How to find comfort in solitude

comfort in solitude, comfort in alleen zijn
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

Below, I have listed some tips for people who struggle with being alone. With these calming activities, you can learn how to find comfort in solitude – even when you have a tendency to get anxious.

Try these calming activities and learn to find comfort in solitude

#1. Develop (or improve) your morning routine

Those who are not used to being alone often have troubles ‘getting stuff done’ – usually because of the (sudden) absence of social control. I suggest setting up a morning routine for yourself. It’s totally up to you what that morning routine looks like. My personal advice would be to get up around the same time every day, which benefits your circadian rhythm and sleep quality. Maybe you like to take my morning coffee outside and listen to the world waking up around you. Make a to-do list. Set an intention for the day. See what works for you and what doesn’t. Are there certain tasks that you need to do every day, like walk the dog, feed the cat or check your work emails? Try to incorporate those tasks in your morning routine. Getting them out of the way early on means you can let them go for the rest of the day, which helps to reduce anxiety and create more headspace.

#2. Take time to stretch

While I personally like to stretch in the morning because it helps to wake up physically and ‘ease into the day’, some people benefit from doing this later in the day or before bed. Either way, you should definitely try to stretch every day. Stretching (especially when done by moving with the breath) is a great way to connect with your body, activate your muscles and release any tension. Don’t worry about flexibility or not being able to perform certain stretches. Nobody is watching, so there is no judgement. It’s all about what makes you feel good.

#3. Go for a walk

Even on the laziest days it is important to get some fresh air, even if it’s just for 10 minutes. During the fall and winter, try to get out between 11 and 3 pm, or at least when it is light outside. This can make a huge difference for your mood and energy levels, especially when you’re struggling with SAD. The benefits of walking are even greater when you make it a mindful walk. This is one of the best things you can do to find comfort in solitude.

#4. Declutter

Decluttering something usually means that it has to get messy before it gets organized. Having someone in your way will not make the process any easier. That’s why decluttering is a great thing to do during your alone time! Don’t try to do it all at once though; just pick one thing (your wardrobe or your pantry, for example) and focus on that. Getting it done will give you a dopamine boost. Plus, living in a clean and decluttered space lowers your stress levels and contributes to your well-being. Got some time left? Consider creating your own mindfulness corner.

#5. Reflect on your goals

Use your alone-time to reflect on your goals. Grab a notebook and a pen, write down what you want to accomplish in the long run regarding various aspects of your life. Then break down those goals down into smaller, more concrete steps. Also make a list of the progress you’ve already made, and reflect on the things you can do better.

#6. Try a sound bath

Do a Google search to see if there are any wellness centres in your area where you can participate in a sound bath. This a very relaxing activity that’s perfect to do on your own. A sound bath is a deeply-immersive, therapeutic experience that uses sounds to calm your body and mind.

#7. Make time for self-care

Self-care is often one of the things that get pushed to the back-burner when we are in the company of others. So why not use your time alone to give your #1 some TLC? Prep an at-home spa night for yourself. Take a long bath, do a face mask, cut your nails, give yourself a pedicure and slather on your favourite body oil. You’ll be warm and relaxed when it’s time for bed. And with a little luck, you’ll sleep like a baby.

10 different meditation styles

meditation styles, meditatie stijlen
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

Below, we’ve listed 10 well-known meditation styles for you to explore. The different styles don’t fit in neat boxes; there is a lot of overlap between them. And no, there is no meditation style that is universally recognized as ‘the best’. It’s all about discovering what works well for you!

10 different meditation styles you can try

#1. Guided meditation

Guided meditation is one of the meditation styles that offer beginners a great way to get started with the practice. It is basically letting a teacher guide you through the meditation. That could be in person, but you can also use an app or listen to a YouTube video. We’d recommend trying out some courses by different teachers and see which one you like and connect with the most.

#2. Present-moment meditation

Present-moment meditation, also called mindfulness meditation, is what we write about most on this blog. While it can take on many forms, it is essentially about training yourself to get out of your own head and use your senses to become (more) aware of your current physical state and/or immediate surroundings.

#3. Visualization meditation

During visualization meditation, you close your eyes and picture something in your mind that you’re going to focus on. It could be an object or a person. Visualisation is very powerful and is also used to manifest abundance and other things that you want in life.

#4. Metta meditation

This meditation style is also known as ‘loving kindness’ meditation. It’s about bringing awareness to certain people in your life. Whether you choose someone you like or dislike, it’s always about directing positive energy towards them.

#5. Mantra meditation

Mantra meditation is about formulating a mantra and repeating it. Your mantra could be a single word or a full sentence, a chant or an affirmation – it does not really matter, as long as it resonates with you. If you want to try it out, these five phrases to tell yourself in the mirror are a good way to get started.

#6. Observation meditation

This meditation style, sometimes also referred to as ‘five senses meditation’ is all about observing sensory stimuli. I’ve written a blogpost about observation meditation that explains a bit more about the concept.

#7. Candle-gazing meditation

Candle gazing, also called ‘trataka’, is one of the meditation styles where you keep your eyes open and focus on a specific point. This could be the flame of a candle, but you can also use something like a crystal or a piece of jewellery. The idea is that you focus on the object without blinking.

#8. Transcendental meditation

Transcendental meditation is a meditation style that requires you to find a certified teacher, who will guide you through a 20 minute meditation – usually once or twice a day. The idea that doing this on a daily basis will ultimately help you to transcend your current state of being.

#9. Vipassana meditation

Vipassana literally means ‘seeing things as they really are’. This meditation style, also called ‘insight meditation’, requires you to examine all aspects of your existence by observing both physical and mental sensations that arise during a session.

#10. Zen meditation

Zen meditation, also known as ‘zazen’, is an ancient Buddhist practice that involves sitting upright (with your legs crossed or in lotus pose) and following your breath. Instead of focusing on something specific like a mantra, an object or a visualized person, the idea is to train a general awareness.

17 things you can do to be more mindful on an average day

be more mindful on an average day
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

Below, we’ve listed some very easy things you can do to go about your day in a more mindful way – without actually needing to reserve time for them.

What you can do to be more mindful on an average day

#1. When you make your first coffee in the morning, take a few seconds to smell that freshly brewed cuppa.

#2. Do you always take a look in the mirror before you leave the house? Pick one of these five phrase to tell yourself in the mirror.

#3. As soon as you step outside, stop for a second and inhale the fresh air.

#4. Look at the sky. Is it a cloudy day? Give a name to that shade of grey. It might be a different shade of grey than yesterday or tomorrow. If there’s a clear sky, name that specific hue of blue.

#5. Pick a stranger you pass on the street. If you manage to make eye contact, smile (just… not in a creepy way). Maybe you can even say a friendly hi.

#6. If you walk past a bakery, stop for a moment and take in the scent of freshly baked bread. 

#7. Every time you have to climb stairs, slow down and pay attention. Can you feel which muscles have to do the most work? Is there a banister, and if so, are you using it to support yourself? How are the soles of your feet making contact with the steps? Are you out of breath when you get upstairs?

#8. When you feel the urge to snack, check in with yourself first. Why do you want something to eat right now? Are you actually hungry? Low on energy? Stress-eating? Or could it be that you’re just bored?

#9. Remind yourself at least once today to drop your shoulders and relax your jaw. These are the two parts of your bodies that tend to hold most tension when we get anxious or stressed.

#10. Take at least one moment during the day to be alone, even if it’s just for a bathroom break. Use that moment of solitude to check in with yourself.

#11. In the afternoon, observe the weather. What’s it like now compared to this morning, when you gave a name to the colour of the sky? Try to use more of your senses than just your eyes. Can you estimate the temperature?

#12. When doing the dishes, focus on your senses. The sound of the running water, the sensation of your warm and wet hands, the scent of the dishwashing soap.

#13. When you sit down to eat, remind yourself to eat mindfully. Slow down. Take the time to chew your food and pay attention to tastes, textures and smells before you swallow.

#14. When brushing your teeth before you go to bed, don’t let your thoughts drift like you always do. Focus on the taste of your toothpaste, the feeling of foam in your mouth, the movements of your hand. Are you getting to those teeth in the back your dentist said deserve more attention?

#15. Light a candle. Take a couple of seconds to watch the flickering of the flame.

#16. When getting undressed before bed, try to be mindful about it. What are you taking off first? How do the materials of your clothes feel against your skin? Does the smell your clothes remind you of what you did that day? Where are you leaving your socks?

#17. Once you’re in bed, take a couple of deep breaths. Every time you exhale, imagine breathing out all the things that affected you negatively during the day. Chances are you’ll drift off in no time.

How to spend the holidays mindfully

holidays mindfully
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

There’s unrealistic expectations, ridiculous expenses, forced get-togethers, six-course dinners with barely anything you can eat without getting an allergic reaction, family drama and not to mention more stress than during the rest of the year. If you’re overwhelmed already, read on to find out what you can do to spend this year’s holidays mindfully – without feeling the urge to disappear until it’s all over.

Spend the holidays mindfully with these tips


#1. Don’t be afraid to say “no”

One of the primary causes of holiday stress is caused by the fact that we’re spreading ourselves too thin. There is really no reason to accept every invitation that you get, especially not if that means you won’t have any time left for yourself. Be okay with kindly declining. “No” is a complete sentence. You do not owe anybody an explanation about why you won’t be there. And if you’re afraid of FOMO, don’t worry; that will melt away once you’re snuggled up on the couch in your pyjama’s. Because let’s be honest, isn’t that the most relaxed way to spend the holidays?

#2. Try something completely different

Having a big Christmas dinner at someone’s house is sort of the go-to plan. But it can be very refreshing to try something completely different for a change. Why not invite the fam over for a long walk through the woods combined with a picnic where everyone brings something homemade? Or maybe just a stroll on the beach with some hot chocolate afterwards to warm up? These are plans that don’t involve hours in the kitchen or losing the entire day after cleaning up the mess everyone left behind. Plus, getting outside and moving are two things we’re not doing enough in this time of year, so it’s a win for everyone.

#3. Volunteer

Something else you can do differently this year? Volunteer! See if you can pick up a shift at your local soup kitchen, organise something at the community centre or maybe (if you prefer animals over people) help out at the shelter. Helping those less fortunate is something you can do by yourself, but who knows? Maybe you can even convince some family members, friends or neighbours to join you! It’s a great way to bond!

#4. Make time for self-care

The holidays are all about compassion for others. Which is great, except that we often forget ourselves in the process. So plan in some self-care time – yes, actually put it in your agenda, so that nobody can take it away from you. Do whatever you like. Meditate, do yoga, spend time in your mindfulness corner, get a haircut, treat yourself to a massage or a sauna day or try one of these self-care ideas. However, maybe the best way to care for yourself right now is simply going to bed early. It’s all up to you. And don’t forget that these acts of self-care are no less important than what you invest in others.

#5. Allow yourself to feel everything

A good way to spend the holidays mindfully is to let go of expectations. But that’s easier said than done, and feelings seem to be amplified in this time of year. That’s okay! Instead of suppressing those feelings and putting on a fake smile, just allow yourself to feel it all. Whether it’s joy, sadness, compassion, disappointment, connection, social anxiety, gratitude, frustration, security, resentment, love, or something else entirely, just let it in. However, instead of getting wrapped up in your feelings, try to simply observe them. Maybe you even feel comfortable enough to share them with your loved ones.

Meditation increases your dopamine levels

Meditation increases your dopamine levels
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

Meditation increases your dopamine levels. And you don’t even have to take our word for it, because this is actually backed by science.

What is dopamine and why is it important?

Humans have over a hundred different neurotransmitters in our brain. Dopamine is one of those neurotransmitters. Think of dopamine as a chemical messenger; it is what is responsible for experiencing motivation. When we learn something new, accomplish a task, or get a promotion at work, for example, it is thanks to dopamine that we get that sense of satisfaction. Dopamine is also involved in our ability to concentrate on something, so we need it in order to be productive.

How can you tell if you have a dopamine deficiency?

It is possible to have a dopamine deficiency. This often results in symptoms such as:

  • ž   Fatigue
  • ž   Lethargy
  • ž   Apathy
  • ž   Forgetfulness
  • ž   Moodiness
  • ž   Inability to focus
  • ž   Lack of motivation
  • ž   Sugar cravings
  • ž   Trouble sleeping

Of course, these symptoms can also be contributed to other conditions or deficiencies. However, if you can’t pinpoint a cause, it might very well be that you’re low on dopamine.

Low dopamine and unhealthy behaviour

It is human nature to look for an easy solution. People often resort to a quick ‘dopamine fix’ in the form of caffeine, nicotine, sugar or other stimulants. Aside from the fact that these substances only provide a very temporary effect (and could even result to decreased dopamine levels in the long run!), they are very unhealthy and frequently lead to addictive behaviour. However, there are also healthy, natural ways to boost dopamine production in the brain. Meditation is one of them.

Science says that meditation increases your dopamine levels

A 2002 study from the John F. Kennedy Institute in Denmark found that participants that had developed a habit of regular meditation, showed a 65 percent increase in dopamine levels after meditating for one hour. And the increases seemed to have a sustainable effect, because they were also recorded when the participants were not meditating. Meditating regularly, the scientists concluded, seems to provide a ‘natural high’ without the crash that comes with the use of unhealthy stimulants like caffeine or sugar.

It is known that meditation increases the connectivity between the prefrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for making decisions and controlling impulses) and the dopamine pathways in the limbic system (the parts of the brain involved in our behavioural and emotional responses). But how it works exactly, is not fully clear yet.

Final thoughts

More research is needed to determine whether it is only experienced meditators get the dopamine-boosting effects, or that beginners benefit from it as well. One thing is for sure though: it can’t hurt to give it a shot. Here are 5 meditation techniques for beginners to try.

Dealing with stress: introverts versus extroverts

Dealing with stress: introverts versus extroverts
Leestijd: 4 minuten |

One of my best friends is a Pisces, like me. Unsurprisingly, I recognize a lot of my own personality and characteristics in him, and vice versa. The one big difference between us is that while I am a massive introvert, he is the most extroverted person I know. This means we both have very different ways of dealing with stress.

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The ancient Greek take on chaos – A case for re-evaluation

Leestijd: < 1 minuut |

Once there was nothing but chaos

Chaos (χάος) in the ancient Greek tradition means the ultimate nothing, from which something is continuously springing forth. You can look at it as a primitive understanding of particles, or even matter (smart guys, those Greeks). In the beginning, there was nothing but chaos. Millions and millions of little bits of clutter. These bits were continuously flying around in disorder, and every once in a while they would therefore find themselves in a combination that would make… ‘something’. Things that we as humans would recognize as a thing. Starting with the earth, the heavens, and the underworld. And from there, other things. Air, or wheat, or a cow, or even a god. Anything that wasn’t specifically made by the gods for a specific purpose was seen to be brought into existence by a random organisation of the disarray. In Greek mythology, every so often things just appear. Out of thin air, or rather, from the chaos.

Chaos doesn’t have to be bad

So what do we take from this mythological approach to chaos? I think it’s twofold. First of all, disorder is not necessarily bad. It’s neutral. Secondly, it is not necessarily stressful. It’s just disorganized. And that’s nothing to worry about; sometimes it’s fine to just let it be disorganized. At some point, it will organize itself again, and form… ‘something’. Something you could not have come up with anyway. So why not just look at it in wonder?

Final thoughts

It is in looking at the chaos afresh that we can see new things taking shape. When life seems chaotic, therefore, this is when mindfulness can be most effective – and the most fun.

6 steps to destress in 60 seconds

destress in 60 seconds

Leestijd: 2 minuten | This 60-second exercise was developed by Stephanie Rae, a Chicago-based somatic practitioner, to help release stress and tension that is stored in your body. Rae suggests doing it once a day, every day. “One minute of self-awareness can change your whole day/mood,” she writes. Why not give it a try?

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How to relax on a Sunday

watch now sunday relax impression

Leestijd: 2 minuten | You are finally free and have a busy week ahead. With everything that is coming, it is not entirely possible to find peace or enjoy that Sunday. Sometimes it’s hard to remember how to enjoy a day off. With all the things going on from last week and new stuff from next week your head is full on a Sunday. Read this blog and check these relaxing tips so you can get everything out of this day!

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