the mind is extremely active. The practice is to bring that outward stillness into the mind. The mind or our thoughts have an innate tendency to wander, flow, distract and go nuts when you bring your body to sit in stillness. In truth your mind is always going but it becomes really apparent how crazy your thoughts are when you sit still and bring your attention to them. The aim of meditation for me is to become aware of my thoughts, notice where my thoughts lead and bring them back to a still point by focusing on my breath, the inhale & exhale through an open mouth a focal point to help focus & control the crazy spiralling of my thoughts.

Focusing solely on your breath for the first few breaths can be easy, however without even knowing it the mind wanders off to past or future thoughts and the breath is lost. The kind of exercises I like to do to help focus my mind is to focus my attention between my eyes to my inner eye, this really helps me for some reason, it’s like a pause button until I get distracted by my thoughts again and I need to repeat the process. Another one I like is to whisper silently in a kind way to myself that I am thinking and to bring my attention back to a focal point, sometimes I like that point to be my belly. A great way to help focus the mind and distract yourself from your thoughts is to count to 10 and repeat. You won’t believe how hard this is, I have found myself almost at 50 before noticing I wasn’t paying attention. When you notice you are not paying attention you start back at 0.

So why meditate? Meditation is getting a lot of media attention lately which is awesome, most of us know the benefits of it already. Even 1 minute of meditation is supposed to be beneficial to our mental health. Again, I will speak from a personal experience. Why I mediate is for the mental challenge it provides every morning. I know challenging to still my mind helps me cope with life after those ten minutes. It helps me think clearer, pause before I react (this doesn’t happen all the time but I notice an improvement), it helps me listen more as I am not afraid to sit in silence, it helps me in awkward silent situations and not feel awkward, it helps me sit in a restaurant by myself and just sit there without having to pull out my iPhone to distract me from the silence or loneliness, it helps me feel comfortable in my own skin, it helps me cope in times of stress, it helps me relax and ease into my day, it provides clarity and helps me be present in moments that I really want to be present in and fully aware.

There are many scientific reasons why meditation is great and I am sure I am benefiting from so much more but these are the reasons why I keep meditating every morning. I see an improvement in my life and how I look at life in general, I have learned to separate the unimportant from the important (can still mess up of course) and I truly believe it is those 10minutes every morning that help clear space in my head for what’s important, stillness, awareness, knowing who you are and being present in this life and taking control of your life to live the way you choose. All that from 10 minutes a day. Try it and see how it transforms you. It’s not all hype, find a time that works for you and just do it.

 

Thank so much,

 

Chat soon,

 

Theresa x