🌬️Introducing a few breathing exercises to your day can help you to:
🔸Reduce stress - increase calm
🔸Improve your focus
🔸Lower your blood pressure
🔸Lower your heart rate
🔸Improve core muscle stability
🔸Support correct posture
🔸Stimulate the lymphatic system - detoxify the body
🔎There has been a lot of research around the benefits of deep, controlled breathing, which involves filling the lungs to the max and goes by various names like belly or diaphragmatic breathing. Research shows that aiming for six to 10 deep breaths per minute has vast and complex physiological effects.
❇️Breathing just happens on an automatic basis and it is dictated by the autonomic nervous system, centered in the brain stem. Nerve cells there signal the diaphragm and other muscles to inspire and expire. The sympathetic nervous system is responsible for the inhale and the parasympathetic nervous system is responsible for the exhale. The parasympathetic nervous system decreases heart rate, blood pressure, and skeletal muscle tone, preparing the body for rest, sleep, or digestion. During exhalation, the vagus nerve (check my previous post to know more) secretes a transmitter substance (ACh) which causes deceleration within beat-to-beat intervals via the parasympathetic nervous system, producing a sense of calm.
Check my post here
🌸Breathe in. Breathe out🌸
We do this all day, every day without a thought. Ask yourself "when was the last time you took a deep breath?" Probably not as frequently as you think. Did you know that deep breathing is one of our easiest, most convenient, and natural tools to manage stress and anxiety, reduce pain, high blood pressure, and even support digestion? In my next post I will show you how to breathe diaphragmatically.
1. Get comfortable with your back straight
2. Place one hand on your belly
3. Count "one, two, three" seconds on the inhale
4. Breathe in through your nose . Let your belly full with air , then your chest and collar bones
5. Count "one, two" on the pause
6. Count "one, two, three, four" seconds on the exhale
7. Exhale using your stomach muscles to push out the last of the air
8. Count "one, two" on the pause
9. Repeat three more times
⚠️Warning: some people with experiences of trauma can feel deep breathing unsafe and get more anxious when doing it. Please check in with your therapist and listen to your body while trying a new strategy.
Check my visual post here
❇️ Did you know that Dissociation is a protective reaction and occurs on a spectrum?
👉 There are various areas to the dissociative spectrum between what is normal and what is quite extreme levels. Some people may mostly have one of these but some have a mixture of many depending on the severity of the event.
🧠 Our brain uses different levels of dissociation to protect us from feeling pain when feelings and sensations are too overwhelming that take all the resources of the person to cope.
🔹Experiencing dissociation is part of the parasympathetic nervous system 'freeze - collapse' response.
⚡The spectrum of Dissociation from Low to Extreme
- autopilot mode in routine tasks
- zoning out
- PTSD- trauma
- amnesia & memory problems
- depersonalization & derealization
- identity alteration
- dissociative identity disorder (DID)
🛸Sometimes it is described as the experience of being a “passenger” in one’s body, rather than the driver.
🤔What to do if you experience dissociation?
🔹Keep a journal
Write down thoughts, emotions & situations that have triggered you during the day. Try a gratitude journal.
Use your 5 senses. Use movement & body posture to feel grounded. Use positive affirmations. Use imagery & visualization. Create a soothing box.
Focus on the present moment through breathwork. Pay attention to your surroundings. Use meditation & relaxation techniques.
🔹Sleep & diet & exercise
Have a routine. Wake up and go to sleep at the same time. Eat healthy foods, avoid caffeine & alcohol. Exercise regularly
❇️ exercises for dissociative symptoms ❇️
👉The 5-4-3-2-1 Grounding technique
5: Acknowledge FIVE things you see around you.
4: Acknowledge FOUR things you can touch around you. I recommend that one of the things you touch is yourself. Apply a bit of pressure if you can.
3: Acknowledge THREE things you hear.
2: Acknowledge TWO things you can smell.
1: Acknowledge ONE thing you can taste.
👉Another helpful thing to do is to create a SOOTHING BOX with different materials and items that enhance your senses. You can put in the box different things such as scents, oils, fabrics, stress balls, nature items, objects with different textures, smooth stones, a blanket, etc. Focus on the sensations you are feeling when you interact with the elements in the box.
🤗Tell me in comments if these are useful
Check the graph here
According to Dr. Kristin Neff, Self-Compassion has 3 main elements.
Being warm and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignoring our pain or criticize ourselves.
Suffering and feelings of personal inadequacy are part of the shared human experience. It is something we all go through rather than something that happens to “me” alone.
Taking a balanced approach to negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed nor exaggerated. Mindfulness requires that we not “over-identify” with thoughts and feelings, and we listen to what is happening in the present.
❇️ Practice ❇️ by Kristin Neff
One easy way to care for and comfort yourself when you’re feeling badly is to give yourself supportive touch. Touch activates the care system and the parasympathetic nervous system to help us calm down and feel safe.
You might like to try putting your hand on your body during difficult periods.
· When you notice you’re under stress, take 2-3 deep, satisfying breaths.
· Gently place your hand over your heart, feeling the gentle pressure and warmth of your hand. If you wish, place both hands on your chest, noticing the difference between one and two hands.
· Feel the touch of you hand on your chest. If you wish, you could make small circles with your hand on your chest.
· Feel the natural rising and falling of your chest as you breathe in and as you breathe out.
· Linger with the feeling for as long as you like.
Some other possibilities are:
One hand on your cheek, Cradling your face in your hands, Gently stroking your arms, Crossing your arms and giving a gentle squeeze, Gently rubbing your chest, or using circular movements, Hand on your abdomen.
check more info in this post
🧘🏽♀️Close your eyes for one minute and simply notice what your mind does.Stay on the lookout for any thoughts or images, as if you were a wildlife photographer waiting for an exotic animal to emerge from the undergrowth.
If no thoughts or images appear, keep watching; sooner or later they will show themselves. Notice where those thoughts or images seem to be located: in front of you, above you, behind you, to one side of you, or within you? Once you’ve done this for a minute, open your eyes again.
❇️ What you experienced were two distinct processes going on. First there was the process of thinking —in other words, some thoughts or images appeared. Then there was the process of observing; that is, you were able to notice or observe those thoughts and images. It’s important to experience the distinction between thinking and observing.
🧘🏽♀️Whatever the urge, the first step is to notice it. (It often helps to acknowledge silently, ‘I’m having the urge to do X.’) The second step is to check in with your values: ‘Will acting on this urge help me be the person I want to be? Will it help me take my life in the direction I want?’ If the answer is yes, then go ahead and act, using that urge to guide you and give you momentum. But if the answer is no, then instead take some action that’s more in line with your values.
🌸Mindfulness is connection🌸
🔹Connection is the process of making full contact with your experience in this moment.
🔹Connection means being fully aware of your here & now experience, being interested, open & receptive to that experience.
🔹Connection is about waking up, noticing what’s happening, engaging with the world & appreciating the fullness of every moment.
🔹Connection happens through the observing self.
👉the observing self is by nature non-judgemental.
Difference between the observing self and the thinking self:
❇️the thinking self ❇️
It is the part that thinks, plans, judges, compares, creates, imagines, visualizes, analyzes, remembers, day dreams and fantasies.
🔆the observing self🔆
It is the part responsible for focus, attention and awareness. It can pay attention to your thoughts but it does not think. It registers the experience directly.
You’re watching a magnificent sunset. There are moments when all you are doing is looking at it. Your mind is quiet; there are no thoughts running through your head, you’re just registering the sensory information such as the colours of the scene. This is your observing self doing its job: observing, not thinking
When you start thinking: ‘Wow, look at all those colours! This reminds me of that sunset we saw on holiday last year. I wish I had my camera. It’s so beautiful and I am going to miss it!
🌸The more attention your observing self pays to the commentary of the thinking self, the more you lose direct contact with that sunset. The observing self is key part of Mindfulness
Based on the ACT book, the Happiness Trap)
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Setting boundaries doesn’t come easily or naturally to a lot of people, but we can learn to set healthy boundaries.
Setting boundaries is making clear what’s okay and what’s not okay, and why.
We often feel like we need to apologize or justify when setting a boundary, but We don’t.
We need to find a way of staying true to ourselves and grounded while also feeling compassion towards others
👉This is the Brené Brown method of boundaries setting. it stands for
Boundaries, Integrity, Generosity
Living BIG is saying:
"Yes, I’m going to be generous in my assumptions and intentions while standing solidly in my integrity and being very clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable"
🤔How to start setting boundaries?
▪️identify what you want
▪️identify the motivation for setting the boundary
▪️start small by choosing just one boundary to set
▪️stay calm & use assertive communication
▪️do not apologize or justify yourself
▪️be ready for a ¨no¨as an answer
▪️be ready to maybe disappoint others
▪️use your support system
▪️trust your intuition
❇️Establishing limits and boundaries is one of the ultimate acts of self-care and self-respect❇️
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❇️"vulnerability is weakness"❇️
🔹vulnerability is neither good nor bad
🔹it is not a "dark" emotion
🔹it is not always comfortable
🔹it is the core of all emotions & feelings; "to feel is to be vulnerable"
🔹it is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy & creativity
🔹is the path for clarity & purpose
🔆vulnerability is uncertainty, risk & emotional exposure🔆
🧘🏽♀️We are humans beings with limits, fears and wounds. You can only accept yourself fully and truly when you are able to see that side of yours that suffer and has difficulties
🔆"I don't do vulnerability"🔆
EXPERIENCING VULNERABILITY IS NOT A CHOICE. OUR RESPONSE TO IT IS. BEING ALIVE MEANS BEING VULNERABLE.
🌸Examples of vulnerability:
▪️starting you own business
▪️saying "I love you"
▪️facing your fears
▪️being "all in"
▪️letting go of control
▪️saying no - not taking it anymore
▪️panic, anxiety, fear & hysteria followed by freedom, pride & amazement.
▪️showing up and letting yourself be seen
🌻letting ourselves sink into the ephemeral joyful moments of life is vulnerability 🌻
It may sabotage our successes or our relationships, preventing us from living the lives we want to live and becoming the people we desire to be.
❇️3 inner critics that all of us have to face❇️
🔹universal human emotion, typically associated with a negative evaluation of the self; "I am not enough"
🔹never feeling safe, certain & sure enough; "too good to be true", "it is never enough", "don't get so happy, something bad is going to happen"
🔹measuring the self against others. Comparison kills creativity and joy; "X is better than me"
🔆We all experience internal voices that could be nurturing ("you can do this") or invalidating ("you are a failure")
Both coexist and play an important role on our daily functioning.
👉These voices influence how much we dare to take risks, to believe in ourselves, to engage in relationships, to pursue certain careers, etc.
🤔How different would your life be if instead of an inner critic, you had an Inner Advocate?
🧘🏽♀️How can I do it?
1️⃣ be aware & curious about the voice.
2️⃣ identify how, when, where & why the inner critic shows up.
3️⃣ allow the tension to exist in you. this could be transformative (grow & challenge).
4️⃣ the inner critic could, sometimes, help you see gaps you may have missed. use it to make yourself feel better not worse.
5️⃣ visualize what the inner critic tells you cannot do.
6️⃣ write down, or hold onto, those feelings & thoughts of success.
👉tell yourself you are able of doing whatever you set your mind to.
👉 bring up some positive affirmations & be compassionate to yourself.
Check my post here
❇️ Many of us are told things such as, “don’t cry,” "stay quiet, don't be annoying" “there’s nothing to be sad about.”
🔹As a culture, we are often taught that we should try to avoid unpleasant emotions at all costs. This leads to an impulse to escape / hide / bury the experience of unpleasant emotions.
👉However, what really happens when we suppress uncomfortable emotions is that, over time, the pleasant emotions are also not felt. When we numb one part of us, there is an impact on ourselves as a whole. Therefore, when you numb sadness, you also numb happiness and joy.
🌊It is helpful to think of our feelings as waves in the ocean. They come and go, rise and fall. No feeling lasts forever and all emotions have a purpose. Anger and sadness are necessary, helpful parts of the human experience, as well as joy and happiness.
🧘🏽♀️Struggling with our emotions often leads to more suffering and anxiety. Practicing expansion can help to tolerate emotions, both comfortable and uncomfortable ones.
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It means making room for our feelings.
🌬️If we give unpleasant feelings enough space, they no longer strain us. With expansion, instead of tensing up or contracting, we are opening up.
💥Fighting or avoiding our feelings does not create room for them, expansion does.
🧘🏽♀️As long as we make room they will move.
➡️ Systemic racism and discrimination are forms of systemic oppression.
➡️Systemic racism is a form of violence that places or keeps people of color in conditions of hunger and poverty through the structural withholding of resources and opportunities, hyper-surveillance, and unjust incarceration inflicted on racialized individuals and communities (Center for Hunger-Free Communities)
👉Experiences with racism are associated with anxiety, depression, and other psychiatric symptoms (Pieterse AL, Todd NR, Neville HA, Carter RT. Perceived racism and mental health among Black American adults: a meta-analytic review. J Counseling Psych. 2012, 59(1):1-9)
👉People’s experiences with oppression and the accompanying trauma have been invalidated for many generations. This invalidation comes from people with the power and privilege enacting oppressive behavior and has also led to people of color internalizing trauma (Self-Stigma: Internalizing Trauma. Wise Wisconsin https://wisewisconsin.org/blog/self-stigma-internalizing-trauma/. Published June 15, 2017)
It is necessary to:
🔹Acknowledge and address systematic oppression and discrimination as trauma to inform the necessary steps toward healing the trauma that millions of people of color face and the circumstances of poverty that exacerbate and reproduce this trauma.
🔹Facilitate the success of mental health professionals of color as well as accessibility of educational resources to shift negative stigmas around mental health in communities of color.