Far more important than cleaning the house is cleaning up the hamster wheel of thoughts in your head that no longer serve you. Those disempowering thoughts, feelings and old worn out stories that come along with guilt, fear, anger, shame, regret, etc. that are taking up space and not paying rent to be there.
TURN IT AROUND
Take a moment to decide how these old thoughts may be serving you in some way. Do they make you feel protected? Do you feel yourself to be lacking because of them? Is the idea of letting go of them scary? Why? Are these thoughts true?
You can begin to declutter the space these useless thoughts take up by looking for more positive thoughts to replace them with. Did you learn something from the old story? Is it a lesson that has served you well since? Does that old thought fit with who you are today?
GET THEM OUT!
Look for ways to get the thoughts out of your head. Put them down on paper with as much detail as possible (you may need some kleenex handy because this can often bring up emotions too. But, that is a good thing). Is everything down? All of it? Now burn that paper and watch those old thoughts disintegrate into ash. (you can type and delete but it is not nearly as powerful)
Are there scraps of old thoughts left churning around in your head? Go and do something physical and get out of your head and into your body. Notice how your body feels while you're doing it. Notice your heart beat and the rhythm of your breath. Physical activity can be like a cleansing breeze for the mind, cleaning itself out while your focus is elsewhere.
Seek out positive, uplifting people, experiences and activities to create new memories to think about. Get together with good friends and enjoy great conversation, open up a new thought provoking book, create a new adventure for yourself and just try new things.
Your mind will have a whole load of new and positive things to occupy itself with.
For many, Spring is the time of year to toss out the old and make room for the new! This tradition can help to create fresh energy that benefits both our physical and emotional wellbeing. The art of Feng Shui suggests that clutter in our home can bring clutter and stagnation into our lives. For myself, I find that physical clutter affects my mental calmness and clarity of mind.
For many years I have embraced the beautiful art of placement, Feng Shui, as it has brought so many positive energies into my home space. People will often comment that my home feels welcoming and peaceful. The sense of sanctuary, my space of peace that separates me from the rest of the world, the work, the noise pollution, the chaos... is essential to my wellbeing.
For this part of Spring Clean Yourself I will share what I have used in my physical space when practicing my own type of energy cleaning. Watch for Part 2 where we'll talk about emotional spring cleaning...even more important!
Anything you don't absolutely LOVE!! The most important step. When you look around your home at the objects you have how do they make you feel? Do they offer positive thoughts, memories, associations? or do they bring your energy down? Certainly there are the everyday mundane things we must have for day to day activities, however, if the can opener you're using is difficult to use and not doing it's job, how are you feeling as you open that can of food for you or your pet to ingest?
Take a look around and get rid of those things that don't work that well, that you've kept out of some sense of doing the right thing, gifts that just don't fit (re-gift them to someone who will enjoy them). Once you've removed these things take a breath and notice how the energy in your home feels. Does it feel better?
Once I've gone through all the stuff and cleaned everything then I often smudge my home or mist with a purification blend of essential oils to move out any old energy. Other regular activities can include:
-Opening all the windows for 15 minutes each day to allow stagnant air out and fresh air in
-Find natural scents that you enjoy and fill your space with candles, incense, oil diffusers or whatever works for you
-Before bringing anything new into your home take a moment to check into how it "feels". Do you love it? just like it? meh?
-Create corners of sacred space that bring you joy each time you see the contents. This could be photos, pictures, art work, plants, candles, crystals, etc. Whatever brings your heart joy.
-Smudge regularly as energy can get stuck in spaces. I usually choose just after the New Moon each month when energies are fresh and new
Coming next: Spring Clean Part 2 - Emotional/Mental cleaning
Something I hear from others, but also experience myself is the way in which misunderstanding, hurt and hard feelings come about through the lack of emotion when communicating through technology. When reading a text or other message we tend to interpret what we think the sender is expressing, but we do so through our own filter. That filter through which we see and hear others, is what we've developed through our past experiences in communicating with the world...but, is it true?
In order for it to be true we would have to have had the exact same experiences that the sender has had in their lifetime, and have dealt with those experiences in a similiar way. Yes, there are life experiences for which we can empathize with or share the joy of, but we still do that through our perception.
When communicating face to face, and really listening to another (and I don't mean listening to respond, but really hearing) we have the benefit of facial expression, hand gestures, body language, touch and tone of voice. It creates clarity in communication and the opportunity to ask questions to be sure that you are truly understanding another.
As a hands on therapist I have that opportunity to clearly hear what a client is saying in regards to issues they may be having with their health. I'm able to watch how they are moving, listen to their tone of voice and see their facial expressions.
What I find is that it is more often those personal interactions that are shifted to technology, as we find ourselves busier and busier in our day to day lives, and often relating from a distance. The communication with those that are the most important to us, our friends and family, are left open to the misunderstandings that can be created through our filters. While I see this causing stress in clients lives, I feel it in my own as well.
Many will respond to this dilemma with a shrug and say "well, that is just how the world is now". But is that true? Perhaps it is as simple as picking up the telephone. Granted you only have tone of voice to really listen to, but that at least keeps some of the emotion in communicating. Better yet, if those relationships are important to you then making the time for face to face communication is probably more essential than keeping up with the "busyness" of life. In the long run it is likely that you'll not only experience less stress and negative emotion, but increase the release of the feel good chemicals and endorphins in your body that keep you healthy and vital.
How do you maintain clarity in your communications with others?
How do you make the time in your life for those important, in person conversations?
We're closing in on "that" time of year again...colder weather, kids back in school, more time spent indoors and those wretched cold and flu bugs begin to circulate. Before the germs and viruses become too prevalent is the optimal time to think about strengthening your immune system.
The germs and bugs will still be around, however, with a strong and resilient immune system your body is in a better position to defend itself from becoming sick.
How Can Massage Help?
There is an ever growing body of research that supports the benefits of Massage Therapy for the Immune System, especially during the winter months. Here are some reasons why regular treatments strengthen your immunity:
When it comes to strengthening your immune system regular massage becomes a necessity rather than a luxury as it increases both your physical and mental well-being.
When is it Too Late?
A number of clients will book an appointment when suffering from a cold or the flu in the belief that it will help them to feel better. The truth is that a Massage will spread the virus and will very likely make you feel worse.
If the cold or flu has already hit, your body needs to rest, not have a muscular work out.
A client, brand new to Reiki, shared the thought that the secret to Reiki was the time out from the world. That very rarely in this day and age do we take the time to completely remove ourselves, physically and emotionally, from having to be or do. That when we do take that time, even just for 30 to 40 minutes (or longer), that the quality of rest is so profound that the body and mind feel as though they have had 8 hours of sleep.
On some levels I do have to agree. A reiki session encourages that level of deep relaxation, and when in that state our body’s innate ability to heal itself is given the space it needs to do so. That can be a really healing experience on an emotional/mental level as well. When we take the time to get quiet, put what is bothering us on the back burner for a time, and while it percolates back there, we often come up with resolutions we may not have thought of in our harried, busy state.
So why have a Reiki session if you can get the same results with a “time out”? Well, probably first and foremost is that not many actually take the time to relax this deeply, on a regular basis. The flow of energy that is Reiki goes to a deeper level on both the physical and emotional levels. While it may not be apparent at the time of your session, you will often notice, for many days afterwards, a sense of deep peace and harmony. The balance between mind, body and spirit that is brought about through your Reiki session gives you much greater energy to draw upon as you continue through your day to day activities. Accomplishing those activities in a less stressed state is not only good for you but beneficial to those around you. You end up having more to give, from a centred, balanced and harmonious place.
What are your thoughts about Reiki?
What have been the short and long term benefits to your sessions?
Do you actually take the time, each day, to be in a peaceful and relaxed state?
OK. If you're a dedicated people pleaser then these tips are likely not for you, however, if you have the understanding that your self preservation means you have more energy and presence to give to yourself and others then read on...
Why is the holiday season so energetically draining? It may be the extra foods, lack of sleep and worries over spending (see Surviving the Holidays Part 1) but perhaps its something closer to your soul. Putting yourself "out there" whether entertaining or visiting takes a lot of mental and physical energy...AND...when you are out there in the midst of family, friends or shopping at the mall, already feeling drained, you can be a magnet for the negativity, fear or anger energy that others are emitting. So what can you do to take care of you?
You'll need about 10 minutes, so brew a cup of tea or coffee, find a quiet space, take out a pen and pencil and let's get to this. I'll admit that some of these suggestions are not going to be easy for some of you the first few times you put them into place but see if you can give 1 or 2 a try.
First, take out a calendar or print one for the month of December.
Next, on a separate piece of paper, write down the absolute have-to-dos on the calendar (include how much time you'll need as well). Keep this to the definites and not the maybes, such as, have to show up for work because the bills need to be paid or must take time to make dinner for the kids, otherwise they turn into hungry monsters...those kinds of things. Then fill them in on your calendar in pencil.
On another piece of paper draw a line down the centre. The left column will be labelled "Shoulds" and the right colum labelled "Needs".
The needs column is the first one to fill out and that should include everything you like to do for yourself that makes your soul sing. It can be as easy and simple as taking a bubble bath, walking in the rain, taking time with good friends, getting lost somewhere for a day with your phone turned off, going for a massage or pedicure (or both), shopping, making delicious and nutritious meals, spending time with your kids...make it as complete as possible.
Then, without scrimping, fill in how much time you need to do each of these things to make your soul sing. For instance: you could take a 15 minutes bath to soak your muscles and get going again. (Personally my soul singing time slot is an hour and that bubble bath will include music, a good book, a cup of tea or glass of wine and candle light.) Don't scrimp on your needs, remember this is just on paper.
OK, Here's the first hard part!
Take 10 needs and put them on your calendar, in ink! Then put them into your phone or whatever reminder system you use. These are dates with yourself that you will not break.
If this is too hard then try 5 to start.
These are often the "shoulds". You know those things that you really think you should do but when you think about them your energy just drains away? Those little (or big) jobs that need doing, the relative you should visit, the gift for someone ... Think about them and fill them in on the right column labelled "Shoulds".
Time to get a little reflective now... on a scale of 1 to 10 with 1 being a total energy drain that makes you feel bad and 10 being a soul singing experience that lifts you up and makes you feel great. Take some time to be harshly honest with yourself...no one is going to know. It really doesn't matter what people will think or say about your energy draining shoulds so be straight forward with you.
If there is any room left on your calendar fill in time for those shoulds that you rated between 7 and 10 for how they make you feel when you do them.
And now the hard part....DON'T fill in the rest, throw the list away now. So how many of you said to yourself "I couldn't do that, what would others think, say, etc?"
In this busy month when self care is your priority, how could you not?
If you're still not convinced here are some links to study, listen to or read that may help you.
Increasing Self Worth - a Guided Meditation
How to Stop People Pleasing
How to Improve Your Self-Esteem: 12 Powerful Tips
Wishing you a Happy and Fun filled Holiday Season!
Upcoming holidays have you stressed out? It's not unusual. Actually we all feel somewhat stressed over them...good and bad stress, but stress none-the-less Whether we stress about watching what we eat versus enjoying ourselves, getting enough sleep versus keeping the party going, blowing the budget versus buying something really special, feeling like a scrooge because we really can't stand the holidays...the list goes on and I'm sure you have many more you could add.
A little pre-planning, and I mean right now, can go a long way to not only surviving but really enjoying a holistic holiday season (yes, even for the grinches!). Let's put some plans into action together!
Foods, Diets, Sugars & Carbs...It All Looks Sooooooooooooo Good!
Is this a struggle for you? It is for me. There's alot of food & alcohol at holiday events that I normally don't let myself indulge in...but I have managed through the last few seasons to indulge a little and enjoy, without suffering too much the next day. Here's how...
- I usually have something to eat before I go out and that way, despite the temptations of what's being served I'm already full and eat less, if anything. Going right after work? Tuck something extra into your lunch to pull out before heading out for the evening. These ensure you're making your own healthy choices
- Sugar is what effects us the most in feeling yucky and dragged out the next day, whether from food or alcohol. Did you know that you can peruse the offerings and make a choice to choose some a little less sugary? OR that red wine, gin or vodka have much lower sugar content than other drinks? Take some time to look at the offerings and make your choices plus drink lots of water throughout and after the event. If you overdo it then be sure to have the homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica on hand to ease the next day's sufferings.
- Take a look at your calendar, when you'll be eating out and when you will stay in and plan your groceries for the week around that. Nights at home can mean lighter and healthier choices.
Sleep & Exercise...But I Just Don't Want to Go Home!
Lol...I don't care what age you are, when you're partying you want to keep going!
But the holiday season is also the season for colds and flus and lack of sleep can diminish our Immune System's abilities to fight off viruses.
- I have become a huge fan of napping. Something I never would have considered before, has in the past two years, become a favourite. There is something refreshing about taking 20 minutes or so to completely relax. It gives me so much energy for the rest of the day that I actually plan and book some time in for a quick nap a few days a week.
- They say (whoever 'they' are) that you can't store sleep. I disagree. Having one lazy day a week where I sleep in, and maybe have a nap as well, revitalizes me for the rest of the week. It's something I plan. I look ahead in my calendar to see what I have coming up and book a full day off or at least a lazy morning.
- Did you know keeping up with your exercise, yoga and meditation routines will actually give you extra energy for the party nights? AND help fortify your Immune System...so go ahead, you know you want to!
Selfcare ... What's That?
You know those special things you do just for you...come on, you know the things that pamper you and make your soul smile, make you go ahhh. Do more of those! Especially during the holiday season.
One of the best ways to hold off those feelings of overwhelm is to indulge in a little more selfcare time. Book that massage, take time for a bubble bath, pull out a book and make a cup of tea...whatever those little things are for you. You can preplan now by pulling out your appointment book and writing yourself in first! When you take care of you first then you have so much extra energy for all the others in your life and all the extra things to get done during the holidays.
The Energetic Ways to Keep it Simple!
Surviving the Holidays Part 2? Are you ready for the things that, while they may not be popular with those around you, are really good for you? Next Blog read about them and even if you only integrate one or two...you'll feel soooo much better!
It always seems that I have to get that universal kick in the butt before the concept of self-care crosses my awareness. In complete opposition to what I encourage with my clients. Yes, guilty of doing, more than being.
A recent round with a cold/flu virus knocked me back...again...seems this year I've caught everything that is going around. I probably should have received the message the 2nd time around with a cold but it took this last knock for me to sit down and reassess. My body had been talking pretty loudly before the virus...knowing I needed to do more yoga and meditation, take more time for soaks in the tub and "do nothing"time. But as many of us do, I kept putting it off until I "had the time". Well the universe made sure of that.
This time I paid attention. I took time to review just how busy I had been through the last months and in that business had neglected my being. We all get caught in the hamster wheel of "busyness" but I was more than a little surprised to see just how many hours I was logging in with work tasks each week. No wonder I was achy and sore given that both my jobs, holistic therapist and dance instructor, are so physically demanding. I let that number of hours echo around in my brain for a few days realizing I was the only one who could make the changes needed for a more balanced life.
What I find tough in that is how much I love the work that I do and how difficult I find it to say no when a client has injured themselves and is in pain, or a student is working with a choreography and has hit a wall. I realize that I'm not very different to a lot of others in the varied personal service industries, if you've been at it for any time at all it is likely because you have a passion for what you do. But again, I'm brought back to I tell others; if you get sick or disabled and can't work what is going to happen in the different aspects of your world?
So what changes have I made? With both businesses I've reduced the number of hours that I am making myself available. Saying no is difficult so I've decided during the off hours I will stay away from the computer email messages and turn the phone off. A little self preservation that will go a long ways and I KNOW that in the long run, I will have more to give to both others and myself. It is the first in a few steps that I need to implement but it is a start!
(for my adjusted hours at Hand To Health please click here)
What steps are you taking, right now, to look after you?
Probably the first and most important thing that I had to come to terms with is that stress is a personal situation. We can become somewhat dismissive of stress when we compare our lives to others and think they have it worse. The realization that what may seem trivial to one person can be a high stressor to another, is important. Also, allowing ourselves to admit that stress is having an impact on us and on our lives which in turn impacts those around us.
Measuring ourselves against others does nothing to enhance our own lives
Chronic stress is not normal, though our reptilian brain may have us believing otherwise. Our body and mind can become conditioned to stress by not really allowing recovery from stressful events in our lives we seem to have an endless capacity for more, however there is a breaking point.
What do I know about it? Well, the list can be endless (single mother, self-employed, death of parents, child with cancer, assault survivor, healing from motor vehicle accident, financial struggles...) but I think what is more important is the methods I used to recover and the long term actions I continue to take
One of those that ignored and kept piling on the stress, a few years ago my body made me stop. Not just for a day or two but with a long term illness that stopped me in my tracks for several months. Being a holistic practitioner I knew this was not just the physical illness and so it was from that point that my work towards wellness began. Admitting and acknowledging to myself the stressors and their impact upon my life was the first step towards wellness. Understanding the "why I let this happen"and taking responsibility to make a change was next, and then began the search for methods to heal the emotional and physical effects PLUS take action to ensure I didn't allow myself back into this space.
I created a list of things I loved to do and was surprised at all of the many passions I had let fall to the wayside. Through this period and the stressors beforehand Dance was one thing that had and continues to have an amazing impact. When the music is on and my body begins to move I get completely out of my head. The stressful thoughts disappear and my body just moves. Some experience this through other physical activities, for me it is dance. So I increased the amount of time spent moving to music.
I looked at my work schedule and the demands it made upon me physically and emotionally and realized changing this was my biggest challenge. At the time I was running a retail store, had a busy holistic practice, taught belly dance classes and belonged to a performance dance troupe. While I absolutely loved each of these, I was working 24/7 to keep them all afloat and knew that something had to give. In closing the store and retiring from the dance troupe it gave me the room to focus more on my first passions...assisting clients through my holistic practice and sharing a dance/art form that I love with others. My whole being took a huge smiling sigh of relief.
But I took further steps with this. Looking at my work day and ensuring I had enough time between clients to prepare for each of them, take breaks myself and ensure I was taking days off. Break my dance classes into two evenings so rather than dancing 4 1/2 hours in a night and being completely exhausted for clients the next day, spreading my energy more evenly. This is something I go back to re-assess regularly to ensure work is remaining more balanced. I love the work I do and can easily slip back into habits of overworking.
And then there is the out of work time that I had to schedule at first in order to create the habit of even taking time off. Making plans with friends, turning off the phone, laptop and alarm, pulling out creative art projects, booking a holiday, ordering seeds for gardening... It took a while but now I've become a big fan of P.J. Days, Afternoon naps, walking with no destination, etc
My first attempts at all of this failed, but I kept at it despite that it seemed to be really stressing me out. Adjusting my life seemed an insurmountable task. It has been a few years and I do occasionally find myself slipping back BUT the long term effects have been well worth it!
What steps do you take to ensure your stress is kept at bay?
Does it seem insurmountable?