For those of us in California, our stay at home order, unsurprisingly, was extended another month. Eesh.
Regardless of where you live, the restrictions and changes we’ve experienced over the past month have been a LOT to process emotionally. To various extents, we’re all experiencing more stress in our lives. And it’s important that we address this added stress and counter it with healthy activities.
And yet, sometimes when we’re feeling stressed, it’s hard to think of anything but the stress.
We forget that we already know so many ways to help ourselves.
So here’s a couple of recommendations I’ve made to my clients, and advice I am following myself!
1. Keep a list. Take a moment and write a list of healthy activities that help you reduce or manage your stress levels. Write everything down you can think of that makes you feel better without compromising your health (in other words, keep activities and substances off this list that aren’t boosting your health or immune system).
Keep this list handy, and when you have time or urgently need to de-stress, take it out, pick one activity on the list and do it.
TIP: Try not to get into your head too much about which one to do. Pick the one that caught your eye first. Or you might even decide before feeling stressed which activity you’ll do when you are feeling stressed. Either way, avoid paralysis by over-analysis!
2. Make de-stressing a daily habit. Commit to doing one or more of these stress-reducing activities every single day. Rather than doing these ONLY when you’re super stressed out, designate a particular time of day to de-stress daily. Not only will this help you create a good habit, but it will also help you build resilience to stress.
TIP: Try doing your daily stress-reducing activity with a partner. This helps you both be accountable to each other.
We made it through another week. And there’s no doubt some of us are starting to feel a restless and/or anxious (if you weren’t already!). I know I’ve experienced a wave or two of this, especially over the weekend when I’m missing my friends or family, or a trip to the beach or a movie theater.
I thought I’d share what’s helping me get through these disquieting waves.
1) Go for a walk. Something about being outside and moving the body has such a tremendous effect on my mood. I may even throw some sprinting in there to work out some of that restless energy. A good stretch afterwardis the icing on this delicious cake.
2) Do a Grounding Meditation. There are probably a million meditations out there referred to as “grounding.” Check your favorite app or YouTube and find one that works for you. This practice helps me to come back to my whole self, where I am reminded that it’s ok to feel restless and nervous. This is part of the experience of life right now. BUT that’s not the whole of it. It’s also offering an opportunity to be appreciative for what I have. And to see possibilities I may not have seen before.
3) Connect with someone. Anxiety deepens our sense of isolation. So the perfect antidote is to connect. Whether it’s getting a hug from my husband or checking in on a friend with a text or call, connection reminds me that I’m not in this alone. I cannot help but shift out of my own anxious thoughts and into relief and compassion when this happens. Try it!
What healthy activities are helping you through this time?
With all the concerns about the spread of coronavirus, I’m seeing a lot of helpful tips about washing hands, not touching your face, not traveling unless it’s necessary, etc.
What I’ve found missing from this prescription, however, is attention to how our minds and emotions are inextricably linked with our immune system.
Did you know that patterns of pessimism, worry, fearfulness, resentment or anger, for example, create a stress pattern in the body which depletes the immune system?
Of course, we can’t feel joyful and optimistic in every moment, but if your tendency is to worry, think the worst, or you find yourself currently holding a grudge or harboring anger, now is a great time to take actions to create a new pattern (perhaps the coronavirus is nature’s way of insisting we do so).
Here are 3 ways you can create new and more positive patterns for your mental and emotional well-being, and ultimately strengthen your immunity.
1. Have a daily gratitude practice. Numerous studies have shown that taking time each day to give gratitude for what we have has profound effects on all aspects of our health: physical, mental and emotional.
To start your own practice, choose a specific time of day (I like to do mine every night before I go to bed), and think of at least one thing you’re feeling grateful for that day. It can be ANYTHING! Then allow yourself to really feel how into this gratitude. Be with this feeling for at least a full 10 seconds. Notice how it feels in your body. Sweet, you’re done for the day.
If you want more tips on how to create your gratitude practice, or if you struggle with creating/maintaining a practice, check out the tips and practices in the Gratitudesection of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Gratitude practices. Check it out, it’s free!
2. Develop your sense of self-compassion. Our culture breeds a sense of I-am-not-enoughness among us, and it leads many people to some seriously negative self-talk. Often this behavior is mistaken as a form of self-discipline. But as Kristin Neff points out in her book Self-Compassion, this kind of self-criticism actually triggers the flight or fight response in the nervous system. In other words, our own negativity towards ourselves is seen as a threat! As a result, stress hormones increase in the body, as well as blood pressure and adrenaline, which will deplete the body’s ability to respond to another threat like, you guessed it, coronavirus.
So where to begin with developing this practice of self-compassion? Awareness is key. Notice how you talk to yourself. Would you say those things to a friend? If not, ask yourself, what would you say to them? Connect with your compassion and then offer those same words of care to yourself. And remember, this is a new skill you’re developing. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work on it.
3. Have a daily breath or meditation practice. It’s not news that breath and meditation are some of the best tools for surviving and thriving in our fast-paced culture. In fact, I’d say these tools are essential. Particularly because of their effects on calming the nervous system, reducing stress, and consequently strengthening our ability to fight pathogens like the coronavirus.
And if the word “meditation” causes you anxiety, don’t sweat it. Start instead with a simple daily breath practice. Here’s how:
First, decide on a good time of day to set aside one-two minutes for your practice. This may take a few tries to find a time that works best for you. Then set a time for one minute (you can increase this time as you build your practice). During this minute, take some slow, deeper breaths. Keep your attention on your breath as you do this. Notice the sensation of the breath as it moves in and out of the body. Notice the parts of your body that move as you breathe. If your mind wanders, that’s ok. Just gently bring it back to your breath.
When the timer goes off, take a moment to notice how you feel and appreciate this moment you gave to yourself for healing and restoring the body, mind and spirit. And you’re done.
Want more tips on starting a breath practice, or want to learn different breath techniques? check out the tips and practices in the Breath Practices section of my free online wellness community, THRIVE HIVE. We dedicated a whole month to exploring Breath Practices. Check it out, it’s free!
Wishing you resilient health and ease this spring and all your days!
I’m excited to introduce to you: THE THRIVE HIVE!
What is the THRIVE HIVE?
A quick overview:
First and foremost,THRIVE HIVE is an online wellness community that is NOT connected to social media outlets. That means: no advertisers, no distractions, no drama, no spying, no tracking of what you say, do or click on while in this private community. Just a space where you can focus on bringing healthier habits into your life while getting practical tips, peer support and professional coaching. Currently, membership to this community is free! And as long as you join while it’s free, you will not have to pay for membership ever. 😍
In the THRIVE HIVE we will take tiny steps towards learning and adopting healthier habits. We will overcome obstacles, mess up, try again, get smarter, cheer people on, collaborate, and share our experiences to help each other grow.
We will build confidence,change limiting beliefs, laugh, possibly cry, and in the process we will become healthier, happier versions of ourselves, realize more of our potential, and live more fulfilling and joyous lives.
Sound too good to be true? Do not doubt the magic that can happen in a hive!
I’ll be revealing more details about THRIVE HIVE in the coming weeks, but it you want to get the full scoop, sign up for my email list.
Doors open September 3rd, with an official launch on September 9th. Mark your calendars!
How has your summer been? Have you been doing too much?
If so, you’re not alone. Summer has a tendency to have many of us running around like crazy people. Why? Because summer is the time of pitta dosha.
The nature of pitta, composed mostly of fire (with a bit of water), is to make things happen! If you’ve got a dream—that’s the creative energy of vata. But if you want to make it a reality? That’s pitta dosha. The essence of pitta is to transform. And if something needs to get done, pitta will definitely light that fire.
However, during the heat of the summer, pitta can get exacerbated, and we may find ourselves pushing to do way too much. I noticed this in myself recently. Just having returned from vacation, I felt behind and created all sorts of tasks for myself that I believed had to be done ASAP. And when things weren’t happening as quickly as I’d expected, I became frustrated and irritable. My drive and focus was moving me into a state of near mania!
Because of my understanding of the doshas, however, I knew this was a sign of imbalanced pitta. And I also knew just what to do to bring balance.
When we’re hyper-focused, we forget to see the big picture. In my case, simply taking a big step back from my desk and my calendar to check in with what I was really trying to accomplish was all I needed to create a shift towards balance. Because from this bigger picture mindset I was able to see that I wasn’t aligned with what I was truly trying to accomplish and that:
Believing “I’m behind” is self-defeating and only takes me out of balance because I overschedule myself and create anxiety around my to-do list.
When there is a lot to do, I must prioritize and come into acceptance that I can only do so much.
Many of the things I believed had to be done immediately, really weren’t that urgent!
Immediately upon making these realizations, a huge weight came off my shoulders. And what became even clearer is what to do next and move forward.
What about you? Where are you trying to do too much? Can you take a step back and get a better perspective of what’s really important for you to do? Can you give yourself some space to breathe and choose ease over struggle today?
There’s been a lot of change in my life this year.
A lot of time and energy spent in unknown territory. Which is not a place many humans prefer to be. It’s uncomfortable, unpredictable and it’s easy to get insecure in what we’re doing and who we are.
From an Ayurvedic perspective, life changes can often throw someone’s vata dosha out of balance. Vata is an energy that everyone has to some extent. It is composed of the elements air and ether (space), and is often referred to as the windy dosha. When someone’s vata dosha is in balance, it spawns lots of creativity and big ideas and can help one solve difficult problems. When there’s too much, it can generate anxiety, fear, worry, confusion and we often feel scattered by its windy tendencies.
During times of upheaval and change, it’s important to keep vata in balance so that we can move into the unknown with more ease and confidence.And one of the best ways to do this is by creating and sticking to daily routines. Because when we structure our day, we create a container for this windy dosha, so it’s not scattering our energy all over the place making us feel anxious, depleted or fearful.
Something as simple as going to bed and waking up at the same time every day can work wonders. Having a morning routine that includes a grounding practice like yoga or meditation is especially good for balancing vata (even if it’s just for 5 minutes!) because it sets the tone for balance for the entire day.
And while for me, it wasn’t always easy to stick to my routines, when I did, it made a world of difference in how I felt and how I handled the challenges that come with making big life changes.
It’s been a while! Too long I’d say. As some of you already know, my husband and I moved down to Southern California a few months ago.
It’s been a HUGE transition and a tremendous test of maintaining the healthy Ayurvedic habits I’ve learned (and teach!). Because, as I’m sure you’ve all experienced, stress and change have a way of bringing up old patterns. And I was not exempt from this.
Even after years of practicing these habits, my past patterns showed up, seducing me with familiar and comfortable ways in the face of new and challenging situations. And at times, against my better judgment, I gave in to those old ways in hopes of some relief from the stress I was feeling.
But here’s the thing: When we practice taking better care of ourselves, we develop a solid foundation of self love and self respect. And THIS is what helps me forgive myself when I did (do) have momentary lapses of judgment. THIS is what reminds me that sometimes I fall down so that I can learn how to get back up, and that self-criticism and shaming myself are a waste of energy because they only take me further out of integrity with the healthier, more aligned, more courageous and more fulfilled person I’ve become because of these habits.
So I want to encourage you all:
If you are working on embracing healthier habits: Keep going! Don’t worry about doing things perfectly. If you mess up, forgive yourself and take small steps to get back on track. It WILL get easier with time. And the foundation you are building will sustain you even during the most difficult of times.
If you’re not yet making steps towards healthier habits: Why wait? Start small and start today. Even the tiniest step in a positive direction is better than no steps at all. You are totally worth it and you CAN do it.
While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my spirit stays merry and bright!
There’s not much that makes my spirit feel brighter than doing something selfless. Which isn’t always easy especially when we feel like we are too overwhelmed to even take care of ourselves. And still, if we get creative, there’s always an easy way to be of service. Here’s just a few examples:
—Make a meal for someone. We make ourselves dinner on most nights. Why not make one serving more and invite someone over. Maybe someone who doesn’t have family nearby, or someone for whom the holidays are tough because of a loss or other reason.
—Compliment a stranger or simply smile and say hello to them.
—Donate. This can be really easy–for instance, next time you’re purchasing a gift from amazon, do it through smile.amazon so that your favorite charity also gets a gift.
–Share gratitude. Tell a loved one you’re grateful for them. Give them at least one specific reason.
–Laugh. Tell a joke, or make people laugh (preferably without self-deprecating humor)
–Connect. Reach out to an old friend or relative. You’ll both feel great.
We don’t have to limit ourselves to human kindness either:
—Share gratitude with nature. Tell a tree how much you appreciate it.
–Appreciate nature. Look up at the sky at night and marvel at all of the stars
–Honor nature. Start your day by greeting the sun, feeling its rays on your face and giving gratitude for all of its gifts, or take some extra special care of a plant or pet.
How will you keep your spirit merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.
While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my mind stays merry and bright!
—Create a holiday mantra. I discussed this in a previous post, but had to reiterate it here because having this mantra has been so beneficial in keeping me out of panic mode. Haven’t got one yet? Go back to your Guiding Light Statement and see what gems you can use to create your holiday mantra.
—Make a shopping plan. Who do I need to buy for? What do I want to get them? What do they want? Can I do it online or do I need to make a special trip? Is there a simple thoughtful gift I can give to colleagues or clients? Taking about 30 minutes or so to answer some of these questions on paper helps get this mess out of my head so I can organize it and most importantly, stop thinking about it.
—Schedule in time for nothing. Fact: Cramming your schedule with too many things with no breaks NEVER results in merriment. So I like to make sure that I carve out at least 20 minutes a day and maybe an additional hour per week to do nothing. No devices are allowed during this time. Just me with myself perhaps sitting in nature, watching the sky, being with silence, or sitting down to…
—Meditate. Staring my day with meditation sets the tone of ease and focus for the whole day. But why stop there? If I need a moment to re-center, sitting with my breath, or sensations, or even listening to a meditation on an app can do wonders for bringing me back to a merry and bright state of mind.
How will you keep your mind merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.
Coming up next:
How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 3
While my holiday mantra serves as a reminder for me to slow down, re-center and re-focus, it also reminds me that I have specific practices that can help me with this. Today I’m sharing some of my favorites ways to make sure my body stays merry and bright!
—Get to bed by 10pm. Our bodies go through natural detoxing and rejuvenating processes starting at 10pm. To make sure I feel merry and bright in the morning, it’s important to be asleep by this time so that my body can focus on these revitalizing activities.
—Calming bedtime rituals: With all the excitement, it’s important to help our body wind down before we go to bed so that we can get a deeper, more restorative sleep. My favorite bedtime ritual is to oil my feet before bed with warm oil (organic unrefined sesame, sunflower or almond oil is best).
—Daily morning movement. Whether it’s a walk, a little yoga or qigong, if I make time for 20 minutes of movement before I eat breakfast, my body, my digestion, my energy levels are feeling pretty merry all day long. So no matter where I spend the holiday, I find a way to keep this practice as consistent as possible. If it means I have to shorten it to 10 minutes on some days, I’m ok with that. Doing some of the practice is better than not doing it at all.
How will you keep your body merry this holiday season? I’d love to hear from you either by email or post your answer on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness.
Coming up next:
How to Have a Merry Body, Mind and Spirit This Holiday, Part 2 and Part 3