- Bring a water bottle with you EVERYWHERE. Seriously, hydration affects everything from our skin to our moods. The ripple effect of dehydration makes us moody, constipated, and our bodies will start to crave any foods we see (regardless of health content) because our body can leach water from the food. I most commonly hear people complain about the taste of water fountain water…I challenge you to conquer this fear as the cost of NOT drinking water fountain water is so steep. You can certainly fill it before leaving your home with your water of choice…but in a pinch, fill up! Take the leap and buy the water bottle you have been lusting after…it is a small price to pay for the benefits reviewed.
- Take time at the beginning of your week to review your schedule and make a plan for when you will eat each day. This seems to be the first thing people skip and again, the consequences have a negative ripple effect on everyone you encounter (including yourself)! Each morning, make sure you have a stash of healthy snacks available in your bag, car, purse and/or desk. The magic time frame that you don’t want to exceed is 4 hours between meals. The kindest thing you can do for your blood sugar is to keep it stable.
- Eat raw. There are oodles of studies that show the health benefits of eating raw fruits/veggies/nuts/seeds; there is even indication for reduced risk of cancer! Eating raw produce, nuts, and/or seeds also provides you with the nutrients, fiber, fluids and energy that you need for optimal mood end energy stamina to get through the day! I would encourage you to always keep your fridge (home and work) stocked with produce and cheerlead yourself into eating it before it goes bad! Some are easier than others to take on the road: bananas, apples and carrot sticks travel quite well.
- Meditate. I know…big eye rolls from about 75% of you. Mediation doesn’t have to mean full on lotus position for 60 minutes; mediation could mean you close your eyes and take 10 slow deep breaths to re-center yourself and then resume your day. Longer periods of quiet reflection time can produce more long-lasting benefits, yet you need to start somewhere!
- Go outside. I am not sure of an easier and more FREE life hack than going outside for fresh air and sunshine! The act of walking away from the task at hand, improving blood circulation and taking slow cleansing breaths will provide you with renewed energy and fresh perspective. Stand firm and insist on breath breaks…just as smokers insist on smoke breaks! If you have time on your drive home, stop at a local park and take a moment to yourself. Whether walking or sitting on a bench, enjoy nature.
- Take the stairs and the “bad” parking spot. We live a more sedentary lifestyle than ever before; we even have to rely on pedometer devices to encourage us to move our bodies! A quick few hacks for how to get more steps are to take the stairs more often (use a restroom on a different floor, don’t take elevators, make yourself go to a different floor of your house more often) and to opt for a really bad parking spot (ie: the one FURTHEST from your destination!).
Are you a “yeller”? Yelling at your kids, your dog, your spouse, your siblings, your parents, your friends?
I do fall into this pattern at times: yelling at my kids more than I intend. Either after a bad day, a tiring day, or long stretches of grey weather. It is futile and literally has no effect on the outcome (except that I feel awful and they avoid me)…
…so why do we do it???
In general, yelling at another person is a punishment. From behaviorism research and theory, punishment is the least effective way to get another human to change their behavior…so…
…why do we do it???
In general, yelling at another person is a REWARD to the yeller…and we know that behaviors that are reinforced (it feels good and it relieves our pressure/stress) are likely to continue. The fact that we feel calmer after blowing off steam keeps us coming back to it time and again, even though it does not get the results we want! So many times we want to blame others or say things like “I don’t know why I did that”, so I am here to unveil this conundrum. We yell because yelling rewards US. We also have a lot of beliefs surrounding yelling that reinforce the behavior:
- That they will take us more seriously (the opposite is true, you are probably regularly telling them to speak to you calmly and respectfully; you are not modeling the behavior which makes you a hypocrite)
- That they will respect us more (again, the opposite is true…see reasoning above)
- That they will listen better (the opposite is usually true: either they respect you less and therefore don’t listen, they might think you are blowing off steam and therefore don’t take your yelling topic seriously, or you frighten them which causes their anxiety to spike and their brain processessing abilities to tank)
- That they are more likely to change (research shows that they are actually just more likely to lie to you, avoid you, and resent you)
Debunking the beliefs and educating ourselves on the facts about yelling is one step toward reducing the behavior. Taking time to understand why we act in certain ways can allow us to increase our awareness and become more mindful of our behaviors and triggers.
In 2005 I took a trip as a college credit across the United States in a 15 passenger van with 12 other students that I really didn’t know. The purpose of the trip was to experience different cultures and create art in ways that I could not experience in my Midwestern campus life. The most inspiring part of the trip for me, that has left a lasting imprint on my psyche was a hike down into Canyon de Chelly in Arizona. Hiking down into the basin of the canyon was the only time I have every experienced true Oneness with the world.
I recall a specific moment during the descent in which I subsequently felt minuscule and gigantic…and immediately started crying! In this one moment, I remember seeing a small flower growing out of a rock. I was so much more complex, large, and evolved than this plant AND at the same time I looked across this canyon and realized that I am a tiny speck on this planet. The hike into the Canyon is 1 1/4 miles each way and I would estimate that I had this experience about 1/3 of the way down. I hiked the rest of the way with complete awareness of the awe of nature.
This is the sound of silence.
How would you capture silence in a photograph? Is it a positive image like this one, showing a much-needed break? Or is it the opposite, revealing the lack of communication in a friendship or the dangers of not speaking out? Show us your interpretation in a new post.
In general, I vow not to make “New Year’s Resolutions”; I find them to be laden with high expectations and low follow through which leads to disappointment, depression and shame. I am not; however, anti goal-setting or anti intention-setting. In fact, my strategy has been for the last few years, to choose a word or theme that I deem to be my word or phrase of the impending year.
In order to set an intention for 2018, you must first tread into the land of goals and resolutions. You need to ask yourself several self-inquiry questions:
- What am I proud of accomplishing in 2017?
- What do I regret doing and not doing?
- What do I want people to think about me? What kind of reputation do I want? If people described me in three words, what words would I want them to use?
- What is going well in my family life? What would I like to see improve?
- What is going well for me financially and what would I like to work on?
- How is my self-care? My health? Am I taking care of my body? What is a realistic area that I could improve on?
- How do I feel about my connections in life? Spiritually? Relationships with peers? Family? Co-workers?
- Am I living according to the values that are important to me? What do I feel passionately about?
I would encourage you to journal long and hard on these topics. Research the ones that stand out to you. Ask (trusted) people in your life what they think about your functioning in each area.
Once you have explored what went well last year and what areas you would like to grow in 2018, start looking for commonalities in your answers. Do you see a common theme? If so…that might be something you can boil down into a word/phrase! If not, that’s ok! Triage your answers into your top one or two areas for growth and work to find a commonality between those two. Don’t be afraid to use http://www.thesaurus.com/ to find a word that really speaks to you.
That’s it! That’s the hard part…once you have your word or phrase for 2018, shout it out, what is yours?! I would encourage you to make it public so that your are more likely to achieve results.
My word for 2018 is BUILD.
My previous post got me thinking about color. Color is all around us in nature, life, the foods we eat, the habitats we live and work in; and yet color is something we often overlook. If I asked you to stop and tell me what color your neighbors house is, what color your boss’s car is, what color the tiles are at work or school…would you be able to? Mindfulness is all about WAKING UP from auto-pilot. Mindfulness of color can be a quick way to wake up and increase the amount of time you spend observing the present.
Take the next few moment to spot something red…something orange…yellow…green…something blue…and purple. You can expand from their if you would like: black, brown, white, pink…
Allow the search for color, really noticing the colors in your world, to anchor you to the present moment. Stop worrying about what might happen or fretting about what did. Come back to the now and take a moment to find the beauty and variety of color where ever you are.
As a mental health professional, self care is paramount to my well being and ability to do my job well. I often say that I won’t preach what I don’t practice, so I wanted to share with you five of my self care rituals.
1. Sleep. My sleep is mandatory and highly schedule! I typically allow for 10 hours of sleep each night, knowing that sometimes it takes 15-20 minutes to unwind and fall asleep. The longer block of time also allows for me to wake on my own (BEFORE the alarm startles me awake). If my body happens to need more sleep, it is not difficult to get it with a 10 hour block.
2. Skin. I use a lot of lotion! I have a large bottle at every sink in my house, on my dresser, on my nightstand, in my purse and work bag, at my desk, etc. I find putting on lotion to be a kind gesture to my body; whether it’s hands, elbows or feet. It also allows me to pause for a moment several times a day just to reflect on the sensation.
3. Scents. I am an avid candle burner. One of the first things I do when I get home is light a bunch of candles all over the house. The warmth, flickering light, and scents are all very relaxing to me. I also choose my body wash wisely, using a citrus in the morning and lavender in the evening.
4. Music. I always have music on. Records, playlists, Spotify, Pandora, radio, etc. Music to me is very soothing, both listening to it, searching for it, etc.
5. Me time. To me, this means scheduling time to explore. From new stores, the library, trails, taking the scenic route or walking around the block. I love to spend time exploring and learning about new places, people, and parts of the city I live in.
What do you do for self care?