Help for Moving Through the Discomfort of Change

When all of this is over, or at least as we start a return to some sense of “normalcy,” my hope is that we have If there’s anything 2020 is teaching us, it’s that we are adaptable. And that we can make big changes in our lives that, 6 months ago, we may have believed were impossible.

You might have also noticed that this process of change can be really uncomfortable! It has to be. Because growth and change don’t happen in the comfort zone. 

But there are three key factors that can help us move through this uncomfortable space with more grace and ease than we otherwise might.

First (and probably foremost) is self-compassion. We may think that self-criticism motivates us to be better or do more. But self-compassion expert Kristin Neff says this is not the case. Self-criticism instead creates anxiety rather than progress. And that self-kindness is a more successful motivator and brings along with it other benefits such as improved life-satisfaction, more calm and more confidence.

Change is disruptive by nature, and it can put our ego and nervous system into a panic and cause us to make unhealthy decisions. So another key skill in making change more gracefully is knowing methods of calming ourselves and bringing ourselves back to our center. Methods may include anything from breath work and meditation, to spending time in nature or doing yoga. What’s important is that you know, and practice, what works for you on a consistent basis. 

And lastly, we must have community and connection. This was something I struggled with for a long time, believing I was better off doing things on my own and that personal growth was a “private” affair. Turns out we really don’t thrive that way. We need connection, because we are all connected. We need support because we are part of something much bigger than ourselves. Some of us may need bigger communities, others may need smaller communities. But we all need to tap into our sense of belonging. And we also need to understand that we are essential to the communities we belong to. 

I’d love to hear what you think of these ideas. Is there one or more of these areas where you would like to improve? Or where you’d like more support?

These key factors are all a part of the work I do with clients and course members. If you’re curious about how I might be able to support you, let’s chat. You can schedule a complimentary call with me to talk about what you’re looking for in the next phase of your life, and we’ll discuss potential strategies to help you get there.

In the meantime, be kind to yourself, stay calm, and stay connected. We’ll all get through this and I’m hopeful that all the inner and outer work we’re being called to do this year is making us better humans.

Stabilize and Nourish

It’s been an intense week with lots of emotions. And also a lot of hope. 

As we continue to move through uncertainty and change, it’s important to focus on creating stability for your mind, body, and spirit, and to make sure you’re staying well-nourished.

Processing big changes and intense emotions can upset and weaken our digestion, so it’s important to keep our diet light and clean right now. This means avoiding processed foods, refined sugar, alcohol, and caffeine. Instead, try to incorporate simple meals like soups and stews as well as herbal teas with natural sweeteners like honey or maple syrup.

I’ve been eating a lot of kitchari, Ayurveda’s incredibly nourishing and healing comfort food. Packed with nutrients and easy to digest, this amazing stew also helps detoxify the body.

Never had it? Check out my recipe. In this PDF I share 3 variations (stove top, slow cooker and instant pot). And if you have any questions about it, feel free to reach out to me. I respond to all my emails and I’m always happy to hear from you.

My Biggest Hope for All of Us…

When all of this is over, or at least as we start a return to some sense of “normalcy,” my hope is that we have allowed this experience to transform us in a positive way.

And according to Dave Gray (author of Liminal Thinking), times of crisis such as these can be the perfect opportunity, a threshold, or a doorway, for us to become more present to the reality of our lives. In these past weeks, we have been taken off our auto-pilot mode. Disrupted. And it’s an opportunity to look at where we are in our lives.

Are you taking care of yourself the way you’d like to?

Are you investing your time, energy & money in a way that serves your well-being?

Are you clear on what’s working or not working in your life?

Dave Gray suggests that this doorway is a chance to “get in touch with our ignorance.” In other words, asking ourselves: what have we turned a blind eye to? What have we tolerated? And what are the consequences if we continue to make that choice?  

They are big questions. Tough questions. But crucial if we are interested in creating more clarity and harmony in our lives, and even in the lives of those around us. 

Empower Yourself with This Simple Mindset Shift

It was beautiful here in Los Angeles this past weekend–and if the beaches hadn’t been closed, I would undoubtedly have been there. I admit it was frustrating. But I was able to shift myself out of frustration, as I have had to do many times during this pandemic, because of the concept in yoga philosophy that tells us: Whatever we focus on expands.

In other words, I could have focused my attention on my frustration which would have only increased my sense of feeling less in control of my life altogether. It would’ve created more stress and ultimately put me in a foul mood all weekend. Yuck. 

When I decided to shift my focus on what I CAN do and what I DO have control over (such as, I can sit in my backyard and enjoy the beautiful weather, I can connect with others through technology, I can cook and eat nourishing food) suddenly my weekend got a whole lot better.

That’s not to say any of us should pretend that difficult feelings aren’t there. Acknowledging frustration, sadness, and fear, and giving ourselves space to process these emotions is one of the most loving things we CAN do for ourselves right now. 

And when we focus our attention on the things we can control, like nourishing and taking care of ourselves, processing our emotions and practicing gratitude for what we do have, we put ourselves in a much better position to:

  1. Feel better and create a healthier environment for ourselves and whoever we may be sheltering with.
  2. Stay healthy and strong.
  3. Have a more balanced perspective on the whole situation which will help us endure whatever lies ahead.

The Key to Starting Any New Habit

I’ve been speaking with a number of my workshop attendees–can you guess what I hear about the most in these conversations?

1. I know the habits I have are not great.

AND

2. I want to change those habits, be healthier but I don’t know where to begin

OR

3. I’ve tried making some changes, and it works for a while but then I get thrown off track and struggle to get back to those bad habits.

Change is rarely easy. We’re often working against some deeply rooted patterns. But it’s not impossible to change those patterns.

Today I’m sharing my top tip for getting started on creating a new habit:

GET CLEAR ON WHY YOU’RE DOING IT. 
The first step I take with any client is clarifying why they want to make changes. Understanding what’s sparking this desire to change will keep you anchored to your motivation. It will help you get through the tough times on your journey and remind you why you started in the first place.

And we gotta go deep here. No one wants to lose weight simply because they want to fit in their pants. So it’s important to keep asking yourself “why” in order to get to your deeper desire. For instance, ask yourself: Why do I want to fit in my pants? Why is that important?

And whatever your response is to that question, ask again–well why is that important? I recommend asking yourself “why is that important” about 9 times.

There is always a much deeper reason underlying your desire to change that you may not have admitted to yourself before. Find out what it is. 

TIPS: As you ask yourself why, get out of your head. You’ll never find the answers there anyway. See if your responses can come from the heart or the belly. Allow the deeper desire to emerge from your whole self. Try not to edit what comes up. You may want to “free write” or talk into a recorder without worrying about anyone (especially you!) judging what comes out. 

Once you’ve got your BIG why answer, write it down. 

How powerful can this be? As an example, that client who thought she wanted to lose weight to fit in her pants? She made another discovery. What she really wanted, was to lose weight because she wanted to have more energy to spend time/play with her kids, and to show them that they can do things they set their minds to.

A little more powerful than pants right? And by the way, she’s lost almost 30 pounds.

Address Your Stress with These Two Tips

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.

Top 3 Tips for Reducing Stay-at-Home Restlessness and Anxiety

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 afterward is 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?

This Holiday Season: Are You Calm? Are You Bright?

snowy clouds

The holidays can get hectic and stressful. And if I don’t remind myself to slow down, re-center and re-focus, my nervous system gets frazzled, my immunity suffers, I make poor decisions and I usually find myself depleted and regretful before the season is over.

So a couple years ago, I decided to give myself a mantra, to the tune of a Christmas carol, so that I was constantly reminding myself of how I wanted to experience the holiday.

What emerged was my holiday mantra:  “I am calm, I am bright” (to the tune of Silent Night).

I’ve thought about changing it this year, yet nothing else seems to resonate as well for me right now. So for another year, this is it.

What kind of mantra can you come up with to stay on track for having a healthier, more mindful holiday? Can you sing it to the tune of your favorite holiday song? Consider how you want to feel this holiday, or go through my Design Your Holiday exercises to find the right words for your mantra.

Would love to hear what you come up with. Post your holiday mantra on Facebook or Instagram and be sure to tag me @nmyogawellness. Or you can share it with me by email.