“And now that you don’t have to be perfect, you can be good.” ~ John Steinbeck
It goes against popular thought, but I have to be honest with you — being self-indulgent is not a good basis for self-care practices. In the long run, this course leads to self loathing. Your body gets out of shape, your emotions become unruly and your spirit is stunted. The best self care practices take self-discipline, because you choose what’s good for you, rather than what feels good in the moment.
But getting tough with yourself is only part of the equation. When it’s your sole focus, it’s too easy to go to the extreme of getting down on yourself. That’s not helpful or healthful! We’ve had a lifetime to get where we are today. No doubt you’ve picked up some “baggage” along the way, like I have. It takes time to change your previous patterns, to create new ones that are in harmony with your higher purpose.
If nothing else, please take this away with you: The best self-care practices depend on self-compassion. Encourage yourself, not guilt yourself! Try to see each small step as progress and quit expecting perfection. It’s that negative, harsh self-talk that makes you want to quit, and you don’t deserve that. You wouldn’t talk that way to your best friend, would you?
The best self-care practices are also intentional. They don’t just happen. In your mind, consciously label an activity as self care — that it’s part of your “prescription” for wellness. After all, when a doctor prescribes a medication or course of action, you take it seriously, right? Well then, put your self care practices on that same level of importance and urgency, because your well-being depends on it!
When you truly care for yourself, you’ll have the energy to give of yourself and to live joyfully. As Steve Maraboli puts it so well, “Allow yourself to enjoy each happy moment in your life.” Perhaps the following list will give you some new ideas:
- Listen to your body. When you need down time, take it without feeling guilty.
- You don’t have to put up with stress triggers and Debbie Downers.
- Move, stretch, and breathe deeply often.
- Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and name what you’re feeling, without judgment.
- Enjoy at least one hour of intentional silence every day; split it into 15-minute increments if that works best for you.
- Completely disconnect from your phone by a set time each day — no surfing the Net, no YouTube, no social media, just peaceful reflection on how this day has made your life richer.
- Learn to say no kindly, but firmly.
- Quit “making do” with that worn out shirt, broken can opener, or whatever it is you’re putting up with. You deserve something new.
- Do a mini-declutter and get rid of what doesn’t “spark joy” as Marie Kondo says.
- Dress up and admire yourself more often.
- Make a monthly “play date” with yourself and just enjoy your own company at the coffee shop, library, boutique, museum or whatever you fancy.
- Reconnect with something that gave you pleasure and filled your soul in the past – hiking and camping, listening to tunes, lighting candles, dancing around the room, a hobby.
- Take a blanket outside and do some cloud watching or star gazing.
- Create a new personal or family tradition.
- Make a new friend.
- Expand your mindfulness practice to eventually encompass all aspects of your life, by intentionally adding one new category per month, like driving, brushing your teeth, shopping, eating, breathing, walking, listening, etc.
- Read at least one book per month.
- Walk 15 more minutes than you usually do.
- Sign up for a course you’ve always wanted to take.
- Join an exercise class designed for your fitness level, so you don’t injure yourself or become discouraged.
- Hire a coach to keep you motivated toward a personal or professional goal.
- Join a community to get you out of your rut and meeting new people.
- Intentionally mix things up — lunch in the park, drive a different route to work, buy fresh veggies at a Farmer’s Market, etc.
- Reconnect with people who matter.
- Feed your inspiration.
- Look for five beautiful things each day and fully feel gratitude for them.
- Start a Kudos File, collecting and appreciating every compliment you receive.
- Do something special to enhance important relationships; within healthy relationships you’ll find that the more you give the more joy you receive.
- Do acts of kindness; what goes around comes around.
- Play and laugh — keep your inner child alive.
The best self-care practices are whatever you do deliberately to take care of your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical health. Do you have any self-care practices you’d add to this list? Please visit my Facebook page and share them. And remember to sign up for my Newsletter. I may be biased, but I think that reading it is one of the best self-care practices you can have.
“The heart of human excellence often begins to beat when you discover a pursuit that absorbs you, frees you, challenges you, or gives you a sense of meaning, joy, or passion.” ~ Terry Orlick
Humans have always sought the answers to life’s big questions: Why am I here? What is the purpose of life? What is happiness? For inanimate and most animate objects there are finite and fairly straightforward answers to these questions. The purpose for each object is very limited.
Of all the living things on this planet, homo sapiens are the only ones that ask these questions and spend a lifetime searching for the answers. If the search is successful, the person is profoundly rewarded with a sense of well-being, happiness and fulfillment. If a person doesn’t find the answers he or she seeks, there can be an underlying sense of emptiness, helplessness, hopelessness and dissatisfaction with life.
What’s immensely freeing is recognizing that the answers to these questions are never exactly the same for each person. Nor are they bound by time, since your purpose evolves as you live. It’s not defined by what you have or don’t have. It’s not dependent on age, gender, race, status, location, situation or experience. It’s simply you being YOU, in this moment of time!
So ultimately, the answer I’ve found to the question, what is the purpose of life, is for each one of us to live the life you have authentically, without regrets, without shame, and without apology.
We have endless possibilities of what we do, where we go, what we see, who we become. The thing we all have in common is that we lead a purposeful life when we become aware of how we impact the lives of others. You may not think you’ve done anything noteworthy, but your smile brightens another’s day; your kind word starts a ripple of kindness; your example inspires; your wisdom provides guidance; your love strengthens the connection between all living things. You don’t have to be like Melinda Gates, Sonia Sotomayor, or Oprah Winfrey to fulfill a vital purpose on this earth. However, if you’re ambitious, go for it!
Perhaps it’s because we have so many choices, living with purpose becomes more challenging. We can second guess ourselves, wondering constantly if we’re making the best decision, worrying about what we’re missing out on. Just remember what Michel de Montaigne said, “The soul which has no fixed purpose in life is lost; to be everywhere is to be nowhere.”
As you live your life’s purpose, you will experience the gamut of emotions — happiness, joy, gratitude, sadness, anger, disappointment — none of which are “good” or “bad.” They are simply fleeting states that inform you about the moment you’re living. Mindfully embrace each experience and learn what it’s telling you about yourself.
Try not to get caught up in pursuing happiness through escapism or hedonistic pleasures. Yes, they have their place and can be very enjoyable, if they’re used to refresh yourself. However, focusing solely on them exacts a toll on finding your deeper mental, emotional, and physical well-being. It isolates you from close social connections that are critical for nourishing you. A gutsy, strong woman, Helen Keller, came to the same conclusion. She said:
“True happiness…is not attained through self-gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.”
There are a multitude of studies that show that living YOUR purpose will benefit your long-term health and well-being. Here are a few of the benefits of living in alignment with your purpose:
When you take the time to find YOUR purpose and express it, you’ll absolutely love your life!
So I ask, “What is the purpose of life – for you?” Have you discovered it yet? Do you jump out of bed, fired with passion to live another day? If so, I’d love to hear about it on my Facebook page. If you’re still in the discovery part of your journey, I can help. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.” ~ Lou Holtz
The doctors say there’s nothing wrong with you, except for a little high blood pressure and fatigue. But you know there’s something seriously off. You’re not yourself. You drag yourself out of bed. As you walk around the house, you mutter “I’m just so tired,” but you can’t figure out why. Could it be you’re suffering from burnout?
Are you uncharacteristically short-tempered? Has your positive attitude been replaced with critical comments? Do you exercise less? Drink more? Have you lost touch with friends? What should take minutes now takes hours. Sounds more and more like burnout!
No, it’s not all in your head. Less than a week ago, the World Health Organization posted their 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases, listing burnout as an occupational phenomenon. They state that:
“Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.”
Burnout syndrome contributes to heart disease, diabetes, depression, anxiety, insomnia, and premature aging. This is not something you want to ignore and hope goes away!
Some professions, (e.g. medical, legal, teaching, social work, entrepreneurship), are more prone to causing burnout, because they demand all you have to give and then more! You could be fulfilling responsibilities that are clearly out of the bounds of your job description, without being compensated for them. You may be working in an unsupportive or toxic environment. Perhaps you’re asked to compromise personal values and beliefs. On top of that, you may have unrealistic expectations of yourself.
Did you notice WHO said burnout results from “stress that has not been successfully managed”? That should give you hope, because you can learn to manage stress and start recovering from burnout, with a few adjustments to your life. Right now, you may feel like you can’t do one more thing! But, please, take steps to get your life back in balance.
How do you start the process of recovering from burnout? It all begins with a practice of mindfulness to check in with yourself throughout the day. Here are some other suggestions:
- Learn stress management skills. Yoga, deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation techniques, reconnecting with nature, and utilizing the power of gratitude are all helpful.
- Tune into body sensations. Focus on your body’s response to movement. For example, stretching releases tightness and tension.
- Talk to someone. Find a good listener who isn’t going to try to “fix” you or judge you.
- Rekindle friendships. Phone someone and schedule a lunch date, or better yet, go for a walk with your friend and get some exercise, too.
- Limit contact with negative people. Your may have to work with them, but you don’t have to eat lunch or hang out after work with them.
- Learn to speak Positivity.
- Reframe the way you view work. Focus on how you help others.
- Set boundaries that support your values. Learn to say “no!” and rediscover your happy place.
- Develop curiosity about emotional distress. Think of it as a learning tool.
- Take time off and get away. Ovid wisely said ~ “Take rest; a field that has rested gives a bountiful crop.”
- Stop the tech addiction. The world isn’t going to end because you completely disconnect from your devices at the end of each day!
- Feed your creative side and find a hobby.
- Get restorative sleep.
- Make exercise a priority. Aim to exercise for a minimum of 30 minutes/day. Mix it up with activities you like.
- Eat healthfully. Just cut out one harmful item and add one healthful item at a time. It makes a difference.
- Avoid narcotics, nicotine and alcohol. Stimulants and depressants alter your brain chemistry. The temporary euphoria isn’t worth the negative effects.
- Find a better job. It took courage, but I have never regretted shifting my practice to coaching women!
- Work smarter. Hone your time management and organizational skills.
Jonathan Lockwood Huie reminds us, “Say NO to the demands of the world. Say YES to the longings of your own heart.” Are you ready to make that shift? Does recovering from burnout feel too overwhelming — you don’t know where to start? I’d love to help you create a plan that gets you to where you want to be. Please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“The energy of the mind is the essence of life.” ~ Aristotle
How much would you pay to stay energized all day? According to one analyst, people are spending BILLIONS of dollars! “In 2017, the energy drink/shot market was $13.4 billion. The forecast through 2022, is that the market will reach about $16.9 billion.” Unbelievable! This quick fix isn’t sustainable. I recommend you learn to boost your energy naturally. You’ll go further faster.
Mental energy depends on how well you care for your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health, as a whole. If you want to boost your energy naturally, it’s important to address all aspects of your life. This somatic approach requires a greater awareness of self. I’d like to share some simple, but meaningful, ways to start assessing your progress towards boosting your energy naturally.
Boost Your Energy Naturally – Body
1. Get restorative sleep. You might be used to existing on five hours of sleep, but it’s going to catch up with you, because the body and brain needs seven to eight hours of all the sleep cycles to clean and restore themselves. Tune into your body and support it with the rest it needs.
2. Eat a healthful breakfast. Mindfully listen to YOUR body and see what energizes YOU. Some people love oatmeal; others feel energized after a fruit-filled, green smoothie. If you’re eating the wrong kind of food for YOUR body, it will set you up for major mental slump! Start the day with healthful food and you’ll more likely make healthy food choices throughout the day.
3. Keep moving. Being sedentary is a real problem today. It’s important to be mindful about how your body is reacting. Do you feel yourself slouching? Then it’s time to straighten up and stretch. Daily practicing Progressive Muscle Relaxation Techniques helps stretch your body and increase your awareness. Are muscles getting tense? Time for some breathing exercises and a short walk. Getting more oxygen boosts your energy. Doctors recommend, at a minimum, 30 minutes of exercise daily, 5 days a week.
4. Stay hydrated. Feelings of hunger and tiredness are often symptoms of dehydration. Instead of reaching for a candy bar, take a long drink of water. Sugary, caffeinated sodas and energy drinks do more harm than good. You’ll gain some health benefits from a moderate consumption of tea or coffee. Just remember that drinking caffeine six hours before bedtime may compromise the quality of your sleep.
5. Keep power snacks handy. Fruit and a handful of nuts are great energy boosters when you feel the afternoon slump coming on.
Boost Your Energy Naturally – Mind and Spirit
6. Feed your passion. I am passionate about doing Cross Fit and also helping my clients in my life coaching practice, so daily I find ways to engage in activities that support me. For example — because I want to improve at Cross Fit, I eat healthy foods; junk food or alcohol just don’t tempt me anymore. And because I want to give the best to my clients, I go on retreats that refresh me. Staying engaged and excited about life is paramount to feeling energized and inspired.
7. Clear out mind clutter. Drama wears a person out! Being focused keeps you from overthinking or worrying unnecessarily. When you simplify your life and remove unnecessary events, you’ll naturally boost your energy.
Boost Your Energy Naturally – Emotions
8. Remove energy zappers. Manage your mental energy like managing a bank account. Know what drains your energy and mindfully avoid them — be it a self-doubting thought, an unsupportive action, an unhealthy relationship, or the clutter on your desk. Choose to spend time on things that boosts your energy, like gratitude and positivity.
9. Vitalize your relationships. We need to receive and give energy to each other. Remember that there’s a lot of power in laughter. Let’s borrow AT&T’s slogan and “reach out and touch someone” emotionally and physically as often as you can each day.
10. Connect with the earth. Almost everyone has room for a small garden pot. There’s something energizing about seeing life sprout from a tiny seed. Try growing your favorite veggie or herb and feel the energy it’s drawn from the soil, as you eat it.
11. Reconnect with the sun. Sunlight is very healing. Just take precautions for your skin type, then get outside and soak up some Vitamin D!
None of these suggestions are hard. In fact, they’re all enjoyable! Concentrate on changing one tiny habit at a time. What do you do to boost your energy naturally? I’d love to hear your suggestions on my Facebook page. And if you’d like an accountability partner, please contact me and schedule an “Unlocking Your Potential” 30-minute complimentary consultation (in-person, by phone or via Skype).
“You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits.” ~ Michael Phelps
Have you ever heard of the CrossFit Open? This year it’s happening between February 21st and March 25th. The CrossFit Games are world-renowned as a grueling test for the toughest athletes on Earth. It’s a five-workout competition. And it’s thrilling to see what people are capable of doing!
I love CrossFit and all that it stands for. I love its philosophy. I love its comradeship. I love the intensity. It’s my kind of workout. Every week I get to push my limits physically and mentally. I always learn something new about myself.
Since I started Crossfit over 3 years ago, it has become a metaphor for life: push your limits – find your strength!
Here are some life lessons you can takeaway from Crossfit training:
Your physical strength is fueled by your mental strength. When your body or mind says “you can’t”, try it anyway. More often than not, you can!
The more flexible you are the more resourceful, resilient and courageous you’ll be.
Progress doesn’t come automatically. There’s always a learning curve. Invest the time to develop skill “A” to get to skill “B” and so forth. If you jump from “A” to “Z” you’re going to hurt yourself!
There’s always some move you can make. Maybe you can’t do a Pull Up, but you can do a modified version of it, as you strengthen your body so that you can do it eventually.
Believe in yourself! Trust your coach and soak in the encouragement from your community. When you compare yourself to someone else, you hurt yourself. Use their success as inspiration instead.
Discipline and consistency build a reserve of strength, grit and conviction that gets you through the days when you’re feeling down. To become fit, you have to value your well-being over your desire to be a people pleaser.
Can you see how these lessons apply to all areas in life? People say, “If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” We have the choice to let life happen or train for the long game. I’m in it for the long game.
I never thought I would ever enter the 2019 CrossFit Open, never. I thought of competing with my friends, but not entering at such an international level. But this year I did! Why? Because I believe in these principles and I wanted to practice what I preach to others.
If you go to the leaderboard website, you will see that I was there. It’s an amazing experience! No, I’m not in the top 10. That’s not the point. I trained to push my limits, to see what I could do. I accomplished more than I would have thought possible a year ago. And I know that next year I’ll do even more!
Ultimately, I entered the 2019 Crossfit Open, because I wanted to communicate these important messages to myself:
- I am good enough right now.
- I only compare myself to myself.
- I push my limits to find my strength.
- Don’t take yourself too seriously.
- Don’t take life too seriously either.
- Life is short, go for it.
- Happy is on the other side of fear.
- Courage takes you there.
During the open an amazing thing happened! Right after each grueling workout (five total), and not before I could stand and breathe again, it would all make sense. The everyday training itself started to make sense: how to train, how to push myself each day and week, how to gradually increase my effort, and why all of this is important.
In life, as in CrossFit, you have to train hard (with substantial periods of rest and recuperation in between) in order to sustain even 15 minutes of intense work. Imagine practicing your public speaking every day for just 5 minutes in the shower and then getting to your public speaking event and feeling like “I can do this!” This is what Crossfit has taught me to do every day. It takes consistent, daily discipline to get to the critical moment where I can perform well, with ease and skill.
I know I will do the open again…and again…and again. And from now on, I’ll see every day as an opportunity to improve, get better, get where I want to be. Like we learned from the story of the Tortoise and the Hare – slow and steady wins.
Would you like to find the same kind of courage, determination and resourceful within yourself? Please join us at our Women: Bring Forth the Leader Within Retreat June 20 to 26th in Grand Canary Island. I know you have it …let’s bring it to life!