31 Days of Mindfulness – an antidote to seasonal stresses

It’s no secret that I am looking forward to Christmas being over. The excitement ramped up a couple of notches over the weekend with decorations being proudly displayed on social media, talk of gift buying, Christmas songs, advent calendar opening, and elves on shelves.

While I do not resent others’ excitement over the festive season, it adds to my sense of loss. I have been reading a grief book based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), and part of that is about training your mind to weed out unhelpful thoughts and replace them with thoughts that are more helpful. It’s not easy, and takes time – both to recognise and replace such thoughts when you are feeling low.

I have also been trying to practice mindfulness – awareness of ourselves and the world around us – well, since Saturday, when I bought a book about it. I have been pushing myself so hard with writing and other things so I do not have spare time to think, or let my mind drift off to those painful places.

The trouble is, I am not being kind to myself. I am also not giving myself time to properly grieve the loss of Hugo.

I love Hugo deeply and fiercely. I shall grieve for him deeply and fiercely.

Last night, I took myself away from social media and spent time looking at my photos of Hugo. Of course, I look at them all the time – I have framed photos displayed at home, Hugo’s photos adorn my lock and home screen on my phone and laptop, and they are all over my blog and social media.

However, it has been a while since I have sat and truly looked at the photos. I went through a phase of not getting absorbed in Hugo’s photos, because it hurt so much.

Looking through the photos last night was difficult, and emotional. I am glad I did it though because I rediscovered this photo.

Hugo

Hugo

I love this photo because Hugo is being Hugo – his arms are supposed to be tucked under the yellow cloth (I used to tuck it into my bra to get my smell on it, then put it in the incubator with Hugo to get his smell on it – another way of bonding when you are separated), and his feet are supposed to be in his nest, all snug. Hugo, however, had other ideas: his arms are flailing around, and you can see the fingers of his right hand wiggling around. His feet – I have so few photos of his feet, in so many photos they are obscured by a probe, or wrapped in cotton wool – so precious! He’s flexing his toes. You can also see his handsome face really well, especially that gorgeous well-formed nose.

Studying that photo was bittersweet, yes, but it put a smile on my face. While I am heartbroken that I will never be able to see just how wilful my little boy would grow up to be, so much of Hugo’s personality is summed up in one photo.

Last night I had a brainwave. I am still disengaged from Christmas, but I realised I have a choice: I can spend the next month getting more and more cross and upset at the festive season, or I can do something to try to keep my mind off it.

So, I have invented 31 Days of Mindfulness. During this month, I will post a photo on Instagram of something that has made me smile, or helped me appreciate the joy in the day. There are likely to be days when I do not feel like smiling, or appreciating joy – and that is ok too – I might draw a picture of how I am feeling and take a photo of that. This exercise is a way to help me actively connect with my feelings every day, and record them too.

It is open to anyone, if you would like to join me: you do not need to have suffered a loss, or have a ‘bah humbug’ attitude to Christmas. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness, and this month can be pretty stressful whether or not you are looking forward to the big day.

Mindfulness, to me, is about feeling whatever you feel (it’s supposed to be non-judgemental), so there are no daily prompts. Post a photo of whatever is relevant to you in finding a bit of joy or happiness that day, however fleeting – or that reflects how you are feeling that day. Please do use the hashtag #31daysofmindfulness so we can find each other.

31daysmindfulness.jpg

27 Comments on 31 Days of Mindfulness – an antidote to seasonal stresses

  1. Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)
    December 19, 2014 at 3:47 pm (5 years ago)

    What a wise and wonderful idea Leigh! Like you I’m trying to be more mindful and I’m combining that with reading more of the amazing Hands Free Mama posts over on her blog (http://www.handsfreemama.com/) and her book which I’ve just started to read and hope to finish over Christmas. I’ll do my best to join in on Instagram but it might be a bit hit and miss! x

    Reply
    • Michelle Reeves (bodfortea)
      December 19, 2014 at 3:49 pm (5 years ago)

      …and can I just say how much I love your blog header photo of Hugo holding your finger? So beautiful x

      Reply
      • Leigh Kendall
        December 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm (4 years ago)

        Aw thank you. Hugo had such a strong grip. It’s one of my favourite photos xxx

        Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm (4 years ago)

      Thanks for taking the time to read about it! Being more mindful takes practice, but it’s rewarding. I’ll check out Hands Free Mama. No worries about taking part on IG, no pressure! xxx

      Reply
  2. Emma - Me, The Man & The Baby
    December 2, 2014 at 10:30 pm (5 years ago)

    That photo had me laughing, this photo right here must be why they nicknamed him Hugo Boss! Why be the same as all the others when he can be different? And my gosh what cute feet! X x

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 3, 2014 at 11:55 am (5 years ago)

      Oh yes Hugo knew what he wanted – things to be done his way! Those feet are just amazing xxx

      Reply
  3. Tara
    December 2, 2014 at 8:34 am (5 years ago)

    Reblogged this on After The Rain and commented:
    I’m reblogging a post by Leigh at Headspace Perspective today. She has a lovely idea for anyone who might be struggling with seasonal stress for whatever reason. I will be joining in with her 31 Days of Mindfulness on Instagram (good job I finally signed up).

    Reply
  4. kykaree
    December 2, 2014 at 7:02 am (5 years ago)

    I shall start today!

    I challenge you to find beauty in Christmas. Sometimes embracing what triggers you can nullify it. Find a beautiful lit tree or even find something that embraces another tradition like Hanukah.

    This season is tough on a lot of us for many different reasons. For me Christmas reminds me of summer and feeling vulnerable and frightened.

    Take heart that you are not alone my dearest, you will be held through these 31 days, be mindful of that too xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 2, 2014 at 9:01 am (5 years ago)

      Fantastic, Kylie. I’m looking forward to reading your posts. I accept your Christmas challenge, it will be interesting! Thank you for being there for me xxx

      Reply
  5. benwirral
    December 1, 2014 at 8:04 pm (5 years ago)

    I’m in too! Why not! I’ll just have to get Instagram up and running.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 8:58 pm (5 years ago)

      That’s great, Ben! Looking forward to seeing your posts xxx

      Reply
  6. Jenna
    December 1, 2014 at 4:57 pm (5 years ago)

    What a wonderful idea, Leigh. I really hope it helps to get you through the next month.

    I love that photo of Hugo – what a character! 🙂 xx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 8:55 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Jenna, I hope so too. Hugo really was such a character, he knew what he wanted! Xxx

      Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 8:56 pm (5 years ago)

      Thank you Jenna, I hope so too. Hugo really was such a character, he knew what he wanted! xxx

      Reply
  7. staceytangerineowlproject
    December 1, 2014 at 4:30 pm (5 years ago)

    Reblogged this on The Tangerine Owl Project and commented:
    From my friend Leigh. A great idea, not only to remind you to practice self-care, but also this shows the intimacy of working through grief, and how much it takes of your own accord to process. *Hugs* to all my babyloss parents out there. We’ll make it through the season yet!

    Reply
  8. Tara
    December 1, 2014 at 4:25 pm (5 years ago)

    Great idea, Leigh. What a lovely photo of Hugo, love his perfect little feet sticking out. Gorgeous boy.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 8:54 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks Tara. I love how though Hugo was so small, everything was so perfectly formed xxx

      Reply
  9. Mummy Writes
    December 1, 2014 at 3:35 pm (5 years ago)

    Count me in! I want to run away, and keep running… I’ll join you in this.

    And I know what you mean. Writing and sharing is very helpful but that and life does get in the way of focusing on grief and some weeks I don’t want to even look at twitter and see everyone’s happy lives, new buys and winges about stupid things. Then I feel the urge to share again. I’m aware my blogging isn’t as slick as it should be, and is pretty one-sided, but I can’t be any other way at the moment.

    Thank you Leigh sometimes I’m just glad you’ve aired what I’m feeling to save me having to. Much love.

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 3:43 pm (5 years ago)

      You’re so right, as therapeutic as writing can be, it can get in the way of grief. I have days when I just want to delete all social media because people’s happiness can get too much, but I don’t because ultimately, I get so much support from it. Your blogging is amazing, keep doing whatever is right for you lovely lady. I’m looking forward to having you join in. Lots of love to you xxx

      Reply
  10. Louise
    December 1, 2014 at 3:06 pm (5 years ago)

    What a wonderful idea Leigh and a great antidote to seasonal stresses. I hope it helps you through the festive season this year. That photo of Hugo is beautiful – as you say, it really does show so much of his personality and those little feet sticking out are adorable. Will be joining you on the mindfulness journey as it will hopefully help me stay in control of the black dog too. Glad to hear you are being kind to yourself xx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 3:39 pm (5 years ago)

      Aw, I love that photo of Hugo, thank you – and those feet are just the best, aren’t they? So pleased you’re going to join in Louise, and I hope it will help you ward of the black dog too xxx

      Reply
  11. Mummy Tries
    December 1, 2014 at 2:33 pm (5 years ago)

    What a brilliant idea Leigh, I really hope it helps gets you through December. You continuously amaze me lovely lady xxx

    Reply
    • Leigh Kendall
      December 1, 2014 at 3:37 pm (5 years ago)

      Thanks, Renee. Are you going to join us? xxx

      Reply
      • Mummy Tries
        December 2, 2014 at 11:39 am (5 years ago)

        I would love to join in and support you hon but have so much else going on at the mo. I’m not on Instagram at all right now, so it would mean setting up the account and then starting to take photos, etc, and I just don’t have the energy for anything new. Hope you understand xxx

        Reply
        • Leigh Kendall
          December 2, 2014 at 1:37 pm (5 years ago)

          Of course, Renee, I understand completely and there’s no pressure at all to take part xxx

          Reply

2Pingbacks & Trackbacks on 31 Days of Mindfulness – an antidote to seasonal stresses

  1. […] So, I came up with an idea: I would post a photo on Instagram of something that represented how I was feeling, with the hashtag #31daysofmindfulness. You can read more about the background in this post. […]

  2. […] love this idea from Leigh who blogs at Headspace Perspective – 31 days of mindfulness to counteract the stress of December.  I am not sure how far I’ll get through the 31 days.  […]

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