What My Week-Long Meditation Challenge Taught Me

Last Month I discussed wanting to participate in a Meditation Challenge. I wanted to do this because I wanted to clear my mind and work on calming myself down. I’m happy to report that I was able to mostly* complete the challenge and managed to meditate almost 20 mins every day for a week straight. I’m really proud of myself because I was unsuccessful when I tried to do a Yoga Challenge a few months back. I feel like I was able to calm my mind and lower my anxiety before bed. I learned quite a few things in those 7 days and I decided I should share those things for those who may consider meditating or are just curious about how it went for me. Here are three things I learned while completing my meditation challenge.

Morning Meditation is not for me (at least not for 10 mins)

Before I started the meditation challenge, my goal was to meditate 10 minutes in the morning and 10 minutes before bed. While meditating 10 minutes before bed was easy, I found meditating in the morning really difficult. I kept falling back asleep and even when I wouldn’t, it just didn’t like starting my day that way. I do think that if I had chosen 5 minutes for morning (or maybe even just a mindful minute) I would have liked it much more. However, meditating does not have to be done in the morning to be effective. There are other ways to practice mindfulness that don’t require meditating like __________. I will probably try to just sit in silence for 1 minute every morning because I did like not grabbing my phone first thing in the morning and having time to sit with myself.

Journaling before meditating reduces my thoughts being all over the place

Idk about you but my brain is always thinking of something else. However, during this challenge I realized that meditating without journaling beforehand really sets me up for a notsofocused meditation session. While learning to be focused is always a challenge regardless of what you do before meditating, a good old brain dump definitely helps me reduce the amount of times I stray off during my meditating. Even if I only journal/brain dump for 5 minutes beforehand, it helps me get a little more focused. If you struggle with staying focusing during meditation I definitely recommend this.

It’s okay to get distracted, mindfulness takes practice

Speaking of staying focused, if you’re new to meditating don’t beat yourself up about not being able to focus on your breathe or being present for the entire 5/10/20/however long minutes. Meditation is a practice and you will not be a superstar at it when you’re first starting out. We are used to the hustle & bustle of society and sitting in silence and trying not to think about anything is the polar opposite of that. It’s going to take time and HELLA PRACTICE. Be cool about it and you will slowly but surely get better at it. I barely improved between day 1 and day 7 but I did get slightly better at it. Progession is the goal, always.

I love doing challenges because they prove to me what I‘m capable of if I make it a priority. I think I want to re-attempt the Yoga Challenge but make it a week long like this one. I definitely want to keep incorporating Meditation into my daily routine. I like how it makes me feel so that’s enough of a reason. We are all trying to find things that calm us down during these times. Hopefully these lessons will help you decide if meditating is for you.

Do you practice meditation? If no, why not? Let’s chat in the comments!

Why I’m Doing A Week-Long Meditation Challenge

The last few weeks I have been entirely too stressed out. Between work assignments, deadlines, and getting ready to go back to school, my stress levels have been through the roof. It seems that as I’ve gotten busier, I’ve neglected some of my wellness habits. I’ve definitely been slacking on my on my meditation and journaling and I’m feeling the effects. I used to meditate every few days or so and I really enjoyed how my life was when that was the case.

There’s this quote that says “You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day. Unless you’re too busy, then you should sit for an hour.” I figured now is the perfect time to try and get back into the habit of meditating and even more so to do it daily. What better way to do so than a meditation challenge? By making it into a challenge, I will more than likely feel more motivated to do so just as I was more motivated to workout when I made it a personal challenge to close my apple watch rings every day!

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The challenge will consist of the following:

  • Meditating 10 minutes every morning before using my phone
  • Meditating 10 minutes every night before I go to sleep
  • Meditating every day for 1 week.

I’m excited to dedicate 20 minutes a day to meditating for the next week (starting tomorrow). I know the benefits will be great and I really hope to be able to stick to it! I can do it. If you’d like to follow along with me, follow me on Instagram: @musingsofmara. I will also have the following template on there and update it every day! Hopefully in the next few days, you read a blog about me sticking to it and not a blog similar to my failed attempt at a yoga challenge (read about it here). Wish me luck!

Do you practice meditation? Have you ever wanted to? Let me know in the comments below!

 

6 Self-Reflection Questions To Ask Yourself About Your Health & Wellness

Anyone who has been following on my Instagram me for a while knows that I’m a huge proponent of maintaining mental, physical, & emotional wellness (I also think spiritual wellness is important but it’s something I don’t really talk about as much on my platforms). I’m a big believer that if you want to work towards or maintain wellness, you have to check-in with yourself and you have to do so regularly. During these wild times in the world, striving for wellness is more important than ever.

30 Day Yoga Challenge

The last few years (when I can be disciplined enough to stay consistent) I check-in with my Instagram followers and ask them some questions on Wednesdays to gauge how their week is going. I love asking them (and myself) these questions in the middle of the week because it allows us to note where we are falling short and do what we need to do to fix it.

Here are the questions:

  1. Have I been getting enough sleep?
  2. Have I been drinking enough water?
  3. Have I been eating balanced meals?
  4. Have I been physically active?
  5. Have I been checking in with my loved ones?
  6. Have I been spending time with myself?

Get in the habit of asking yourself these questions in the middle of the week or whenever you feel like you’re in a funk. Sometimes our bad moods can simply be a reflection of our lack of hydration, nutrition, sleep, activity, interaction, or me-time. If you truly feel down & like these things aren’t enough, be sure to journal and seek professional help for dealing with your emotions.

 

Did you ask yourself these questions? What are your answers? Tell me what steps will you take to implement wellness moving forward in the comments!

A Few Ways To Deal With Being Overwhelmed

The last few weeks I’ve have been entirely overwhelmed with everything I needed to get done. A few weeks ago we had to grade the write-on competition and that pushed me back on other projects and work more than I thought it would. The following week after that I had a work assignment that also took way longer than I thought it would. I’m stressed because I had so many things I wanted to do like batch all of my Instagram photos and captions, record some episodes for my podcast, and write more than one or two blog posts at a time for this consistency challenge and I haven’t really done any of those things. This caused me to feel disappointed in myself.

On Monday I became even more overwhelmed because we had to register for classes (which I talked about here) and it hit me that I would be spending ANOTHER semester of law school on Zoom or WebEx or whatever my professors decide to use. I remembered how stressful this past semester was and started crying. I then realized that I had been feeling overwhelmed for a long time and me crying was just a cumulation of all that stress. All of those feelings inspired this post.

I deal with overwhelm by taking time for myself.

Whatever that looks like for what I’m going through at the time. The last few days I have been sleeping A LOT and making sure that I stick to my workout schedule (I’ve closed my apple rings EVERY DAY this month y’all). I feel like sticking to my workout schedule has been very important for my wellness this month because when I feel like I’m dropping the ball on my blog, instagram, or podcast…it makes me feel proud of myself that I’m sticking to my goal of closing my rings on my apple watch and working out every day. Keeping promises to yourself is important when you feel like you aren’t doing anything right. Find someway that you can take time for yourself and keep that promise to yourself.

I deal with overwhelm by making to-do lists and then organizing them by importance.

I know, writing a to-do lists may sound counterproductive when you’re dealing with being overwhelmed but sometimes it helps me just to write everything down and see it in front of me. Sometimes feeling overwhelm is just a result of me feeling* like I have a lot to do in a short amount time but really I have more time than I realize to do it. Writing things down and and then prioritizing them allows me to feel more in control of how I spend my time, which helps me not feel as overwhelmed.

I deal with overwhelm by giving myself grace.

Period. Speaking for myself, a lot of my overwhelm comes from self-imposed requirements. If I’m able to give myself grace and talk to myself kindly, some of my overwhelm goes away. Sometimes I have to remind myself that every day I can only strive to do my best and nothing else.

We are living in stressful times and it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I wrote this post off the top of my head so hopefully it’s useful for you. Have a great Wednesday and rest of your week! Follow me on Instagram here for more tips on wellness.

5 Free Ways To Practice Self-Care & Cope w/ Covid-19

The last few months have been some of the most stressful months in my entire life. I wouldn’t wish being in law school during a pandemic on my worst enemy. Once the semester ended things became a little less stressful but the stress was still there. I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way. All of my friends in different industries and grad-programs are equally as stressed as I am or more depending on their circumstances. We are all truly trying our best to survive and hold onto our sense of well-being.

When the stay-at-home-orders first started, one of the ways I coped with it was by engaging in retail therapy. I bought myself a ring-light (don’t regret it) and many other things to keep myself pre-occupied when I didn’t have other responsibilities. Many other things I used to do for self-care like strolling aimlessly in Trader Joe’s or going to the sauna at my local gym were no longer options. Going to the grocery store became this super intense experience and the gyms rightfully shut down and even though they are open now I’m still not comfortable to go back to them. This led to my mental health suffering and began a horrible cycle of me neglecting myself and feeling sad and then neglecting myself and you get it.

Self-care has become a way of life in recent years and could even be considered to be trendy. However, when people think of self-care they often think of getting a mani-pedi or a massage or whatever other parts of our beauty regimen we can think of that make us feel good. Unless you are super talented, those things can have quite a price tag and although some salons are opening back up, I don’t want to risk it. Aside from that, self-care does not have to be related to beauty. Self-care doesn’t even have to cost money. Some of the best things I can do to take care of myself (mindbodyspirit) are completely FREE! Well, some of them require you to pay your phone bill or have someone paying your phone bill but I assume that you were already going to do that. I was asked to share some ways to cope with covid and I’ve shared these tips before at some point but I feel they are especially timely now.

Go Outside and Ground Yourself

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So the art of grounding yourself can be defined differently by everyone but for the sake of this blog I’m talking about grounding myself with the earth. The most effective way to do this for me is by standing barefoot in sand (or grass now that I don’t live in San Diego and close to the beach) and doing breathing exercises. It’s kind of like meditating while you are standing up. I love to ground myself because it reminds me that I’m part of something much bigger than myself and shifts my perspective on everything, even my problems.

 

Turn Off Your Phone For A Day (or a few hours)

social distancing

As a blogger and a millennial I will say that one stereotype that I often fall into is that I’m always on my phone. As a matter of fact, I’m usually on my phone majority of the time I’m awake unless I’m at work. Lately I’ve been practicing leaving my phone in another room and just being content with sitting and doing nothing or reading a book in silence. Taking a break from technology is a good way to take care of ourselves.

Clean and Declutter Your Space(s)

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Okay so I don’t know about you all but as I’ve grown over the years I realize that if my space is a mess, it’s usually a reflection of my life at the time. Whether it’s my room, desk at work, kitchen, or whatever else if there is mess and clutter there simply cleaning it up can be a great morale booster and one of the best-practices of self-care (if you’re not the type to get stressed out by cleaning).

Listen To Nature Sounds

Coping with Covid-19

Ever since I was a baby the sound of water has always made me feel at peace. My mom used to have to run the tub or faucet just to get me to fall asleep. As a former San Diego resident one of my favorite things to do used to be just going out to the beach and night and listening to the ocean waves. If you can do this in person it is awesome but there are also videos on YouTube that have these sounds as well. My personal favorite thing is this app I downloaded called Tide. It has recordings of different sounds of nature from forests to my personal favorite, rain, and other things in between. When I listen to these I almost instantly feel better and more at peace and relaxed.

Get a Good Night’s Sleep (and make it a habit)
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Honestly, this is something I struggle with. I should always be doing this but life sometimes gets hectic and nights with only 4 or 5 hours of sleep happen. If this is the life that you also live, find a way to get a few nights of good rest. There are few things better than waking up from an ample amount of sleep. Making sure you are well rested is one of the best ways to take care of yourself, your body, and your mind. If this is not possible I also encourage naps. In college even a 15 minute power nap had a drastic effect on my day.

While charcoal masks, online shopping, and eating at your favorite restaurant can be good ways to practice self-care, they aren’t always free and/or feasible, especially during these times. All of these tips can be utilized at any point during your day. I hope that you are able to practice these free self-care tips and they transform your physical and mental well-being and make dealing with Covid-19 a little bit easier.

What do you do when you need to practice self-care but you have to spend your money elsewhere? How are you coping with Covid-19? Let me know in the comments!