Six Tips to Finding Balance in Rush-Hour Living

Every life has waves. There are times when it’s slow, sometimes delightfully so and sometimes painfully. Then there are times when things are quite fast. Opportunities come pouring in and as long as you’re balanced and centered, you can handle everything that comes your way. However, what about those times when life feels like it’s moving full steam ahead and all you want is to hide under the covers? What to do then? Well you have two options. Sink or swim. So how can you stay afloat? Here are six tricks to riding the waves of life when the pressure is on:

1.) Get Grounded

Grounded, according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, means “Well-balanced and sensible.” How do you stay in this place when the world is swirling around you? The first step is to feel the earth under your feet and connect to your body. Tune into your family, your food, the activities that bring you present. Find ways to connect to your roots and express gratitude for everything you have in life throughout the day, especially when you wake up and when you go to sleep. This connection with your base will allow you to stay centered and level in order to face whatever comes your way. Think of a tree. Those whose roots are planted firmly in the earth are much more likely to weather strong storms than those who are not rooted solidly in the ground. They’ll be torn up and blow away with the wind. What activities, things, spaces or places make you feel grounded?

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What practices or attitudes make you feel solid in yourself and in your place in the world? Cultivate these practices and implement them on a daily basis. Other physical practices for grounding include Yoga, Qi Gong, running, eating root vegetables (carrots, beets, potatoes, etc.) or other low growing vegetables, nuts and seeds. Tea and warm water is also another way to ground down your energy throughout the day.

2.) Remember to Breathe

Many times when something exciting happens (good or bad) we stop breathing. It’s the first thing to go. Think about that phrase “It took my breath away.” Well actually, as exciting as that proposal or surprise might have been, you really don’t want your breath leaving you any time soon. Our breath is intricately linked to our thoughts, feelings, emotions and, subsequently, our actions. When you let go of your breath, you let go of your center and your ability to think clearly. As life speeds up and things move quickly (family, work, travel, etc.) always remember you have a choice in how to react to things and thus play a conscious part in the way you engage in your reality.

3.) Affirmations

Many have heard at this point of the benefits of positive self-talk and phrases. Think about an athletic coach cheering on someone preparing to or actually running a marathon. They will use phrases like “You can do it!” “Just a little bit further!” “You can win this, no problem!” Not only do they inspire you but they also cut through the negative self-talk that might cause you to trip up or hold you back from reaching your goals and full potential. Writing down positive phrases or reminders for yourself and keeping them posted on your mirror, your car, your computer or wherever you commonly frequent can be extremely helpful during times of intense pressure or stress.

4.) Meditation

As important as it is to stay conscious of your breath throughout the day, it’s also important to stop and pause to clear the mind and make space for our nervous system to reset itself and allow creativity to more readily flow through us. Meditation can take many forms. There is the traditional “eyes closed, spine straight” style focusing on the breath and the body. Just practicing 5 minutes of this throughout your day can help you to reset and refocus and become much more clear for the work ahead of you. However, if you struggle with sitting still for long periods of time, there are many alternatives to the more commonly known forms of meditation. Long walks, art, or listening to music are just a few non-traditional meditative practices that can take you out of the mind chatter. This helps you to relax your nervous system and get you back into that clear and focused headspace.

5.) Take care of your body

It can be easy when the pace picks up to neglect our physical health. I can’t keep track of the amount of times I have heard people say they don’t have time to eat, sleep or even drink water. Who could blame you? Your mind is being spread in a thousand directions and self-care and maintenance can easily get pushed down to the bottom of the list. However, this takes us back to recommendation number one. Part of being grounded in the storm is having a healthy and solid vessel through which to work from. Without making a conscious effort to schedule in time for well-balanced meals, exercise, regular sleep and hydration, nothing else will work and you will eventually break down into blueberriesillness and disease, taking away your ability to work on any of the projects you were so Gung-ho about just a few weeks prior. You’d be surprised how, when you prioritize “putting on your own oxygen mask first,” your schedule and activities will mold to meet you. As a close friend shared with me once, “There is time and space for everything.” Practice this affirmation when your mind might want to tell you otherwise. It works. It really does.

6.) Play

Remember that life is here to enjoy and if we take it to seriously, we can lose the passion and vigor that inspired us to hop on the fast train in the first place. As you build that new business, get knee deep in wedding planning, feel overwhelmed juggling kids and family, remember to find ways to make your experience more enjoyable and playful. Bring curiosity back into the picture. See the world with new eyes. Just like eating a delicious meal, if you rush through it thinking about the next thing you have to get to, you miss out on the joy and experience of what is in front of you. Take every day and every experience with a grain of gratitude and appreciation for life and your attitude will inspire everything and everyone around you.

Now you’re ready. Take a deep breath, pull out those “To-Do” lists and Daily Planners and hit the ground running!

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It’s Time to Simplify

As the end of this last week approached, I couldn’t help but feel slightly dejected while gazing at the long list of creative “To-Dos” staring at me in red ink from my white board. I had started the week with clarity and intention and was making great progress towards completing a handful of artistic and business-oriented projects. Yet, somehow Wednesday rolled around and I started to become bogged down in stress and procrastination. I later found myself in conversation with a friend blaming it on my space, my environment and my lack of free time, among many other things. Fairly quickly into our conversation however, I heard my inner-victim voice screaming out and realized I had to take back my own power to reorganize and energize my life.

Thus, with a new attitude and fresh perspective, I woke up this morning feeling rejuvenated. While taking my morning hike, I was listening to an incredible audiobook by TOM’s Shoes Founder Blake Mycoskie.

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In the book, Start Something That Matters, Mycoskie stresses the importance of keeping things simple, both at home and at work, in order to allow creativity to flow more freely. I was quickly reminded of a powerful and important tool to shift my energy that I had forgotten about. That’s right, I am bringing back on to the stage the power of CLEANING! I spoke in a previous blog post about how when you are feeling depressed, stressed or anxious, physically cleaning your home, office or car space (or all of the above) can have a potent effect on your emotional and physical well-being. However, I also appreciated the reminder Mycoskie gave to start clearing out the junk and unnecessary clutter I had begun accumulating in my space which was starting to feel overwhelming and stifling.

In just a few short hours, I had scoured my drawers, closet and bookshelf for all the items I hadn’t touched in the last four months and probably wouldn’t touch again. I threw them into a bag for donations and give aways and cleaned and reorganized my space. joanna-kosinska-199299Immediately I felt like I could breathe deeper and all of these creative ideas began pouring in that I had either forgotten about or had never thought of before. I felt like there was a clear line between myself and the computer and all I wanted to do was write and get things moving. However, I also realized that simplifying my life doesn’t mean just cleaning out the physical mess. It means taking important action steps to simplify my mental thinking and well-being as well.
This last week, my mind had started to get the better of my feet and was doing what I so lovingly refer to as the “Future-Trip.” This is where my mind is running five steps ahead into the future, away from what is happening in the moment, and many times can cause me to trip on my own two feet (since I’m no longer watching where I’m walking in the present). In order to come back to the moment and enjoy all the gifts that are in my life, I’ve also decided to re-prioritize not over scheduling myself, daily practices of gratitude, regular meditation and doing things that bring me joy and happiness throughout the day.

In an interesting psychology study conducted in 2014, researchers investigated the link between human focus on material acquisition and personal well-being. The study found a strong correlation between high levels of materialistic values and poor-mental health. A U.S. News Report article also investigated this link, as well as posited solutions for how to simplify, declutter and improve your quality of living. They quoted the author of the study, Tim Kasser, on simplification as saying, “Rather than just adding on, [ask yourself] what am I going to subtract? What am I going to stop doing?’ says Kasser, author of the 2002 book ‘The High Price of Materialism.’ ‘And the thing to stop doing from the simplicity perspective is to stop focusing on the acquisition of money, to stop focusing on possessions, to stop focusing so much on your image.” In addition to an emphasis on de-materializing your personal life, they also suggested rest and relaxation, movement and healthy eating as key components to living a simple but well-balanced life.

When we strip away all the things we THINK we need to have or accomplish in our life, not only can we find more room to breathe and enjoy the beauty around us, but we can also have more time and space to devote our creative energies to effectively working towards our larger and more important goals. So my PSA for this upcoming week, both for myself and for anyone reading, is to SLOW DOWN, take time to prioritize what is really important in your life and remember to nourish the essentials while letting go of the superfluous. Let’s all simplify an overstimulated way of living, in order to open the path for a quality lifestyle and more enjoyable world to live in.

I Am Enough

From the moment we’re born into this world, many of us immediately begin basing our sense of self-worth on the reflection we see from parents, siblings, family, friends and social systems surrounding us. Much of this confusion around our own inherent value stems from early childhood messaging we receive which tells us we have to work hard to be good enough at something and in order to achieve something (i.e. grades in school, income, social acceptance, etc.) we must act a certain way or reach a certain goal to be worthy of true value. Yet, how often are we told the message that we are ENOUGH just as we are?

If we’re lucky, many of us do have loving parents or family showering us in devotional love and praising the miracle of our birth. Yet, even those lucky ducks have to face the bombardment of messaging generated from outside media and institutional systems that preach a form of validation stemming from an external source rather than encouraging society members to discover this security of self from within. We are constantly judged based on our profession, income level, physical appearance, relationship status or level of college degree.

As a Hypnotist and Life Coach, I have seen countless cases of childhood trauma which hold clients (as well as myself) back from leading fulfilling and happy lives. That voice inside constantly whispers in our ear, “I’m not good enough,” and the excuses for why we aren’t doing what we truly want to do pile up along the way. “Just one more degree and then I’ll be ready…Just one more training…I can’t do that… I’ve never done that StockSnap_FETAZNQOG6before…How could they hire me?” Yet, what if we took the time to understand that actually, the only thing keeping us from reaching our dreams is our self? What if we stepped back to realize that in order to achieve our dreams, first and foremost we must have faith, courage and confidence in our own abilities and ourselves.

I recently decided to explore some deep seeded negative thought patterns in my own mind in order to foster break through in my personal life. Luckily for me, I am actually elated when I discover a root of a negative belief or behavior. Why? Because that means I have the power to transform it. Through self-suggestion and positive affirmations, you can re-wire your brain to establish new belief systems and thought patterns which can positively impact the decisions you make and the effect you have in the world.

On addressing the constant voice in my mind which tells me I’m not good enough, I decided to go for the straight and obvious approach. With firm, strong and loving boldness I state over and over to myself, again and again: I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH. I AM ENOUGH.

When I think or say this statement out loud it reverberates on a psychic level, nourishing the part of my inner child needing validation from…well, ME.

What negative beliefs are you holding on to? How can you transform these ideas or stories into positive, present tense statements? I invite you to review any old beliefs or storylines behind issues in your life no longer serving you and flip them! In just a few days you will notice a positive improvement in the way you feel about yourself and

in your own confidence to make the actions and choices needed to weave a truly incredible life.

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Breaking Through Resistance

Each and every one of us has a dream buried deep inside our heart. Dreams of travel, of creating a successful business, of finding the perfect relationship, of quitting that unhealthy addiction or habit, of becoming a certain someone or something. However, why is it many of us find achieving these dreams challenging; sometimes daunting? Many times change is one of the most terrifying aspects of human experience. We grow comfortable in habit and routine, even if that routine is detrimental to our own health and happiness. In order to give up what’s “comfortable,” we need to have enough StockSnap_45CLIKC3N3incentive to shake off our old ways of thinking and living and create a roadmap and plan to become the person we dream of being. Psychologists, sociologists, and scientists have been studying human behavior and specifically our abilities and methods for evolving throughout the decades. Some of their common conclusions show that there are several stages to creating sustainable change, especially when we are trying to alter deeply ingrained habits and rooted fears. In an article published in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, researchers discuss the various ingredients necessary to create long-term positive change. The article highlights the various stages of change creation and how understanding them can empower you to not only get off the couch and put on the gym clothes but also maintain a steady commitment to that new workout regime or diet plan that leads to lasting results.

Another key to achieving your goals and implementing desired change is to create a long-term plan. Every new business entrepreneur knows that a business plan is absolutely essential in creating a structure and backbone for the company or enterprise they are building. The same can be said for achieving health, wellness or personal goals that have been hiding in the back closet for quite a long time. What about that old dream of writing your first novel or meeting the love of your life? These ideas or desires could be sitting in your heart, churning and churning without ever being moved into action? Why?

Forbes contributor Brett Steenbarger asserts that a big part of the failure of any new plan or goal is due to the lack of preparation for potential failure. Seems counterintuitive, right? In the self-help world we are constantly inundated with the idea of positive thinking. Yet, it seems that most successful business entrepreneurs, life coaches and therapists all say that having a good defense is actually the best offense for major set-backs in our personal or professional aspirations. To believe that there will be no challenge to the commitment you have made for yourself is in some ways hiding your head in the dirt and avoiding reality. Yet, if you create a plan of action and anticipate obstacles that might arise in achieving your goals, you are much more likely to overcome your own resistance to success and will continue moving forward to reaching your desired outcome.StockSnap_VZSSMS3T1U

In addition to having a roadmap, there are a variety of tools which will support you in achieving your goal. First would be to set realistic, focused and achievable benchmarks. By creating a few attainable targets that are building blocks towards your goal, you can garner strength, courage and inspiration to keep moving forward, compounding goals that build on the success of the former. Next, having an accountability system is a key component to forward progress. Whether it be a family member, friend, or professional (coach, therapist, advisor), having someone who is aware of what you’re looking to achieve and is there to support you in holding yourself accountable can be a game changer. Many times this added support creates incentives to help you move through any resistance that might arise. In addition, creating a reminder system that allows you to constantly check-in with the vision you are forging helps you maintain focus on the endgame. Whether it is a vision board, goals sheet or positive affirmations posted somewhere visible, these reminders can help you to feel inspired and reminded of why you are working to create the change you wanted to make in the first place. Lastly, having a schedule and consistency in the actions you take towards reaching your goals is essential to navigating self-created and external obstacles that might appear on your path.

Yet above all, what does it take to bring your dreams to life? A commitment and desire strong enough to help propel you forward through whatever adversity might come your way. So check in with yourself. If you’ve been feeling stuck or finding your mind seeking comfort in that space of complacency and avoiding whatever it is your heart has been yearning for, perhaps it’s time to step up and finally make that commitment to change, make a plan, find a friend and allow your fear to take a back seat as you move forward in building the life you truly want to live.

 

 

 

 

Living the Balance Between Flowing and Rowing

In a country that is focused on production and the “bottom line,” many of us find the action of pounding the pavement in work or studies exhausting. We may even feel burnt out after a time. Whether you find yourself feeling drained and overwhelmed by exams for school, completing that final project before holiday deadlines or getting in last minute sales, there is a pre-holiday energy in our society that can make us feel rushed to get things done. While deadlines may truly be pending and the time crunch may feel very real, it is in these spaces that it is even more important to reclaim your space for inner creativity, play and peace.clipart-children-clip-art-playing-children-318357

When you find yourself saying, “I have absolutely no time for that right now,” to the self-care activities that you know will nourish your spirit, take a moment to check-in. Are you feeling overwhelmed and worn out? Perhaps you can take that as a sign that it is time to put down the pen, the computer or the cell phone and step out on an hour-long nature walk. Take 30 minutes of your day to pull out your favorite adult coloring book or guitar and just play. Let your mind wander and reset. You can even schedule a dinner date with your close friends to just unwind. Planning out this time in your week to let go, relax, play and have fun is a key ingredient in finding the extra boost of energy you need to keep going with whatever you are working on.

Still struggling to put down the electronics? Let’s look at a marathon runner for an example. Imagine you are running a marathon. In the beginning you have plenty of incentive, gusto and motivation to sprint, run and gallop towards the end of the race. However, as time goes by, your muscles begin to ache, your mouth becomes parched and thirsty and you start to slow down and wonder if your body will actually be able to make it. marathon-runnerWhat inspires you to keep going? The part of the race where you see your friends cheering you on from the sidelines and the short pit stop you take to rehydrate and maybe grab a small snack. Once you are refreshed and pepped up by the support of your loved ones, you gain a second wind that propels you to the last lap and finally towards the finish line, feeling elated and joyful at completing what you set out to do.

The point of this whimsical analogy is to help you see that creating spaces of downtime throughout your day or week during periods of intense focus and production can help you to sustain your creative juice and energy. It will help propel you to complete whatever goal or project you are working on.

With that being said, how will you incorporate play, rest and relaxation in to your upcoming weekend and the weeks ahead? What inspires you to let go of thinking and tune into just being and flowing with the world around you? I invite you to take a few moments and identify whatever that might be for you and schedule it in on a regular basis throughout your week. It could be as little as 30 minutes of “playtime” a day but those 30 minutes will be crucial in helping you feel nourished, inspired and ready to take on the world that you have decided to create for yourself.

Ready…Set….PLAY!

Sleepless in the City?

Throughout my time spent working in supplement and alternative health stores, I was amazed by the consistent devaluation by consumers of the power of sleep. Customers would come in on a daily basis with various colds and illnesses and would hand over countless dollars for their supplements and pharmaceuticals. Yet they could not “afford” to give themselves the one-day’s rest that might keep them from having to purchase any of those pills to begin with. Since when did sleep become overrated?

Countless studies have shown the power that sleep has on our body and mind. Research shows that women who sleep 5 hours or less a night are 15% more likely to become obese than those that have 7 hours or more. Sleep deprivation affects both men and women in terms of health effects but it tends to have a more noticeable effect on the hormones responsible for weight regulation in women. Why the correlation between weight gain and person-sleeping-on-a-bed_318-27520sleep loss? When we are sleep deprived we operate on an empty tank and our bodies struggle to find energy to keep on running. Our hunger levels go up and our satiation levels go down, forcing us to eat more. We also usually lean towards eating foods with a high glycemic index that will give us that jolt of energy we need to keep our eyes open. These sugary foods usually lead to an immediate drop once our high wears off, leading us wanting more.

Sleep deprivation not only negatively impacts our weight and energy levels but also affects our memory and ability to function effectively throughout the day. For those that make the argument that they do not have enough time to get in proper sleep at night, I invite you to think about how much money you would save over the course of the day if you were not purchasing countless coffees, sugary snack packs, caffeine boosters and other supplements to keep you running? What if you could focus more effectively and get more done in a shorter period of time because of the clarity you had from having a full night’s rest? Would that be sufficient enough to make you at least pause and consider its value?

Perhaps now you are starting to warm up to the idea that MAYBE more sleep could be beneficial for you. If so, the next step is in making the behavioral change. How exactly do we get more sleep, and a restful sleep at that? I have outlined 5 simple tips and tricks to begin a new rest regimen for your evening that will hopefully leave you feeling energized and refreshed!

1.) Create wind down time between when you stop working and when you go to sleep:

Throughout the day, our minds are racing a million miles a minute with all the information we consume. One way to help reduce the mind chatter is to create a meditation practice before bed that can help you tune out the white nose and relax your body and mind to ease into a more peaceful and quiet space before bed time.

2.) Reduce amount of artificial light you are exposed to at least one hour before sleep:

We are extremely light sensitive creatures and in today’s modern world, especially those of us living in cities, we are surrounded by light 24-7. This can create a false sense of alertness in the body leading to higher energy levels, which make it harder to fall asleep at night. Watching television, playing on your computer and reading texts on your phone all stimulate energy increases in the body that can prevent you from being able to wind down and fall asleep at night. By turning off all electronic devices at least an hour before bed, placing your phone on airplane mode and placing them far away from where you will be sleeping, you will find your body naturally has the space to unwind and will begin to feel tired long before your head hits the pillow.

3.) Make sure you have a comfortable mattress and pillow:

Speaking of pillows, make sure that your mattress and pillows that you sleep on are comfortable. Uncomfortable bedding can have you tossing and turning at night and can disturb your natural sleep cycles, leaving you feeling restless and exhausted the next morning. Though higher quality bedding can be more expensive, think of it as investing in the foundation in which you sleep on.

4.) Make sure not to eat heavy meals before sleeping:

Eating heavy meals before sleeping can cause your stomach to work to create energy in order to digest the food you’ve eaten. Thus, you will find that many times after a heavy meal late at night it is nearly impossible to fall asleep. The lighter the meals you have before sleeping, the easier it will be for your body to naturally slow down in to a space where it can rest and turn in for the evening.

5.) Leave emotional baggage in the journal:

Many times during our day if we haven’t had quality guy/girl time with our best friends to talk about the latest drama in our lives or we don’t have an excellent therapist, the emotional stress of whatever might be happening in our personal lives can begin to weigh on us. Those thoughts and feelings can keep the mind racing, preventing us from slowing down and easing into a deep state of rest. One trick to solve this is to keep a journal by your bed and if you are having trouble falling asleep, take out the pen and paper and just write out your negative thoughts, feelings or emotions until you feel the energy has transferred on to the paper and you are ready to sleep.

In implementing these changes to your sleep regime you will find yourself operating more efficiently throughout your day and having increased energy levels and a greater sense of joy than any supplement package or local caffeine tap could possibly provide!

Source: The Institute for Integrative Nutriton Lecture – “The Sleep Secret, ” Rubin Naimin, PHD

Who are the Cheerleaders in Your Court?

Having worked in various fields from farming to marketing, I’ve come to notice the importance that emotional support plays in the achievement of our projects, goals and dreams. Whether it is weeding acres of flower beds, dealing with angry customers, finishing an urgent campaign report or sending out a hot button press release, when you are in the crux of your work…the going can sometimes get pretty tough. However, just having one person give you a smile, make a joke, tell you that you’re almost there or that you’re doing a great job can boost your energy levels sky high and give you the emotional and physical support needed to reach your target goal or end result.

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For those of us looking to break out of the mold and do something off the beaten path (i.e. starting your own business, creating a new clothing line, fundraising for a charitable cause…etc.) finding cheerleaders can be somewhat challenging. This last month, I was inspired after attending the Wisdom 2.0 conference in Los Angeles and hearing entrepreneur Craig Wilson speak on the importance of having cheerleaders in launching your brand or product. He suggested that you identify and cultivate relationships with people and organizations that believe in what you do and want to support you 100%. These are the people he called “Cheerleaders.”

This idea of having a support team around you deeply resonated and I began to play with the concept outside of the business world. By reaching out to friends and family and telling them of our dreams, our goals, or aspirations, we can also ask for their support in moving to achieve these. What does that support look like? It could be anything from having a friend agree to keep you accountable to deadlines to having a loved one affirm that the painting or story you are writing is really coming along! I find that having both accountability and positive validation are absolutely key ingredients in having a solid cheer team.

You may ask, well what if I can’t find that in my friends or family? I would say that this is exactly where having a Life Coach or other external support system comes in handy. As a Life Coach, many times I view my job as just that, being a cheerleader for my clients in whatever changes they want to make or goals they want to achieve in their life.

However you decide to create your Cheer System, make sure that it is one that you feel supported and uplifted by in the hard times and fueled and inspired by in the periods where you need to get moving!

If you feel your Cheer System could use a boost, feel free to visit Refresh12.com or email me at refreshcoach12@gmail.com to schedule a free 50-minute coaching consultation and see how I can help!