How are you doing with your emotions this week? Have you given them any extra patience?
Now that you know they are part of your intelligence system, that you are an embodied being … meaning everything you know comes through your body and physicality – are you treating them differently?
Are you able to give yourself extra support – like self care – when you are having a hard time with your emotions?
How have you taken more ownership of your own emotional experience? Worked to direct your attention and ability to maintain self regulation now that you are aware that they aren’t something to be feared?
Today, see you if you can set yourself up to have a great day. You know it will be a great day because you are working to direct your own experience and gather information about it before you react. You are going to work to respond instead of react and to chose your perception of the experience like we talked about last week.
Ever thought about finding the spiritual all around you? I’m sure you’ve heard that before … but what about when you clean house?
I bet you often do not think of cleaning house as a spiritual event. Sometimes I don’t either. More and more I do and here’s why.
Three years ago we decided we wanted to downsize. We were tired of vacuuming spaces no one walked on because the hallway was bigger than it needed to be, the bedroom was larger than we really used, and we preferred to hangout together in the upstairs living room, so the downstairs one often sat empty. We were tired of worrying about a yard bigger than we could keep and gardens that brought joy but could be condensed. So we decided to take on the challenge of creating a space that fit our family of 5 (3 growing teenagers and 2 labs) and allowed us to downsize into a space we used. As a result we found the joy that comes with cultivating the space you are in.
Every corner, nook, and cranny were considered so we could fit into the space comfortably. We got rid of extra bedsheets, towels, and clothing so what we have – we use. We created storage systems to maximize space to store all of our gear and got rid of what we no longer use. We are an active family in the growing stage of life. Every 6 months someone outgrows a pair of boots, a bike, a set of skis. We can now see and timely rotate it out. This house was a labor of love. Lots of light and functional flow created a home we love to care for.
Even if you can’t build a new house or remodel your existing structure, cultivate a space you love. Curate every item. Only buy what you want to clean and maintain. Trinkets and decor become dusty. It takes energy to keep them. Pay attention to what you really like. Purge the rest. Decide what it means to have things. What kind of things bring you great joy – cheap and easy often replaced or selective items you keep forever because they were made to last? It doesn’t matter as long as they bring you joy and you want to care for them.
As you purge what you do not use, do not need, and do not want to spend energy cleaning you end up with a home you love to clean. Each item you dust, vacuum around, and wipe down becomes something you take pride in. It feels good to take care of it. It feels good to pick it up, remember why you own it, and remember where it came from.
Cleaning becomes spiritual. The care you give to the space that reflects you and your personality brings you closer to yourself. Closer to things that have made your life worth living as you enjoy the pieces you’ve curated, and closer to the connections that bind us all. Maybe you remember the person who made the item you bought or delivered it. Maybe you remember the unique place you bought it or the people you were with.
As you methodically move through your space dusting, tidying, and cleaning you begin to enjoy it as a journey through special moments in your life. As this experience unfolds gratitude follows … and before you know it you are feeling the flow of something larger than yourself all while you toil away at the mundane task of cleaning house. The spiritual side of housekeeping.
Ever wonder what keeps us young and happy? Getting out, gathering with friends, and being silly! Get out of your head and into your authentic self by getting a little silly today.
In Durango we have a town party this time of year. It’s themed out and lots of people get into it. Events happen all over the area and people get out of the house, brave the weather, and gather.
Today work on finding a way to gather just for silly fun. It is part of what keeps us joyful and happy.
Here’s to finding Friday Flow in silliness!
How can you find your flow even with things that aren’t the easiest?
I am traveling today. A road trip through the desert of Arizona. I am not much of a desert girl. I have spent too many years living in the snow and ice. Although, I can’t say I crave getting to the hot desert weather, I do love Saguaro cactus.
Today, as I pass all these crazy cacti flying past my car window, they are reminding me to notice the beauty in sharp, edgy, and unique things. Not always the easiest things to be around, but they are pretty cool anyway.
Here’s to finding your Friday Flow with the prickly things in your life. Where can you shift from feeling the pain to noticing the beauty? Even if just a sliver of recognition toward the unique experience it is giving you right now.
Change your perspective … change your mind.
Let’s talk about sleep. According to the CDC one third of the US population struggles to get enough sleep. take medication to get and stay asleep. Our work, technology, and movement needs have changed throughout the years. As a result more of us have trouble falling and staying asleep. A good number of us turn to sleep aids – pharmaceuticals, alcohol, falling asleep with the TV on, doing more and more so we are “really tired”. However, these aids are often short sighted and do not help us access the deep sleep we really need. Read on to review key areas where you can shift your behavior and take control of your sleep cycle again.
Many people struggle with sleep because they negate its benefits. In our individualistic action oriented culture many people see the value of doing more over taking a break. Thus, they short their sleep in favor of getting one more item graded, one more report done, one more idea mapped out, one more treat made. In the long run this is a recipe for disaster. Your mind keeps racing with ideas as it gets trained to do more and those ideas sometimes become worries. Before we know it we’ve lost precious sleep time to thoughts, fears, and anxieties.
There are some key strategies you can do to end the cycle of not enough sleep, self medication with caffeine all day, and then being too wired to sleep well. Inevitability starting the cycle all over again.
Let’s start with the first and one of the most easy places to intervene: Time. Research shows that for the average adult 7-9 hours of shut-eye is best. That being said there are some exceptions – most of us are not those exceptions. Instead, most of us who get less than 7 hours or more than 9 have adapted to habits. Our bodies are amazing adaptions machines.
This does not mean it’s always adapting to optimal – it adapts to survival. As we shorten the time we sleep we impact the Hypothalamus – Pituitary – Adrenal axis. The body’s stress system. This impacts cortisol levels and fluctuates things like weight gain, inflammation rates, joint problems, pain levels, disease states, immunity, ability to concentrate and be productive, our ability to connect and play well with others, and energy balance needs (creating more carbohydrate cravings) to name a few. Today commit to making changes to get at least 7 up to 9 hours of sleep per night.
Below we will discuss how to do that. As I know some of you are like “WHAAAAT!?!?! How the hell am I supposed to do that?!?!?!”
One of my favorite tools to get and stay asleep, I love this ladie’s voice! Works to get to sleep and when I wake up in the middle of the night and have to get back to sleep. Jen Piercy, Yoga Nidra for Sleep – Powerful Guided meditation to fall asleep fast –
Next let’s talk about diet. What you eat all day matters. When your nutrition is depleted by poor food choices your body can not make the neurotransmitters and hormones it needs to restore itself to optimal health at night. By eating for your bio-individuality you give your system what it needs. Then during the night your body helps itself recover and prepare for your day ahead. In turn this keeps you from reaching for “crutch” foods to maintain your energy balance – sugar, caffeine, alcohol, quick carbohydrate.
These “crutch” foods can be ones that deplete the system, increase stress and inflammation on the body systems, and actually do not provide you with maintained focus and clarity you are really looking for throughout the day. Instead picking dense nutritious foods provides you with the sustainable energy while also giving your body what it needs to prepare for a good night’s sleep. When you choose foods that give you sustainable energy you are creating a positive cycle that supports your system rather than tearing it down. If you need help knowing where to start. See a dietitian or nutritionist to help you find your bio-individually meal plan.
Light and Sound
Now let’s talk about light and sound. Our physical bodies were made to respond to fluctuations in light. As the sun rises so does our cortisol helping us wake up. As the moon rises so does our melatonin helping us prepare for sleep. This system is often disrupted by things like electricity, sounds, and screens. Many of us keep our home lights on full force during the evening to help us preform tasks of daily living in today’s society. As we use this technology we have to manage it well. Start lowering your lights, shut off bright ones, close curtains, lower music, TV, other sounds. This allows us to work with the natural systems rather than fight against them leading to that “2nd wind” many of us have experienced.
In addition, screens are tough on sleep. They emit a blue light that signals cortisol and “wake up” like morning light. Plus the pixels move even when they look steady to our eyes. This keeps our brains awake and paying attention. Start turning screens off about an hour before your bed time, keep them out of your bedroom, and use a blue light filter if you do need to look at them prior to bed. This time frame gives you space to build a solid bedtime routine, which prepares your body and your mind to rest.
Finally let’s talk about the body. Our bodies ere made to move. Allowing them this pleasure helps them metabolize stress chemicals, focus the brain, and just plain get tired. This prepares us for sleep. Most of us do well to do harder workouts at least 2 hours before bed time and a simple easy stretching routine 10-15 min right before bed. This helps slow the mind by lowering the breath rate, signaling the heart rate to slow, and the brain to signal time to relax to the rest of our systems. Things like a warm bath, shower, tea, cozy clothing, weighted blankets, relaxing smells, all help us get into the physical system and shift it toward sleep. Plan to spend the hour before bed winding down with these activities helping yourself crawl into bed ready to rest.
Developing a New Sleep Hygiene Routine
Routines take time to develop. Here are some ways you can build your sleep routine to help you get to sleep, stay asleep, and wake up refreshed and ready for your day – no matter what’s on your agenda or when the coffee’s coming.
- Complete all strenuous physical activity 2 hours before bed.
- Have a list where you can place all items you are thinking about right now. Shift your focus to getting ready for bed and being done with today. Anything on this list will be addressed tomorrow morning, so you can rest assured knowing you will take care of it. Place the list by your bed to capture any ideas, thoughts, worries that wake you up in the middle of the night, remind yourself you will deal with the list in the morning.
- Begin shutting down lights, closing curtains, decreasing sounds, and light 1 hour before bed
- Turn off screens. Shut off the TV in favor of paper reading items, turn off your facebook, instagram, and email. If you must look at screens, turn on your night filter to eliminate blue light.
- Spray your pillow, bed sheets, room etc with a relaxing scent like lavender or chamomile.
- Brew yourself a sleepy time tea, settle in with blankets and soft clothing to enjoy it.
- Take a warm bath, shower, or wash your face, hands, feet with warm water to signal the brain to begin slowing down. It helps if you use essential oil to help your brain really relax.
- 15 min before bed time, do a simple stretching routine. It could be moon salutations from yoga, or easy movements that feel good to your body, stretching all the ones you used today. As you stretch focus on the physical sensations of letting go and resting. Use props, blankets, pillows, your bed, etc. to help your body release any tension and really let go without worry.
- Walk through the house, prepare to end the day – lock doors, straighten papers, shoes, etc so you can rest well. Nothing big here, just gentle reminders that you are done for today and ready to rest. Tomorrow you can finish the dishes or wipe the floor under the wet shoes. Crawl into bed, set your alarm, and turn off any soft lighting still on.
- If needed use a guided sleep meditation or soft music to help you adjust and drift off to sleep. These can be helpful if you wake up in the middle of the night, too.
If you do wake up – do not panic. Just note, I am awake right now. Write any racing thoughts, ideas, worries, on your list, remembering to remind yourself you will deal with this tomorrow and by sleeping now you are better prepared to solve those problems. Use scents, mediations, etc as needed. If you do have to get up – say to pee – keep lights low or off and move slowly. Do not even open your eyes if you do not need to. Again reminding yourself it is time to sleep now.
In the event you cannot fall back to sleep. Get up and move to another room – keep lights low/off and movements slow. Curl up and get cozy. If you have to read use paper materials and low lighting. Maybe fix a sleep tea to help your system calm. The more you worry about being awake the worse it gets as anxiety sets in and you struggle to rest. Need more ideas here’s another article with 10 ideas for getting and staying asleep.
Self Compassion with Sleep Changes
In the end … Remember it takes time to build a new routine. If you have created habits around not sleeping or getting up throughout the night it takes some time for the body to shift. About 21-30 days. By practicing your new routines without judgment toward yourself you are setting yourself up for success. Many times, just shifting how you view your routine can be helpful. Move away from negative talk and toward what is working. Start by:
- Shifting your sleep time by 15 min per week toward your ultimate goal.
- If the list above is overwhelming, take on one change a week
- If you wake up – DO NOT panic. Just go with the flow and remind yourself you are working in a positive direction. Be gentle with yourself and your environment.
- If you find too much light (if you can see your hand move in front of your eyes with them closed after lights out) or too much noise, help yourself out and get a sleep mask, ear plugs, and/or a white noise machine.
- Limit all distractions – pets in your bed, kids in your bed, partners. Sometimes a good pillow or separate blankets between ya’ll is enough.
CDC resources for sleep –https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/resources.html
Learning to regulate ourselves is one of the most important tasks we go through in life, however most of us did not have good role models. Most of our families and communities do not regulate themselves well, and we were supposed to learn how?
Well we didn’t. We learned to yell, scream, hide, isolate, and numb instead of really learning how to feel our feelings and process through them. What makes it even harder is so many of us have experienced some form of trauma in our lifetimes. Trauma disrupts and deregulates the nervous system making it hard to be accurate about what we feel and the intensity of our feelings given our current situation, not the one from the past.
As we move toward the holiday season and all its busyness. Its focus on connecting with friends and family, and its focus on comfort (foods, drink, cozier clothing) understanding how to regulate ourselves becomes more important than ever. Here are some steps to make sure you make it through the holiday season feeling a bit more calm and focused on making those good connections rather than frazzled and numbed out. Below outlines 5 ways you can make sure you are regulated this holiday season:
- Check your nervous system temperature
- Sleep hygiene
- Food and mood
- Relationships that matter
- Move your body
First, you must understanding and have a sense of your own nervous system. What is it like to be in your body? Do you feel grounded most of the time? Do you feel like you are not safe in your skin? Do you feel like your bucket is always full and spilling over, or do you feel like you have a lot of room to handle whatever comes up? Some of us feel on edge a lot, some of us do not. Getting a feel for your situation will help you begin to recognize and understand yourself better. Then use grace to help give yourself a break. If you are someone who feels your bucket is always full and there is no more room, you most likely struggle with overwhelm and maybe anger or depression or collapse (avoidance, isolation, hiding from life, procrastination, etc). Even those of us who feel we have a lot of space get that overwhelmed feeling sometimes. This gives you a baseline to help you plan and figure out how much downtime, type of movement, and rest you will need.
Next, check out your sleep patterns. Are you getting enough sleep? Most research shows us the average person needs 7-9 hours a night to feel rested and ready for our day. If you have shortened this task as part of your regular routine, you are already starting with less room in your bucket. I hear people tell me all the time, “I do not need that much sleep” or “I can’t sleep that much” outside of the rare few, most of us do need that much or more. You’ve just conditioned your body to need and work on less. Not the best way to be ready for anything that comes your way. If you aren’t getting at least 7-9 hours a night, how can you get more? Can you add just 1 hour more tonight? If that’s too much add 15 minutes more per night until you reach the goal amount of 7-9 hours. Small changes help your body get into the routine, fall and stay asleep. If you are struggling to find the right sleep hygiene routine read more about that here. On the other hand some of get more than 10 hours of sleep a night. This also causes problems in our system. If you are one of those, examine why you are sleeping so much. If you are finding it is because you feel overwhelmed and lost in the world or do not want to face the world, it is time for a mental health check up. Begin to use an alarm or the light of the day to remind you to get up. It doesn’t matter if you do not get dressed or ready for the day right away, just help your body by getting out of bed, drinking some water, and doing a little bit of movement to get started and stay on a schedule.
Third, take a look at how you eat. Food and mood run together. If you are filling yourself with items high in sugar, low in nutrients it is like asking your car to drive down the street with no gas in it. You are running on fumes and are likely to feel the effects of outside stress much quicker and more intensely. Again, you bucket does not have much room for more if your body is trying to get enough fuel to make it through your daily tasks. During the busy holiday season so many of us are eating whatever is put in front of us at this party or the next. We may be holed up at home eating whatever feels good because we are stressed by the season – more people at the grocery store, the endless advertisements, and the constant barrage of what the culture says we should be doing right now. Many people put on weight over the holiday season due to stress, lack of sleep, and overeating. Pick and choose which items are important for you to eat. Do you love Christmas cookies? A special cake your family makes every year? Eat those things but watch portion sizes and how you talk to you body about the foods you are choosing. Saying to yourself “this is going straight to my hips” as you pop that cookie is not helpful and creates an internal response system that says “ok, I guess she wants this on her hips”. Make sure you are choosing foods based on enjoyment and watch portion sizes. It will lower your stress levels and help you let go of weight rather than retain it around your belly.
Finally, relationships. Many of struggle around the holidays because our relationships are difficult. Many of us want deep connections and are scared to be vulnerable enough to get them. Many of us come from families or communities where our true self may not be accepted so we shape ourselves to fit the group we are with and it feels exhausting. Some of us find ourselves in down right abusive relationships unable to set the right limits and protections for ourselves while in that person’s presence. Make sure you set the boundaries you need to be healthy. It does not mean you do not have to attend the party, but you do not have to stay the whole time. Or can you go, enjoy yourself with all the people you want to be with, and ignore or limit the time spent with the person who is emotionally or verbally abusive? This can be tremendously difficult. Partly because your nervous system is ready for the attack and sets you up to be on edge (bucket more full) which creates a need for regulation which may be food, drink, or people choices who are not the most supportive for your system and actually keep the problems going. If you are struggling to have healthy relationships, it is time to seek help. Repatterning past relationship models is possible, but can be difficult to do on your own – you are in it, making it hard to see other options. Seek help, it’s a much more supportive process when you have someone helping you work on building healthy relationships.
Lastly … movement matters. Everyday we have to move, our bodies were built for it. How much movement are you doing everyday? Many people cut back on the amount of movement they do in the winter months due to colder, longer days. If this is you how can you build movement into your environment? Some of us are just more busy. We enjoy the parties, cooking, decorating, and wrapping for festivities. If this is you, make sure you are fitting your movement into your tasks. Things like taking the stairs, parking and walking, squats between wrapping sessions, and counter pushups while cooking go a long way to keeping you on track and motivated to continue accomplishing your health goals in spite of all the extra items you’ve put on your agenda. Planning is a big deal here. If you do not create a plan and stick to it, you will have a much harder time reaching your goals. If you put it on your calendar, you are much more likely to make sure to keep your “appointment” with yourself. Here’s a full body workout you can fit in throughout your workday. This way you are done by the time the workday whistle blows and you can head off to that participate in festive events ready with one more thing crossed off your to do list.
In the end, getting through the holidays is not that much different than getting through life. As a result of extra items on your to do list and more people out and about your regular tasks may be more time consuming. Dealing with people who may not be your favorite or drive you up the wall with questions and comments you do not want to answer or respond to may result in feeling a bit more frazzled and vigilant in your skin. If you can stay focused on your health goals, keeping yourself aligned with your life vision you can make it through the holidays reaping the joys of the season and leaving the garbage behind. It just takes a little planning, a little effort here, goes a long, long way.
There is more and more research coming out about meditation on the benefits on mood, emotional regulation, ability to concentrate and focus, as well as, brain development and changes in those who meditate … for the better even as we age.
Looking for a comfortable meditation seat? Try this one.
If your idea of meditation is sitting quietly, legs crossed, eyes closed, with a weird hand position – think again. There are lots of ways to mediate. One popular way is to move. During mindful movement you pay close attention to all the sensations of the body, the way your body moves in space, your breathing, and your muscles. Begin right now. Notice how your body is being held in space. Do you feel places of tension? Ease? Move your arms up, and then return to your starting position. Turn your hands over and back. Walk forward, sit, stand, turn.
As you perform these movements move slowly and pay attention. What does the area around your body feel like? What’s the sensation of the air on your skin? Notice if your body feels like it is pulsing? How far does that pulsing move away from your physical self? Where does your breath go in the body? Can you move it into places you have not paid attention to yet? Places you feel “stuck” or places of tension?
Spend 1-5min noticing these items then return to whatever activity you were doing. Notice how you have changed by taking a short break. How is your concentration, focus, mood? Make a note – mental or physical and plan to repeat maybe today, maybe tomorrow. Just know you are going to continue to practice this mindful movement.
Need some guidance? I LOVE this App:Insight Timer
All the time I hear people say “I just need more motivation and then I’ll be able to stick to a workout plan”. It’s not more motivation they need it’s inspiration.
I cannot motivate anyone to workout, I can’t motivate anyone not to, either. All I can do is act and support in ways that inspire others toward being their best selves. However, even that isn’t enough. People need to find their own sources of inspiration – which could be a picture, a blog, a phone call with a friend, watching another person doing the thing they’d like to do – to maintain and build their motivation.
So today, go find a thing or two that you can use each day as inspiration toward your goals to help you build and maintain your motivation to complete the mundane steps of daily exercise and healthy eating. Then get ready to use them everyday and watch your progress grow!
Want more inspiration? Check out the tags below and find the topics that inspire you! Or try: Sticking with your workouts when they get boring and mundane or The motivation game