My Top 5 Mindfulness Blogs.

It is no secret that I rate mindfulness. It has added a real depth and calm to my existence. At a basic level it is about staying in the present moment. However, this is just the beginning of a very rich subject. There is such an abundance of information available it can be difficult to know where to start. Being overwhelmed when faced with a vast array of mindfulness resources does seem a little counterproductive. So whether you are a complete novice looking for some inner peace or a well practiced guru; this post might just enhance your life.

Tiny Buddha- Simple Wisdom For Complex Lives.

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  • Subscription – 1 email each weekday, including 1-2 blog posts. Alternatively you can opt to receive one weekly digest.

Tiny Buddha was founded by Lori Deschene in 2009. It is incredibly popular, with a massive 6 million readers and followers as well as a diverse and supportive community forum. Tiny Buddha is a front runner when it comes to sharing wisdom and perspectives around inner peace and joy. The site features stories, tips and insights from readers of all ages from all over the globe.

You will discover posts about happiness, love, relationships, change, meaning, mindfulness, spirituality, minimalism, letting go and so much more.

While the roots are in Buddhism, this isn’t a site focused solely religion. It is a space for positivity and self reflection. The ethos is more around sharing ideas, which when applied can make a huge difference to those facing difficulties. Any suggestions that promote a fulfilling and happy life are worth a second look in my opinion.

Blog post examples

How Can We Overcome Our Obstacles When We Don’t Believe It’s Possible?

The One Simple Decision That Freed Me From Social Anxiety.

Zen Habits

Founder Leo Babauta 2016 boasts over 2 million readers and over 200k subscribers. Named one of the Top 25 blogs by Time Magazine. Frequency 3 posts a week 13.6k fb 183k tw

Zen Habits is about discovering simplicity and mindfulness in the daily mayhem of our lives. The emphasis being that by clearing through the unnecessary jumble, we can focus on what’s important and find happiness.

As well as the hugely successful blog Leo Babauta has also written numerous books and offers training and habit changing courses. Leo’s passion is palpable throughout and as is often the case it all began with his personal experiences. He gives valuable insight into how small changes are often contagious. Every positive step can spill over into many other aspects of health, contentment and well-being.

Blog Post Examples

Find Freedom in Any Moment.

Delight in Uncertainty.

London Mindful (The Mindfulness Project)

Although based in the UK capital London Mindful is available worldwide. It is a not for profit company founded by Alexandra Frey and Autumn Totton 2013. Whether you chose to read the blog or fancy enrolling on one of the fantastic courses or workshops there is a wealth of resources available.

The vision was to create an innovative platform for sharing mindfulness with as many people as possible. This is certainly being achieved. By offering a secular and research informed approach the information is both valid and meaningful. It offers like minded people the chance to share tips and strategies on how to become a more in the moment person. The content is positive and offers valuable insight on how to exist in a mindful and satisfying way.

Blog Post Examples

Present Perfect

Communicating Mindfully When We Are Upset.

The Blissful Mind

Founded by Catherine Beard in 2014, The Blissful Mind is both mindful and realistic. Catherine’s intentions for her blog and shared resources include ways to:-

  • Help you organise your thoughts and calm a busy mind.
  • Work on overcoming any doubts and eliminate stress around future plans.
  • Find a sense of peace in your day to day life.

There are also plenty of recommendations for books/podcasts/journals and planners/self care products. Catherine confesses to having a soft spot for new notebooks and for this reason alone I view her as a kindred spirit. If you fail to appreciate the potential of an untouched notebook then I’m afraid we just can’t be friends!

Peace of mind, confidence and the chance to develop a healthy and positive mindset are examples of the subjects devoured by Catherine. There is content on self-care practices, daily routines and effective time management strategies. When put in place all of these tools can lead you to a more authentic and mindful existence.

Blog Post Examples

How to unplug from technology when you need a break.

Self-care or self-sabotage? How to tell the difference.

Mindworks

Mindworks founders Barb Mendel Suzan Garner, Tokpa Korlo, Sacha Basio and Laura Pretsch base their work on the following ethos:-

We believe in the basic goodness of all human beings and our ability to discover our minds true potential.

There are 3 core values steering the resources and information shared by Mindworks

1.) To teach genuine methods.

Through the skillful integration of mindfulness and awareness meditation we gain direct understanding of how our minds work. This gives us the opportunity to rewire reactions that arise from habitual negative emotions.

2.) To speak from direct experience.

The Mindworks team can provide insight into the practices and benefits of a well trained mind because they have experienced the value of meditative mind training in practical life situations.

3.) Motivation.

It is a non profit labour of love. Mindworks was created by experienced meditators whose lives have been enriched and transformed by practice. It is their intention to pass these skills on.

As well as the blog posts there are paid memberships/ subscriptions for those who are keen to join. A variety of courses are available, including a free 14 day introductory course. A fantastic way to dip your toe in the water! Another plus is the Mindworks App which is available on both IOS and Android platforms.

Blog Post Examples

Understanding Empathy and Compassion.

How To Do Meditation At Home.

So those are just a few of my go to websites/blogs if I need insight into the peaceful world of mindfulness. I have taken a lot of positive and helpful information from them and genuinely enjoy the content.

Care to share some of your favourites? Drop a comment below!

Disability Pride Month

July is Disability Pride Month 🌈 So I wanted to end this important month by sharing a poem I wrote. I feel it ties in nicely with the sentiment.

For anyone who is living with a disability, visible or invisible – you matter and deserve to feel connected to the world and everyone in it. I see you xx

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Unseen 

I prepare for a daily battle,
Against something that cannot be seen.
The chance of attack is quite certain,
From a foe, relentless and mean.
I try not to show how I’m feeling.
Knowing my fight’s just begun.
It is hard to carry such pain all alone,
The shame of a war never won.
On bad days I want to surrender.
It all feels too much to bear.
Yet something inside me just keeps pushing on,
I know that I must persevere.
This invisible force is tyrannic and cruel.
In its wake leaves massive destruction.
Compassion and hope will lead the defence,
Against this satanic affliction.
Be kind to others as you walk through your pain.
For you have no idea of theirs.
Together our force is unyielding,
Its powered by all that we share.
























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The dark side of the bright side.

̶#̶g̶o̶o̶d̶v̶i̶b̶e̶s̶o̶n̶l̶y̶         #allvibeswelcome

We are encouraged now more than ever to talk about our feelings. To reach out to those closest to us when we are faced with struggles. We may need supporting through a serious life crisis or it could just be a vent about day to day issues. Either way the message is everywhere; from social media to TV campaigns and mental health charities – don’t suffer in silence, keep talking.

Expressing our feelings is a way of releasing the burden. Even if our confidant can’t actually solve the problem, simply feeling heard and validated can be incredibly uplifting. A problem shared and all that!

Yet what happens when talking actually makes us feel worse?

How many of us have reached out for support only to be met with the following responses?

“You just need to think positive” 

“You should be grateful for what you do have.”    

“Never mind, it could be worse.”

Did these pearls of wisdom ever make anyone feel better. I would say – absolutely NOT. In fact, the recipient is more likely to feel guilty or ashamed for having what are actually completely normal and appropriate human emotions.

Toxic positivity….

Is the belief that no matter how awful or difficult a situation is, people should maintain a positive mindset.

Of course there is no denying that having a generally optimistic outlook is good for our wellbeing. Re-framing difficult situations can often supply a more compassionate and balanced perspective.

However, when positivity becomes overzealous and rigid it is not only unhelpful, it’s toxic. This attitude doesn’t just stress the importance of optimism, it minimises and denies any trace of human emotion.

In a nutshell – we shouldn’t have to pretend everything is OK when it isn’t.

What if it’s not only acceptable for us to feel all the emotions that accompany the bad stuff – but it’s beneficial? By providing opportunities to process, feel and accept we are able to move forward in a healthy way.

Difficult as it may be, undesirable emotions are best met with open arms. Dismissing pain and forcing positivity is a false economy. The negative energy will eventually find a way out – it has to. And it is unlikely to be released in a healthy way.

Facing all emotions, good, bad and ugly is all part of the authentic human experience. My feeling is that even the unpleasant aspects of life are integral to living fully. As such they should be embraced and shared.

The pressure to appear ‘OK’ invalidates the range of emotions we all experience. It can give the impression that you are defective when you feel distress, which can be internalised in a core belief that you are inadequate or weak.

As cited in Scully (2020)

Symptoms of toxic positivity

Hiding/masking your true feelings.

Trying to just ‘power through’ a situation by dismissing emotions.

Experiencing guilt or shame for feeling what you feel.

Minimising other people’s sad experiences with ‘feel good’ quotes/statements.

Trying to offer a different perspective instead of validating their emotional experience.

Shaming or berating others for expressing frustration or anything other than positivity.

Can lead to depression, self-doubt and denial.

Cherry (2021)

So what is the alternative to smothering someone with a blanket of positivity?

Acknowledging that we all have a myriad of complex emotions is a good starting point. For example, you can be grateful to the NHS for treatment you receive but still feel resentful of the fact you need treatment in the first place.

Empowering people to recognise and accept their thoughts and feelings is ironically more positive than following the urge to ‘buck them up’ using toxic positivity.

How to cultivate genuine optimism.

Silva (Garrison) 2021

Sources

Cherry 2021 Garrison 2021 istock 2021 Karoll cited in Skully 2020 Tristone Coaching

Self care is my super power!

This is a more personal post than my usual offering. The last 6 weeks have tested me beyond measure. So as the essence of this blog is using writing to enhance mental well-being then write about it I shall.

On the 2nd June I underwent major pelvic reconstructive surgery. The result of this surgery was that a large amount of my intestine was removed leaving me with a permanent ileostomy. An ileostomy is where the small intestine is diverted through an opening in the abdomen. Waste (or poo) is then collected into a bag placed over the ileostomy.

This was a planned surgery, however I think I was slightly naive as to just how tough mentally and physically it would be. Unfortunately there were post operative complications due to blood loss, low blood pressure and infection. I was in intensive care for a while and 6 weeks on I feel that my recovery is only just beginning.

Tears and isolation!

Due to covid I was unable to have visitors for the first 7 days and after that only 1 person could visit. This is exceptionally testing when the presence of loved ones is vital for comfort and strength.

Although the restrictions were completely necessary, they made the experience quite a lonely and at times frightening one. It is a vulnerable place to reside, in a hospital bed, weak and in pain. For a person who likes to be in control, relying on the expertise of others to keep me alive was a real emotional challenge. I cried like a lost child, a lot! It isn’t a place I would return to in a hurry.

Time heals all wounds?

As much as I want to put it all behind me and forget it really isn’t that simple. For a start I have a permanent reminder of a bag attached to my tummy. That in itself takes some getting used to. Also there is the exhaustion that follows major surgery, building my stamina back up is going to take a while. It is all quite raw, mentally and physically.

Time isn’t the best healer. You are.

Nandini

I accept that with time I will heal. The physical scars will become part of my story and the trauma will fade enough to manage. However it is important I do all I can to ease myself get through this turbulent season. Which means, self-care, compassion, time and lots more self-care. Oh and did I mention self-care??

Does self care really help?

There are so many positives in offering ourselves care it would be impossible to list them all. Here are a few of the benefits to whet your appetite! Please feel free to download my self-care flash-cards at the end of this post to get you started or enhance your existing journey of nurture and love.

We all need and deserve it!

Physical health improves

Respecting our bodies by supplying a healthy diet, exercise and sleep are fundamental acts of self care. Giving our systems the best of the best helps them to flourish. The human body is truly a marvel and definitely worthy of love and care.

Enhances emotional well-being

Even the smallest acts such as making your bed in the morning and practicing good sleep hygiene can make us feel happier. Self compassion can help to boost our self-esteem too and is a great habit to learn and incorporate into our lives. Every small expression of self care can lift mood so turning these acts into habits is absolutely worthwhile! You can read more about the value showing self compassion in my Dear Jenny blog.

Reminds us of our worth

Our thoughts can be critical and harsh, particularly with low mood. By practicing self care we can introduce a new belief system that tells us we are important and deserve care, respect and love. The more we offer ourselves care the more our self worth will grow. Reaching out to loved ones for support is an act of self care that should never be underestimated. I find asking for help incredibly difficult but I am getting better at it. Accepting genuine care and support from others is uplifting to all involved.

It is empowering

Feelings of powerlessness are a common aspect of depression so making positive choices around our self care gives us back some control. When we feel in charge our resilience and self esteem improve. This is a powerful gift and it is well within our reach.

Dear Diary


How journaling can help us stay mentally healthy.

Our minds are busy places. It can be difficult to manage our daily lives, let alone our emotions and mental well-being. Yet just as we can compose a to-do list for chores and appointments, writing things down can also help us to stay on top of our psychological housekeeping.

Journaling has grown in popularity for many reasons. It may be as simple as organising all the thoughts swimming around in our heads. Getting them out and seeing them written down often brings a clearer perspective. Our brains are particularly good at clinging on to worrying thoughts and playing them on a loop. This can be agonising and pointless because while they are stuck on repeat, problem solving becomes virtually impossible.

Diaries have always been viewed as private and only for the eyes of the author. This alone is incredibly freeing. You can write exactly how you are feeling, no holds barred. It can also be quite useful if you are unsure what it is you are feeling. Writing things down can reveal the emotions hiding behind the masks of anger or irritation. Once we are aware exactly what is happening for us, we can take steps to return to a more balanced emotional ground. It could be that we are burnt out from taking care of everyone except ourselves. We may be unaware of how much we have been neglecting our own needs until we see it in black and white.

Make it a habit.

Journaling is something that works best when done regularly. The real insight comes from writing down the good, the bad and the horrendous! So try to write when you feel OK, when you feel fantastic and when you feel distressed or exhausted. This is all valuable information to look back on. Sometimes when struggling to cope it can really help to know that we have survived these feelings before. It can also help us to identify what has helped us to overcome difficulties in the past. A bit like having a personal manual for fixing (or at least easing) difficult emotions.


Track those moods.

Another useful aspect of journaling is the mood tracker. By logging your mood for the day, be it happy, sad, stressed, angry can help us identify any patterns or triggers. This information is a great way of managing our mental state and eliminating or preparing for things that may have a negative effect. You can make it fun by using certain colours or emojis for different moods. If you find you are tracking a sad mood, it may be worth stepping back and looking at what is going on for you at this time. Are you feeling lonely or missing someone? Do you need human interaction and what steps can you take to achieve that? Naming our emotions gives us the opportunity to take action which is both healthy and empowering.


How else can writing help?

Worry time.

If you find yourself ruminating about certain things or have worries constantly popping into your head, then worry time might offer relief. Firstly, allocate yourself a specific time, every day to sit and focus solely on your worries. It doesn’t need to be longer than 30 minutes. Then when a worry sneaks up on you, simply jot it down and tell yourself you will look at it during worry time.
This allows you to call the worries up in a controlled and calm way. Much better than a sudden intrusion of anxiety. There is less panic, and the worries often feel less overwhelming and easier to problem solve. You may even wonder why you were worried at all!

Random writing

This is exactly as it sounds. Just sit and write. It doesn’t even have to make sense, just dump all of your thoughts and feelings down on paper. Get them out of your head and lighten the load.

Write a letter you would never send.

This sounds odd but it works! If you are struggling with bad feelings towards someone who has treated you badly – tell them in a letter. Write down everything you wouldlike to say to them and don’t hold back. You can rant and rave all you like because they will never see it. Once you are done, rip it up into tiny pieces. This exercise is incredibly cathartic and a fantastic way of letting go of pain and anger.

Creative Writing

Self-expression is a great way if dealing with past traumas and difficult emotions. You could make up a story or write a poem. Or perhaps you could write about your own life experiences. Everyone has a tale to tell, and you may discover a hidden flair for writing!

Flashcards


Write some positive mantras on brightly coloured card. Words like “I am enough” or “I can cope with this” are examples but choose whatever speaks to you personally. You can carry them with you and look at them when you need reassurance or a boost. A fantastic tool for calming nerves before a big event such as a job interview.

No matter the form, writing is an excellent therapy tool. Whether you treat yourself to a top of the range journal, use a smartphone or simply scribble your thoughts on a notepad, the results will be the same. It doesn’t have to be perfect or clever (unless you want it to be). Our worries tend to look and feel quite different when written down. So take a few minutes, pick up a pen and let the ink work its magic.

Dear Jenny,

If you are reading this then you are probably having a rough day. That’s OK, I hear you and want you to know you’re not alone. We have had difficult days before and although the feelings are painful and all consuming I promise you, they will pass. They always do.

Please don’t be hard on yourself. I know you will be beating yourself up. What would you say to a loved one who was feeling how you are today? I imagine you would be supportive and non judgemental. Why not try and offer yourself the same kindness?

You are a wonderful person. Compassionate, funny and wise. Many people love you and would want to support you. If you feel able to reach out then that’s great. If not then that is fine too.

Today is about taking small steps. Things that have made you feel better before. Perhaps a relaxing bubble bath or some deep breathing exercises. Or stand outside and take in the world using all of your senses. Stay in the moment as much as you can. Cuddle the dog, watch a funny film. Cry, laugh or get angry and punch a pillow. Whatever you need, do it.

Take extra care of yourself Jenny. You are important and have so much to offer no matter what you thoughts are telling you today. Remember not to believe everything you think!

I’m right behind you, cheering you on and offering a hand to hold. Tomorrow, things may seem a little less tough. For now, just let things be. The bad days make the good that little bit more blissful.

All my love, Jenny xx

This is a compassionate letter I wrote to myself. I composed it on a day I was feeling mentally well and was functioning in my “adult brain.” This is the part of me that is rational, mature and able to see things in a more nuanced way. This part of me often disappears during difficult times to be replaced by my frightened and flailing inner child. When she comes into play she needs all the support I can give her.

So I placed this letter along with some other items I find soothing and uplifting in a box. My Compassionate Kit Box. I don’t need to use it often but it is nice to know I have it ready. It has been a massive comfort on many dark days.

It is so important that we nurture our inner child. They usually show up when we are feeling vulnerable and have an unmet need. Compassion and understanding are a really good place to start.

Compassion Care Kit

In my Compassion Care Kit I have the following items…

  • Compassionate letter to myself.
  • Positive mantra flashcards.
  • My nan’s headscarf and a picture of us together. These make me feel safe and happy.
  • Some childish erasers and marbles – I collected these as a child. If I am having a difficult day I will organise the marbles into colours or types. This nurtures my inner child as there is a positive childhood association. It is also quite grounding and soothing.
  • I will be adding some of my childhood books and a teddy once I collect them from my parents loft.
  • I may add some certificates. Past achievements are a positive thing to reflect on when my self-esteem is waning.

You can fill your care kit with whatever is meaningful to you. Like me you can start small and add to it over time. Choose items that make you feel good about yourself. The possibilities are endless!

Give it a go, do something nice for your inner child today!

Hi, I’m Jennifer

Welcome to my blog.

The write way to good emotional health!

I will admit I am a novice at the whole blog writing thing. In typical “Jen style” I’m a little late to the party. Still, those who are first to arrive often leave early too; so despite my tardiness I promise to be the life and soul of this shindig! You may be wondering why I have decided to jump on the blogging bandwagon now. So, lets dive in!

I was diagnosed with an Inflammatory Bowel Disease at the age of 12, after which life quickly unravelled. The years of treatment and surgery that followed were, to say the least, devastating. Unfortunately, other than being handed a leaflet of relaxation exercises, I was not offered any mental health support. It is difficult to ascertain why and entirely possible I simply slipped through the net. So it was a case of “just getting on with things,” a task I had neither the emotional capacity or maturity to manage. The lack of emotional support inevitably had consequences. My adult life has been tainted by severe mental health problems. While I am grateful to be alive, there have been many times (and may be many more) when this was not the case.

So………mental health.

It gives me “the feeling.” You know the one? When something is so fascinating it draws you in and takes over. Learning about it, talking about it never gets old, even on the days my brain is fit to burst. My work as a Well-Being Practitioner, coupled with my own personal therapy has changed me in ways I didn’t know possible. Ironically, the very focus of my pain and grief now feeds my soul. It’s pure fascination, an insatiable urge to know more. That’s “the feeling,” and I want to share it.

Working in mental health is grounding. The human condition means that no one is immune. If you haven’t been personally affected, then I have no doubt that you know someone who has. Mental health services in the UK are stretched beyond breaking point. The net I slipped through as a child is now riddled with holes; so getting appropriate support when in crisis is exceedingly difficult, if not virtually impossible.

I have created this public blog simply because mental health cannot be overdone. Everyone’s experiences are unique and should always be taken seriously. Great strides have been made in getting people talking and removing the stigma. We need to keep up the momentum, now more than ever.

So what can you expect from this blog?

  • A safe, non-judgemental and informative space.
  • Although (hopefully) uplifting, inspiring and motivational, it will also be realistic. Sometimes, life is bloody hard. It is expected and OK to have bad days and difficult emotions. This is where self-compassion comes in!
  • To emphasize how much value we all have as individuals. Everyone deserves to feel heard, valued and included. To this end, I welcome comments and suggestions. Please feel free to use the provided comment box or reach out via email. I just ask you are respectful of differing views/ideas.
  • Humour – we all know the adage ‘if I don’t laugh, I’ll cry! A good bout of either is a fabulous release of oxytocin and endorphins.
  • Signposting to resources – this is a biggie! There is a wealth of untapped resources and online support out there. This blog aims to highlight as many of these as possible. Anything from simple breathing exercises to peer reviewed research is potential blog fodder!
  • Finally I will share my own experiences/helpful tips. This blog certainly isn’t an altruistic endeavour. Writing is my armour, my relief. It distracts my brain and is my go-to when things are rough. I will share my published writing here and there, but my focus is primarily to share information and avenues of support.

I will end my introduction with a poem I wrote for the charity Mind on World Kindness Day 2020. Please remember, the greatest kindness is that which you show yourself.

Someone

Someone noticed me today
They smiled and said hello
Just a small thing really
Yet it gave me such a glow

Someone held my hand today
When I was feeling sad
Suddenly I was less alone
Things were not so bad

Someone made me laugh today
We shared a joke together
The world seemed brighter for a while
A moment I will treasure

Someone gave me time today
There is no greater gift
I’d like to do the same for them
Should they ever feel adrift

Someone gave me hope today
A simple act of kindness
A smile, a hand, a laugh, just time
These little things are priceless