#CalmTip: Mindfulness Meditation

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, renowned mindfulness meditation instructor, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.” It can be practiced anywhere, any time, and you can even do it while you’re walking, eating, or cleaning.

To practice mindfulness meditation while sitting is simple:

  1. Focus on your breath, the inhalations and exhalations.
  2. When thoughts come to you, don’t try to force them out; instead, observe them in a friendly, nonjudgmental manner.
  3. Then, return your focus back to your breath.

Benefits of mindfulness/mindfulness meditation include inducing the relaxation response, reducing anxiety, and encouraging positive thought patterns and attitudes.

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

#CalmTip: Declutter

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

According to zenhabits.net, here are some of the benefits of decluttering:

  • Less stressful. Clutter can be a lot of visual distraction and mental stress.
  • More efficient. Since there aren’t as many distractions, you’ll probably be able to focus better.
  • More peaceful. Your home will likely be more serene if it’s uncluttered.
  • Saves you time. If your home is cluttered, you’ll have to look for things, move things, store things, and take things out of storage. While decluttering takes time in the beginning, it’ll likely save you more time in the long run.

Since January is Get Organized Month, choose one of the strategies below and give it a try. If you find one too difficult, try another:

Start clearing a starting zone. Clear one area, which will be your no-clutter zone. Whether you start with the counter, your kitchen table, or the three-foot perimeter around your couch, make a rule: Nothing can be placed there that’s not actually in use. Everything has to be put away. Once you have that clutter-free zone, keep it that way. And each day, slowly expand your no-clutter zone until it envelopes your entire house.

Schedule a decluttering weekend. You might not feel like doing a huge decluttering session at the moment, but if you schedule it for later this month, you can clear your schedule to make it happen. And if you have a family, get them involved. Have boxes and trash bags on hand, and plan a trip to a charity for items you’re donating. Although you may not declutter your entire house in one weekend, you’ll probably make a lot of progress.

Get more tips here.

“Organization isn’t about perfection, it’s about efficiency, reducing stress & clutter, saving time & money & improving your overall quality of life.” – Christina Scalise

 

 

#CalmTip: Decide What YOU Want

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

 

It’s almost 2016, so now is the perfect time to figure out (then write down) what you want to see happen next year. But when you do, make sure it’s what YOU want.

At times, we tend to want or do something because it’s what someone else wants for us. Pursuing a life our parents or society thinks we should have can leave us feeling frustrated and anxious because we know it’s not what we truly desire. Decide what you want for yourself so you can be fulfilled and live a life you love.

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.” – Steve Jobs

#CalmTip: Let Go

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

We’re almost at the end of another month and another year, so this is a great time to let go of those things that no longer serve you. When we hold on to those things, we allow them to shape our actions and can even create serious health issues by us holding on to that stress. So whether it’s a person, a relationship, a situation, a belief, or a thought, if it’s not bringing any good to your life, let it go.

Here are a few tips for letting go from tinybuddha.com (read all of them here):

  • Change your perception.
  • Cry.
  • Use meditation or yoga to bring you into the present moment.
  • Focus all your energy on what you can control.
  • Replace your thoughts.

“If you let go a little, you will have a little peace. If you let go a lot, you will have a lot of peace.” – Ajahn Chah

 

#CalmTip: Ask for Help

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

As Black women, it can be difficult for us to ask for help. It’s been ingrained in most of us to be the “strong Black woman,” meaning we’re supposed to handle whatever life throws our way on our own; we’re not supposed to show signs of weakness, vulnerability, or needing help.

After I had Nailah, it was hard for me to ask for help even though I knew I needed it (and sometimes, admittedly, it still is. And I didn’t want to ask for a number of reasons: I felt like since I was her mother, I needed to be responsible enough to handle everything; if I admitted that I needed help, it would be a sign of weakness; and I felt guilty for needing help because I worked from home, so how hard could it be to do everything (and do it well?) /sarcasm. I finally realized we all need assistance sometimes, and it’s okay to acknowledge that. Needing help simply means we’re human  (welcome — there are, like, 7 billion of us). It’s important to remember that we can’t do everything on our own. So, don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need; you totally deserve it.

“Asking for help does not mean that we are weak or incompetent. It usually indicates an advanced level of honesty and intelligence.” – Anne Wilson Schaef

#CalmTip: Practice Self-Care Daily

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Since I’ve become a mama, I’ve realized that when I make an effort to take care of myself, I’m much more at peace and am better able to handle the curve balls throughout the day. Fortunately, you don’t need a lot of time to practice self-care every day. Even 10-15 minutes is beneficial . Here are a few ideas to try:

  • Read a novel.
  • Do nothing.
  • Catch up on one of your shows.
  • Spend time with a loved one.
  • Do yoga or exercise.

Get a free PDF with more ideas here.

“Nourishing yourself in a way that helps you blossom in the direction you want to go is attainable, and you are worth the effort.” – Deborah Day

#CalmTip: Do Less

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

If you’re like most of us, you have a lot going on and several responsibilities. So, you might be wondering why today’s tip is “do less.” Well, doing less can improve your focus (because when you do too much, you’re probably switching from task to task, constantly being distracted); you’ll have more time for the things you enjoy; and, of course, it helps you create calm because you’re not allowing yourself to be pulled in many different directions.

Here are tips for doing less (from Leo Babauta of ZenHabits.net):

  1. Slowly cut back on non-essential commitments
  2. Single-task and focus
  3. Set limits on how many things you do daily
  4. Focus on what’s important first before you get distracted.

“Do less with more focus.”

#CalmTip 24: Take a Social Media Break

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

With all the tragedy, violence, and heartache going on in the world, social media can be a place full of negative news. If you’re like me, you want to stay aware of what’s going on (to a degree), but seeing it constantly on your timeline can be overwhelming and draining. To center yourself and find calm, it helps to take a break from social media, whether it’s for a few hours, a day or longer. Use the time to read something positive or inspirational or do something to get you closer to your goals.

How to Stress Less This Holiday Season: 6 Tips

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

In less than a week, the holiday season will officially be upon us (can you believe it?)! And with this time of year comes parties, gatherings, kids being home, shopping, decorating, baking, and cooking; in other words, a lot of hustle and bustle. With all that’s going on, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, anxious, and to put everyone and everything before yourself.

But, even in all the craziness, there are ways you can stress less this holiday season. Here are a few:

1. Schedule your self-care.

When you have a lot going on, it’s easy to put yourself on the back burner. That’s why it’s important to make time to take care of you — and don’t cancel on yourself! And it doesn’t have to be a long time; you can read for 30 minutes, catch up on one of your TV shows, or just sit and do nothing for five or 10 minutes. Putting yourself first will ensure that you don’t get too frustrated or burn out.

2. Don’t try to do too much.

In other words, feel free to say no. If attending every gathering is going to stress you out or overwhelm you, don’t go. Your family and friends should understand; and if they don’t, well, that’s their issue. Like I mentioned in this week’s calm tip, you have to do what’s best for you. Period.

3. Plan ahead

Set aside specific days and times for shopping, decorating, baking, cleaning, etc. That way, you’re not scrambling around at the last minute trying to get things done, and you’ll have more time for relaxing and to spend with loved ones.

4. Budget

Do not stress yourself and go broke buying things for the holidays, especially gifts. Create a budget, and stick to it. Don’t try to buy your kids’ (or anyone else’s) happiness with tons of gifts. Remember, even though it’s cliché, it’s the thought and sentiment behind the gift that counts.

5. Don’t let go of healthy habits 

There’s so much good food this time of year (I can’t wait to get some dressing), and while it’s okay to indulge, try not to go overboard.

Some tips:

  • Don’t overeat (eat mindfully so you’ll know when you’re full).
  • Have a small, healthy snack before going to dinner or a gathering so you don’t overeat.
  • Get the rest you need.
  • Make time for physical activity a few times a week.

6. Practice mindfulness.

Focus on one task at a time, and do you best to stay in the present moment, concentrating on whatever is happening with no judgment. Just observe, breathe, and move through it. And, of course, meditate and practice yoga as a part of being more mindful.

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Check out my virtual workshop on this topic here.

 

 

Do you have any tips for dealing with stress around the holidays? Share them below by leaving a comment!

Photo Credit: arekmalang

#CalmTip: Do What’s Best for You

 

Black Girl's Guide to Calm

Trying to be who someone else wants you to be or living up to someone else’s expectations of who you should be is stressful. Living unauthentically can drain your energy and make you unhappy.

Well-meaning people might try to tell you what you should or shouldn’t do, but since they’re not you, they don’t necessarily know what’s best for you. That doesn’t mean to forget about everybody in your life and your responsibilities. Figure out what you want and what’s good for you then find a way to incorporate it into your life in a way that works. Even if other people don’t ‘get you,’ be true to who you are, and do what’s best for you.

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” (Unknown)