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.

How to let go of the need for control

let go of the need for control, behoefte aan controle loslaten
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

A couple of years ago, I noticed that when I was very stressed, I became a total control freak. During times in my life where I was confronted with professional uncertainty or financial worries, I had a tendency to get obsessive with eating healthy and exercising. Looking back, it seemed that the lack of control I had over specific aspects, needed to be ‘compensated’ with excessive control over aspects that I COULD control. Unsurprisingly, this did absolutely nothing to solve the problems I had in other areas. In fact, it only caused more stress. Being a control freak is absolutely exhausting. And it often takes a full breakdown or burnout to turn things around. While I still sometimes struggle to ‘let go’, I have learned to identify my triggers. Do you ever feel like you’re a bit of a control freak or a perfectionist, or wish you weren’t as uptight? Read on to find out how you can use mindfulness to let go of that constant need for control.

Why you need to deal with an unhealthy need for control

Have you ever thought: “If only I could fix my [diet/relationship/work situation/finances/mental health/looks/car], everything in my life would be so much better”? It’s very common, especially in a modern society where there are so much expectations. You’re supposed to be educated, get a job, pay your bills, save money, feed yourself, take care of your personal hygiene, run a household, exercise, look representable, stay up-to-date on current events, spend time with your family, have a social life, and create time to relax. This can be extremely overwhelming, especially when something happens that makes you realize you don’t have as much as control over your life as you’d like. That is a part of being human. But it can trigger a sense of powerlessness, causing you to start over-managing things. Sooner or later, both your physical and mental health will suffer.

Tips for control freaks: how to let go, step by step

If you suspect you have an unhealthy need for control, it is very important to deal with this. Below, we’ve listed a few suggestions to help you find back a healthy balance:

#1. Ask yourself where that need for control is coming from

An unhealthy need for control is often rooted in unresolved issues. It could be a childhood where abuse, neglect or a highly critical caregiver were an issue, or PTSD due to trauma that occurred later in life. These kinds of issues are often buried in our subconscious, and you may have to dig deep to find out where your control issues are coming from.

#2. Be aware of your own thoughts and feelings

Often times, we don’t notice an increased need for control until we are already in full control-freak mode. In order to prevent yourself from going there, you need to become more aware of your own thoughts and feelings. This is something you can practice. It helps to keep a journal (even if it is just a line a day) and write down the feelings (anxiety, joy, worry, compassion, anger, gratitude, sadness, etc.) you experienced that day.

#3. Identify your triggers

Try to identify what situations or events trigger your excessive need for control. Make sure you also pay attention to physical responses, like when and where you hold tension in your body. Write down your triggers. It may not be realistic to avoid all triggering situations and events, but simply knowing when you need to be alert makes a big difference.

#4. Use visualisation to let go of negative emotions

Once you have identified your triggers, you can recognize them and change the way you respond to them. Whenever you feel that you start to spiral, try to shift your mindset. Visualisation is a powerful tool to help you do this. If you’re triggered by anxiety in anticipation to an event, for example, try to visualize putting that anxiety into a balloon and letting it float away. Breathing exercises also help; they calm both your mind and your body.

#5. Don’t rush your transition

Despite your best efforts, you may still occasionally find yourself going down the rabbit hole of unhealthy control. When that happens, pause and take a breath. Don’t beat yourself up for not recognizing your triggers – be kind to yourself. Old habits can be hard to shake, but with patience and practice you can learn to let go of the things that no longer serve you.

Exercising mindfully: How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

Exercising mindfully, mindful sporten
Leestijd: 3 minuten |

Whether you’re a die-hard gym bunny or someone that has not yet found the motivation to do regular workouts, exercising mindfully is for everyone. In this blogpost, we’ll explore the benefits of exercising mindfully and give you some tips on how to get started. 

The benefits of exercising mindfully

Let’s get one thing straight: there is absolutely nothing wrong with listening to that playlist you’ve been obsessing about and going for a run. There is also nothing wrong with letting your thoughts wander while you’re working up a sweat on the exercise bike. However, not all your workouts should be on autopilot. When you’re constantly letting yourself get distracted during training, you will lose the connection with your body and your movements.Consequents: less effective workouts, hitting a plateau, not the progress you were hoping for. So I’d like to propose a challenge. Why not switch up those mindless workouts with exercising mindfully?

Exercising mindfully can help to perform better, improve technique/form, prevent injuries, get more in tune with your body and stick to your workout plan (okay, so maybe this blogpost is a little bit about sticking to your new year’s resolutions!). Furthermore, mindful exercise also strengthens a part of your body that you don’t really use when you’re zoning out – the part that’s between your ears.

How to bring more mindfulness into your workouts

Below, we’ve listed five tips to help you bring more mindfulness into your workouts:

#1. Set an intention before every training

Before you start a training, take a minute or two to set an intention for the workout you’re about to do. I’m not going to tell you what kind of intention it should be, because that’s totally personal, but try to narrow it down to a single sentence. If you think you’re going to forget about the intention because you are so used to training on autopilot, write your intention on your hand or on a piece of paper that you stick in a place where you can see it.

#2. Concentrate on your breath

Good breathing is crucial for cardio, but you should also pay attention to your breath during other forms of exercise, like weight training. Are you breathing correctly? Are you moving with the breath? How long does it take for your breath to go back to normal once you’re done with a set?

#3. Bring more awareness to your body

When you notice you’re losing focus, bring your attention back to your body. It’s very normal for your mind to wander – you may be thinking about the things you have planned after your training, or the next day. It’s a matter of learning to identify when it happens, and then simply steer your thoughts back to what your body is doing.

#4. Create some space for limited-distraction workouts

Like I mentioned before, there is really nothing wrong with doing a workout and letting your thoughts go where they want to go. But I’d recommend trying to alternate your regular workouts with ‘limited-distraction workouts’. If you’re easily distracted, start with a quiet home workout or go for a run very early in the morning, when the rest of the world is still asleep. From there, you can gradually expand to other environments.

#5. When you’re done, check in with yourself

What do you usually do when you finish training? Do you have a habit of rushing all the time, causing you to get straight back to the daily grind in order to tackle the tasks on your never ending to-do list? A lot of people do this! But if you want to get all the benefits of exercising mindfully, you should try to take at least a couple of minutes after your training to check in with yourself. How does your body feel now compared to before your training? Where you as focused as you wanted to be? Did you stick with that intention that you wrote down? A quick check-in also serves as a transition moment between your workout and the rest of your day.

Even if you are unable to work out or simply don’t want to, you can still benefit from exercising mindfully. Try these 7 steps toward a mindful walk!

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.

Bring yourself back to the Now in 3 easy steps

Bring yourself back to the Now in 3 easy steps, Breng jezelf naar het Nu in 3 simpele stappen
Leestijd: 2 minuten |

If you’re reading this, it is safe to assume you’re open to leading a life where you are more present. But old habits can be hard to break and our current society is simply very demanding. Also, because mindfulness can be quite a subjective concept, you may find it hard to determine where to start. We’d like to gently lead you in the right direction. Below are 3 easy steps you can follow anytime and anywhere to bring yourself back to the Now.

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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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