Mindfulness for a Tough Day

Mindfulness for a Tough Day

I fell asleep one night last week feeling anxious, ashamed and annoyed with myself. These days, it's rare that I feed my negative thoughts and allow them to accelerate to this stage, but every now and again, it happens.

And I woke up the next morning feeling overwhelmed and stressed.

Once upon a time, this would have been a vicious cycle which perpetuated itself for an unpredictable amount of time. I could wake up the next day feeling more like myself and less weighed down by negative thoughts. Or, it could take a few weeks. Or months. I just waited and hoped that things would get better and that next time, I would manage my thoughts in a more constructive way.

When I started practicing mindfulness, I slowly came to realise that I had much more power than I knew. I could make choices. I couldn't necessarily control my thoughts, but I could control whether I believed them, or acted upon them. I began developing a self-care toolkit, which I could use whenever I wanted or needed.

In this article, I've shared several of my favourite mindful self-care tips. However, I also realised that I have a community of beautiful souls who I email each fortnight to share my journey with. Many of them have replied to my emails in the past with incredible insights, wonderful ideas and thoughtful comments, so last week I decided to ask them for their self-care tips, too! We are diverse people with our own self-care practices and I really wanted to celebrate it in this article. Therefore, not only have I shared my own tips, I've also included some amazing tips from my wonderful community!

A Mindful Self-Care Toolkit

One of the most effective self care tips I have been practicing lately is one I have learnt from the amazing Tara Brach meditations. After taking a couple of deep mindful breaths I close my eyes and imagine a hint of a smile at the corner of my eyes, then imagine my mouth relaxing into a smile, then carry the feeling toward my heart and imagine a smile and a soothing white light in the heart area. It only takes a minute or two but I usually find that I am actually smiling at the end because of the feeling of self care and tenderness that arises. Try it, and see what you think, anything that makes us smile more has to be a step in the right direction.
— Maureen O

(Check out Tara Brach meditations.)

I love spending time in cafes, so when I need a little bit of self-care, I head down to my favourite cafe and treat myself to breakfast or type up an article while I sip on delicious tea or coffee.

Sometimes just being around other people and being reminded that I'm not alone is good for my soul.

Noticing that I have the power to turn a situation around simply by being grateful is something I’m aiming to put into practice more often. Small steps lead to big change. You just have to start with noticing what’s going on inside your head.
— Sophie M

I can feel stress and overwhelm melting away when I spend time in the bath. I deliberately leave my phone out of the bathroom, choose a good book or inspiring magazine to read and sprinkle plenty of delicious smelling bath soak into the bath (I've been loving the Originale wellness soak from Soak Society!).

I am a big believer in the power of the pause. Being able to take a moment when feeling stressed to breathe, bring in some self-compassion and remind myself that I am doing the best that I can.
— Nina Mills

Sometimes, when we're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, we forget or choose not to listen to our needs. We might work without a lunch break, sacrifice sleep, ignore our health or push our body to do something which doesn't feel good (such as spending hours at the computer with a sore neck). Remember to listen to your needs and take care of yourself, especially during busy times! Not only is it important for your wellbeing, it can actually improve your productivity and increase the quality of what you're trying to do.

Something I have started to do recently is to be purposeful in my actions and looking at how I can use daily tasks for mindfulness and self-care; for example when I go for my morning walk with my gorgeous pup, I’m seeing it as not just a chore because “the dog needs to be walked”, but because it is good exercise for me, it is good bonding time for us, it is a nice way to start the day and clear my mind, I live in a beautiful town and it is nice to see it before the hustle and bustle of the day, and I could go on!
— Sarah H

Spending quality time with the people I love and sharing what's going on in my mind usually makes everything feel much better! Reaching out is sometimes hard to do, however it can be incredibly empowering and gives the people who care about us a chance to offer their support.

Reflect on lifelong comforts, and re-embrace the little things that you know make you happy.
— Laura Gaskin

A Mindful Self-Care Toolkit Checklist

  • Meditate

  • Go to a cafe (or somewhere you love!)

  • Practice gratitude

  • Take a bath

  • Pause and be kind to yourself

  • Take care of your needs

  • Be purposeful

  • Reach out

  • Do what makes you happy