Video: Daily Mindfulness – Your 100th Birthday

This short guided meditation can be a useful way to help clarify your values. Having chronic pain and illness sometimes interferes with us living by our values, or even remembering what they are. I find it useful to re-clarify what they are for me so that I can keep making the most of it, and I hope you can too!

Also, I just launched a side-business as a meditation teacher. If you’re interested in 1:1 classes online and self-paced programs online, check out my website – Aligning Mindfully. I also started a second YouTube channel for Aligning Mindfully with 5 minute meditations on it.

Video: Daily Activities – Journaling

Journaling has a number of benefits for health and mental health. Though I only started it recently (due to yoga teacher training), I’ve found I enjoy it more than I thought and it has been beneficial.

Here are some articles on the benefits of journaling:

https://journals.lww.com/psychosomaticmedicine/Abstract/2016/07000/Pilot_Randomized_Study_of_a_Gratitude_Journaling.5.aspx https://meridian.allenpress.com/jmhc/article-abstract/36/1/31/83462/Interactive-Journaling-as-a-Clinical-Tool https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/15401383.2011.557312

Take care and keep making the most of it!

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 4

If you’re anything like me you’ll run into some barriers when actually trying to complete these activities, even though they make your life good and you probably realize it. Barriers are normal and natural. Let’s talk about 4 common ones and how to overcome them.

I hope this helps you on your way to more values based activities so that you can keep making the most of it!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult with a mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 3

Brainstorming time! I think this is the most fun part personally. What are all the things I would like to do regardless of whether I can or not. It actually can help find the things we can do. Honestly, I would never have considered “colouring” a values based activity if I hadn’t approached it this way.

Hope this help you to keep making the most of it!

The information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 2

In our search for our unique, individual values based activities, it can be helpful to determine how well we are currently living by our values in each of our life domains, and which values we’d like to live. I find that taking the time to do this has been really beneficial, especially when I’m feeling out-of-balance, which can happen a lot as a chronic pain/illness warrior.

Keep making the most of it everyone!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: How to Find Your Values Based Activities Part 1

I love doing values based activities. For me this includes playing the piano, writing blog posts, going for a hike, traveling, colouring, and a lot in between. I really encourage my fellow Spoonies to also engage in these types of activities too! They make life better. But how do we figure out what these activities for each of us individually? It starts with determining what your values are.

Keep making the most of it!

Information in this video is for psychoeducational purposes only and does not constitute mental health or physical health advice. Please consult a licensed mental health or healthcare professional in your area.

Video: Are You Being a Good Friend to Yourself?

Building resiliency is extremely important when you have chronic pain or chronic illness. One of the best ways to do that is through self-compassion, and yet most people cringe when they hear that word. Self-compassion is treating yourself the way you would treat a friend. Would you treat a friend the way you’re currently treating yourself?

Keep making the most of it everyone!

Video: Daily Mindfulness – Acceptance of Sadness and Grief

Sadness and grief are common emotions to experience when dealing with chronic pain and illness. Illness grief consists of grief of the loss we once had. (Here’s a podcast episode about it). When sadness is particularly strong, depression can set in. Finding effective coping strategies is important for all chronic pain/illness warriors. This meditation is one that can be quite helpful.

Keep on making the most of it!

How to Have a Better Attitude Toward Fitness (When You Have Chronic Pain)

We all know that the majority of the research says exercise = less pain. Honestly, I’m a supporter of this idea. Why? Because it has literally worked for me. I’ve managed to get off one medication, which happened when the only major lifestyle changes I had made were daily exercise (strength and cardio/waling) and daily meditation (plus yoga 2-3x/week). No more Lyrica for me! Now that doesn’t mean that I no longer have pain. It’s just more manageable. I notice that when I don’t exercise, my pain actually increases. Of course, this all seems totally backwards to our brains., mine included. When exercise was initially presented to me as an option for reducing pain, I was like “no way I’m going to do that! I’ll be in more pain.” Then I tried it and the rest is history.

yoga!

The thing is, even if you believe that exercise will help (and I’m aware that some of you don’t believe it, and that’s okay)the problem becomes, how do we reframe our minds so that we can actually start to engage in some physical activity? There are a way different ways we can approach this (or use all of these ways, depending on what you need). The very first thing I do is connect with my values. Why is this important to me? What values will I be living by? For me, when it comes to exercise this is often aligning with values of health, self-care, and independence. They might be the same for you, or totally different. The second thing I do is to just looking at my thoughts. I ask myself, are these thoughts helpful or unhelpful? Are they taking me toward the life I want to live or away from it? Then it’s helpful to create some distance from them. This can be anything from naming the story I’m telling myself, to speaking the thought aloud with the phrase “I’m noticing I’m having the thought that…”, to placing the thought on a leaf in my mind and watching it float down a stream.

At this point if I notice any sensations of anxiety or another emotion, I try to make some room for those. Maybe I send my breath into that area, or remember it’s normal to have anxiety, or drop an anchor which involves allowing my emotions to be there. By this point, I can usually do whatever activity it is I’ve decided I need to do (so in this case, exercise). While exercising there are a few more things I do so that I can improve my attitude. Firstly, I make sure my movement is mindful. I stay with the sensations of the movement, the smells in the air around me, what I can see and hear, all while exercising. This can be done on a walk or while doing strength training. You could also try yoga as a form of mindful movement that allows for stretching and exercise as added benefits. All my stretching in general is also done mindfully. I also make room for sensations while exercising. DO NOT exercise if it’s actually causing you extra physical pain. A little discomfort though is completely normal. I might do a quick body scan to check in with myself and make room for physical discomfort. I definitely use my noticing self to step back and just notice if it’s actually pain I’m feeling or if it is just discomfort that comes from exercise.

Lastly, I commit. I started out just going to the gym 3x/week. During the pandemic I built it up to strength training at home and going for walks to get fresh air and yoga a few times a week. The point is, you can start slow. And it’s probably better to if it’s a big change. You can also work with a physio/physical therapist, kinesiologist, occupational therapist, or personal trainer to help you get started (I worked with my physiotherapist, chiropractor and a personal trainer when I started). Here’s a podcast episode about exercise for chronic pain. So hopefully, this gives you some ideas on how to improve your attitude toward fitness with chronic pain. Until next week, keep making the most of it!

Video: What Happens When You Push Away Your Pain…

So, the question is, do you want to hold that beach ball under the water, or would you rather be able to deal with it effectively in the moment? This is a question we often need to ask ourselves when we deal with painful emotions and sensations.

As always, I hope this helps you to keep making the most of it!