Every year around this time, I begin my year in review by taking inventory on what worked and what didn’t. The most interesting find is, when I analyze what did work and why, there’s a common theme: simplification!
Small steps, consistently taken, add up to big changes. For instance, I gave up on carbs – not completely but over time, drastically decreased the number of grams I consume daily. But I started very slowly so I wouldn’t feel deprived. The end result of this small step taken every day? I’ve lost 14 lbs, lost the ‘brain fog’ and feel great! So if you’re itching for a wellness breakthrough, I encourage you to test drive a few simple shifts to your self-care routine, rather than sweeping changes that overwhelm you and you probably won’t stick to.
Change doesn’t have to be intense to be effective. Your life is already pretty packed — a little too packed if you’re like the rest of us — so instead of loading up your to do list with goals, deadlines and self-inflicted pressure, get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions, intentions or whatever you like to call them, by trying some of the ideas below instead.
And listen up well-meaning perfectionists (I resemble that remark), stop getting in your own way and relax. Your new mantra is progress, not perfection. You don’t have to do these things 100% to see the benefit. In truth, perfectionism is really a desperate attempt at creating complete control and certainty, which doesn’t exist. It drains our life force, pisses off our soul and sucks the collagen out of our faces (or does that just happen to me?!). For the majority of us, when we start from an extreme place and seek extreme results, we set ourselves up for extreme disappointment.
Simplicity. Ease. Grace. Let the turtle be your spirit animal. Slow and steady, my glorious friend. From a spiritual perspective there is no race, there is only growing.
6 Gentle Self-Care Tips
With the holidays around the corner, this is a perfect time to ease into healthy practices that nurture your body and feed your spirit. I was coaching a client yesterday and reminded her that this time of year, she needs to be extra kind and gentle with herself and ready to whip out the “no” more readily. Pick one or two points to focus on for this month. Keep in mind that these suggestions aren’t about “never” doing something ever again. If you slip, congratulations! You fall into the human category. Ask yourself why you slipped and just listen for the answers. DO NOT judge yourself – please! And if these tips work for you, keep practicing them one glorious day at a time!
Start your day with introspection
Here’s how I greet each morning: I wake up when it’s still dark, say a prayer of gratitude and meditate for 5 minutes. Then I make a cup of hot lemon water, read something inspiring and uplifting or write in my journal if I feel the need. That’s it. The world is pretty chaotic and frightening right about now. It’s easy to turn on the news and feel the positive energy sucked right out of your body. Make a vow to start your day peacefully and introspectively instead of grabbing your phone and checking the news or reading emails. If you have to get up 15 minutes earlier, do it – you’re worth it. Choose a time when your home is quiet and you’re the only soul awake. Or ask the waking souls to “shhhhhh” so you can have your space.
Nourish your body first
You are what you eat. Personally, I have no desire to be a pop tart. By choosing to nourish your body first thing in the morning, you’re setting the tone for the rest of the day. Water, a green veggie smoothie and avocado toast will give you a boost of sustainable, nutrient-packed energy. If you love coffee like I do, guess what? You don’t have to give it up. Instead, try cutting back to one cup and have your green juice first. Give your body a healthy burst of nutrients, alkalinity and antioxidants, and then sip the mug-o-joe.
What to do with cravings
As your day unfolds, notice if you find yourself battling cravings. Cookies the well-meaning co-worker brought in, those mostly sugar in a cup Starbuck’s seasonal offerings, chips, a smoke? But remember, your cravings aren’t always about the sugar, caffeine or whatever it is you’re jonesin’ for. Sometimes they’re a plea from your higher self. Instead of mindlessly acquiescing to the donut, ask yourself what the urge is really about. Do you need more sweetness in your life? A time out from stress? (taking a few deep breathes eases the craving) Some love? An apology? What’s the craving attempting to fill for you? And what could you do to satisfy that itch (and your soul) instead?
My cravings are usually a clear reminder to listen to my inner wisdom rather than my outer, soft-lived comfort. Compulsions to drown our pain in gummy bears (or cocktails) are a sure sign that we have something deeper going on. And, believe it or not, when these cravings hit – try drinking a big glass of water. Sometimes, all your body wanted was WATER!
Practice The Daily Ten
You know you feel better when you move your body. There’s no denying it. So while you may not have time for a full-blown gym workout, you do have 10 minutes to shake it up a bit. Take a well-deserved break and run the stairs at your office. Grab your coat and take a quick walk around the building. There are also online videos of chair yoga you can incorporate right at your desk and are a click away. Ten minute bursts during the day help get the blood pumping to the brain, energize your body and stimulate your creativity. These short, 10 minute bursts are ideal for the dreaded 3:00 drag. And, better still? Grab a co-worker and do it together…soon you’ll have the entire office feeling energized without eating the left over bagel and cream cheese!
Cultivate what nourishes you BEYOND food
Your plate doesn’t contain all the answers. Your job won’t always fulfill you. Your kids and/or husband aren’t always around (or pleasant!). And yet we all need soul nourishment. Without it, we wither. So what’s one thing you could do that would bring you some smiles this week?
Here’s what I do this time of year: I go to https://www.stjude.org/ and donate. Their mission strikes such a chord with me – and it nourishes my soul more than broccoli. The mission of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to advance cures, and means of prevention, for pediatric catastrophic diseases through research and treatment. Consistent with the vision of their founder Danny Thomas, no child is denied treatment based on race, religion or a family’s ability to pay.
So, how about you? What nourishes your soul? What makes you feel more connected, happy or of service? Whatever it is, do more of it, especially this time of year!
Unfortunately, suffering is a natural part of life. And try as we may we can’t avoid it. The trick is to acknowledge your suffering and then bear-hug it with compassion. Compassion is key. Once you apply compassion you’ll be able to take the lessons and move through the discomfort. We all have scars, they give us character. I have old wounds and scars on my hands from kitchen accidents (hey, I’m not a trained chef). And then there are the cancer scars, the divorce scars… All of which are a part of me now, neither pretty nor ugly, just there—longing for compassion. Here’s a tip, when you’re feeling the need for some self-compassion, draw a nice, warm bath, put out your Do Not Disturb sign, lock the bathroom door and sink into ahhhhhh.
Breathe Deep. Smile Often and Love Yourself Fully
Images by: Anthony Tran and Samantha Gades