Embrace the Silence

Sometimes life moves by so quickly, and we get so involved and busy with things, we don’t take a moment just to live in the moment, or even just sit in silence. Being present for quiet moments is extremely important to our overall well-being especially if your lifestyle and schedule is very active or hectic. Sometimes we think we are tired when we are just overstimulated. Taking a few moments to just let the mind be still, to just enjoy doing, or thinking about, absolutely nothing, is an incredibly healthy thing to do.

This was not a part of my life, ever, until very recently. My childhood was chaotic and loud, my twenties were a blur of work, school, and navigating adulthood, and my thirties and forties were packed with raising four children, homeschooling, community involvement, and a lot of work. As my children grew to young adulthood and started to go into their own journeys, I filled my life with throwing parties and events, returning to school, and lots of time in my gym. I found that I stayed as busy as ever, and because that had always been the norm, I just went with it. I was used to the house full of kids and friends, the dogs barking, the constant chatter, the packed calendar, and the endless conversations about the things my family was passionate about, and I made sure to fill my life with equal “noise” as I approached my fifties.  Silence was not a factor in my life, in fact, it was the exact opposite of my life. Silence made me uncomfortable and anxious, often made my brain go to less than happy places, and pretty much drove me mad. My brain was used to being overstimulated constantly, and I didn’t know what to do with silence.

I sat outside on my deck Sunday, on a way too dark and way too chilly for me October evening, and just sat. Alone. Quiet. I could hear the ocean waves crashing on the shore 4 blocks away, and nothing else. I looked at the stars, and realized, this is what “peace” feels like. I didn’t stop myself from enjoying it, didn’t immediately decide that I had better things to occupy my mind and remove myself, and didn’t feel anxious or uncomfortable. I didn’t reach for my phone or come inside to make myself dinner. I just SAT. In silence. And did nothing. And after a bit-a long bit-I went back into my life and realized-I am so REFRESHED.

When we decided to buy a place at the beach in 2019, I envisioned a place with constant family and friends visiting. There would be drinks on the patio and cornhole in the driveway. We set up guestrooms and bought tons of towels and sheets to host a huge crew and made sure everything was set up for relaxing and great times. I was ready for my calendar to be full and lots of beach fun and activity. But…2020 had different plans for us, and I soon found myself in isolation, alone in our vacation home, for “6 weeks”. I kept myself busy, painting the walls, then canvases, I journaled, I talked on the phone to old friends, I meditated, I started doing more yoga. I stayed REALLY busy. 6 weeks turned into several months, and while family carefully joined me from time to time, I was usually alone with just my dog. Projects were completed, courses were finished, and I started to spend more time just relaxing in the quiet on one of my decks. At first, the silence was too much. It made my mind wander to unpleasant thoughts from the past, thoughts I had neatly tucked away without emotion because I was, of course, just keeping too busy. As I began to study meditation, I learned how to sit with those thoughts, recognize them, and let them go. The silence became easier, it became my welcomed friend.

Sitting in silence is different than meditation. While meditation focuses on intention or focusing on breathing, sitting in silence is just as it is.

Sitting. In. Silence.

I sat today, also in silence, but deep in thought as to how these silent moments can benefit our life and bring a wholeness to our overall wellness.

Sitting with stillness gives you a moment to remove yourself from everything, and just view the world as it exists around you. It opens your mind to things we normally may not observe, or notice. It makes you feel that the vast greatness of the earth and connects you to a sense of being just you.

Being in silence rests your brain and your body. It will refresh you and bring clarity to your life. Our minds can get jumbled with the overstimulation from our daily lives; Silence allows for those thoughts to clear, and our mind starts fresh and anew.

Practicing moments of silence can help you tap into your wisdom. Thoughts, feelings, and ideas that don’t have time to develop in the constant busyness of our daily lives have time to make themselves known, and by recognizing these new ideas, we expand our minds.

For me, sitting in silence is a way to connect with my own self. To listen to my mind and body, and ONLY my mind and body. It is the ultimate in practicing self-care and self-love. In silence, we put ourselves first, completely and unselfishly. We honor our own silence, our own peace, and our own journey. In doing this, we inevitably are more able to honor everything around us with a clear, fresh mind.

I hope you will take a small amount of time to sit in silence this week. Sit under the stars, or cuddle in a blanket in front of a firepit, sit in nature, or simply turn off the tv, put down the phone, shut the door, and embrace a few minutes of silence. If you’re curious about more ways to find total wellness in your life, please check out my 24 page guide to wellness, 7 Days to Wellness. It’s completely free and packed with info and tips, trackers and guidance, to get you started on a wellness journey. If you’ve discovered that you truly want to focus on your total health and wellness goals, drop me a message and let’s chat about setting up the perfect personalized plan for you.

Need a Mood Boost?

I started this blog post idea last week, as a “lighter side” kind of approach to our health, while I was busy working on “bigger, more involved” projects and aspects of my business and life. But then-I hit a wall. I’ve spent much of pandemic avoiding straight on news-which means I don’t watch it on TV, but seek out the happenings of the world through newsfeeds when I feel the need to be a bit tuned in to what is going on outside of my little seaside “bubble”. My normally positive social media seemed less positive, and when reaching out to friends to catch up, the conversations were strained and low energy. My positive mood turned gray, there were some tears over the weekend, and, my attempts to do anything-exercise, write, even make a positive graphic for IG, became exhausting feats. So, my “lighter side” approach to this blog post took a pivot, and, well, here we are.

I’d done quite a bit of reading on “pandemic exhaustion” last year, but as things started to open up, and a new normalcy was being discovered, I thought much less about it. Now, it seems we are back to dealing with much of the same stress, disruption, and even isolation, as new variants take over our lives. Where I live, the rates of illness are climbing higher and faster than ever, and even those with the best intentions of staying away from social spots are finding that the heat has sent them running indoors for days at a time. Taking a beach walk, sitting on the porch with a friend, or biking the neighborhood are things I have gravitated to for the last year and a half-but the 108 heat indexes and blazing sun has made that unbearable. Normally, I’d just throw myself into work, or my ongoing classes, but…My focus waned, my energy took a dive, I was tired, but not sleeping well, and my mood was dark. Trying to drag myself out of this funk only made it worse, and so-I decided to be gentle with myself-because self care is always best. Instead of blogging or working on projects or classes, I spent several days binge watching Virgin River and sipping on bone broth to rebalance my gut. (Rebalancing my gut ALWAYS seems to clear my head clouds and lack of energy!)

There are times when you feel low… times when you feel totally unproductive and of no use to anyone. This is normal in the ebb and flow of life, but the last year and a half have made many feel that no matter what they do to try to pull themselves together, they still find that much of what they are experiencing is completely out of their control. That only seems to make it worse. You are not alone-That I can assure you. So, today, I’d like to offer some healthy suggestions on how to care for yourself if you are finding yourself in this state of mind.

SELF CARE IS CRUCIAL

I can’t say this enough! I have several posts about this, that you can find here, and here, to give you some ideas as to how to better care for YOU, and not feel bad for doing so.

If you’re feeling the affects of being exhausted-the very first thing to remember is to take care of yourself! Many, like myself, find this hard to do. There’s always someone, or something that seems to need your attention-but bottom line-unless you care for YOU, all the rest will suffer as well.

Evaluate Your Schedule

When energy and mood are low, it’s often a good time to take a look at your schedule. Being constantly busy is never good for the soul. Our bodies and our minds need downtime to rest! Take a look at your schedule, see what can be moved, cancelled or rescheduled, and give yourself a well-deserved break. Treat “YOU” as though “YOU” are just as important as all the other appointments and needs on your calendar.

Listen to Music

Listening to music works therapeutically for most people. Whatever your particular taste in music is, listen to that. Load up your Spotify or Apple music, or just ask Alexa to play something for you. Listen to your most favorite song; maybe watch the video if you can. This can cheer you up in a huge way! (For me, it’s The Cure, “Just Like Heaven”. Works wonders!)

Speak to a Friend

Most times, if you just share your feelings with someone, you can do well at managing them. Call the one person you trust more than anyone else and talk. They will listen to you. Do not fear reprimand or ridicule. That won’t happen. If they are your true friend, they will hear you out and maybe even make you laugh, or see a situation in another way.

Go Out for a Walk

If you are stressed, sitting inside and brooding is only going to make matters worse. What you need to do is to go out and let it all out. Take a whiff of the air outside and you will find your problems slowly dwindling away. Most importantly, you can give it some thought and put things in a better perspective. A change of scenery, seeing others going about their lives, a pretty walk in nature, can all do wonders for your mood.

Busy Yourself with Something

When you are trying to work out your stress, the one thing you should try to do is to divert your mind. You have to busy yourself with something that you can put your heart and soul to. This could be your work or do something creative that you were long meaning to do. This can divert your mind in a very profound manner, and you will find that you are slowly but steadily coming out of your stress.

It’s important to be mindful of your feelings and emotions each day, especially if you are prone to feeling isolated or depressed. If you feel your mood, attitude, or energy levels are feeling off, take a few minutes and do a self-check. Sit quietly, explore your general feelings: are you physically tired? Do you feel ill? Are you upset? Are you anxious? Naming the feelings you experience can help you figure out how to deal with them. You may need more rest. You may realize you’ve been eating poorly and feeling the effects. You may need to just change your scenery and shake it off, or you may need to speak to a friend or even a professional. It’s important to practice self-care as often as needed, and to ask for help if you need that as well.

For a little info on “Eating stress away” in a healthy manner, check out this article, or, feel free to contact me to put together a healthy living plan for you.

From my business site Beewell.com

Meditation for Real People

I recently wrote about getting a good, quality, night’s sleep, and in that article, I mentioned meditation (something that helped me-the chronic, lifelong, insomniac) get some rest. I realized, shortly after posting the article, that the word “meditation” often gets a weird response. Some people envision dancing hippies, or cultist beings, while others just laugh in confusion and discomfort. So, today, in deep respect to the idea and concept of meditation, I’d like provide a little education and info!

Meditation has been a part of my life for a very long time. It took me a very long time to realize that, when it is a regular part of my routine, my life seems calmer and easier to navigate. When I get away from it for long periods of time, I inevitably come back to it after finding myself stressed, exhausted, and very ungrounded. Life gets chaotic, and for me, having 4 teenagers in the house, homeschooling them through graduation, and being very active in their activities and sports should have been a perfect time to practice lots of meditation-but I abandoned it in the crazy schedules! After the last child graduated, and I ventured to the beach for early pandemic, I found my routine again, and it was life changing. It is now a daily routine for me, if only for 10 or 15 minutes.

My youngest, now 20, called me inquiring about meditation a few months back, something I found to be quite fascinating because it’s so not “him”. He was having trouble turning his mind off and getting a decent amount of sleep, and had tried many of my suggestions with little relief. I had suggested meditation several times, but it was his number 1 quarterback, Aaron Rodgers, who put it into his head. Rodgers spoke about discovering yoga and meditation during an interview, explaining why meditation has become an important part of his daily routine: “Finding time, without the TV on or the phone, to sit in silence is healing”, he said. “To be able to quiet your mind and have intentions and focus on the things that are important to you and kind of drown everything away. We live in a world where we’re just constantly being distracted and we need stimulation.” This spoke to my son, and he began a journey of meditation to quiet his mind, and ultimately, better sleep and a clearer head. (Thank you, Aaron!)

Basic meditation is simply about finding stillness, quieting the mind, and calming the body-and who doesn’t need a little of that in our lives?

There are so many science-based benefits of meditation! Literally, many of the daily anxieties, mood swings, stressors, and aches and pains most people experience can be lessened or removed by a short daily practice of meditation.

Benefits include:

*Focus and redirection of thoughts

*Generates a positive mood

*Helps with habit building

*Develops discipline

*Helps with pain tolerance

*Promotes stress relief

*Controls anxiety and feelings of anger or fear

*Promotes emotional health

*Enhances self awareness

*Lengthens attention span

*May reduce age related memory loss

*Generates feelings of kindness

*Improves the quality of sleep

*Decreases blood pressure

As you can see, the benefits of meditation are varied and amazing! I have experienced just about every benefit on this list, and more. It is a practice that is easy to learn, requires very little to get started, and has immediate impact on your wellbeing.

So-if you’re ready to get started on a simple habit that will change your life quickly, I’m ready to teach you how-all you need to do is find at least 10 minutes in your daily life to follow through. Perhaps it will be when you wake, or during a work break, or even right before bedtime-but PLANNING to do it and following through is the only small obstacle keeping you from reaping ALL the benefits that await you! You can do this just about anywhere-sitting on your porch, visiting your favorite place in nature, while bathing, or simply just by putting down your phone, turning off the noise, and enjoying some peace in your day.

How to Meditate

~Setup your space and check your surroundings. Your meditation space should be quiet and peaceful, and remain that way for at least 10 minutes. Close doors, turn off your phone, and plan to be in a quiet space for the time allotted.

~Wear comfortable clothes, or loosen any clothing that may be restrictive or tight. You may want to remove your shoes, belts, hats, etc. Be as comfortable as possible.

~Relax, sit comfortably with your feet on the floor, or find a comfortable position where your legs are relaxed and at ease, or even lie down if you like.

~Breathe deeply to relax, focus on your each individual breath, breathing in through the nose, deep into your lungs, then slowly release through the mouth. Find a rhythm in your breathing, and place your focus on the sound.

~Allow eyes to close, gently. This will help you focus on the breathing, and remove distractions from the mind.

~Check in with yourself. Are you comfortable? Do you need to adjust your position? Remove your socks? Is the tag in your shirt itchy? Notice your senses, bring awareness to your body, and adjust as needed.

~Scan your body, make sure each body part is relaxed. Wiggle your toes, circle your neck if it feels tight, etc. RELAX and BREATHE.

~Simply breathe and BE. Be still, be quiet, be calm.

Upon Finishing

~Let it go, release yourself slowly, and allow yourself to sit with our thoughts for a moment.

~After completing your time, avoid sudden movements-bring your body out of this calm state slowly, be kind to your body, and gentle in your movements.

~Hold yourself with loving kindness for the positive being that you are, let go, walk forward, live with a true heart, and go on with your day.

I hope that this article has inspired you to take a few moments to meditate each day, and perhaps even start a journey into deeper, more intentional meditations to change your existence in your life. Meditation as a regular practice can have a huge impact on everything that you do, and as you learn more, and practice more, you will see amazing things happen in every aspect of your life-mentally, physically, and spiritually. If you would like to explore meditation more in depth, or are interested in finding a personal wellness plan to works for your life and goals, please feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to talk about your health and wellness journey!

Dreaming of a Good Night’s Sleep?

Today I’m getting personal! I am here to admit it! While I’m an ace at getting my steps in (I hit 47 thousand in a day last week!), doing my strength training, yoga, pilates, drinking all of my water, and eating about 98% clean-I STINK at sleep. I’ve never been a sleeper!

As a child, I would go to bed, hear the rest of my family follow a few hours later, and spend the entire night listening to them snore quietly around the house while my brain refused to shut down. I’d doze off as the sun began to rise, and be woken to go to school an hour later. No amount of sleepless nights led to an inevitable deep sleep for me, and I carried this trait into adulthood. I still battle with this, finding that most nights I am very tired, looking forward to going to bed, but realizing in the hours that follow-I just can NOT sleep.

So, let’s talk about sleep!

The Negative Effects of Not Getting Enough Sleep

Whether you are a “bad” sleeper, or perhaps just someone who’s life just doesn’t allow for much time for sleep, sleep deprivation can have a wide range of negative effects. Unfortunately, the disadvantages of not getting enough sleep are beyond daytime drowsiness and can’t be fixed with a daily dose of caffeine. Lack of sleep can jeopardize your safety and that of others around you or lead to serious health consequences. The following is a list of some surprising negative effects of inadequate sleep.

Faster Aging

Sleep deprivation can affect the way you look and accelerate the aging process. After just a few days of sleepless nights, many people start to develop wrinkles, lackluster skin and dark circles under the eyes. Much of this is caused by higher levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body which become elevated when you don’t get enough rest. When in excess, cortisol breaks down collagen – a protein that keeps the skin smooth, elastic and looking young.

Health Problems

A few nights of missed sleep can be fixed easily with more rest during subsequent days and is unlikely to have long lasting effects on your health. However, when you don’t sleep well for weeks, months, or even years, this will start to take a serious toll on your health and put you at a much higher risk of developing a range of health problems including depression, diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

Increased Risk of Causing Accidents

Lack of sleep causes drowsiness that can increase the risk of accidents when driving, operating machines and performing various other tasks. Drowsiness slows down your reaction times and this makes it much more difficult to respond when you need to. This is why fatigue is one of the leading causes of automobile accidents on the roads today.

Poor Mental Performance

If you’re sleep deprived, many of your cognitive responses will not function at peak levels. Your attention span, reasoning, sense of judgment and problem solving skills will be impaired when the body is not well rested. Lack of sleep also affects the way your brain processes and stores information and you’ll tend to forget things more often. All of these factors make performing effectively and productively during the day very difficult.

Weight Gain

It may be hard to believe that not sleeping enough can cause you to pack on some extra pounds. However, recent studies have found that shortened sleep time decreases the levels of leptin (a hormone that suppresses your appetite) in your body while also elevating levels of ghrelin (a hormone that induces hunger).  A lack of sleep also reduces your human growth hormone (a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and fat burning) levels that limit the rate at which your body burns fat. The overall result is that if you don’t sleep enough, you’ll be more likely to overeat and your body will burn off these excess calories at a slower rate.

As you can see, sleep holds a major key to our over health and wellbeing. That said, different people need different amounts of sleep. Some people cannot function on less than 8 hours, while others do just fine with 6. It’s important to be mindful of how you feel during the day. Do you need several cups of caffeine to make it through? Do you find yourself dozing off at your desk mid day? Do you lack physical and mental energy regularly? If you experience these things, and know you are probably not getting enough sleep, it’s time to make an effort to make some changes.

And Now…The Positive Effects of Sleep

After an uninterrupted sleep session, you should feel refreshed, full of energy and ready to take on the day. The importance of sleep goes beyond boosting your mood and energy levels. In recent years, scientists have gone to great lengths to understand the health benefits that sleep brings. Here are a few awesome benefits of getting decent sleep:

Better Memory

Numerous studies have shown that sleep has a positive effect on your memory and allows the brain to become much better at remembering things. Researchers believe this is the result of a process known as memory consolidation whereby the brain recalls skills learned while you are awake.

Enhanced Concentration

Sleep is like nutrition for the brain. When you get enough of it, the chances of losing concentration during the day are much less. This makes you much more alert while you complete your daily tasks and has a direct positive impact on your effectiveness, productivity and performance.

Faster Muscle Growth

The body releases growth hormone and builds new muscle cells while you are sleeping. Not only does it renew and revitalize your cells but it also repairs any tissue damage. This is particularly beneficial if you perform weightlifting workouts, as the intense exercises that make up these workouts tear your muscles slightly so that they can grow back bigger and stronger. Sleep provides your body with the platform it needs to fully repair these torn muscles and maximize your muscle size and strength.

Increased Fat Loss

Researchers have found that getting enough sleep can help you eat less and even accelerate the rate at which your body burns fat. Sleeping helps regulate the levels of ghrelin and leptin in your body – 2 hormones that control hunger and appetite. It also stimulates the production of human growth hormone – the hormone that supports and speeds up your body’s fat burning processes.

Improved Physical Performance

If you’re an athlete who wants to improve your performance, getting good quality sleep every day can help you achieve this goal. Researchers at Stanford University ran a study on college football players who slept for at least 10 hours daily over several weeks. They found that not only did the well-rested athletes increase their average sprint times but also felt less tired and had more stamina during the day.

Reduced Stress Levels

When your body is sleep deprived, it goes into stress mode. Its functions remain on high alert, this causes a spike in blood pressure and cortisol – the stress hormone. High blood pressure increases your risk of heart attacks and stroke, while being stressed has a negative impact on your mood and increases your risk of falling into depression. By ensuring that you get enough sleep on a regular basis, you can keep your body out of stress mode and stay in a calm, relaxed state.

AND FINALLY! 5 Tips on How to Get the Best Sleep

At this point, I’m sure both you and I have realized the importance of getting enough sleep to be able to function at optimal levels. Sleeping well improves your appearance, brainpower, memory and other vital body functions. It also reduces your risk of gaining weight, feeling fatigued or developing chronic health conditions. Both adults and children need 6 or more hours of sleep every night for optimal health. However, just getting the recommended hours of sleep each day does not mean that your body is getting the rest that it needs. A lot of people toss and turn all night, don’t feel like getting out of bed in the morning and find themselves drinking ALL the coffee to avoid drowsiness during the day. Quality of sleep is so important! So, here some tips to help you get the sleep you need:

Sleep in a Cool, Dark & Quiet Room

Sleeping with the lights on is one of the major causes of sleep deprivation. When your eyes are exposed to light, neurons are aroused, and this disrupts your sleep. Research has also shown that light exposure before sleep suppresses the production of melatonin – the hormone that controls your sleep and wake cycles. A reduction in this hormone at night normally leads to varying levels of sleeplessness. To avoid sleep disruption due to nighttime exposure to light, always sleep with all the lights off. This includes the light emitted from electronic devices, so make sure your computer, phone, tablet and other light producing equipment are either turned off or stored outside the bedroom.

Too much heat can also disrupt your sleep quality. To keep cool while you sleep, make sure you keep the window open and ensure the room is well ventilated. If you still find that you’re too warm after doing this, go to bed wearing lighter clothing and consider less blankets.

Noise is yet another thing that can have a detrimental impact on the quality of your sleep. To minimize the amount of noise in your room, make sure there’s nothing in the bedroom that could potentially make noises while you sleep. If it’s noisy outside your bedroom, try sleeping with a fan running (my entire family travels with box fans!) or even earplugs.

Avoid Caffeine After 3pm

As you probably know, coffee is a rich source of caffeine. These chemicals change the brain’s chemistry by binding with sleeping inducing receptors known as adenosine in order to keep you awake. The stimulating effects of caffeine can wreak havoc on your sleep because they take hours to wear off. Therefore, if you are an avid coffee drinker, (or other forms of caffeine) consider stopping consumption at 3pm. If that doesn’t help, consider stopping it even earlier.

Get Comfortable Before You Sleep

There are many ways to get comfortable before going to bed and these can improve the quality of your sleep. For instance, taking a hot shower raises your core body temperature and this helps to improve sleep. Alternatively, having a hot bath can relax your muscles and help you to have a soothing night of sleep.

Try Essential Oils or Scent Therapy

Essential oils and natural scents such as cedar wood, roman chamomile, sandalwood, valerian or lavender are all-natural relaxants and can help you have an amazing night’s sleep. There are lots of ways you can use these scents to enhance your sleep quality. If you’re having a bath before bed, try putting a few drops of your favorite sleep inducing scents into the bath and then allow the aromas to work their magic. Using these scents in the bedroom can also help calm the body and bring about sleep.

Unwind Before Bed

One final way to maximize your sleep quality is to start unwinding and getting ready for bed a few hours before you sleep. Disconnecting from the Internet, switching off the TV and your other electronic devices, and spending the last few hours of the day doing a relaxing activity can change your quality of sleep. For the last 30 minutes of the day, try to stop everything, empty your mind and focus fully on getting ready for sleep. In my personal life, I discovered that 15 minutes of restorative yoga, followed by a calming period of meditative breathing was my ticket to more sound, and deeper sleep.

Sleep is just one of the pillars of great health, and it’s in balancing all of the pillars that leads to ultimate wellness. If you are interested in finding the balance in your life, and becoming the healthiest and happiest you can be, let’s connect and chat! I’d love to hear from you and get you started on your own personal wellness journey.

 Be Blessed and BeeWell

The Healing Powers of Yoga

Hello readers! This week I want to share about something that is very dear to me-yoga! I’m super excited and happy to announce that after years of practicing yoga, I recently enrolled in a program to become a certified yoga teacher! I’m looking forward to sharing more information about yoga with you in the near future!

There are many different forms of yoga, each of which has many of the same health benefits, but each style also has some unique qualities. There is hatha yoga, hot yoga, restorative yoga, and so many others. In this blog post, I want to share about restorative yoga. Restorative yoga is so AMAZING!

With restorative yoga, you are doing a practice that is much gentler on your body. It is intended to help heal your body and mind, promote wellness, and help you learn basic stretches that will open up your body and allow for healing. This form of yoga-like others, promotes deep breathing through the nose, which leads to a very calming, cleansing, almost meditative feeling that reduces stress and anxiety, and bring a focus and stillness to the mind.

Do You Need Restorative Yoga in Your Life?

Have you felt a little anxious? Perhaps you’re having a hard time falling or staying asleep? Maybe you wake in the morning feeling un-refreshed or cloudy headed? Maybe you have moments of anger building up during your day, or simply realize you need a sense of more calm and less drama in your life? Maybe you are a multi-tasker or someone that simply cannot turn those constant thoughts off long enough to find some peace? Perhaps you simply feel little aches and pains in your life from a lack of getting proper exercise, or perhaps, you’ve paused to check your phone a few to many times  while reading this post???? Yoga….it IS your friend!

Restorative Yoga for Stress Relief

Most forms of yoga can be amazing for stress relief, but restorative yoga has a few added benefits for this purpose.

First of all, restorative yoga is more of a slower and gentler form of yoga. Instead of moving swiftly from one pose to the next, each pose in restorative yoga is going to be held for considerably longer, with deeper and very measured breathing. This is great for building up your strength and flexibility, but also gives you time to adjust and stretch through each pose. You are given more time to breathe during the pose and relax your muscles fully-you will find that with each breath, you are able to relax deeper and more completely into your poses.

You will notice that in a restorative yoga class, the entire environment is much more relaxing, which in of itself makes it better for people who are doing yoga specifically to help relieve stress. Often, whether done in class or online, there is meditative sounds or music to bring you even further into your relaxation for both mind and body.

Why Props Are Used in Restorative Yoga

Another big difference between restorative yoga and other forms of the practice is that props are used frequently. This is a mellow yoga class that is meant to relax you, so props are often used to help support your body. This allows you to hold the poses in the proper position, and for longer periods of time. Keep in mind-It is this length of time for each pose that really makes it “restorative” and healing for both your body and mind.

If you take a yoga class, they might tell you what items to bring, though most classes also provide them for their students. However, if you are doing it at home, get props like yoga blocks and bolsters if you can. Otherwise, rolled-up towels or small blankets also work great. These props make it easier for you to reach and hold each pose even if you have little flexibility or balance, therefore taking much f the body challenge out of the yoga equation.

The Best Stress-Relieving Yoga Positions

While many yoga poses used in restorative yoga are great for stress relief, there are some that are better to start with. If you are dealing with stress and overwhelm, try some of these beginner-friendly poses:

Child’s Pose

It is always good to start with a yoga pose that is very simple and easy to get your stretch in, such as the child’s pose. If you do other workouts, like strength training or Pilates, you might be familiar with child’s pose as it is a common post-workout stretch.

The child’s pose is done starting on your knees, with the top of your feet and shins flat on the ground. Leave your knees about shoulder-width apart, then start bending your body forward until your head and shoulders between your knees. Bend forward as far as you can with your arms stretched out in front of you. You want a good stretch, but not so much that it causes discomfort or pain.

Child’s pose helps calm the breath, eases lower back pain, stretches the hips and thighs, and increases circulation throughout the body.

Supported Bridge Pose

Lie on your back with your knees bent, and feet just far away from your bottom that you can touch them with your fingertips. Place a folded blanket or pillow under your lower back if support is needed. In this pose, you will gently rise from the hips, through the thighs, into a “bridge, with the upper back and shoulder still on the ground. Keep your arms relaxed and by your sides, or place them over your belly or heart. Hold this pose while breathing slowly through the nose. Bridge pose strengthens the back and glutes, while opening the chest and hip flexors. It brings calmness to the body, alleviates stress, improves digestion, and can even help with depression.

Legs up the Wall

 You can try the legs up the wall yoga pose, another classic pose that is great for beginners. All you need to do is find a wall in your home or the yoga studio that you will be able to lean your body against. You will lie with your back and buttocks on the ground, with your legs straight up in front of you, on the wall. An easy way to get into this position is put one hip on the wall, lay down flat, slowly swinging your legs around to go up the wall. Using a folded blanket under your hips will reduce any pressure from the lower back. Holding this position while using a steady breath will release tension throughout the entire body, reduce anxiety, and even lower the heart rate. This pose can also help with insomnia.

I use restorative yoga almost nightly in my personal routine. In recent weeks, during some especially stressful moments, I have pulled out my mat several times a day to spend a few moments doing simple poses and breathing deeply and slowly. The degree of calm I feel almost immediately has made me a huge believer in the practice. I hope you will take a few moments to try a pose or two each day and see how it can bring a calming, positive affect to your daily life. As always, if you’re interested in exploring new mindsets and pathways for your health and wellness journey, please reach out to me! I’d love to help set up, support, and motivate you in a program designed just for you.

Oh My! The Stress is Real!

Hello Healthy followers! It’s been quite awhile since I posted here, but with good reason: I moved to a beautiful new home here on my island paradise in southeast NC! This decision came about very quickly a month ago, and these last weeks have been filled with a lot of activity, AND quite a bit of stress and insanity. Now that I’m settled, I wanted to jump on and share how I dealt with the non-stop uncertainty and stress, hoping that it can inspire you to use these methods when your life is a bit chaotic and out of order.

SO, just to touch briefly on the insanity of our move…oh my! The housing market is currently nuts in much of the country, and we happened upon a brand new build on my tiny island out of sheer boredom on a rainy, windy, March weekend. We jumped quickly, and followed up with 4 weeks of nonstop moving of closing dates at the last minute, rescheduling movers, installers, cleaners, over and over. I’m a bit of an over planner, so my house was packed 2 days after our offer was accepted, leaving me with no space to workout, little kitchen equipment, and surviving on salad and scrambled eggs as dates moved and moved again. Each day was filled with calls and emails about appraisers not showing up, finances being raked over to the finite detail, and paperwork not being filed. I found myself waking each morning, hopeful and happy, only to spend the day slowly getting dragged down the house buying rabbit hole, literally wanting to just go to bed at 5pm each night just to shut myself off from it. It was most certainly NOT like an episode of HGTV!

After the second rescheduling of our entire existence, I started to approach each day as my OWN health and wellness coach. I became very mindful and deliberate with my actions and RE-actions during the day. I couldn’t do my morning workout because of the boxes piled in my rooms, so I bundled up and headed out in the damp coldness to get some brisk miles in. I signed up for a pilates reformer sample class (and became obsessed with it), and pulled my bike out for a ride whenever the wind and rain subsided. At one point, I told my husband, “Don’t tell me about the changes or reschedules, just say GO when everything is fixed.” That, alone, solved a lot of my stress issues! There were days when it started to get to me, just sheer frustration, and I found myself instinctively deep breathing, without thought-and it felt so good! In the end, things worked out, we moved, got settled, and it’s wonderful. But when the stressors kick in, it’s s important to know HOW to react to them in a positive manner!

2020 and the pandemic really put the focus on our stressors and our stress levels. A recent Forbes article stated that 1 in 5 American’s experienced a physical reaction of stress when just thinking about the pandemic. The economy, unemployment, isolation, working and schooling from home, and health concerns were/are reasons for a significantly increased level of personal stress in the last year; Rightfully so, as these were very un-chartered waters, for all of us.

Daily stressors, however, the things we deal with in a “normal” existence, and how we deal with them starts with your mindset. There is no way to escape it – everyone has at least some type of stress in life. You might have mild, moderate, or extreme stress depending on a number of different situations. Stress comes from just about everywhere, including at home, relationships with significant others, family or friends, work, school, finances, and so much more, it’s, unfortunately, just a part of life. 

Not only is it normal to have stress, it is also normal to struggle with your mindset and have it impact your stress levels. Here are some things to know about how your mindset might affect your stress, and what you can do about it.

~Try to move away from a negative mindset when the stress starts to build. Regardless of how much or how little stress you have, having a negative mindset is only going to make it worse. Your life tends to spiral a little when you have constant negative thoughts going through your head. This is why it often feels like it “keeps getting worse”.  Much of our stress is all about how we perceive things and react to things. Even at the most stressful moment, try to move yourself away from the moment for just a brief time. Call a friend, take a walk, pray, or meditate. Do something to make your self feel calmer, or at least supported.

~Try a breathing technique!  One of my favorites is the 4-7-8 technique. To do this, exhale completely through your mouth, releasing all air in a big WHOOSH! Then, breathe in slowly through the nose with a mental count of 4. Hold your breath for a count of 7, then release through the mouth with another WHOOSH to the count of 8. Repeat 4 times for maximum benefit, and hopefully, you will feel a sense of relaxation take over your body and mind.

~Exercise it out! If your stressor is out of your control, and you just need a release from it until you can deal better, consider a little exercise. Turn on some music and dance, go for a quick jog, throw some boxing punches into the air, do some karate kicks, or just go for a walk. This type of action will release you muscles and you mind for a bit, and help you re-evaluate your reaction with a clearer mind.

~Try a simple meditation. Sit in a relaxing position, scan your body for tension, notice your feelings and thoughts, and then try to release them as you breathe deeply. Focus on each breath, as you inhale in, say mentally, “ I am…” as you exhale, “at peace.” Place focus on this mantra, and breathing, until you feel calmer.

~Perhaps some simple yoga is more your style of stress relief. Poses that help relieve stress are very basic and easy to do. Child pose, cat and cow, and corpse pose with focused breathing can help relieve stress and tension throughout the entire body.

~If you’re not big on exercise, yoga, or mediation, focus your efforts and mind on an activity that is repetitive and joyful. Gardening, cleaning, knitting, journaling, or even sleeping are activities that can help you relax while removing yourself from the stress you may feel.

Of course, there are some instances where a little stress can be a good thing, but again this all depends on your mindset. If you look at stress as just a challenge or a sign that you need to switch something up in your life, it can actually motivate you to grow and change and get better. Stress in our lives can be a great teacher for things that need to be attended to, changed, or removed completely. Listen to your body, tune into to what is causing your stress, and when your mind and body are calmer, consider how those things might be better dealt with to avoid the same stress in the future.

If you’re looking for someone to help you manage your stress, learn meditation techniques, or help with journaling inspirations to change your life, contact me! We can put together a plan and package to suit your specific needs!

Let’s Drop a Little Stress

If you are on a mission to reduce your stress levels (and hey, who isn’t these days) it doesn’t require you changing your entire life.  As a health and wellness coach, the biggest issue I currently see with my clients is stress. While someone may contact me looking to drop weight, get control of their meal planning, or gain control of their hormones, conversation ultimately turns to how the stress in their daily lives is the key factor behind all of these needs. Meals are not prepped or planned because of work and family schedules, balanced nutrition is easily ignored for quick take out, and weight, exercise and health ends up taking a hit because of it. It all seems to start with stress!

 I’m a big believer in creating small steps that lead to a progression of steady achievable successes that ultimately bring my clients to reaching big goals, so, I’ve spent some time coming up with some small changes you can take each day that lead up to a reduction in stress, worry, and anxiety.  My hope is that you find that by including some of these steps into your daily life, you’ll experience many other benefits like thinking in a more positive manner or becoming a more mindful and peaceful person going forward.

A Little Guided Imagery

One of my favorite ways to manage stress is by using a really simple meditation technique called guided imagery. This is simple to do and gets you used to meditation without having to put too much pressure on yourself. Plus, it is a wonderful way to be more optimistic and visualize your hopes and dreams. This technique is really helpful when you find yourself feeling very overwhelmed with the amount of stress you are dealing with, and the many things that are causing it. It helps us gain our breathe, calm our anxiety, and clear our heads so that we can approach our stressors with a more objective and positive view.

To use guided imagery, simply close your eyes, find your breath with slow, deep, intentional inhales and exhales, and imagine a scenario that puts you into a peaceful, calming environment. You might be at your favorite beach, laying in the sand under a palm tree, or walking through a thick forest enjoying the peaceful surroundings, or simply sitting in your home garden smelling the flowers. Take your imagination to that place, as clear and detailed as possible, and let yourself relax and release in the calm of your imagination.

The great thing about guided imagery is that it is easy to do, only takes a few minutes a day, and it can be done anywhere, in almost every situation (not while driving, of course!).

Have Healthy Daily Habits

Another daily change you can make to reduce your stress is to better develop your healthy habits. For many, current, negative, habits could be making stress worse, while for other’s, tweaking just a few habits could make a huge difference in stress levels. Start thinking about your physical health and emotional health as one whole health, and find healthy daily habits that are sustainable for you. You will notice that the result is a lower amount of stress.

Some healthy daily habits to consider are:

Eating a healthy, well-balanced diet. What you put into your body makes a big difference in how you feel, not just physically, but mentally as well. You can nourish your body and mind by eating a healthy diet. Focus on eating whole foods that include lean proteins like chicken and fish, healthy fats like avocado and coconut oil, fresh greens like kale and broccoli, fresh or frozen veggies like carrots and green beans, and an entire array of fruits. Be sure to drink lots of water, and watch your intake of sugar.

Getting regular exercise. Exercise is wonderful for relieving stress, and is a healthy habit everyone should make a daily habit. It doesn’t have to be hitting the gym or spending hours working out. Walking every day, going on a hike, yoga, riding a bike, or dancing in your living room all count as daily exercise.

Avoiding unhealthy habits. There are also some unhealthy habits that might be making your stress worse. For example, if you drink large amounts of alcohol or participate in recreational drugs, you may experience a sense of relief from your stress in the short-term, but in the long-term, will actually be making it much worse. Excessive amounts of caffeine can also make your stress worse.

Making sleep a priority. Everyone needs sleep, so don’t feel like getting little sleep is doing you any good. You need high quality sleep, no matter how busy your schedule is. Don’t make light of only needing to sleep a couple hours a day, because this is NOT normal OR healthy for you. Make sure you set your sleeping area up for success by lowering the temperature, having comfortable bedding, and removing blue lights and electronics. Trying to set a regular schedule of bedtime and waking time that works for you, but allows you sufficient time for rest.

Getting rest every day. Just like sleep, you also need rest every day. If you have a busy schedule, then make an appointment for rest and self-care if you have to. This is a priority to reducing stress! If you are a super busy personality type, start small, and add to this down time as you get more comfortable with resting.

Focusing on mindfulness. Mindfulness is regularly recommended for stress because it helps you live in the moment, and have a better understanding of your thoughts and worries. Practicing mindfulness every day, such as during your self-care routine, is a healthy habit you can start doing now. Be mindful of your daily routines, taste your food, admire your surroundings, enjoy the people you are with, and recognize the moments as they exist.

Use a Stress Journal

Stress and worry journals are amazing for reducing your stress. Keeping track of your moods, emotions, and stressors can provide many benefits for you, including monitoring your stress peaks, understanding more about what is causing your stress, and keeping track of any stress-relief methods you may try, and how they work out for you. Because stress can create many issues in our lives such as headaches, digestive issues, increased anxiety, problems sleeping, and work productivity issues. Tracking all of these things along with the methods you use to reduce stress can help you see patterns in what does and doesn’t work for you, or what you may need to work on.

Avoid Unnecessary Stress

Take an honest look at the sources of stress that are completely unnecessary and optional, even when it doesn’t feel that way. If you are already dealing with a lot of stress in your life, the last thing you need to do is encourage more of it.

To avoid unnecessary stress, start by learning how to say “no” to people. This is a BIG one, and a completely and freeing move-be bold, make “no” a complete sentence, and just do it! Make priorities based on your needs and abilities, and manage your time to balance the stress in your life. You will thank yourself!

You may also want to look at your current sources of known stress and make a list of things that you can do to relieve it. Delegating responsibilities, outsourcing to others, or just asking for assistance can reduce a lot of stress from many of the big activities in our lives.

I hope that you will take a few minutes to evaluate how stress may be affecting your life, and use some of these ideas to reduce it, remove it, and move beyond it. As always, if you are looking for personal guidance in your health journey, including dealing with stress and exploring mindfulness, contact me and let’s talk about starting your journey. Find peace and health:)

from my business site BeeWell.com