Category Archives: Mindfulness & Growth

How meditation is helping me overcome my anxiety.

If you’ve been a long time reader/viewer of mine, you know of my struggles with anxiety. To be honest, I can’t remember when my issues with anxiety arose. It may have developed in my teen years or maybe, it was always there? Lingering in the background like Pennywise the clown, waiting to scare the shit out of me at any given moment! As funny as it may sound, that’s actually quite an accurate description of what anxiety has felt like for me over the past few years. A scary, threatening entity that is always waiting to pounce.

I have read countless self-help books in order to learn the magical cure to ridding myself of this looming feeling. Nothing has worked for me, no matter how practical the advice. Not because the advice wasn’t helpful, but because I wasn’t open to receiving the information. That’s what anxiety does to us, it doesn’t let us see past our own fear.

Recently, I have discovered minimalism. Minimalism is a lifestyle that allows us to focus on the important aspects of our lives by ridding ourselves of the excess and zoning in on what is important to us. By using minimalism as a tool to de-clutter both my outer and inner space, I have been able to prioritise what my needs are. In doing this, I realised that I never gave my thinking mind a rest. It was constantly running like an engine getting ready to finally burn out. Instead of listening to my inner thoughts, I hid from them. I kept pushing them down further and further until they were muffled cries beneath the surface. But you know what happens to suppressed emotions? They take physical form, they infiltrate our bodies and kick us when we’re down, making us sick and run-down.

I noticed that by not dealing with my stress, I was making myself physically unwell. My immune system was shot,  I caught every bug and flu going, not to mention the fact that I was constantly tired and irritable. I was always snapping at my loved ones for no reason at all. The most ironic thing of all, was that I was completely blind to the fact that I was the one causing this anguish within myself. I blamed it on the bad weather, a shift in temperature or not using hand sanitizer at ever opportunity. I had became so used to feeling anxious, I had made it apart of my physical make up.

I decided to begin a journey to self discovery a long time ago, but only this year have I really taken it seriously. A part of that journey was to give meditation a try. I have used guided meditations in the past to help me sleep, but I had never used them purely to calm my mind during the day-time. It might not sound like there is much of a difference between those two instances but I can assure you, there is.

Since January of this year, I’ve been using the Calm meditation app (not sponsored, just FYI!) and it has allowed me to stay accountable and consistent with my practice. It tracks each meditation on a calendar and helps you to focus on specific areas of your life that need healing. There are guided meditations for all sorts of things, such as stress, anxiety, gratitude and self-love, to name but a few. I have discovered that sitting with my thoughts isn’t this big scary thing I’ve made it out to be, it’s actually very interesting. Meditation is teaching me to hear what my thinking-mind has to say and what it worries about. However, the most important part of my meditation practice comes in the form of what is known as, noting. In layman’s terms, noting is essentially the practice of simply acknowledging a thought and letting it pass by without judgement.

The simple act of recognising our thoughts and not getting wrapped up in them, is quite transformative. In fact, it’s the opposite of anxious thought! Anxiety makes us over-think and over-analyse our thoughts to the point of exhaustion. Taking in to consideration that humans think up to 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts per day, that’s a heck of a lot of worrying to get through on a daily basis. By implementing mindfulness into our lives, we are giving ourselves a break from this chaotic way of thinking. Believe me, it isn’t always easy to do this but as the famous saying goes, practice makes perfect.

Meditation is something I would recommend to everyone. It is not something that only the most enlightened individuals can do, it is something everyone can practice and benefit from. Living in the modern world is not always easy, it can be overwhelming to say the least. Meditation gives us space to de-clutter our minds from what is going on in the physical world and helps us to regenerate feelings of calm, compassion and stillness. If we can begin to use meditation as a tool, it can be life-changing. If you think meditation is just some wishy-washey bull-crap, you’re not alone. However, science is on meditation’s side!

According to studies, research shows that after eight-weeks, it is possible to shrink the brain’s “flight or fight” response. If you would like more information on the benefits of mediation, Forbes recently posted a great article about 7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change the Brain.

In order to avail of the benefits of mediation, you don’t need to do anything fancy. Just start off small, even five minutes of meditation a day can do wonders for a person. I would suggest using an app to track your progress and help you ease yourself into a regular practice. Alternatively, there are thousands of wonderful guided and un-guided meditations on YouTube. My favourite meditation channel is The Honest Guys youtube channel, it’s full of beautiful, free meditations. There is something for everyone on their channel, I highly recommend it.

Meditation is helping me to understand my myself, listen to by body and not judge every single though that goes through my mind. Meditation is a rest period and a time heal. Honestly, I feel like I have discovered something that is so helpful, in some many ways, that I want to shout it from the rooftops so everyone else can know about it. Meditation is a practice, it takes time and time is our most precious gift. I think it is important to make time for ourselves no matter how busy our lives may be. Meditation is a way to give back to ourselves and to get to know ourselves as human beings. Like any new venture, the hardest part is getting started.

Once you open your mind to the prospect of mediation, it can be truly wonderful.

Erika Jayne is helping me to discover my inner goddess!

I’m not sure if you know this about me but, I really enjoy reality television.

One of my favourite reality TV stars is Erika Girardi AKA Erika Jayne. Who features on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. At first glance, people are usually too quick to judge Erika. Lumping her in with other reality stars and assuming she has nothing of interest to say.

They couldn’t be more wrong.

Erika Jayne is the fabulous alter-ego and stage persona of Erika Girardi. She’s a Mom, a singer and a all-round entertainer, who exudes confidence and a youthful playfulness. Erika acknowledges that as people, we are layered, we are many different things, to ourselves and others, all at once.

In a recent interview with Nylon, she stated, “No one is one way all the time. No one is buttoned up all the time and no one is wild all the time. There are different parts to your personality, different layers – and that’s really what Erika Jayne is, another layer to a human being.”

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Source: Nylon

Watching Erika on RHOBH has made me realize how important it is first and foremost, to be true to ourselves and secondly, to live a unapologetically authentic life. What I love about Erika, is that she doesn’t give a sh*t what other people think about her. This is made very clear in her popular, hit single How Many F**ks? and in her take-no-crap attitude.

I think it’s clear by now, that Erika Jayne represents something for me. She represents the opportunity to embrace self-love, instead of running away from it in fear of coming across as vain. She once said “I want to represent freedom; the courage to be yourself and to know you are perfect just the way you were meant to be.” Self-love is defined as regard for one’s own well-being and happiness. I think Erika sets a precedent for importance of feeling good about oneself, standing up for yourself and becoming the best version of you that you can be.

It might sound somewhat superficial, but when I listen to Erika’s music I often imagine myself being the most confident me I can be. I imagine myself in full-glam, wearing something fabulous and feeling great. The type of music that makes you feel confident and sexy, is referred to as mood music. It makes you feel something, it creates an experience, not unlike positive self-talk or developing a confidence habit.

I often use her music and the music of other, similar artists, to do this. I look at it the same way I look at my other self-care practices, such as yoga or meditation. It creates a mind/body connection and it helps me see myself in a more positive light. It allows me to understand that I can evoke the same feeling about myself at anytime, if need or want to.

This is not to say that Erika or I think that self-confidence should only come from what we see on the outside, quite the contrary. It’s incredibly important to work on how you feel on the inside. However, I do think that the two can go hand-in-hand sometimes. I think the author Roald Dahl said it best when he said “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” 

If by any chance Erika Jayne ever happens to read this, I would like to say…

YASSS KWEEN, I LOVE YOU! SLAYYYYYYYYY!

And also, thank you. Thank you for helping me explore my own inner Erika Jayne.

It’s liberating!

Check out Erika Jayne on Instagram, YouTube & Twitter.

XO

How I practice self care.

Living in this modern day world can be tough. We are constantly bombarded with news, advertisements and many other anxiety inducing stimuli that has become apart of our daily lives.

Something I have learned over the years, is that if you don’t deal with stress, it will present itself in other ways to you, unless you take action and deal with it. E.g. headaches, mood swings etc.

Sometimes we forget to slow down and be in the moment, to be nice to ourselves. Practicing self-care is so important, people underestimate the benefits of a little bit of TLC and some self love.

self

To begin, I mindfully stop and ask myself, “what do I need right now?”. By checking in with myself and asking simple questions about what I need and if I am neglecting a part of myself, I can take simple steps to show myself a little compassion. Here are five simple ways I practice self care..

Reading a good book.

Mindfully sitting down in a comfy spot and reading a good book, is one of life’s simple pleasures. I love burning some essential oil and making a hot cup of tea, before I curl up on the couch to read the book of my choice. There is something about holding a book that brings me immense joy. It’s especially calming when it is raining out side and you can see & hear the rain drops falling. Bliss.

Being out in nature.

When I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed, I find it very helpful to get out in nature and breath in some fresh air. Nature is very healing, getting outside for a while can really help you clear your head. I always feel better after taking a long walk on my own. I will often listen to one of my favourite podcasts (The Minimalists Podcast RuPaul Podcast) to help me let go of the day thus far. Or, I will walk in silence and really focus on filling my lungs with beautiful, cleansing air.

Meditation.

Meditation is something I have dabbled with for a few years now. I used to use it to help me drift off to sleep at night (I still do sometimes!) but I have been making it apart of my daily routine lately. I usually take five minutes to focus on my breathing and calm the thinking mind. Which, isn’t always easy as someone who suffers from anxiety and is a self confessed over-thinker.

By doing this short, daily practice, I have found a way to slow down. Meditating has helped me to become more mindful, present and aware. If I feel stressed out or anxious, I take the time to breath and focus on the present moment. This helps me to stop worrying so much, to stop looking too far ahead into the future at the billion possibilities or events that may never happen.

Yoga & Stretching.

I practice Yoga every single day. Even if I only do a few poses before bed, I am much happier for it! Yoga helps me wind down and de-stress my body by releasing tension from my muscles. I usually use videos from the Yoga with Adriene channel as a guide. Her chill personality and funny jokes, always make me feel so much better and reminds me not to take myself so seriously.

Going to see a film.

As a film fanatic, I love going to see new releases and losing myself in a cinematic performance. I love experiencing a film with a friend or loved one, munching on popcorn and having a great time. Sometimes it is good to switch off from reality for a brief while and get out of your own head.

And there you have it! My five favourite ways to practice self-care! What are yours?

Tweet me @EllieJayden or contact me on facebook to share tips and ideas!

XO

The art of letting go.

Since my previous blog post about minimalism, I have been making time to declutter my living space and go through my stuff by asking myself a series of simple and direct questions.

  • When was the last time I wore/used this?
  • Will I honestly wear/use this in the next 6 months?
  • Is this useful to me?
  • Does this bring me joy?

You can make up your own questions when de-cluttering, but these are the questions that work for me personally. Once you are clear and honest with yourself, you are on the right track. Since starting my minimalism journey, I have discovered that getting rid of things isn’t as easy as I had anticipated. Some things are a lot harder to get rid of than others. For me it’s clothing & shoes.

Two days ago I decided to finally start going through my wardrobe. At first, I found it relatively easy, I had quite a few items that I was happy to donate to local charity shops. But as my wardrobe started to dwindle down, the going got tough for me. I discovered clothing that I had forgotten all about (this tends to happen when you hoard clothes for years and years!) and I found myself reminiscing about the past when I held up an old dress I used to wear all the time.

I tried it on and realised it no longer fit me. I held on to this dress for a decade and I still expected it to fit me as snug as it did when I was a teenager. Hilariously, even though it didn’t zip up all the way anymore, I still wanted to keep it! Sentimental items are the hardest to rid of. In that moment I understood that it’s not the item we want to hold on to, it’s the feeling it used to give us and the memories attached to it.

Image: Pinterest

In regards to clothing we hoard for years on end, I discovered that although these items remind us of certain events, time periods or memories, they can also make us feel horrible about ourselves. When I tried on that dress and realised that it no longer fit me, it made me feel bad about myself. Even though it’s silly to think my body wouldn’t have changed over the course of ten years. When I put on the dress, it no longer brought me joy. It no longer made me feel good about myself when I put it on. And then I finally saw it for what it was, fabric. It’s just a piece of fabric.

So, I donated it to a charity shop and decided to let someone else get value from it.

It was liberating!

Today I watched a very interesting and eye-opening TED Talks video about why we become so attached to things. Rewiring our brains to dissociate our feelings towards inanimate objects is difficult. We’ve been sold things all of our lives, we see adverts almost very minute of the day on our commutes to work, our social media feeds and even in the films we watch. In order avoid succumbing to these advertisements, we must become more aware. Awareness is the key to freeing ourselves from the illusion of advertisements and the want for useless things.

Delving into the world of minimalism has been a great joy for me so far. I have found that I feel lighter, less stressed, my awareness has increased and the act of letting go of things that no longer bring me joy is incredibly freeing. Although the de-cluttering process is bringing up a lot of feelings and emotions, it’s nice to actually begin to face my thoughts head on and be gentle with myself. Usually, if I feel a resistance when getting rid of something, I put it in a bag for a day or two and see how I feel later. More often than not, I conclude that the item is not of great importance to me. Sometimes, letting go is a process and there is no shame in that.

I just remind myself that it’s okay to let go.

XO

Discovering Minimalism.

What do you think of when you think of minimalism? If you’re anything like me, you may have thought instantly of a crisp white room, displaying a barely any furniture. Maybe just a wooden chair and a table, with a small but stylish plant placed neatly in the center. To me, minimalism seemed arty and slightly pretentious. It was a hashtag on instagram, not a lifestyle or movement. Looking back, I initially associated it with interior design more than anything else!

But boy was I wrong.

Over the holiday season I had fallen ill with a flu, it was so bad I couldn’t leave my bed for almost a week or more. I was so weak and miserable, I did the only thing I could do. I watched some Netflix.

I came across a documentary called Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.

Hand-on-heart, I can honestly say that this documentary has changed the way I look at things, and for the better. So much, that I feel happier than I have felt in a long time, due to adopting the principles laid out by the documentaries storytellers, Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus.

TheMinimalists.com

I was enlightened to discover that minimalism was not a pretentious instagram trend, but a lifestyle and a philosophy. After watching the documentary, for days I pondered the questions it posed. I am still thinking a lot about it and even introduced a friend to the documentary, whom it also had a profound affect on. I feel like a switch has gone off in my brain and I finally know what the next step is to clear my mind and cleanse my body of some of the built up stress I have been carrying around. I started by slowly getting rid of a few material possessions that brought no joy or served no purpose in my life. Essentially, I started to de-clutter, but it is so much more than that. By getting rid of things that no longer or have never severed us, we free up so much space.

Literally and spiritually. 

Essentially, the minimalist lifestyle is about freeing yourself. From the mundane carousel of consumerism, from mental clutter and so much more. To quote The Minimalists directly:

Minimalism is a tool that can assist you in finding freedom. Freedom from fear. Freedom from worry. Freedom from overwhelm. Freedom from guilt. Freedom from depression. Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. Want to own a car or a house? Great, have at it! Want to raise a family and have a career? If these things are important to you, then that’s wonderful. Minimalism simply allows you to make these decisions more consciously, more deliberately.

TheMinimalists.com

This lifestyle has impacted me in a such a profound and deep way. I am so interested in learning more about the art of letting go. I have held so much in, for so long and I finally think it is time to start de-cluttering my life, starting with what I own.

Minimalism is really helping me work through a lot of emotions and thoughts that I have been too scared to deal with for many years. By getting rid of the literally clutter in my life, I am learning about focusing on what matters to me, the best way to describe it is like seeing a fog clear. I feel mindful about what or whom I allow into my life now, I ask myself what purpose does this person/object/experience serve. Does it/they bring me joy?

I have come to learn that becoming minimalist is often a long process it can take months to finally be ready to let go of everything you don’t need. In a modern world where people are often defined by what they own, it is quite the mind fuck at times, to become hyper-aware of how zombie like we have become as consumers and as people. Minimalism is mindfulness. It’s a practice and I know I will get better at it with time and learning to let go will be a journey. And I am so excited to be taking the first steps.

I will be documenting my minimalism journey through this blog and my YouTube channel. I hope I can inspire others to try it out and see if it can cultivate a new awareness, a shift in perspective or even change someones life.

XO