50+ Ways To Use Self-Care to Ease Your Stress

Photo by Burak Kebapci from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-45072/

Photo by Burak Kebapci from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/light-45072/

You can’t give from an empty cup.

As many of you know, I’m co-founder of the Museum of Happiness, and being a new startup, there seems to be too much to do and too little time for the team to do it!

With that can easily come stress and anxiety.

So, after spending some time away with the team, we concluded that making self-care the team’s number one priority would help to create a more successful project, organisation and life.

I also strongly feel that it’s important to live the values we teach others - if being kind to ourselves, working reasonable hours and being playful and creative doesn’t result in a thriving organisation - then we can move onto another project.

Living our values is more important than any one project.

To live our values means to be mindful, kind, playful, wise and nurture community. Not easy, but these values do come naturally to us when we are authentically ourselves and feeling relaxed.

Resources for Self-Care

My research into self-care ended with me finding a wide variety of interesting videos and other resources, which I’d like to share with you today.

Ending the pursuit of perfection

This is one of my favourite TEDx talks now. Iskra shares a powerful personal story and simple tips to look after yourself. Enjoy!

A Self-Care Action Plan by Hank Green

An entertaining and short video offering you steps towards self-care

Steps include:

  1. Recognise it’s ok to take care of yourself (in fact it’s smart to do so!)

  2. Research what self-care actions work for YOU. (nutrition, exercise, hydrating, taking small breaks are universal ones)

    1. Consider journalling

    2. Make a list of self-care actions that work for you

  3. Self care powers - activate! What are your warning signs?

    1. Clarify your warning signs. Maybe checking your phone obsessively? Rushing too much? Tension in your jaw?

45 Tips for mind, body and soul

If you need some self-care ideas, check these ones out from Tiny Buddha. You’d likely to find something there that resonates with you. You could pick one and try it out this week and let us know how it goes!

People Share Their Self-Care Routine

A lovely video on a variety of ideas on self-care in less than 3 minutes by Buzzfeed.

I love their one liner: “Just take that time to do something for yourself.”

 

 

My Morning Checklist

I’ve recently been discovering the power of checklists. It can literally saves hundreds of thousands of lives in the aviation, construction and now medical industry. And it can save your life too!

So, I’ve started a short checklist I go through every morning as part of my own self-care routine. This includes:

  • Waking up relatively early (usually around 5 or 6am for me)

  • Not checking my messages, emails or texts!

  • Meditating either in silence or with a guided meditation (and if I don’t feel like meditating for 30-60 minutes for whatever reason, I consider doing just one minute and then decide)

  • Journalling for 20 minutes with a timer (a bit like morning pages)

  • Breakfast

  • Daily writing and blogging

  • Important work or reflection

  • Check and respond to important messages

Journaling and meditating is an important part of my emotional and spiritual well being. By creating a checklist, I know what to focus on and in what order, and gets my day to a familiar and enjoyable start.

Conclusion

Here’s some of my key learnings around self-care.

  • Silence is a keystone self-care habit. By spending time in silence, you recharge body, mind and spirit. And the awareness and wisdom that grows helps you get insights about navigating other areas of your life too.

  • Self-care is the greatest investment you can make. More than the house you buy or the car you drive. When you nurture yourself, you’re much better able to help others too.

  • Self-care isn’t a reward - it’s a vital part of being human.

  • Self-care is realising: ‘I am responsible for myself

  • In a nutshell: “Just take that time to do something for yourself.”

Care for yourself first, and then care for those around you. If you find it hard to care for yourself, you need it more than anyone else.

Start small and start today.

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Our Teach Mindfulness program offers you 3 months in an online community to nurture your self-care as well as discover how to teach and share mindfulness with others.

Complete a free application today.

10 Ways to Enjoy Happiness at Work [Infographic]

I have a confession to make. I love mondays!
 

I love working so much, I prefer weekdays to weekends.

I have to actually force myself to not work at weekends, so that I can recharge for the week ahead. Weird, I know.

Here’s an infographic for some ways you can give your happiness a little boost in the workplace. They all have scientific evidence behind them.

Do let me know if you try any of them.

Let me know if you have tried any of these in the comments below. And do you have any other ideas I’ve missed? Sharing it with our community would be a nice act of kindness! Thanks!

How to Make Friends (the Mindful Way)

making friends mindfully

Are you a good friend?

Want to be better at making friends?

Then read on!

In this post you’ll discover my highs and lows in my journey to cultivate better friendships. And I hope you’ll be inspired to deepen your own friendships too.

Friendship was fun in my early years

As a child, I was fortunate to attend a fantastic, local primary school. A short walk away, and all my friends lived nearby.

I hung out with my friends on warm summer evenings, and most weekends too.

We cycled together, we played computer games together -  we even wrote code to design computer games! (One of my friends still does that...he’s now making a computer game which he’s sold to Sony Playstation!)

We loved gardening and cooking too...well, cooking chocolate cake mainly!

Ah, I can still recall the delicious smell of chocolate pudding cooking in my friend’s oven, whilst seeing flour and sugar and cocoa powder scattered generously all over the kitchen worktop and floor.

For us, free time was filled with playing and having fun together. That’s what bonded us.

In our friendship, kindness was the oil in our engine and fun was the fuel that energised us.

In our friendship, kindness was the oil in our engine and fun was the fuel that energised us.

The fun stopped for a while...

As I grew up, my secondary school wasn’t so fun. There were bullies and too much homework. Excessively strict teachers and out of control students. Life was happier once I reached university, and my friendship circle began to grow again.

At university I discovered mindfulness by accident. And it would be another 20 years before I began to really understand the value of kindness in mindfulness practice - the art of making friends with myself! And that’s the journey I’m still on today.

Value Friendship

Friends and family are our highest priority.

For many of us, family can be a tough relationship. As can personal relationships with all their demands and attachments. You don’t choose your family.

But friendship is beautiful. You choose your friends.

The heart of life is relationships.

The heart of relationships is trust.

The heart of trust is understanding.

And the heart of understanding is care.

The heart of life is relationships.

The heart of relationships is trust.

The heart of trust is understanding.

And the heart of understanding is care.

Let’s unpack this a bit more.

Life is relationship. It’s about the way you connect to yourself, others and the world at large. Relationship with others is built on trust. Without trust, the relationship is fear-based and so there’s no deep connection there. Trust comes out of understanding that other people are imperfect human beings, just like you are. And so they will make mistakes from time to time - but that’s no reason to stop trusting them. And finally, the heart of understanding is care. When you care about others, love others and support others, you are willing to understand them, trust them and so ultimately, that’s the heart of relationships. To care.

So, let’s value friendship. Friendship is about developing kindness, care and compassion.

And that brings me to my second point.

Start with Yourself: Be a Friend to Your Body and Mind

If you find yourself struggling to form or deepen your friendships, you’re probably not being a friend to yourself.

The fastest, easiest and most powerful way to become friends with yourself, is to treat yourself as you would a good friend. A wise and kind friend.

The fastest, easiest and most powerful way to become friends with yourself, is to treat yourself as you would a good friend.

If a wise and kind friend was with you right now, what advice would they give you?

Now give that advice to yourself. Write it down to strengthen the power.

You can extend this by asking your your body, ‘how are you body?’ My body right now is quite relaxed, but even so, when I ask that question, my body wants to be adjusted to feel more comfortable. What about you?

Then, ask your mind ‘how are you mind?’ I ask my mind that question, and it says it has a few concerns. As my friend is picking me up this morning and I’m travelling for a few days in and around Exeter in the UK, I need to do some packing and have breakfast in just over an hour.

So I ask my mind, ‘What would make you feel more at ease?’ My mind says: ‘I’ll just let those worries go. Then I can focus on finishing this writing, do a spot of meditation and then we can sort everything else out. It’s a little holiday so no need to worry at all.’

Treating your body and mind, and even your heart, in this kind way is a lovely way to be a better friend to yourself.

You’re Alone...and that’s good!

Being a friend to yourself means to be able to spend time with yourself too.

Ever wondered what the origins of the word ‘alone’ is?

Alone (etymology)
Middle English: from all + one.

Cool, eh!!! Alone actually means All and One in old english. The old english knew a thing or two about aloneness!

So, I agree. You’re never on your own...because you’re all-one - at one with yourself.

Put more simply, you always have yourself to keep you company!

So by being your own best friend, you’ll never feel lonely and isolated. You’ll be with your best buddy - you!

See the good in everyone

Seeing the good in others is a powerful way to deepen and broaden your friendship circle.

I’ve had a slightly different set of close friends every few years. I had a set of friends at college in St. Albans. A set of friends at university studying engineering. A set of friends at teacher training in London. A set of friends as a school teacher at St. James. And then a set of friends whilst being a mindfulness teacher. And now a lovely set of friends through my Museum of Happiness project based in Camden.

I’ve stayed in touch with most friends and most of those friends have been amicable to me.

There has been a very small number of friends that I have lost touch with. One friend one day decided to not contact me again, with no explanation. And another friend has done that too. In both cases, the reason for the blocking or lack of contact isn’t clear. I assume they don’t like me for whatever reason! I like to remember that some people even hate the Dalai Lama - that’s not his fault, just other people’s misunderstanding.

My practice is to see the good in everyone. Even those friends that seem to have blocked me - I still see the good in them. I know they are doing it not because of me, but because of them. They are unable to see the good in me and thereby end the contact.

This lack of forgiveness becomes like a piece of hot coat, burning within you. So I recommend you take action now, and if you’re not on speaking terms with someone for a silly reason, get in touch. At least make the effort and be the more adult person in the relationship. If they decline, no worries - at least you tried and you can die with a clear conscience.

Care, Don’t Cure. Friendship is Kindness.

You need to care for people - not cure them. Even if you’re a doctor! Doctors can’t always cure people, but they can always care for them.

This is a favorite saying of my teacher Ajahn Brahm, and for me too.

It’s so tempting to fix other people. It is for me anyway! But if you try to fix a person, hoping that’ll make them better, then there are a few problems with that:

  1. You’re not accepting them the way they are. There’s ultimately nothing wrong with anyone. The issue is not the problem they have - it’s the fact they don’t accept themselves the way they are. If they accepted themselves, they wouldn’t be so frustrated and angry and irritable and sad.
  2. You’re acting as if you are above them, which heightens your status and lowers their status. Cast your mind back to the last time someone gave you advice and told you what to do. How did that make you feel? I accept that it does depend on how they gave that advice.
  3. You’re not trusting that they can solve their own challenge. By asking your friend to talk and sharing their difficulty, you give them space to express themselves. Then they hear themselves and come up with a solution themselves! Which brings us to my next point...

Listening is Loving

When I was a school teacher, some of the students were described as ‘attention seekers’. They were almost always causing trouble in class, misbehaving and trying to show off. And being told off by the teacher didn’t seem to reduce their naughtiness.

I almost always found these children came from difficult backgrounds. Either their parents had recently divorced, or were not properly cared for at home. This lack of love at home meant they sought love in school. But as teachers are always so busy, the only way they could get that love was through the attention of the teacher and other students, when they misbehaved.

This taught me something very important: attention is love.

Attention is love.

When you pay attention to your friend, you’re loving them. There’s no greater gift you can give another human being, in my opinion.

And when you stop to meditate, and you listen to your body...your mind...your heart...you’re loving yourself. And there’s no greater gift you can give yourself.

Conclusion

To cultivate better friendships, start by being a better friend to yourself. Don’t force or order your body and mind around. Your body and mind are your friends, not your slaves. Instead, be soft and gentle to your body and mind. Communicate with yourself. Spend time with yourself.

In this way, you will also begin to be soft and kind and caring to people around you too. You’ll be more caring, understanding and trusting -  the qualities that make up the heart of relationships. You learn to see the good in yourself and the good in others too. And everyone has some good in them.

Mindfulness and Kindfulness - An Interview

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I was recently interviewed by one of my favourite organisations - Service Space.

They run a weekly live call called Awakin Calls that goes out to thousands of people.

You can listen to the full interview here. 

Here’s some pre-interview questions they asked me to answer. How would you answer them?’


Your Greatest Inspiration?

Most recently was around 4 years ago when I was sick in bed and started listening to a meditation retreat on YouTube and finding myself blissed out and recharged through a totally different kind of meditation than what I was used to doing in the previous 16 years. I'll share the technique and details in the call.

An Act of Kindness You'll Never Forget?

My friends started a Facebook group to encourage my friends to do acts of kindness to celebrate my 40th birthday. It's still happening as my birthday was in late August and so warms my heart!

One Thing On Your Bucket List?

To have a hole at the bottom of my bucket!

One-line Message for the World?

Now is the most important time; the person infront is the most important person in the world; the most important thing to do is... to be kind!

 

Truth is a Pathless Land - The Teachings of Jiddu Krishnamurti

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Krishnamurti. If you’re read any of his books, you’ll know it’s hard to call him anything. He’s not really a philosopher or teacher... and certainly he would strongly reject the claim to be a guru.

This week I’d like to share what I learnt in my stay at The Krishnamurti Centre in Hampshire, UK. This is a centre he helped to create. It’s a space designed to reflect on his teachings in a natural environment, free from any coercion, timetable or pressure.

I first came across K when I was around 21 years old. I read the book Freedom from the Known (the link contains extracts), and I was hooked. In fact, I went to observe the school that Krishnamurti developed called Brockwood Park School, and almost ended up becoming a teacher there.

After studying K for about a year or so, I found myself a little stuck. I spent far more time watching his videos and reading his books, than actually spending time in silence or going for walks. So I decided to let the theory go and ended up following my own path.

Krishnamurti has a fascinating biography. Born in a very poor family, he was spotted on a beach and identified as having a very pure ‘aura’ that showed not even a hint of selfishness.

He was then trained to be a world teacher by the Theosophical Society, a ‘star from the east’. But after a few years, he rejected that role and spent the rest of his life on his mission to ‘set human beings completely and unconditionally free’.

I won’t attempt to summarise K’s teachings. Instead, this is what is commonly quoted as a summary of his teachings. I’d love to hear what you think of it:

The Core of the Teachings

Written by J. Krishnamurti, 1980.

Truth is a pathless land.

Truth is a pathless land. Man cannot come to it through any organization, through any creed, through any dogma, priest or ritual, not through any philosophical knowledge or psychological technique. He has to find it through the mirror of relationship, through the understanding of the contents of his own mind, through observation and not through intellectual analysis or introspective dissection.

Man has built in himself images as a fence of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man.

Man has built in himself images as a fence of security—religious, political, personal. These manifest as symbols, ideas, beliefs. The burden of these images dominates man’s thinking, his relationships, and his daily life. These images are the causes of our problems for they divide man from man. His perception of life is shaped by the concepts already established in his mind. The content of his consciousness is his entire existence. The individuality is the name, the form and superficial culture he acquires from tradition and environment. The uniqueness of man does not lie in the superficial but in complete freedom from the content of his consciousness, which is common to all humanity. So he is not an individual.

Freedom is not a reaction; freedom is not choice. It is man’s pretence that because he has choice he is free. Freedom is pure observation without direction, without fear of punishment and reward. Freedom is without motive; freedom is not at the end of the evolution of man but lies in the first step of his existence. In observation one begins to discover the lack of freedom. Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.

Freedom is found in the choiceless awareness of our daily existence and activity.

Thought is time. Thought is born of experience and knowledge, which are inseparable from time and the past. Time is the psychological enemy of man. Our action is based on knowledge and therefore time, so man is always a slave to the past. Thought is ever limited and so we live in constant conflict and struggle. There is no psychological evolution. When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion. Then only is there pure observation which is insight without any shadow of the past or of time. This timeless insight brings about a deep, radical mutation in the mind.

When man becomes aware of the movement of his own thoughts, he will see the division between the thinker and thought, the observer and the observed, the experiencer and the experience. He will discover that this division is an illusion.

Total negation is the essence of the positive. When there is negation of all those things that thought has brought about psychologically, only then is there love, which is compassion and intelligence.

This quote is copyright © 1980 Krishnamurti Foundation Trust Ltd

And here's one of Krishnamurti's most popular videos on Fear:

 

 


Have you studied J. Krishnamurti? What are your experiences with his teachings? Let me know in the comments below, if you have a few moments and want to share. Thank you!