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


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.


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.



3 Ways Hygge can Calm Anxiety

first attempt at macramé

As Saturday and Sunday roll around, my anxiety starts to bubble up even more than normal. I think the idea of having 48 hours without ‘official’ work makes me nervous. Trust me, I have plenty to do at home; laundry, meal-prep for the week, picking up the house over and over AGAIN, feeding the family multiple times, grocery shopping for the week, soccer or flag football, and hopefully there is even some time for me to workout. Even with all of that, I get anxious- and if I am away from home, running errands, for too long it gets even worse. So, this weekend, to embrace my HYGGE, I crafted. Two birds, One stone – work on something that would bring both coziness and calm- macramé.

I have, recently, read a lot about macramé.

  • first started in China in the 3rd century
  • 13th century in Northern Africa, created to cover horses and camels to keep flies off their backs
  • brought to the world by sailors who made it even more intricate with their knotting techniques
  • Most popular in America in the 1970’s, every GROOVY house had these hanging art pieces
  • Millennials have Intagrammed them back into trend
  • known for their calming benefits- redundant cutting, intricate knots, and repetition – Meditation for the mind and hands

My sister-in-law just started selling some on her Etsy page. I wanted to see if I was up to the challenge.

2nd piece

I haven’t mastered the square knots, but I am working towards it.

When people think of Hygge they might think of the Winter. Unfortunately, here in Texas, there is not a lot of Winter to be had. So, I experimented with some Hygge ideas for our Spring weather. The idea of Hygge is about staying aware, in the moment, feeling calm and comfortable. This was exactly what I needed this weekend.

Plants

Other than plants in my home to keep the air clean, I also make sure to have plants on my patio and over Spring Break, I planted my garden. There is something calming and Hygge about being in the dirt, creating something that will be editable for my family later on. During this time in my garden; pulling weeds, watering, harvesting (kale was added to my sweet potato curry), adding ladybugs etc… I am able to listen to a podcast (currently listening to American Scandal or Brook Castillo). , catch some rays, and hangout with my boys who love helping me in the garden.

  • My garden is usually filled with all kinds of cruciferous plants; kale, romaine, arugula, lettuce varieties, broccoli.
  • Zucchini and squash
  • tomatoes
  • beans, edamame
  • herbs; rosemary, lavender, dill, cilantro, thyme

Lighting

Knowing how important lighting is to hygge, I played with the lighting this weekend as well. I am also very aware that I am more cheery and energetic on bright, sunny days and on days when it is overcast and dark I am not as eager.

I have a great patio in the back of my house that I have hung patio lights on, and, conveniently, a great rain storm came through (hygge). So, I stopped my chores, held off on running my errands to sit outside with a blanket, a book and enjoyed the storm under the ambiance of the lights.

I also worked on my side table in my hygge seating area. I found this great whiskey barrel top and bought some tall iron legs to create this perfect side-table. I kept this lamp lit throughout the day while everything else was dimmed. Calm lighting does wonders to the atmosphere of your home and your mood.

I love natural lighting in my home, so I have these very thin, linen panels that hang in front of my windows that give just enough privacy but allows the light to shine through.

This week, focus on the hygge – try to be present and mindful.

#hygge @omnivore2herbivore When you discover your HYGGE.


Yoga for Better Sleep

A daily mindful yoga practice has many benefits. Some of these include improved flexibility, stress levels, strength, weight loss, and boost your immune system. One of the benefits I have already noticed in just 12 days of my daily yoga practice is better sleep.

I am sleeping harder,

I am falling asleep quicker,

and staying in Deep REM (at least according to my Fitbit).

I know I shouldn’t brag because I live with an insomniac, (here is a link for 10 more habits that can help with your insomnia) and when I talk about my sleep quality he just gets angry.  I don’t blame him because sleep is crucial, and it can, seriously, make or break your world.

Side Note: Deep REM (also known as NREM) heals wounds, aids in the creation of white blood cells, restores muscles, and releases growth hormones.  Most importantly, it reduces your blood pressure, decreases stress levels, helps maintain good weight and helps with your immune system.  Needless to say, sleeping, falling asleep and quality sleep is vital for a quality life.

If you are someone who struggles with winding down or distressing after a difficult day… Yoga is the answer. Not any kind of yoga, Mindful yoga that focuses on the breath with long holds in each pose- Yin Yoga, Restorative and Nidra Yoga (more of a meditative practice) is best for sleep. Here are 7 Bedtime Yoga Routines to view if you are interested in more verbal ques.

 

CaptureBefore I go to bed, I roll out my mat, light up my incense, lower the lights and turn on soft music or my aaptive app.  Each pose is held about 20 seconds or 3 breaths (inhale to the count of six, exhale to the count of six) focusing on my stomach lifting and lowering. The practice is relies on the mindfulness of the breath and being in the moment.

or

Complete the Sun Salutation Flow from last weeks post

CB88F896-5175-44FE-A85F-30AEC61C4F18

After a warm cup of herbal tea, I have no problems falling asleep.

I hope that this is helping you on your journey of a more quality life- #intentions. If you are on Instgram, post your yoga pose or practice with the  #intentions and @omnivore2herbivore. I would love to see you.

Namaste