Human beings are complicated yet we want simple solutions. That’s why many look for a prescription to deal with pain – whether the pain is physical, emotional, mental or even spiritual. The right prescription can at times help. However, we need to make sure that we don’t ignore the lifestyle choices that got us where we are today. If we do – we won’t really get better.
Let’s say you’re under a deadline, so you live on caffeine and sugary energy bars. By skipping meals your body is starving for essential nutrients and minerals. This leads to sleep deprivation, which hinders your body from making vital repairs. Your moodiness and tiredness cause your relationships to suffer. You turn to alcohol to relax, but it makes things worse. Your mind starts bombarding you with negative and abusive self-talk. You begin to believe nothing you do works. You’re a failure. Everything starts to snowball into a mental health crisis like depression. So you keep pushing harder and harder…
Did you see the lifestyle choices that led to this pain? If you see yourself struggling be assured that it’s never too late to improve your health. We have the power to cultivate wellbeing by making small, deliberate changes in our lifestyles in the following seven areas:
- Sleep and daily relaxation
- Intimacy with self and others
- Setting short and long term goals
You might say, “Maria, every year, I really try. I resolve to do things differently. And I do okay for the first day, the first week, or the first month. Then I mess up. I just can’t keep it up. Now I feel even worse. Not only can’t I change, I feel like such a failure for not having enough willpower. Why should I even try?”
Let me reassure you…you can change. It is worth the effort. You can succeed.
How can you make lifestyle changes that truly lead to better physical, emotional, spiritual and metal health? Where do you start and how do you make these changes stick?
When making changes it’s really important to:
- Avoid the temptation to work on all seven areas at once. That’s too much. Instead, pick only one lifestyle change to work on until it becomes the way you want to live. That success will empower you to tackle the next one.
- Do it in small chunks. Take your one big goal and list the steps you need to take to accomplish it. This makes it more realistic, achievable and less overwhelming. For example, do you want to eat healthier? One step may be to clean the sugar and junk food out of the cupboards, pantry, refrigerator and freezer. Another step may be to find healthy recipes you want to try. Another step is to stick to a weekly grocery list of only healthful foods. Another step is to build in new reward systems for each success – treat yourself to a pedicure, a new book, new clothes, etc.
- Have a buddy system. We need support and encouragement to be successful. We need someone to be accountable to and to share our challenges and victories. I could not do it without the fierce and gentle support of my buddies!
- Continue to adjust your goals as new information is available. We aren’t aware of all the variables when we start, so we need to continue to adjust. It’s like a pilot that starts with a destination and a route in mind and during the flight has to adjust because of the weather or other air traffic. You may make it your goal to lose weight, but first you need to learn to eat healthier or start an exercise program. Or you might find that you’re an emotional eater who needs to heal a relationship problem first.
- Accept that there are some things that can’t be changed. If there are some physical problems that can’t be fixed, you can still focus on mental health, emotional support and spirituality to help you accept your current situation and cope in a healthier way. You will often discover this improves your physical wellbeing in the process.
Every time you make mindful choices that supports the lifestyle you envision for yourself, you’re taking back the control you need. Each success empowers you to go on to the next with confidence. You can improve your physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health one step at a time. If you find you aren’t getting the support you need, why not give me a call and we can schedule an appointment to work together so you can achieve the success you desire and deserve.
“In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks.” ~ John Muir
In Oregon, we experience our share of inclement weather so we can get into the rut of staying indoors watching TV, playing video games or surfing the internet. As a result, many Oregonians are Vitamin D deficient, which greatly alters the mood, mental health and immune system. So when summer finally comes, I tell everyone, “Get out and enjoy nature as much as possible!”
Remember the last time you visited the ocean and felt the cooling spray and heard the crashing waves and sea gulls calling? Close your eyes and let that calm wash over you once again. Or if you love the mountains, remember the woodsy scent of the pine trees mingling with the dust on a warm summer afternoon as you hike up the trail past a burbling creek and chirping birds.
Can’t you feel your pulse slowing, your breath deepening and your muscles relaxing as you think about it? Don’t just think about it. It’s time to get out and enjoy nature and rejuvenate yourself!
Being in nature is very healing to us physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. Anger and stress ebb away, the blood pressure drops, muscles release their tension, the endocrine system slows down on the production of stress hormones. Finally, you have the space you need to think deeply and examine what changes you can make in your life to make it more fulfilling, to live more mindfully.
Another notable benefit from being in nature is that it offers pain relief. Our bodies were not designed to sit in front of the computer hours on end. That’s why so many suffer from neck and back pain. When you’re out in nature, you don’t want to sit still. There’s always something new and interesting to explore. We become engrossed in the world around us. And this means we’re distracted from our pain as we exercise more.
Do you find yourself having an ever-decreasing attention span? The fast paced world we live in is training our brains to scan, read in short spurts and jump from subject to subject as we multitask. Spending time in nature lets our overactive minds relax and relearn how to focus on one thing at a time. There’s even research that shows that spending time in nature increases the attention span of children with ADHD.
Spending time in nature with our friends and family helps us connect on a deeper level. And it’s not just because we’re more relaxed and there are less distractions from day-to-day living. Researchers have used fMRI to examine the brain’s response to nature scenes. When we’re in nature, the parts of our brains associated with empathy and love are activated. How cool is that?
This is such a powerful thing that a University of Illinois study concluded that people living in Chicago public housing were more friendly and had stronger connections with their neighbors when they had trees and green space around the buildings. Frances E (Ming) Kuo, Director of U of I Human-Environment Research Laboratory, has conducted rigorous studies on how nature nourishes our health, and she has written a very interesting 40 page report on her findings.
While bringing plants indoors is one minor solution, the best thing is to schedule time daily to get outdoors. Want to start living more mindfully with nature? Why not schedule a session of somatic coaching to calm your mind and reconnect with your body? Contact me and I’ll help you take this first step as you get out and enjoy nature more every day.
Are you going to take some time off this summer to refresh yourself and recharge? Or are you going to be like the majority of workaholic Americans who won’t get away from work? Nearly three-quarters of Americans feel they’re too busy to use their paid vacation days and 15 percent don’t use any of their vacation days at all! That’s more than 150 million unused vacation days every year. Is this making us a healthier and happier nation of people? Absolutely not!
Did you know that much of Western Europe takes from four to six weeks off? In Italy, where I grew up, workers get 31 days of guaranteed paid vacation. And they take those days and enjoy them with their families. Every year I make a point of recharging by attending retreats that are both educational and promote personal development and emotional growth. My hope for you is that you can enjoy a similar experience.
But what if you can’t be away for an entire week because of unusual circumstances? Does that mean you should give up on the idea of having a vacation? Not at all.
Here are some suggestions so you can squeeze in some time away:
If you can’t block out a large chunk of time, why not split your time up into short, two or three day vacations throughout the year?
Strategically plan ahead for your vacation days. Of course, you won’t want to leave in the middle of a project, therefore make sure you wrap things up before you go so you’re not worrying about it.
Be willing to delegate. It’s worth it to train someone well in advance who can step into your shoes while you’re gone. And if you’re worried about your home, hire a reputable house sitter or have a friend stop by to check on things.
Put your vacation time on your calendar as non-negotiable.
Inform and periodically remind your clients, co-workers, and boss that you’ll be gone so it doesn’t catch them by surprise.
Leave your office and home organized. This relieves your mind of nagging, unfinished business, as well as, gives you a clean place to come back to. Nothing destroys the vacation bliss faster than coming home to a chaotic mess.
Unplug. Even if you have to force yourself, disconnect from technology, including the television. Use the time to reconnect with your loved ones and feed your mind on books, art or another creative outlet.
Don’t expect to hit the ground running on your first day back. It’s so much better to give yourself a day to ease back into your routine and catch up.
The truth is if you want to achieve business excellence, you must take time to recharge your battery. You’re health and your relationships will improve, too, because you’re finally getting relief from the constant stress. Plus you’ll discover some great opportunity to fuel and tap into your greater creativity.
Want to get into the vacation mood quicker? Why not schedule a session of somatic coaching to calm your mind and reconnect with your body? Contact me and I’ll help you get started on that summer vacation you deserve.
When all is said and done: “I wish I had spent more time…”
When was the last time you sat in silence and thought deeply? Chances are you’re feeling overwhelmed as you juggle everything in your life. So you write lists and schedule calendars to get everything done. You try to keep the important things front and center, yet as the days and weeks pass, you get sidetracked by the busywork that seems to accomplish a lot, but in reality doesn’t get you closer to your goals. You’ve been sucked back into the vicious cycle of being too busy.
Being “too busy” is a symptom of the much larger condition – that of reacting to situations instead of making good choices. What can get you back on track? More lists? No! You need a solid foundation for change, and practicing mindfulness is a great way to do that. Mindfulness is the antidote to “too busy”.
Let’s examine seven ways you can replace busyness with mindfulness:
- Slow down, concentrate on one task, and be fully present and engaged. For example: How many tabs do you have open in your browser right now? Shut them all down except for one and fully concentrate on the information before you. Or when you converse with someone, give your entire focus to the person and listen closely to what’s said rather than looking around the room or thinking about something else.
- Stimulate creativity by being open to the possibilities. Your brain needs to relax to switch into its creative mode. When you’re “too busy” you’ll dismiss a new idea or opportunity as a distraction. Instead, carefully contemplate if it’s a way for you to grow and advance. If it’s not, dismiss it, or write it down for later consideration, and move on. If it is, spend time with it.
- Set priorities so you can engage in life more efficiently and effectively. Start each day with a review of what you want to accomplish and end each day with what you have accomplished. This will allow you to do the things you really want to do, giving you a sense of satisfaction.
- Build a routine that supports your health and minimizes stress. To live an incredible life, you’ll need to be committed to the wellness of mind, body, and spirit. Some people choose to stay “too busy” so they don’t have to confront or resolve issues in their lives. When you’re mindful, you enhance your ability to perceive what is experienced through your senses rather than building fear and stress over something that isn’t real, only a mistaken notion in your mind. So add one supportive activity to your routine until it becomes your habit.
- Renew motivation by sharpening your vision, the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’ll be able to replace “I can’t” or “Why try?” with “Yes, I know I deserve to make a success of this and I have the resources to do so”. As events unfold, observe the experience instead of always engaging in it. This will increase your emotional stability and vibrancy, as well as, open up to you a full range of options.
- Establish good self-relations so you can think, plan, and dream. Depression and anxiety are signs that something is trying to wake up within a person. By acknowledging the purpose of a symptom, you are in a much better position to seriously reexamine your life and begin the process of living with renewed purpose. Taking time off is essential for recharging your spirit, mind and body. Even when you’re working, be sure to set boundaries and don’t be available all the time. This will help you keep your passion alive and discover your extraordinary purpose for being.
- Become centered through connections. Everyone needs cherished family and friends. Instead of being so focused on doing and accomplishing, mindfulness keeps you centered on being the person you want to be. Your family and friends can help keep events in perspective. At the end of life, no one ever says, “I wish I had spent more time at the office.”
Mindfulness provides access to powerful inner resources so you can change the way you see and ultimately experience each situation. It puts you in a better position to do something different. It empowers you to participate in the world at large, as you work with what arises instead of trying to escape. Is that what you desire? Are you ready to develop a more mindfulness and meaningful life? Please contact me and we can discuss the best way for you to do that.
Think for a moment about someone that you’re drawn to – can you picture him or her? You can probably identify certain qualities they have such as being charming, gracious, generous, sincere, honest, genuine, open, kind, compassionate, giving, loving…
However, we can gain additional insight into what makes them highly successful by reflecting on their behavior. What is it that they do that brings out the best in us?
When you mindfully observe the way they interact with others, their speech and their actions, then you can model their behavior within your own life. As you read the following list of 25 positive behaviors of highly success individuals, imagine how each item makes you feel. Then you can begin to comprehend how you can use these behaviors to extend this feeling towards others…
1. They step forward with hand extended, head slightly tilted forward, smiling, and expressing sincere delight when meeting you rather than waiting for you to come to them.
2. They respectfully call you by the name that you introduce yourself as, rather than presumptuously giving you a nickname.
3. They are fascinated by you, asking you who, what, where and why questions without prying into off-limits, personal territory.
4. They respect your personal space. If you’re a hugger, they’ll hug you. If you’re uncomfortable with physical touch, they won’t force the issue. (This involves some sensory acuity on your part. Always take your cues from others!)
5. They make you feel important, maintain eye contact as they attentively and patiently listen to every word.
6. They willingly reveal themselves openly and honestly as they show their genuineness.
7. They always keep confidential information confidential.
8. They avoid gossip by tactfully changing the conversation or walking away.
9. They listen more than they speak.
10. They give without expecting anything in return.
11. They recognize even the tiniest of efforts and expresses appreciation for what you’ve done and why you’ve done it.
12.They encourage you to reach your full potential.
13. They trust that you’re doing your best, and they look deeply into each situation for the reasons why you’re doing something rather than jumping to conclusions.
14. They lead by example and willingly “roll up their sleeves” to pitch in where there’s a need before being asked.
15. They are mindful of your feelings, expressing joy when you’re celebrating, expressing sincere sorrow when you’re saddened.
16. They dignify you and bolster your self-esteem and self respect by asking for your help and your opinion.
17. They wait to be asked before giving advice.
18. They look for and focus on the positive in you.
19. They remember their own mistakes, thereby giving you a pass when a mistake is made.
20. They don’t give up on you.
21. They sincerely and openly express their approachableness and humanness while maintaining professionalism.
22. They let you blossom as they gift you with freedom to express yourself within the necessary business or personal boundaries that must be set.
23. They collaborate rather than patronize.
24. They recognize everyone is at different stages of their life’s journey and they encourage, support and guide without stealing your freedom of choice.
25. They make you feel special, smart, and valuable.
Most extraordinary individuals have not achieved their personal and professional greatness by themselves. They’ve learned that we often need to see ourselves through the eyes of others before we can make real transformations. If you’re anxious to make a difference and would like me to mentor you, please contact me so you can reach your full personal and professional potential.