Self Care; 4 Tips to an Effortless Morning Routine

If you have been following me on my journey ( Intentions,  ) you know that each month I have set a new intention to support my year toward a quality, healthy lifestyle.  After some reflection with my therapist, we decided that this month I should focus my intentions on self-care. With the school year starting (for me) in just 3 weeks, I know that this will be the most important intention yet.

Self- care does not have to be expensive – I am not talking about mani/pedis, facials, massages or even an expensive gym membership (though, these are all great ways).

Self-Care is something that we do deliberately in order to take care of our mental, emotional and/or physical health.

Start a Morning Routine

Routines are a great way to Ground yourself and put you on a path toward a successful day.

This summer I have enjoyed the dog days in my hammock chair, a hot cup of coffee and a book (or 10).  This morning routine has become a sanctuary of sorts, but it has also dragged on into the mid-morning most days. For some, this may sound amazing- and it has been BUT it has also created unproductive days, guilt, and a hermit kind of lifestyle. – which all add to my anxiety and depression.

So, I am focusing a lot of my attention on my morning routine.  Just a few little tweaks to create a more harmonized emotional day, a feeling of gratitude, and accomplishment. Most of these tips have already been previous intentions for me, but I will now focus on putting them together and Daily!

  1. WATER 

waterAs many of you know, my first intention was on hydration: smarter hydration and habits.  With most things, I have let this slide a little as I add on more intentions, but I know how important this is to my health, my emotional equilibrium, and my productivity- SO, this is my first tip on Self-Care

a. Drink an 8 oz glass of citrus water first thing

b. Drink 8 oz glass of water before every meal

c. Eat my water (foods that are high in water content)

 

 

2. YOGAIMG_4753

The March Intention was on yoga, but my time on the mat has gotten lost as I love the sweat of a good outdoor run the summer.  As the day gets past me, I get farther from the practice. Daily mindful yoga practice has so many benefits, but most importantly it gives me a sense of BALANCE and allows me to let go of some of that control that brings on so much anxiety in my life.

a. dedicate at least 10 minutes every morning

3. Gratitude JournalIMG_4754

This is a new one for me, and one that was suggested by my therapist. Once I finish with my yoga practice, I sit in on my meditation mat and write down the things I am grateful for that morning; the more specific, the better. I want to consciously focus my attention on things that I am grateful for to help stop the negative self talk and stop taking things for granted.

4. Meditation

IMG_4755This might get a little weird for some of you, but Meditation; the practice of mindfulness, that trains attention and awareness to achieve mental clarity and an emotional calm. – Thank you Wikipedia for helping me define this.

a. youtube “meditation”

b. Aaptive app from ITunes (this is my favorite)

c. Dr. Joe Dispenza’s book “Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself”

D. REMEMBER – you don’t need anything at all! Just a comfortable spot to sit or lay down, headphones (optional) and breathe

  • I love using incense or aromatherapy (meditation is a process that evokes all of the senses), my meditation mat and bolster, and my aaptive  app – guided meditation is my favorite because I don’t stress out about keeping my mind “Blank”

 

Routines have been shown to really help people who struggle with anxiety.  Becoming a morning person can be very beneficial. The way you start your morning sets you up for the day- a morning routine can help ensure you are set up with the right mindset of gratitude.  Practicing gratitude has been shown to alleviate stress, depression and improve relationships.

I am going to be intentional this month about self-care- I want to create a morning routine that sets me up toward feeling positive, grateful and productive. #intentions #self-care #gratitude


Summer Book Club- The Ultimate Guide

A well-read woman is a dangerous creature- Lisa Kleypas (but it is also a form of meditation, a get-away, a way to connect with others and understand perspectives)

My June intention was to read more and, boy, did I. I read so much that I forgot to stop and write about it. The culmination of this month was to also start a book club with my girlfriends and they did NOT disappoint.

Recommended Books

5 STARS Thriller/Mystery (from the first chapter to the last sentence)

A Stranger in The House by Shari Lapena was my first experience with this author, but it only took me one chapter to realize how much I enjoyed her writing. I was at the beach with a friend while reading this book, and my gasps, comments and eagerness to finish this book made her desperate to read it as well. I read this twisty mystery in just 4 days and passed it along to 3 other friends who also couldn’t put it down.

Knowing I really enjoyed Shari Lapena’s writing style, I searched for more of her books. I downloaded “The Couple Next Door” on audible and have enjoyed the discoveries, confessions, and suspense of this book just as much.

4 Stars ( probably would have been 5 Stars if I were still on the beach reading)
5 STARS (I didn’t see any of it coming)

Delia Owens’, Where the Crawdads Sing, is such a wonderful read about a young girl who fights through abandonment, heartbreak, forgiveness, and abuse. All the while, an investigation of a high school star athlete hovers over the small North Carolina town. This book has been passed to two of my colleagues that have highly recommended it as well.

4 STARS

This month’s Book Club Book was chosen with the help of Reese Witherspoon’s book club “hello sunshine– she hasn’t let me down, yet. Thank you Reese.

This story hit a cord for every One of us in our book club in a different way. The themes in this book include motherhood (all the different kinds), girls growing up/coming of age, family dynamics, race, class and love/heartbreak. It follows four different families with contrasting lives and circumstances. The different turning points are brought to a crescendo. We were all disappointed in the ending because so much was left to our own assumptions. It didn’t close up in a nice little bow, but the overlapping storylines made for a intriguing read.

A memoir for the FAN

I have been a fan of the podcast “My Favorite Murder” for over a year. when I found out that Karen and Georgia were writing a book- and Paul Giamatti was reading sections of their audio book- I HAD to read it. It was a quick read, and the audiobook made me feel even closer to my friends from the podcast. This book gives fans an even deeper insight, making you feel even closer to them. They are advocates for true #selfcare and make their journey with therapy a very ‘normal’ and much needed part of a healthy lifestyle.

Self Help

Brene Brown has become a true idol for me- and a personal therapist. Her words of wisdom, storytelling, and ‘real’ reactions to life have helped me with my anxiety and perfectionism. This book was recommended to me by my actual therapist, and it has allowed me to embrace the ‘wholehearted’ idea. It has also helped me connect more with my children, open up even more with friends, have compassion for myself, and courage to be imperfect. It is a journey, and her words help.

Book club the Right Way

This book club was a first for three of us, and I wanted to make it fit our style. So. ..Each member of the club drew the name of 2 characters from the book. With that, each person had to come with a DRINK and a FOOD/Appetizer that represented that character from the book.

I was the host for this first meeting, so I created the questions (thank you http://arlenesbookclub.com.

My friends went above and beyond to make this a club never to forget; Julia dressed in the century of the book – (while I dressed in Pajamas). Deanna researched and created a REAL lemon pie from the town in Cleveland along with a Moody Blues shot that rocked my world. Courtney was the only other member of the group that has participated in an adult book club, and she said “this was the first time she was in a book club that actually talked about the book.”

So, all in all, it was a great night, AMAZING book and we enjoyed it so much we chose July’s book and the meeting date.

Join us for the July book – It’s Always the Husband by Michelle Campbell


Dear Anxiety and Depression,

Dear Anxiety and Depression,

You had me.

You had me on my knees.

You had me hiding from my family and friends.

You even had me hiding from myself. I wonder a lot why you chose me as your constant companion. Why my mind is always racing with …

what’s next… what more can I do… what if I fail… will I be worthy…What now.

I had no idea that I was so ashamed and embarrassed of my vulnerability. The constant buzzing in my ears made my heart pound, my hands sweat and my stomach ache with nausea. The phantom chest pains that held me back from the joy, the collaboration and the experiences have had me crippled.

I have been afraid for 9 months. …Afraid that you were going to keep me your victim forever…Afraid you were going to keep me on my knees without a light, without a vest….Afraid you were going to take my control.

But I am my own villain, and I am trying to claw my way out.

Vulnerability is not a weakness! it is the courage of being 100% inside your own emotion; positive or negative and being completely in IT! I’ve had to take the leap and learn to “Lean in” to understand its cause, and its affect on me. I’ve had to learn to feel fear, to feel the scariest thing I could imagine- feeling every one of my emotions.

I have had to learn to let go of the CONTROL

I am facing my emotions through courage and NOT alone. I do not blame, I am not a victim- I just AM. I do not feel like I need to defend my emotions- just own them and know them so that I can take one step out of this heaviness.

As I experience my guilt, depression, anxiety, gratitude, and optimism – I am feeling LOVE- true LOVE in all of its intimacy. I am beginning to hear opinions of myself without defense or anger. Instead embracing, learning and beginning to KNOW myself better than I ever have.

I am starting to breathe without holding

NOT perfectly

But I am starting to slowly peel off the armor

I can feel the numbness dissipate

I am not perfect and I am not ashamed

I am vulnerable- vulnerable to the emotions that I am courageously feeling.

I thank you- for giving me this time to slow down, reflect and learn the valuable lessons that you have taught me this year. I will continue to grow and to take it all in.

  • If you are experiencing anxiety or struggling through depression, my only advice to you is – embrace the vulnerability of being in the emotion. Feel it long enough to answer… Where am I avoiding my emotion? Who am I blaming?

Small Changes, IMPORTANT Impact #5Rs

Facts that will BLOW your MIND!!!!! – from ecowatch

  • Over the last ten years we have produced more plastic than during the whole of the last century.
  • 50 percent of the plastic we use, we use just once and throw away.
  • Enough plastic is thrown away each year to circle the earth four times.
  • The average American throws away approximately 185 pounds of plastic per year.
  • Americans throw away 35 billion plastic water bottles every year (source: Brita)
  • Annually approximately 500 billion plastic bags are used worldwide. More than one million bags are used every minute.
  • It takes 500-1,000 years for plastic to degrade.
  • There is a place called the Great Pacific Garbage Patch  and it is located off the coast of California – the size of Texas
  • 100,000 Birds, marine mammals, sea turtles are killed from plastic in our oceans or have been seen with plastic growing around their bodies.
  • Virtually every piece of plastic that was ever made still exists in some shape or form (with the exception of the small amount that has been incinerated).
  • Plastic chemicals can be absorbed by the body—93 percent of Americans age six or older test positive for BPA
  • Some of these compounds found in plastic have been found to alter hormones or have other potential human health effects

This month, I am focused on the 5 R’s by Bea Johnson.

Refuse

  • Stop the use of produce plastic wrap or any kind of 1 time use plastics- instead use reusable bags, mason jars, steel containers when shopping.
  • Stop asking for straws and refuse the straw if you can – steel or paper are best.
  • Start a garden and refuse to purchase items that you can grow yourself.

Reduce

This is where I have focused a lot of my intention on, and I think I am really starting to get the hang of it. I have included some links to items that I have purchased this year to help reduce my plastic consumption.

  • be a minimalist – reduce the STUFF and those impulse buys
  • Pare down and give items a 2nd life through donations, Goodwill or selling
  • Start using a French Press or Loose Tea to reduce the amount of plastic single serve pods, paper filters, or tea bags entering landfills
  • The paper towel use and paper napkins by purchasing cloth
  • Order your toilet paper from eco-friendly companies like Give a Crap– not only do they send you bulk, 100% recycled or bamboo toilet paper by mail, but they also do great things with the $.
  • STOP buying bottles of water and look for water that comes in cardboard like Flow hydration or Boxed Water
  • Stop using your dryer so much and put your items out on a line – let them dry by the sun – PLUS it always makes clothes smell better. (reduce energy use, dryer sheet use)
  • Or use wool balls instead of the dryer sheets
  • purchase your toothpaste without the plastic at BITE
  • Find a local Farmers Market
  • purchase bamboo toothbrushes instead of the plastic ones at zero waste cartel

Reuse

If you have embraced Reducing, then this will go hand-in-hand pretty easily.

  • The cloth rags, napkins, and shopping bags can be reused over and over again- wash and line dry when needed.
  • reuse those glass jars from jelly, salsa, apple butter etc… to place leftovers in
  • buy in bulk by using your mason jars at the store – Whole Foods allow you to Tare (weight) your mason jar before adding in the almond butter or other bulk items. When you check-out the cashier will subtract that weight from the item before pricing it.
  • reuse the coffee grounds from your French press in your compost piles or garden – worms LOVE coffee grounds
  • Reuse food scraps and eggshells to add to your compost pile

Recycle

I have always believed in recycling but, to be completely honest, I thought everything could be recycled. Just toss and stop thinking about it. Unfortunately, you have to do some sorting and cleaning before just tossing items into that green or blue bin. BUT, good news, If you have embraced the Refusals, Reducing and Reusing steps- you shouldn’t have that much to actually Recycle.

  • separate your trash – most plastic lids can’t be recycled
  • Wash out all containers – if there is grease or food particles DONT recycle
  • If it has been microwaved – DONT even try
  • pull out the plastic liner from the cereal box (that is trash, and can’t be recycled)
  • Plastics numbered 1-7 Can be recycled
  • Most curbside pick ups won’t take plastic sacks, but most grocery stores will
  • Recycle your aluminum cans and glass jars after cleaning out
  • Buy Recycled

Rot

COMPOST!!!! – I am hoping to start this new project next week as I have asked for a composting tumbler bin, aluminum indoor bin, and compost starter for Mother’s Day. (I know… not your typical Mother’s Day gift).

  • shredded papers
  • grass clippings
  • food waste

The combo of nitrogen from the grass and the carbon from the food waste is a composting heaven- your garden will thank you.


The 5 R’s Challenge – May Intention

Happy May Day!!!!! In honor of the ‘official’ spring holiday my children and I have bought flowers, seeds and candy to deliver throughout our neighborhood. This has been a tradition of mine since I was little. My husband and I wanted to make sure that this was something we did with our own children. They look forward to it, and they are getting better at the traditional ‘door dash’.

Since this is the first day of May, I wanted to write briefly about my May intention- Going Green. I feel this is something I need to make a priority, an intention, because what I put into my body is very important, and I want to make sure more of the items in my home are also good for my body. I also know that the current status quo is very linear: we take from the Earth and dump it right back in – this time with toxins that are destroying said Earth. I don’t want to be apart of that system. I want my children to know that I did what I could. “I want to aim to send nothing to the landfills, reduce what I need, reuse as much as I can, send little to be recycled, and compost what I cannot.”

I have purchased two books to guide me on my path this month…

you can follow the author @zerowastehome
I hope to gain knowledge on how to detox the body of the toxins that we use daily.
  • I plan on finding a few tricks to reduce my carbon footprint that does not add to my consumption.
  • I will be experimenting with natural, holistic cleaners and other that will decrease the toxins in my home
  • I will be following a few tricks from the authors to help me be more conscious and aware of the waste we are creating in our home.
  • I will challenge myself to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot throughout this month to create a better lifestyle for my family and our environment.
  • Take on the 48 hour No Single-Use plastic challenge
  • Create a composting system at my home

No Single-Use Plastic Challenge

This weekend, I will be challenging myself to with the “No Single-Use Plastic Challenge”. Can you go plastic free for 48 hours? Take the challenge with me!

  • Grocery store- tote bags
  • Farmers market shopping – to reduce the plastic wrapping
  • Bulk purchases into mason jars
  • No plastic water bottles
  • Say “NO” to plastic straws
  • no food packaging

I will be taking pictures along the way and of the Plastic that I do use 😦 to hold myself accountable. @omnivore2herbivore


7 Day Hygge Challenge #hyggechallenge

As the month of April comes to an end, I want to challenge each of you to fully embrace the comfort of the hygge that you have created in your home.

In my home, we have added, lighting, natural plants, my hygge space, a sense of harmony and gratitude. I am trying to be in the present more every day and, by doing so, has brought me even closer to my family. I wanted to include them in this last week of hygge intention.

Let the count down begin…

#hyggechallenge throughout the week of pictures of you and your family as you embrace the intention and the challenge.

7 Days of Hygge – Candlelight and Gratitude- Every night this week, I will cook dinner, turn on music, and eat by candlelight. Throughout dinner, each family member will be able to share what they are grateful for. (I remember doing this as a child, and it made dinner time even more special)

6 Days of Hygge- Tea time- As our evenings come to an end, I will drink a hot cup of lavender/chamomile tea (my 7 year old is really starting to enjoy this with me).

5 Days of Hygge- Reading cozied up in blankets- I enjoy my time with my book, but I usually wait until my children are asleep. I believe they should see their mother as a reader, so they will grow up to become readers as well. The boys and I will snuggle up on the couch this evening and read through our books.

4 Days of Hygge- Pleasure- The boys really enjoy helping me in the kitchen. Maybe while I am cooking dinner, they can help make our dessert. After dinner, and with our tea, we will enjoy the pleasures of a sweet treat.

3 Days of Hygge- Gathering- We have organized a nice neighborhood Creamed Can dinner party for this evening; music, games, twinkle lights, and friends.

2 Days of Hygge- Taking it Outside- With the boys on their bikes, we will head outdoors to the local farmers market and park for fresh air.

Last Day of Hygge intention- Unplug- This will be an evening without phones, without the television, and without ipads. I want to focus on my family, on my gratitude and the present moment.