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by Margaretha Madoures
HOW TO: “Self-care”
Self-care is a buzzword that we read everywhere. In particular these days, when most of us spend more time at home, and therefore with ourselves, self-care has become the “thing”. Whether the term itself is used correctly, or rather attributed correctly all the time is questionable however. There’s many instances when we read posts on Twitter and Instagram that link self-care with habits that frankly seem like an excuse to overindulge and let oneself go.
To an extent, especially for those who strive for perfection and can be sorted into the category “overachiever” letting go and slowing down can be a definite step into the right direction. However, making your daily glass of wine double or triple in volume is hardly a way to do something good for yourself in the long run. And that is exactly my point: Self-care needs to involve activities that over longer periods of time will not harm you or the people around you.
It is quite clear that drinking half a bottle of wine (or more) per day (or every second day) will probably not be beneficial to your mental and physical health (see * “Why we sleep” by Matthew Walker, Phd for more information on the impact alcohol has on sleep quality).
So, what then? I believe it is a widely spread misconception that self-care has to feel good all the time. In fact, it often does not feel good during that period of time. The actual “care”-bit of “self-care” will often only be perceptible afterwards or over time. Over time these activities will make us happier, healthier, calmer individuals. Whether you enjoy that 20 minute HIIT workout or the 30 minutes of perching on a meditation pillow in the moment is not really the point.
Does that mean that self-care should be strenuous each time? Definitely not. There are plenty of ways to improve one’s self or self soothe responsibly that feel really nice right there and then.
Examples are going to bed earlier (just do it and read “Why we sleep” * if you don’t believe me, it’s a very good book), or cook something yummy, make a “want-to-do”-list or plan a fun activity. Just make sure that the time you give yourself is not subtracting from your livelihood in the long run.
I just mentioned going to bed earlier. Some of you might say now “But I hate going to bed early. I miss out on the fun adult time away from all the pesky responsibilities and I also lay awake for ages anyways, when I’m not exhausted yet…”. It’s understandable to want to have some fun at the end of the day too.Once you have stretched your limited resource, your motivation out over dozens of annoying and boring “adult things”. I get it. There are plenty of nights when I originally wanted to go to bed early, catch my zzz’s and be the best, most productive self I dreamed about all my life, only to end up staying awake in bed, mindlessly scrolling through the ridiculous things people on the internet come up with. I’m not perfect and neither are you, probably.
About that laying awake problem: Sleeping problems are common, very common. A lot of us don’t get the right quantity and quality of sleep that we need and there are things that you can do. One topic that deals with this issue is so-called “Sleep Hygiene”. And no, I’m not talking about changing your pajamas and your bed sheets daily. I mean honing a sleeping routine that will make falling asleep easier, and sleeping through the night a reality. (I will talk about that in a later blog post.)
But that’s not the point. My point is that you want to be your best self, and in order to become that (or an approximation to it) you need to do certain things that will get you there. So go to sleep early and be more productive tomorrow, do that workout or take 45 minutes to make your feet look presentable. The world is your oyster. As long as you take responsibility for your own life, focus on things that feel good right now as well as benefit your health. Stick to them to make yourself feel better about yourself and to stay calmer and happier in difficult situations.
One way to learn better self-care is by attending one of our upcoming events this May. We offer online deep relaxation classes that don’t require previous experience or any special skills. Just show up, have somewhere comfortable to lay down and let us do the work. You can book tickets for our events on the 10th (Mother’s day!), 13th, 24th and 27th, here. If you need more information or have questions/comments about the blog post, email me at Margaretha.Madoures@2kindminds.com or contact us via our social media.
* The link to the book recommendation is an affiliate link, which means that we earn a small commission, if you decide to buy the book via that link.
5th and last Blog entry in April
by Margaretha Madoures
Grief in times of Corona
These days it can feel like you have been dropped into a dystopian world when you are walking on the mostly deserted streets. Uncertainty is high and feelings of connectedness are low. In fact many of us are grieving for what might never be as it was before the virus. The feeling of numbness, uncertainty and sadness are part of the grieving process. Most of us are moaning the loss of what life was like before Corona and worry about what it will be like after.
You might be missing your friends and family because you are currently unable to visit them, or you might be grieving the loss of your job. In the worst case you might be grieving the loss of a close person or a friend.
Whatever your worries are, it is useful to learn that grief is not only a state, but a process that each one of us have to go through.
Denial: We can see it in the news in people who resume their normal lives, despite the widely accepted rules that should be followed or when others play down the severity of the situation. This state is especially tough on the people surrounding the individuals who are still in denial. Seeing a loved one, like an older relative or a friend deny what is clear reality to you, can be frustrating. The only thing we can do about it is giving them time and being kind and open when they have moved on in the process.
Anger: “Why can’t I do what I want?! This is so annoying!” Just as denial, anger is a normal part of the process towards acceptance. Don’t feel annoyed at yourself for being angry. It is understandable to be angry. Nobody saw the virus and its consequences coming and it is natural to feel frustrated about the change in lifestyle that this might mean for you. Allow your anger, but try to find ways to express it that won’t hurt you or others in the long run.
Bargaining: After your anger comes a point at which you will try to regain what you have lost by bargaining. “What if I just meet my friend really quickly?” or “If only countries had reacted more quickly when the first cases appeared!” Bargaining is a way for your mind to find a way out of the situation. In the process of grief it is often a futile stage, because the situation usually cannot be changed in a way the bargainer would like.
Depression: Once you have given up bargaining, you feel hopeless, sad and defeated. Your view on the situation is bleak and it might be hard to experience positive emotions. This step in the process is tiresome. Just as clinically diagnosed depression you might experience low motivation. Even activities that would usually give you pleasure, might not penetrate your numbing feeling of sadness. Know this however, it will pass. Be kind to yourself. Practice self-care and give yourself time.
Acceptance: The final step. You learn to accept your new reality with all its faults and changes, and will be able to see the positive side of what your surroundings are now. Suddenly you might feel more in control again, because you have accepted what cannot be changed and can therefore adapt to it. This is the final step that will allow you to come out of this time as a stronger, wiser person.
Although these steps are fairly universal, people differ in the amount of time they spend on each part or the process. Independent on where you are right now, be kind to yourself and the people around you. We are all different and need different tools and time to move towards acceptance.
I myself have made several experiences with grief. To me it often felt as if I would never feel whole again. The first days and weeks are always the hardest. Small habits like contacting the lost person or interacting with the lost object, quickly turn into a painful reminder of the loss. However, time has a healing effect on grief. Over time the waves of grief became less overwhelming and I even found that I was getting stronger because of the experience. Grieving for a lost job or the feeling of certainty, are just as valid a feeling as grieving a loved-one. Do not feel bad for grieving. You might even see it as an opportunity to practice self-care.
Accept and seek out help if you need it. There are many options to accept and give help. If you want more information seek out reputable sources. In Finland look up the website of mieli on grief. The Health Service of Washington assembled a list of tools for adults, teenagers and children. If you want to talk with somebody, but don’t have the funds for a therapist, an active listening service or a self-help group might be a relief for your sorrows.
Another way to get a break from grieving is by focusing on the needs of others. Give to those who need help. Helping others can give you a feeling of purpose, which is something many of us are struggling with right now. Many people offer to talk with and listen to people who are struggling right now. Most likely you have something you are good at: Consider offering help in this area to those who need it. If you are not sure how to help, help by donating to the WHO or your local charities or food banks. You are going to be amazed how helping others will help you to feel more at peace and accepting of this new reality.
If you have come up with other ways to give and receive help, share them with us on our social media. We love hearing your ideas from you.
It is ok to self-soothe. The only thing that I would like to give you on your path to self-care is this: Make sure your self-care is not harmful to you or others. Overindulging in junk food, drugs or alcohol, will most likely not help you in the long-term. Otherwise, do what you need to do to make yourself feel better.
Need some ideas? We have 4 online events coming up in May. They are each 60-minute long deep relaxation sessions. Each includes different relaxation techniques. During the events either me, or Heide will guide you through progressive muscle relaxation, breathing techniques as well as imaginary exercises. All of our previous attendees (even the doubtful ones) felt the immediate calmness and feeling of relaxation and some even reported other positive effects such as better sleep afterwards.
If you are interested in learning more about grief, I can recommend the book “It’s ok OK not to be OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture that doesn’t Understand” by Megan Devine. The book explores a different approach to grief by focusing on self-compassion rather than looking at grief as something to just “get over with”. The link above is an affiliate link to the book on amazon, so if you decide to buy the book via this link, 2KindMinds will receive a small commission.
4th of 5 Blog entries in April
by Margaretha Madoures
Who doesn’t struggle as much with social isolation?
In most situations there are people who can cope better than others. Hardly anybody sees humble introverts as an example for more highly functioning individuals. Right now however daily life has changed in a way that may benefit introverts more than extroverts. One of the main changes most people are experiencing right now is the shift from a life predominantly spent outside of homes, to a life mostly spent indoors. There is a group of people who might struggle less with this shift in the surroundings than others. I am talking about introverts.
Introverts are naturally inclined to work by themselves, enjoy solitude and find busy social interactions draining and often overwhelming. This time requires most of us to stay home and often solitary for extended periods of time. There are a lot of people struggling with this shift and their voices can be heard all over social media. On the other side there is a group of people who are famous for being quiet and withdrawn. Maybe unsurprisingly we don’t hear much of them.
I myself am a proud introvert. I enjoy spending time by myself. I feel the most at peace when I read books and engage in quiet activities and I often feel stressed when I haven’t been able to spend quality time by myself in a while. Right now, I am fortunate to be able to work from home. In fact, I work two jobs which are both enjoyable and inspiring in their own rights to me. These days, as most people, I spend a lot of time at home. I have to say that I really love it most of the time. I enjoy reading books that
I borrow digitally, or that I borrowed before the libraries closed their doors and I spend time with my partner and my dogs.
Sadly, not everyone feels this way. Even within introvert groups people are struggling. It can be hard for people like me to be shut in at home and not having a quiet, peaceful space away from other people like family members and flatmates. It can feel like being on stage for shy introverts, when they have to speak up during online video meetings. Others might feel an upsurge of people trying to be social via online meetings and hangouts, which can interfere with introverts’ internal needs for alone time. Additionally, many introverts have a tendency to be more anxious and are more likely to be depressed. This is a time when many are struggling with anxiety issues. Uncertainty is scary and people who worry and feel anxious generally, might feel even worse now.
During normal times it is fairly easy to determine if the society in which you live is shaped more towards the needs of extroverts or introverts. Here in Finland social life is clearly meant to encourage spending time by yourself and even the stereotypes about Finns are somewhat pointing towards a society built for introverts. People sit as far apart as possible in public transportation, libraries have lots of little corners to crawl into with a book (in case you haven’t noticed yet, I love reading) and even in parks there are benches just for one person. Other societies are different in these respects, which might be one of the reasons Finland is faring fairly well with the pandemic so far…
Independent on whether you are an introvert or not, you can definitely learn about what can help you stay well during the times of Corona. Take a leaf out of the book of introverts and spend some quality time with yourself, it doesn’t matter if you decide to be creative, follow online relaxation classes or take a walk by yourself. I hope you have the freedom to spend some time the way your individual tendencies need them to be.
If you are interested in learning more about the life skills and habits of introverts, I can whole-heartedly recommend the book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain. In my eyes, this book really captures what it is like living as an introvert in society and how society benefits if it harnesses the potential of the ones who often are often too quiet to be seen. The link above is an affiliate link to the book on amazon, so if you decide to buy the book via this link, 2KindMinds will receive a commission.
3rd of 5 Blog entries in April
by Margaretha Madoures
A lack of self-compassion might cause your lack of motivation to exercise
Self-compassion is the ability to show ourselves kindness. It means forgiving yourself for making mistakes, but also to practice self-care. Many smirk at the idea of taking time to practice self-care because they are convinced that they are either too busy or that other peoples’ needs need to take precedence. They believe that they need to take care of others before they can take time for themselves. However, this is where many are wrong. It is not only our duty to ourselves, but also the duty to the people surrounding us to take time for ourselves. As the saying goes “You cannot pour from an empty cup”. You cannot give your time and energy to others, before you have made sure you have abundant resources to share with others. If we don’t have more than enough energy for ourselves, spending it on others will deplete our dwindling resources. Even though speaking of “energy” might sound ambiguous to some in this context, this behavior can lead to very real problems such as Burnout and Depression.
What can you do to prevent this? Practice self-compassion. This is often easier said than done, because many have not yet learned to be kind to themselves. Indeed the mentality to put others’ needs before our own is often preached and socially rewarded. Of course, you should give to others, but only if you have enough for yourself. This idea is not only being spread by psychologists, it is also reflected in our everyday lives. One example of it is the safety instructions on airplanes. You are supposed to put the oxygen mask on yourself, before you help others. This clear rule prevents people who suffer from a limited need for self-preservation to literally help others until they suffer dire consequences such as losing consciousness or worse. I am pretty sure that the wide-spread culture of putting others’ needs before your own was part of the reason why this rule was implemented in the first place.
What has this to do with not exercising enough (or eating healthy/meditating regularly etc.)?
By understanding how we can fill our cup, we can implement practices to make it overflow. The big idea behind it is quite simple: You find out what “recharges” your batteries, then you keep doing this. Continue and check regularly, whether these new habits are still beneficial to you. Eventually you will know what you need to do to refill your cup. Finding out what works for you, can take a while, and will probably change over time. The goal is to keep experimenting and adding to your repertoire of self-care tools.
As I mentioned above, it is not always easy to determine the right self-care strategies for yourself.
Here are some tips on how you can improve your self-compassion and make it more likely that you find the right self-care techniques for you:
1. Each day, take a moment to reflect on what you would like to do. What kind of activity would bring you joy?
What haven’t you done in a while and have been wanting to do? If you come up with an idea, write it down. Over time you will curate your own personal “self-care list” that you can use for inspiration.
2. Try to change your perspective and look at yourself from another persons’ angle. Ask yourself “What is something that I should be doing more for myself?” or “What would my best friend suggest I do more?”.
Make sure that the activity you come up with actually benefits you, and not mostly others. That does not mean that it should take away from others. However, in some situations it might. For example, some people need to learn to practice self-compassion by setting boundaries. Saying “No” to others’ might be hard and might feel like you are doing others a disfavor, but in the long-run it will make it easier for you and the people around you to understand how to take better care of your needs.
3. Try out different self-care strategies and keep the ones that make you feel good. Often we don’t know what we like and what works for us, until we have actually tried techniques ourselves. “Don’t knock it, till you tried it” very much applies to self-care too.
4. Practice tuning into your needs by applying a “Body-Scan”. A Body-Scan is an exercise that lets you go through the different areas of your body in your mind. This increases your connection with your body and also your understanding of your own needs. We can introduce you to guided Body-Scans in either a one-on-one session or during our deep relaxation classes. Contact us if you would like to learn more about this.
5. Immersing yourself in the topic of self-care is bound to help you find ways to implement it into your daily life. Read about-, watch videos on and follow social media accounts that offer inspiration. On our social media accounts (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook& LinkedIn) we regularly post ideas and practices that you can implement. You can also contact us with your questions.
You love to read? We do too. So here is something I have read already and can recommend.
Depending on the time you have available, we have an article and a book recommendation.
Let us know via our social media or our contact form, how you liked it.
Psychology Today recently published an article on the topic of why some people are resistant to practicing self-compassion.
If you are interested in the topic of why it is difficult for some people to practice self-care while they find it easy to help out others, I recommend the book “The 4 Tendencies” by Gretchen Rubin. Especially look into the chapters about the so-called “Obligers”.
2nd of 5 Blog entries in April
by Margaretha Madoures
Why you should NOT strive to better yourself! – Right now.
There is a lot of talk about how everyone should use this time to improve themselves. During general time, yes, you should continuously work on yourself. However, these are not those times. For many the stress and uncertainty are hard to bear. Additionally, many experience extra pressures such as having to somehow manage work, while also entertaining and taking care of children and other family members. House work is often increased as well, because, well, we spend more time at home, which also increases the amount of tidying up and cleaning we need to do… Tempers are rising in accordance with our stress levels. Having external voices tell you that you should finally get a move on that exercise regime and learn Mandarin does not help!
We say, allow yourself to cope however you need to cope right now. Not losing your mind is more important than losing that odd pound of extra weight. Self-care should be the name of the game. Relaxation should be the goal. Not only will relaxation lower your stress levels, but it will improve your immune system (not just the immune system bleeping out those sport-nuts).
We offer a great no-nonsense online deep relaxation session on Good Friday at 4 pm EET.
1st of 5 Blog entries in April
Corona is taking over our lives.
What can we do?
We need to stay calm and in control of our fear.
The increasing spread of the Coronavirus is causing a lot of distress for most people. It is a natural and understandable feeling to wanting to take action and create a meaningful and adequate response to this situation. Sadly, it is part of the nature of fear and distress that we are often unable to think clearly when we are overwhelmed with feelings of anxiety. Many people are trying to alleviate their feelings of helplessness by taking action in the only way they feel appropriate: buying things. The immense fear seems to justify mass buying certain items such as toilet paper and hand sanitizer. These actions are not helpful coping mechanisms because they are not preventing or preparing for the situation of getting infected or dealing with the loss of loved ones. This means they are not actively helping the problem. On the contrary they create more uncertainty to others, who start to fear the shortage of supplies, which is further spreading panic in society. So what can be done?
First we all need to acknowledge that we are afraid, because no one can predict the outcome of this crisis. Second we need to stay calm and focused to be able to make decisions, which have a positive impact on our-self and others. This includes to make healthy choices and think about self-care. This can give a real boost to our immune system, which we need now more than ever.
How to do that? – We need to lower our stress levels.
To lower stress levels it can be helpful to engage in active relaxation. This is difficult however, if you are self-isolating and are generally discouraged from leaving the house. Additionally, by now most yoga studios, meditation centers and relaxation practitioners have closed their doors due to the virus.
We offer online courses and webinars to inform you about, and help you with your anxiety by administering relaxation sessions.
To join, you only need a relatively quiet corner in your home and a working internet connection.
We hold course sessions every week and webinars on regular intervals, depending on demand.
If you are interested, we can arrange for one-on-one relaxation sessions that only include one of us and yourself.
Hopefully, we can help you to feel better! Independent from Corona we knew about the effectiveness of PMR for anxiety. Because of this study we have further proof for our own experience.
We can offer PMR in English and German.
First Blog entry
We are excited to present our new Website
and with it our Services
Please feel free to explore your our website and learn something new for example about our Upcoming Events.
The launch of our website comes in times when people are in distress and need to sort their lives and many habits are for the time being impossible to uphold. We promote a healthy and well-balanced living and want to contribute with our service to the well-being and the self-care of others.
Since it got so hard to arrange events to meet face-to-face we will start our service immediately as an online service to be able to reach the people who can benefit from what we do.
In the following posts we will write more about our work and where we get our ideas. We will post tips and ideas as well as scientific articles which we think are worth reading.
Stay curious, brave and tuned for what we have to offer.