When you are afraid of something, breathe.
When you are angry, breathe.
When you are feeling impatient, breathe.
When you are tense, breathe.
When you are irritated, breathe.
When you are feeling panicked, breathe.
When you are restless, breathe.
When you can’t sleep at night, breathe.
Being silent at times is very good for us. It calms our nervous systems down. Calms the mind. Soothes the soul. Helps us to connect to our higher power. After a busy day with my second graders I really need that time. If I get it, I sleep much better at night.
How can we fit in times to be silent and be still in our busy lives? Here are a few suggestions:
- If you commute, turn off the car stereo once in a while
- Sit and meditate during work and lunch breaks
- Set up times at home when you intend to be quiet and then communicate with family members not to interrupt you
- Take a walk without your music
- Spend time outdoors alone
- Go on a silent retreat
- Unplug: turn off phones, computers, all electronics!
When you do emerge from your time of silence you will be much more refreshed and have more to give. You will be more centered and will sleep better at night.
Are you active during the day? I love to work out. If for whatever reason I don’t get enough exercise I don’t sleep as well at night. We were not meant be sedentary creatures. Too much time in front of the tv, behind our desks, or in our vehicles is just not good for us.We need to move! Set an intention to get more movement in your day. It doesn’t have to mean a two hour work out in a gym (although that is great if you have the time and are inspired to do so). Any amounts of movement add up.
- Take a walk
- Take a bike ride
- Roll around and stretch on the floor
- Have some mini dumbbell weights around and take a break from your reading, commercial time during tv, etc. to do a few bicep curls, etc.
- When you think to, do 10 jumping jacks
- Take flights of stairs instead the elevator
- Park further away from the store you are going to shop at
- Use tension isometric exercises throughout your day
- If you are a mom, dad, or teacher- move and play with the kids!
- Always try new things to make exercise fun
- Workout with a friend
- Visualize yourself fit and trim and healthy and moving!
- Make love
One of my favorite activities in all the world is going for an evening stroll. I love: the fresh air, smells of something good cooking in neighbor’s homes, appreciating well-landscaped yards accentuated with pretty lights, the quiet, the crickets or frogs playing their chorus, the pitch dark on moonless nights, the gorgeous moon and its light on other nights, Jasmine and other sweet smelling flowers, the movement of my body, the feel of the breeze on my skin… oh the joys of my evening walk.
It is a lovely ritual: whether alone or with my partner. I simply love it. It is truly one of life’s pleasures. A stroll after dinner aids digestion and will help us have a more restful night of sleep. It is good for our fitness, overall health and weight. It helps create peace of mind and a sense of well-being. Often I might feel stressed or agitated about something, go for my walk, and come back feeling all balanced again. Walking helps get the creative juices flowing too and I often come up with some of my best ideas while on a walk.
Give it a try. Just don’t exercise too close to bedtime.
Debra : )
Life is busy. Life can be stressful. Many of us get in a pattern of reacting to stress in a way that is very hard on our mental, emotional, and physical well-being. You have probably heard of the “fight or flight” response. Our heart rates go up, the adrenaline has kicked in, stress hormones such as cortisol are going through our bodies releasing free radicals etc. This response is a good thing if we are really in a dangerous or urgent situation. It served our ancestors well when the big predators were after them while hunting. It does not serve us well if we are wrecking havoc on ourselves with each bill that comes in the mail, every little worry that pops into our minds etc. The result is anxiety, fatigue, stress related illness, aging, high blood pressure, and probably shortened life spans.
It would benefit us to learn how to turn this fight or flight response off (except when really needed like pulling our kids away from a coming car while crossing the street etc.)
Here are some activities (not in any particular order) that help to alleviate the negative effects of stress by lowering heart rate, slowing breathing, and lowering blood pressure:
- Tai Chi
- personal connection with good friends, supportive people
- journal writing
- making love/masturbating
- breathing exercises
If you are lying there in your bed, wide awake- do this:
- On your back, close your eyes very tightly for a few seconds. Then relax eyes, leaving them closed.
- Raise your eyebrows ten times up and down. Relax.
- Scrunch your nose ten times. Relax.
- Open your mouth wide open and close it ten times (we hold an enormous amount of tension in our jaws).
- Nod your head up and down ten times. Relax
- Turn your head to the side ten times. Relax
- Shrug your shoulders up and down ten times. Relax
- Clench your fists. hold them for 10 seconds. Relax.
- Flex bicep muscles in arms for ten seconds. Relax
- Tighten abdominal muscles for ten seconds. Relax
- Tighten glutes for ten seconds. Relax
- Tighten both legs for ten seconds. Relax
- Tighten calves for ten seconds. Relax
- Scrunch up toes for ren seconds. Relax
- Tighten up and tense as many parts of your body as you can think of at one time for ten seconds. Relax.
On the days that I have gone to my yoga class or practiced yoga at home I find I sleep better. The benefits of yoga are many. It strengthens our bodies and makes us more flexible. It calms our nervous system and minds down. We become more aware of our breathing. We often connect with our higher or more spiritual selves.
A few ideas that work for me in my yoga practice that really relax me:
1. Start off my yoga session with a specific intention (to be more relaxed, good health, world peace, prosperity, etc.)
2. Begin my practice with a strong feeling of gratitude.
3. Be very conscious of my breathing: when inhaling, really feel my lungs and belly fill up with air (Buddha belly); when exhaling, really breathe that air fully out. Out of habit, most of us are shallow breathers. It is amazing what a few minutes of real deep breathing can do for us!
4.Be present. Be in the Now. This is a special time I am gifting to myself. This is not a time for worries or problems.
5. Find a good instructor. I have been practicing yoga for over ten years now. There is such a variety of Yoga styles and the instructor truly sets the tone. Try some different classes and find one that works for you. There are two different classes that I attend at my local gym. They each have a different focus. One is more athletic and one is more relaxed and focused on gentle breathing. I enjoy both classes very much.
6. When at home, I find even a few minutes on the floor doing some light stretching and breathing exercises does wonders. For many of us who are busy we need to not get discouraged if we feel we don’t have a lot of time for our yoga practice. Just slip in a few minutes here and there and we will benefit!
I have recently discovered isometrics. Simply, it is tensing a set of muscles and relaxing. I have been practicing it for a couple of weeks now and I’m noticing a firmer body and coincidentally, I have been sleeping much better at night. I don’t do any particular routine. I do exhale when I am tensing and inhale when I release the tension. You can really exercise any muscle group you feel like. It is free, no equipment needed, and you can do it anywhere.
When I can’t sleep or feel particularly anxious I like to “hit the floor”. My cat always joins me. Cats are great at relaxing. They stretch regularly. Stretching, rolling, and breathing are a wonderful way to get our bodies, nervous systems, and minds relaxed.
No equipment is needed and can be done in the dark even when the rest of the household is asleep.
When we are in an anxious state we often have quick, shallow breathing. I have been in this state and end up almost hyperventillating. Be aware of your breathing and slow it down. Full, deep breathing. Relax.
Tense and release all your muscle groups. Breathe.
You are safe. Breathe.
Visualize all the colors of the rainbow. Breathe.
You are loved. Breathe.
You are supported. Breathe.
You are peace. Breathe.
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