I see this Lovesweats blog platform as an opportunity to learn, share, and raise awareness about all things relating to social isolation, health and anything that might help to add a little extra goodness to someone’s day. It’s always hard to get the ball rolling though! I’ve brainstormed several post ideas and find myself somewhat conflicted with how I approach certain topics, particularly discussions around mental health and other topics that correlate with social isolation. I think this is because these subject areas are sensitive and throwing around opinions and (unqualified) advice in these areas has potential to do more damage than good. This is why, to start with at least until it evolves into another style that I feel comfortable with, my approach to writing about mental health stuff is to share my own experiences, musings and things that I have found helpful. They may or may not interest everyone but if the pointers or tips help just one person, I figure they aren’t lost! Now, this might seem like I am over-thinking this a little, treading too carefully so not to risk offending or hurting someone (and sometimes I even wonder if this might be the case) which actually leads me to my first blog topic - Overthinking and How to Tackle it.
I am a self-confessed, serial overthinker. I’m awesome at it, I think it’s my wild imagination that makes me so talented at it. I’m also an introverted, closet overthinker (which I guess I’m contradicting right now by sharing but that’s beside the point ha). What do I mean by this? I’m not a big complainer, am rather laid-back and overall would consider myself pretty optimistic, however I sure as hell can turn little situations and future scenarios into a mega, internal stress-fest in my head which in turn creates a lot of useless anxiety. Most of the time, I’m even aware I’m doing it but still find it hard to kick the habit. Anyway before this becomes a digital therapy session, let me get to my point on how I’m trying to tackle this...
A personal development goal of mine for this year is to learn and ritualise helpful techniques & tools that help me to kick this overthinking habit. Now, I already know a few things that help me - things like yoga (which is why this is such a big component of Lovesweats), getting outdoors in the salt, sand, ocean, bush, and every other amazing place out there, and last but not least having a good old chuckle with a loved one or just by myself (yes I’m also a bit of a self-confessed oddball).
Below are a few new habits I’m trialling & how I’m finding them so far!
1. Smiling Mind
This app is epic - engaging & easy to follow content mixed with an equally great user experience! Developed by psychologists, and based on mindfulness meditation techniques, there are programs for adults, children, teens, as well as specific programs for sport, work and school. With stacks of sessions and modules on offer, the aim of Smiling Mind is to build, support and develop healthy minds at all stages of life. I’ve started working my way through the adult program, which includes ten modules (42 sessions) of pre-emptive mental health tools and guided meditations. I’m about 12 sessions in and so far the short meditations, bite-size lessons and activities have focussed on using senses and visualisations to stay in the present moment. I’m trying to get into the pattern of doing a sesh once a day, either in the morning or night and then quickly jotting down a few sentences about my experience after. More on that in point 2 below! I would consider myself a bit of a meditation novice, having only really dabbled in meditation at yoga retreats or one off sessions, and i think this app is the perfect fit for my experience level. I’ve also started using it in some of the Lovesweats yoga sessions I run with vulnerable communities around Syd at places like Wayside Vinnies and Rough Threads. It means I can still incorporate a mindfulness exercise into the sesh, while learning it at the same time! The app is also totally free to download and use which makes it easily accessible too.
2. Reflecting on it
As mentioned above, I have tried to undertake a mini reflection post Smiling Mind sesh! Checking in with how I feel, any challenges and the types of thoughts that started to arise (if any). This is an interesting exercise to uncover patterns that might not be that obvious without writing them down. So far, I have noticed that when my mind tends to wander during a sesh it is usually to relatively insignificant tasks or conversations (like sending emails, asking someone a question, or paying a bill), but despite knowing these are relatively insignificant they still cause a spike in my anxiety levels..that is, until I am guided by the instructor to view these thoughts as clouds passing by or leaves floating in the river, and I am able to refocus. Seems simplistic but it really helps! The second type of thought-train I’ve noticed I default to is self-doubt. Self-doubt about a whole mix of random things that weren't consciously on my mind before I started the meditation but as soon as I’m sitting in silence and stillness they seem to rear their head. This is until, the friendly, calm voice in the mediation reassures you that having your mind wander is totally normal and guides you back to the breath. I’m finding it really interesting tracking these thought patterns and am keen to see where it leads the further I get into the modules.
3. Social Media ban first up in morn
This isn’t necessarily a morning electronics ban but instead getting into the habit of scrolling news or something with a bit more substance the first time I su my phone. In a very non-scientific and unquantified way, I would probably rate the frequency of my social media use as averageish however I feel like since starting the Lovesweats insta, I find myself spending more time than I used to contemplating post content, filters and level of engagement. This time is scattered throughout the day and I definitely notice a shift in my mood when I disengage from real life and focus on the digital world instead. I totally understand that a considerable level of time and effort is involved when growing a brand and have no qualms about that, however, for me I think being more controlled with when I spend this time would be beneficial, not to mention way more productive. Hence why I’m starting with the social media ban first up in the morning. I have tried this on and off a number of times and definitely notice a positive difference. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes this round!