Maria Connolly, LPC Facebook Facebook Facebook

Category: Health and Wellness

Instead of dieting and depriving yourself, learn valuable tips on Health and Wellness as it includes every aspect of your lifestyle – your eating and drinking choices and habits, your physical activity and exercise, your mental health, and your emotional and spiritual wellbeing.

Bored by Routine? Learn to Unleash the Power of Repetition to Improve Your Health and Life

When you tap into the power of repetition and routine actually gives you more freedom to enjoy novel experiences and improves your overall well-being.  Is predictability passé? Do you thrive on change? Is chasing novel experiences your thing? Do you view routine activities as boring, even a waste of time? I get it. I’m the kind of person who craves something different. For example, I’m not happy unless I rearrange my furniture every few months. But I’ve learned that tapping into the power of repetition and routine actually gives me more freedom to enjoy novel experiences in my life, and I think it will work for you, too.

The number one reason why routine and the power of repetition gives you more freedom, is that repetitive actions reduce your overall stress levels. Every time you have to stop and make a conscious decision, you’re adding stress to your life. But once the decision is made, you’re free to not think about it again unless you choose. 

Doing things routinely allows you to become more centered. I’ll get to how to do that in just a moment. However, let me first assure you that learning to love the power of repetition will improve not only your mental health, but also your physical health. So many people tell me they don’t like the rigidity of counting calories, tracking their food intake, or doing the same exercise routines. With a simple mindset change, you can flip this thinking on its head!

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Keep that New Year Energy Vibrantly Alive Throughout The Year!

Is the New Year Energy still keeping you inspired or could you use a boost? Fuel the New Year Energy and stay motivated by considering these 8 suggestions.“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us. The old skin has to be shed before the new one can come.” ~ Joseph Campbell

There always seems to be so much pressure around the start of a new year that you can be swept away from your true course. You may start to think — he’s doing this or she’s doing that…well, that must be what I need to do, too! It can make you chase after goals that truly don’t serve you at this point in your life. At the same time, there’s such a vibrant energy at the start of each new year, it would be a pity to let it go to waste! How can you keep the New Year Energy alive throughout this coming year?

Now that resolutions pressure is over, you can start thinking about what you can realistically focus on this year. Renew your New Year Energy to see how you can continue to improve your life. Are there any places in your life that you’ve hidden away or avoided working on?

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Pain Changes People — How to Ensure It Changes You for the Better

Pain changes people. Break the cycle of fear, inactivity, misery, and pain by somatically improving the mind, body connection, which alters your pain level.“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.” – Khalil Gibran

Do you think pain changes people? If you’ve ever been to a doctor and had to describe your pain, you know how isolating pain can be. “Where does it hurt? On a scale of 1 to 10, how would you rate it?” After these questions, the doctors think they know what you’re feeling, but do they really? Even your friends and family can become impatient with your pain and just want you to “learn to live with it.” It’s no wonder pain changes people!

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The Best Self-Care Practices Take Self-Discipline AND Self-Compassion

Here are 30 of my best self care practices, based on discipline and compassion, to help you care for your mental, emotional, spiritual and physical wellness“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:

  1. Listen to your body. When you need down time, take it without feeling guilty.
  2. You don’t have to put up with stress triggers and Debbie Downers.
  3. Move, stretch, and breathe deeply often.
  4. Check in with your emotions. Sit quietly and name what you’re feeling, without judgment.
  5. Enjoy at least one hour of intentional silence every day; split it into 15-minute increments if that works best for you.
  6. 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.
  7. Learn to say no kindly, but firmly.
  8. Quit “making do” with that worn out shirt, broken can opener, or whatever it is you’re putting up with. You deserve something new.
  9. Do a mini-declutter and get rid of what doesn’t “spark joy” as Marie Kondo says.
  10. Dress up and admire yourself more often.
  11. Make a monthly “play date” with yourself and just enjoy your own company at the coffee shop, library, boutique, museum or whatever you fancy.
  12. 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.
  13. Take a blanket outside and do some cloud watching or star gazing.
  14. Create a new personal or family tradition.
  15. Make a new friend.
  16. 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.
  17. Read at least one book per month.
  18. Walk 15 more minutes than you usually do.
  19. Sign up for a course you’ve always wanted to take.
  20. Join an exercise class designed for your fitness level, so you don’t injure yourself or become discouraged.
  21. Hire a coach to keep you motivated toward a personal or professional goal. 
  22. Join a community to get you out of your rut and meeting new people.
  23. Intentionally mix things up — lunch in the park, drive a different route to work, buy fresh veggies at a Farmer’s Market, etc.
  24. Reconnect with people who matter.
  25. Feed your inspiration.
  26. Look for five beautiful things each day and fully feel gratitude for them.
  27. Start a Kudos File, collecting and appreciating every compliment you receive.
  28. Do something special to enhance important relationships; within healthy relationships you’ll find that the more you give the more joy you receive.
  29. Do acts of kindness; what goes around comes around.
  30. 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.

What Is the Purpose of Life — For YOU?

Young woman out in nature contemplating what is the purpose of life“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).


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