Tag Archives: mindfulness

Mental Health During a Pandemic: 9 Ways to Cope With Loneliness

Whether living alone, with family members, or roommates most of us are facing some degree of loneliness during this time of social isolation and COVID-19. And there’s no getting around the fact that loneliness has a profound impact on our mental health. We aren’t able to have the usual in person interactions that provided a sense of belonging and community that as human beings we need. You may also be noticing now with less in person interaction how much these connections with others kept you afloat, feeling a sense of ease and joy, before the pandemic hit.  

 

During this time of social isolation we now confront the uncomfortable experience of loneliness. Loneliness is a natural human emotion that every human being experiences. It can feel all-consuming, overwhelming, and, at times, debilitating. Like all emotions, loneliness comes and goes. However, serious issues can arise when loneliness becomes chronic as it affects a person’s physical, mental, and emotional health. 

 

According to one study, co-published by Louise Hawkley, chronic loneliness has been linked to depression, poor sleep quality, and even a weakened immune system. 

 

Loneliness can set in when an individual feels they do not have adequate social, emotional, or financial support. Feelings of loneliness also occur whether you are surrounded by people or not. Therefore, loneliness and its implications for your health depends on the quality of connection you have with other people, as well as the quality of connection you have with yourself. 

 

With most of us under strict order to stay home and maintain social distancing when we are around people, it is important to notice how loneliness is impacting your mental health.

 

So, how do you cope with loneliness?

 

First, it is important to acknowledge that it is an unrealistic expectation to completely eliminate loneliness. However there are action steps a person can take – especially during this time of social isolation – to mitigate and move through the feelings of loneliness that arise.

 

9 ACTION ITEMS YOU CAN TAKE DURING SOCIAL ISOLATION TO COPE WITH LONELINESS

There is no “one size fits all” protocol for how to cope with loneliness. Below are some suggestions of practices and action items for you to navigate your own natural rhythm through this process. You are encouraged to explore and see what is helpful for you and what is not. As always, please reach out to a mental health professional if you are in need of additional support. 

 

  1. Practice the RAIN mindfulness technique. RAIN is a four-step process that stands for “Recognize, Allow, Investigate, Natural Awareness or Non-idenfitication.” In the first step, Recognize what you are experiencing and feeling. Next, Allow what you are experiencing to be exactly as it is without attempting to change or fix it. Then Investigate your experience with self-compassion and as little judgment as possible. Finally, Natural Awareness comes from not identifying with the situation or experience. In other words: you are not your loneliness. With Natural Awareness you might begin to see some separation between who you are and what you experience: the emotions, feelings, and sensations that come and go.  You can find more RAIN resources by visiting Tara Brach’s website.

 

  1. Schedule one phone or video call per week with a friend or family member. Treat these calls the same way you would schedule meeting up with a friend for a coffee or walk. If you are able to schedule more than one call per week, go for it! If not, one call per week is certainly sufficient. The intention is simply to have something on your calendar where you know you’ll be making a personal connection with someone. It may give you something to look forward to and alleviate the pressure of making time to connect with other people when you are in the midst of feeling lonely. While on this call, put anything away that might distract you such as your phone and immerse yourself in the connection you are cultivating with the other person. Be as attentive to them as possible when you listen because often we feel more connected when we feel valued by other people. In the same vein, you can ask your friend to hold space to listen to you. Share as little or as much as you feel comfortable with. 

 

  1. Write a letter or email to a trusted, beloved friend or family member. In this letter you might let them know how you’ve been spending your time during social isolation – including what you’ve enjoyed as well as what challenges you’ve faced. If you are writing a hand-written letter, you can also get creative with including drawings, different colored pen or pencils, and even sending a handmade creation to your friend.

 

  1. Take a walk in your neighborhood and say hello to anyone you pass by. Leave your phone at home so you can focus as much of your attention as possible on your movement (walking) and engagement with others as you say/nod hello. Notice these small, yet powerful interactions with others that can occur even while honoring social distancing. Consider making relaxed yet meaningful eye contact with those you pass by. This can be a useful action item if you aren’t feeling up for a full on conversation with someone but are seeking some human to human connection. Notice how people respond when you wave, say hi, or smile at them. Not everyone will smile back! But you might be surprised at the responses you draw out of people. 

 

  1. Do a body scan. When you feel lonely, where do you experience the loneliness in your body? It might be a tightening in your chest or a tingling pins and needles sensation in the back of your neck. Set a timer for 5-15 minutes and sit (or lie down) with the physical sensation of loneliness in your body. See if you can close your eyes as you do the body scan. Does the loneliness sensation have a color? What about a shape? Maybe place a hand over the part of your body where you physically notice the loneliness. Sometimes when you experience loneliness you are also missing physical touch so you can offer yourself some compassionate touch just by placing your hand over your heart or belly. Give the sensation all of your attention for the selected duration of time. If it helps, play some music that helps you ground and relax.

 

  1. Share how you are feeling with someone you trust. Whether it be a trusted friend, family member, or mental health professional, sometimes describing your feelings to someone can really help lighten the load. Let the person know that you just need them to listen and be a trusting refuge for you at this time. If you don’t already have a therapist or other mental health professional, we advise seeking one out.

 

  1. Attend a virtual group workout. There is an abundance of Zoom workouts during social isolation and it is a great way to exercise with others and feel the sense of community we as humans need. Attending a virtual workout also benefits those who are more introverted but still would like to share some time with other people. Also, moving the body in a mindful, intentional way can really help shift your mindset and move emotions that are pent up or stuck.

 

  1. Make a list of people in your life who support you. This is a simple practice that can remind you that you are not alone, despite the loneliness you are feeling. Include those that support you in major ways, such as friends and family, but also those who’s support is still meaningful but perhaps less obvious, like a friendly neighbor or store clerk. Once you’ve made your list, select one or two people to write a thank you note to. You may choose to send the letter or hold onto it. The purpose of this action step is to experience gratitude which can almost immediately give us a sense of connection to the world around us.

 

  1. Spend time doing something you love to do, alone. Whether it be writing, painting, playing music, exercising, baking choose an activity or something you like to do or that you’re interested in learning more about and spend some time with yourself alone. If this is something you are brand new to, start by engaging in the activity for just 10-15 minutes and work your way up to 45 minutes to an hour. Learning to enjoy our own company is a great skill to cope with loneliness. This is especially helpful if you live alone and find you have ample time to yourself. You don’t have to be productive and you don’t have to excel at the activity. What’s important is that you enjoy it. An add-on to this action item is to call in a friend or acquaintance to virtually join you in this activity. Maybe you share a video call while you both paint or, alternatively, paint on your own and then connect after to share your works of art with each other.

 

I sincerely hope that you’ve found something from this list that sparks a bit of inspiration for you. Whether it’s an exact action item, or you’ve come up with one on your own. This list is not exhaustive and working with our emotions is not a one size fits all process. Most importantly, be patient and compassionate with yourself as you better understand and learn to cope with loneliness. Remember that loneliness, to varying degrees, is something that’s affecting all of us in these times. You are not alone in your loneliness. We are in this together.

 

While I am not a therapist or medical professional, I am an active, compassionate listener. If you need someone to talk to, please contact me directly at maggie.converse@gmail.com

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

But what if they judge me?

Sometimes when I pour my heart out to someone I am left with a gaping hole.

How will it be received?

How will they respond?

Will what I said even make sense?

 

And if it’s on a Sunday (or a day when I don’t have a whole lot to do) I’ll pace around the house.

Making myself an extra cup of coffee.

Reading a few pages of a book.

Check my phone.

Then picking up my book only to read the same paragraph 3 times over.

Because my mind is just focusing on one thing:

 

What if they judge me?

What if they leave me?

What if they abandon me?

 

Because I shared something in my heart that felt like truth, that felt like there was no other option but to share this particular something…

 

And then I read and hear what I’ve just shared with you above:

 

What if they judge / leave / abandon me?

 

And I come to realize that the real crux of the matter here, is this:

 

What if I judge / leave / abandon me?

 

I know, when I feel this uneasy and worried about receiving validation from another human being, in a very specific form, it is a deep call to stand by my own side. It is a reminder to relinquish judgment and embrace the ways in which I express love and emotions. It is a call to do the things that make me feel cared for.

 

I show up for myself in the way that I show up for my dear friends when they are feeling uneasy.

 

I show up and trust that no matter how the world and its inhabitants may waver around me (and waver they will), I’ve always got a safe place deep within the chambers of my heart and the vessel of my physical form.

 

Show up for yourself today, the way you would for your best friend.

 

Contact me for Intuitive and Recovery Coaching specials running through November by clicking here.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

My latest obsession: The Vegan “Scramble”

Hi y’all!

Did you know that I am a holistic health coach? To be honest, it’s something I “put to bed” for a few years because I really didn’t want to work on weight-loss with clients, and I recognized I needed to re-calibrate (so to speak) so that I could return to my coaching practice with a more clear perspective.

Holistic Health Coaching {for me} has nothing to do with pounds gained or lost. And has everything to do with an internal vibration/feeling of self-love and appreciation.

If you’re on my email list, you’ve probably already read about part of my work, but if you’re not, I’ll let you click here to check out my latest note {you can also sign up for it there!}.

And just as a little gift to you, I wanted to share my latest obsession: The Vegan Scramble. Whether you are vegan or not, you’ll find this to be an incredibly filling and satisfying lunch or dinner. AND – you can modify to suit your taste!

 

The Vegan Scramble

  • 1/4 cup black beans (can also add ranchero beans, or crushed chickpeas)
  • 1/2 cup riced cauliflower
  • handful chopped kale (or spinach)
  • Other vegetable suggestions: roasted sweet potato, fresh chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • cheese of choice (I use Daiya vegan mozzarella)
  • spices: cumin, turmeric, sea salt, Penzey’s Turkish
  • extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil

Heat medium skillet on low to medium heat (depends on your stove) with about 1 tbsp oil. Add garlic and spices, lightly sauté. Add cauliflower and beans, season to taste. Add remaining vegetables of choice and lightly sauté. Finally, stir in cheese to melt and serve!

Serving suggestions: I love to eat mine with a fresh corn tortilla and a little hot sauce!

IMG_1378

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Take Care Through Transitions

Right now I am really being asked to walk the talk. To practice what I preach as a teacher and coach.

What I mean by this is:
I have to move out of my house and this is totally unplanned (at least by my human existence, I’m sure The Universe had something to do with this).

There is a serious mold situation and so in the past 2 days I have packed up and moved as many of my belongings as my little Subaru can hold. Taking several trips to and from my parents house, finding a place for my cats to stay, and all the while making the time to take care of myself.

I always encourage my clients (and really all my people – that includes family, friends, etc.) that when we are in the midst of transition or a life crisis or whatever you want to call it, you must remember to take care of yourself even when it feels like you have no time.

We go through a lot of our lives using that excuse:
“I have no time” I all too often hear people say.
No time to meditate.
No time to slow down.
No time to sit and read a book for fun.

But as I move through this major upheaval of moving myself, my dog, my cats, my belongings, I am making sure I create moments to check in with myself.

I make sure I eat full meals.
I make sure I shower and put on clean clothes.
I make sure I meditate.
I make sure I move mindfully (yoga, running, walks with my dog).
I make sure I get enough rest.

Just last night I had plans to meet a friend for dinner but after I showered and put on clothes I decided I needed to rest. I had been going from 9:30am to 5pm – packing, loading the car, unloading the car, unpacking.

And especially when we are going through something traumatic, we must tend to our souls.

Whether it is a change in job, moving, the end of a relationship, the loss of a loved one (human or furry)… we must tend to our souls. It can be so easy to get swept up in the to-do list or feeling overwhelmed by the situation – feeling at a loss of how little control we actually have of what happens around us.

But what this precise situation is showing me is this: what I can control is my internal experience.

I can allow space to feel the sadness of having to leave the home I just set up (5 months ago) or the sadness of temporarily having to separate from my cats.

I can feel that but I can also choose to nourish myself.

I don’t entertain the feelings of doubt. Or thoughts of “how could I have prevented this?”

That doesn’t even enter my mind! (<<< that’s growth right there!)

I trust that this is where I am meant to be right now.

Yes, it totally stinks. It is totally hard.

But I am already seeing a lot of beauty coming from this.

Like fully acknowledging the generosity of other human beings; as I lean into them, and the universe for support.

So what happens to you when you experience an upheaval – big or small? How do you respond?

I have many great suggestions of meditation apps, websites, YouTube channels for you. I also have two free meditations on my website that you can access here. Of course meditation is merely one resource.

I’d love to hear from you, as always – and I promise to reply to your comments! 🙂

Sending light, always.

XO
Maggie

PS. I sent this out today to my email list. If you’d like to receive notes like this, you can get them here >>> http://eepurl.com/czLI35

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

How I healed myself from my eating disorder

I healed myself from my eating disorder.

How?

Yoga

Meditation

Journaling and writing

Nature

Mindfulness

Breath awareness

But what this all ultimately amounted to was that I was (at times unknowingly) cultivating a spiritual practice.

I think I’ve always been spiritual but wasn’t fully aware of it until this past decade of spiritual growth.

And I read a sign the other day when I took a trip to my local dispensary that read:

Faith is not believing God can, it’s knowing that he will.

And insert any word you prefer for God: source, the Universe, vortex, nature, etc.

In my path to healing I always had the knowingness that I was not on this journey alone. I didn’t have a word for what (or who) was supporting and guiding me, but I always had faith that I was never alone.

Because for the human body and mind alone to recover from ANYTHING is a gargantuan task. In any recovery and healing process, we are always supported.

Whether that support comes in the way of discovering a meditation practice or stumbling upon teachers, coaches, and therapists that are able to guide you in just the right direction … or a book that truly illuminates what you have been wondering all along …

Universal support and guidance is ALWAYS available to you. You simply have to open up your body, mind, and soul to receive that guidance.

It does not mean that you don’t do any of the work. But that most of the work is in turning inward, getting quiet, and leaving space for that guidance to appear.

And so it was the tools of yoga, meditation, and writing that enabled me to open up this space for my spiritual intuition and connection to strengthen.

So that I was able to recognize (and to this day STILL recognize) when I was potentially harming myself – emotionally, physically, physiologically, etc.

And if I felt I could not do it alone, I asked for guidance.

I ask for guidance every single day. In every situation imaginable.

Again – this does NOT mean that I just sit there and wait for shit to happen. But when I take action, I do so with deep awareness. And I listen and I look for the guidance.

And guess what?

The guidance ALWAYS appears.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

THIS is the house of belonging

I have been thinking a lot about what it means
to feel a sense of belonging in our bodies and I shared
this with my email list this morning…

Because it’s about more than just loving our bodies.
It’s about a mindset that no one can fuck with my inner peace.

No one can tamper with my power.
No one can take away who I am at my core.

We only experience the above when
we ALLOW IT TO HAPPEN.

For example, someone once told me that I’m running
my business all wrong and how I should be running
my business completely differently.

This was unsolicited advice.
It came across very harsh. I thought the person
telling me all these things was mean and disrespectful.

And afterwards I felt completely deflated.
I blamed it on the person for months. I couldn’t shake it.

Until it hit me that I was allowing this person to tamper
with my power, my inner knowing, and my inner peace.

If anything this was a very valuable gift in
showing me this very lesson!

It took months for me to realize what was happening –
that I was the one putting myself down and questioning
myself by buying into and believing what this other person
said over my own beliefs.

When your inner knowing and intuition and connection to
your self and understanding of yourself are SO STRONG …

Not a single soul can mess with you.
Not a single soul can throw you off track.

We connect with that inner knowing through meditation, mindfulness,
and awareness throughout our entire day.

It’s a very simple concept. It’s not necessarily easy to get to that place,
but we ALL have the capacity to tap into our inner knowing and not get
so thrown off by external circumstances.

Because…
We always have this house of belonging, wherever we go.

Our bodies.

With Love,
Maggie

PS. Want more daily teachings and access to me?
Connect with me in one of my FB groups here:
>Living Beyond ED Recovery
>Belonging in The Body
XO

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The Diet Stops … HERE.

I’m re-launching my holistic health coaching program. I became a health coach many years ago because people kept asking me health-related questions and I wanted to be more informed and also because my sister was doing the program and it sounded interesting to me. Haha. Truth!

Becoming a health coach was an interesting process and initially once I became certified and got clients MOST of those clients just wanted to lose weight.

What I really wanted, at my core, was to teach people how to have a healthier relationship to food and exercise. And to do this from a spiritual place.

But I didn’t know how to say that. And actually I felt a little afraid people would judge or not want to work with me if I said the “S” word – spirituality.

Now, spirituality is a non-negotiable for me. All that really means is, I can’t not have it come up with the people I spend most of my time with. It doesn’t mean I force anything on anyone, but that the way I explain and understand most things in life comes from a spiritual place.

And so as I’m rebuilding my holistic health coaching program I am finally offering something that feels like a huge YES.

It feels like me because i’m not asking anyone to weigh themselves. EVER.
I’m not asking people to never eat certain foods.
I’m not asking people to watch as their waste band shrinks.

I mean, I never really asked people to do these things in the first place. But I feel more firm in my convictions now than ever.

I’m teaching people to love what they’ve already got.

OK, at the very least to accept what they’ve already got.

The body that God gave them.
The mind God gave them.
The soul God gave them.

You have to accept yourself and your circumstances, at all times. Or growth just will not happen. It might happen for a split second, but then you’ll go back to old habits and patterns.

So I ask this of my clients – accept yourself and your circumstances AT ALL TIMES. Then watch as you grow.

So growth starts from the place of true acceptance.

Once you get THAT ^^^ everything begins to fall into place.

That is a promise.

XO,
Maggie

PS. Stay tuned for the official announcement of my holistic health coaching program! If you want even more teachings like this and real-time video teachings from me, join my Spiritual Coaching for Living Beyond Recovery Facebook Group.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Recovery and Resilience

I have been in recovery from my eating disorder for 11 years now. I used to be really hard on myself when I’d have a set-back, like when I turned to compulsive exercising to find control and micromanage my body and it made me feel more accepted. Or the periods of time when I just didn’t like my body. When no clothes fit me the way I wanted them to. Or adhering to a certain diet and I’d lie to myself that this is just a healthy way of eating! I thought for sure I regressed for good and I’d find myself back in my full blown eating disorder.

But I’ve been learning over the past few years, as I’ve been sharing my story more and More with all you fantastic beings … I’m learning that I’m a human being. And what that means is I’m capable of falling. I’m capable of falling out of a feeling of connectedness, acceptance and love. And that’s perfectly ok. As long as I am aware of what is happening. And as long as I can trust that I will, in time, make my way back to connection.

I can now watch in those moments where I feel like crud in just about anything I put on … I watch my distorted body image mindset. I give myself the space I need to feel the emotions that are arising. I say hello to them. And I allow them to move. They are just energy that wants to move!

And so in this time I am learning more about recovery and especially my own. That it takes many different forms. It has so many different layers. I learn so much as I watch my own students in recovery! As they learn what it means to befriend a “new body”. As they learn about slipping out of connection and rising back into divine connection when they least expect it.

My own recovery means giving myself unconditional love over and over and over again. (You can never get too much of this love stuff). I’m sure some folks feel I overshare my story. But I’m not here for them. I am here for the beings who are on a genuine path to better understand themselves. To find TRUE love and connection. To remember that we will always rise. Thank you blessed beings. You all have my heart.

For free guided meditations and information on RESILIENCE, my new project, click here. XOXO

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Letting Feelings Flow (+ Free Meditation!)

One summer afternoon a few years back I was sitting at my desk. Ok, more like wriggling at my desk. I could not sit still and I could not focus on anything. I was worried about everything. I kept picking up my phone hoping for a text or call. I kept refreshing my email. I kept getting up and fixing myself tea, a snack, or looking for tasks around the house I could busy myself with.

 

I was looking for a distraction to drag me out of the immense discomfort I was experiencing. To add to it all, I had a terrible knot in the top of my stomach. It was a giant rope tied in a terrible, unyielding knot.

 

I could not get past the nagging feeling that something needed to be released but it was far too uncomfortable for me to address.

 

I remembered reading or hearing somewhere that when we have a difficult emotion, it often manifests physically in our body.

 

Slowly but surely I got myself onto my meditation cushion, closed my eyes, placed my right hand over the knot in my stomach, and focused all my attention on the physical sensation of the knot, instead of trying to figure out my emotional state.

 

Within a few short moments I started to cry. I had no idea where the tears were coming from. I trusted that they needed to flow. I kept watching the knot and saw it beginning to unravel!

 

As the knot unravelled I felt an overwhelming sense of relief sweeping over my body. I eased deeper into my meditation, sat for a few minutes longer, then I opened my eyes as I welcomed this renewed state of being.

 

So often when we feel discomfort or difficult emotions, we look for distraction. What if instead of turning toward our distraction of choice, we made space for the difficult emotions to flow and then be dissolved?

 

Click here for a short meditation where I guide you through this exact process. Use it any time you feel your body could use a little nudge to release some old emotions or energy that might be blocked up.

 

With Love,

Maggie

PS. If you like receiving free meditations and musings, please subscribe to my newsletter by CLICKING HERE. XO

Tagged , , , , , , ,

All You Have To Do Is Breathe

 

There is a misconception about meditation. That I am supposed to halt my thoughts and completely clear my mind. I thought this when I first ventured into meditation. And it immediately turned me away because I had so many thoughts and it felt like an insurmountable feat to ever completely clear my mind.

 

 

Imagine what a relief I felt when a teacher told me that wasn’t the case. It changed my meditation experience forever.

 

 

When we sit or lie down or walk in meditation, all you have to do is breathe.

 

 

And I love this because I call it to mind whenever I find myself in a sticky situation: whenever difficult thoughts or feelings surface and instead of turning to the worst case scenario and freaking out because I can’t come to a solution, I remind myself:

 

 

All You Have To Do Is Breathe.

 

 

So I’m sharing with you this free 5-minute meditation. It’s short (although I know sometimes 5 minutes CAN feel long). It’s simple.

 

And there’s more where that came from! 🙂 I’ll be sharing more guided meditations with you in my regular newsletters. Not subscribed? —-> CLICK HERE

 

If you have any questions about meditation please post in the comments below! 

With Love,

Maggie

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,