Finding Calm

I recently started using the Calm app.  I never really intended to do a review on it, but in just a few days it has made enough of an impact on my life that I decided to share my experience.

Calm is a free app designed to help you begin a mindfulness meditation practice.  I have tried many times in my life to “meditate” using many different approaches but never felt like it was working.  My mind still felt cluttered, and I didn’t feel any of the relaxation or anxiety reduction that everyone was talking about. This time, using the Calm app has been very different.

I started as a subscriber to their Instagram page. I loved the beautiful images and often drew inspiration from the quotations.  I always just ignored the app, but one day I decided to try it out just for something to do.   So far, I have only used the free portions. Although there are many other options available with a subscription, I find the free content to be valuable.

Here’s what I like best:

  • Only takes a few minutes a day
  • Beautifully animated images of nature scenes with your choice of many different nature, calming, or white noise sounds playing in the background (can be played in app only or outside of the app depending on your settings)
  • Helpful guided meditations that teach you how to have an effective mindfulness practice
  • A selection of guided and unguided meditation sessions
  • A breath timer that allows you to focus on breathing and relaxation
  • Stories that engage your mind and then slowly taper off to help your mind transition from the bustle of your day into deep and relaxed sleep (just like when you were a kid!)
  • A calendar to help you track your practice (number of consecutive days, number of sessions, total time spent meditating)
  • An option to leave feedback after every guided session

If you’re like me, and always wanted to try meditating but never found a way to actually achieve it, I highly recommend this app. In just a few days I am beginning to notice when my mind wanders, and am discovering things about myself by noting where it wanders to. I love how the guided meditations encourage you to notice these wandering thoughts, and not be frustrated or judge yourself about it but just come back to the moment. I’m excited to see what changes in my practice and in my life after more time spent cultivating mindfulness and meditation.

 

 

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Forgiveness by Dani DiPirro

I would call this more a collection of quotes and positive affirmations than a book.  It took me less than an hour to read, and in the end, I don’t feel like I came away with much more than a few new quotes I hadn’t heard before (all of which I found for free and favorited on BrainyQuote for future reference.) I wouldn’t say that I found this book helpful in learning how to forgive, although it did remind me of why it is important to forgive.  At the end of the book, there are some lists of ways to forgive in certain circumstances (at home, at work, in love, etc.) but they are very vague suggestions and don’t give any tips for how one would go about achieving this forgiveness.  Speaking from personal experience, when you have been hurt it is very hard to find a way to forgive even when you want to, especially if a violation of trust is involved.  I was hoping to experience a book about ways to achieve forgiveness in difficult circumstances.  Because all of the quotes can be found on the internet for free, and because most people who are picking up a book about forgiveness already want to forgive, I wouldn’t recommend anyone buy this book if they are looking for help to achieve that goal.  However, if you are looking for encouragement along the journey of forgiveness you have already started, you will definitely find it here, even if you can find it for free elsewhere.

I received a copy of this book for free to read and review through Netgalley

Smart Housekeeping by Anne L. Watson

Smart Housekeeping is a simple, straightforward and to the point book with tips to make housekeeping easier for you. While I’ll admit there is really nothing extraordinary or new in the book it’s still very helpful if you feel overwhelmed or lost about de-cluttering and cleaning your home. What I liked most about it was the focus on finding what works for you.  The main idea behind the tips in the book is to help you find simple solutions that you will actually use because they are comfortable for you and make sense in your life and in your home.  What works for some will not work for others and it’s all about finding the end result that you are seeking and the simplest way to get and stay there.  I also like that it was short!  Who wants to spend days reading about cleaning up around their home when they can actually be doing it? This book offers some ideas and inspiration to get you started in the right direction, and then lets you use the rest of your time to get going.

Some topics covered are a simple decluttering method, clutter control, organization, cleaning, and tips for getting household members on board. Some tips that I found helpful or encouraging were:

  • work for short periods and break projects down into manageable bits
  • be realistic about your limitations (time, money, energy)
  • balance your resources (you may have more money than you have time, or more time than money.  Spend money where you can to make things easier, or put in extra time where you can to make things cost effective.
  • Analyze where things collect and why and then design your clutter control around your habits and preferences (a laundry hamper where you undress to avoid a dirty laundry pile, a “gathering basket” holding place for things waiting to be put away.  When the basket is full make one trip to put everything away, etc.)
  • “Never nag. It’s useless.”

This is a quick read and has some valuable tips for anyone who feels like getting their home under control is a daunting task.  The tips I found helpful might not make sense for you, but there were plenty of others that might work in your home and just weren’t a good fit for me. The biggest takeaway for me was that the state of your home is a personal choice, and the level of organization and cleanliness have to work for you.  How you do it is flexible so that it fits in your life and you build a routine you will maintain instead of one you will abandon.

I received a copy of this book for free to read and review through Netgalley

Coping With Difficult People by Robert M. Bramson, Phd

If you’re looking for a book to help you understand different types of difficult people, how they act, and why they act that way this is the book for you.  What I loved most about it was the focus on understanding the behavior and  the information on how to cope with people in your life who act this way.  This book does not focus on how to change other people’s behavior because that’s not possible.  The only thing we can change is our own actions and how we feel about a certain situation.  In this book, Bramson proposes we can accomplish this by learning coping behaviors. The main focus is on dealing with people in a work setting, but the methods are easily adaptable to personal life as well.

The book addresses 8 “types” of difficult people: Hostile-Aggressives, Complainers, Silent and Unresponsive people, Super-Agreeables, Negativists, Know-it-Alls, and Indecisive Stallers.  For each category of difficult person, Bramson discusses what the behavior looks like, why people do it (I love how he includes scientific information like reinforcement and not just emotional reasons)  and then explains step-by-step methods for coping using real life examples from his consulting career. The idea behind the coping methods is that they “interfere with the “successful” functioning of the difficult behavior.”

After going through the different “types” individually the author includes chapters that give a basic formula for developing an action plan that you can use when preparing to deal with a difficult person, information on different thinking styles and how they affect the behaviors of difficult people and the person trying to cope, and ways to manage the defensive behavior that will ultimately arise both in the difficult person and the person applying these coping methods.

What I found most valuable was the focus on coping.  The author stresses that a lot of times you are not going to end up with an ideal situation, but you will end up with one that alleviates a lot of the stress and mental anguish that goes along with not dealing with difficult people. He demonstrates through examples and explanations that since you can’t change a difficult person, you have the options of suffering or coping, and coping is just better for everyone involved.  I knew Bramson was hitting home and giving me applicable information when I started to see how my own actions in past situations actually fed into the difficult behavior and made it worse.  I was then able to think about what the outcome would have been if I had instead applied the coping methods detailed in this book.  I can say that I have confidence that with some practice my future interactions with difficult people will be much more successful and less stressful.

 

 

Love Me Don’t Leave Me by Michelle Skeen, PsyD

51JqLOofH8L._AC_US240_FMwebp_QL65_If you’ve ever struggled with building strong and healthy relationships despite fears, anxieties and road blocks from your past, you must read Love Me Don’t Leave Me. The main focus of this book is for people with fear of abandonment, but it also goes in depth with other common anxieties that hinder relationships. I couldn’t turn the pages of this book fast enough. Author Michelle Skeen, PsyD writes in a voice that at once makes you feel comfortable and understood . She introduces the reader to her content in a way that is never boring or judgmental. In this book Skeen explores the idea of core beliefs: how and when they are formed, emotions and reactions they cause, and the affects they have on relationships. She then guides the reader through ways to recognize when you are reacting to a core belief, how to cope with the emotions and thoughts that result from your core beliefs, the consequences of unhelpful reactions based on core beliefs, and then introduces practical and attainable strategies for changing those actions.  What I love about this book is the depth of understanding I walked away with, and the knowledge that everyone can experience relief from the anxieties and fears and that relationships don’t have to be sabotaged because of them. Those of you who have read this book, what did you think?

Hi, I’m Diana and I Need Help…

I have a guilty pleasure, and it’s reading self-help books.  I’ll be the first to admit that some are really good even though everyone expects people to say they are bad.  That said, some of them really are bad.  I’d like this to be a place to share my opinions on books I read and to hear your opinions about them as well!  Maybe we can share some titles and inspire each other too.  Welcome to my journey through the crowded streets of the self-help genre.