Small Steps – Huge Pay off – Ditch the Stress

Here’s one to ponder:  Small Steps can lead to a great life-work balance – True or False well, let’s explore:

Question – who are the three most important people in your life?  And your responses: Family/Partner/Parents/Friends are the most common

What would you say if I suggested the first should be – SELF?  And that’s not about being selfish it’s about Self-Care.  Once you understand Self-Care, the magic can begin. Review how often you put yourself first, if not why?

Next: Do you have a Life/Work Balance?  Life balance and personal happiness do not necessarily depend on earning more money and being successful at work or in business.

Other things can have a much bigger impact on our well-being such as Self-Care – Self-Care is not being selfish, it’s about looking after YOU then you can look after your life/family/business more successfully.

If you are out of balance, then the other parts of your life will be. Obviously, these change as you develop/age/once you know the real you and we all need to consider what our life/work balance means and what it depends on, however, this is often forgotten when reflecting and planning in life and business.

What makes your life well balanced and happy and how do you ensure you include these strategies/small steps in your life?

  • Try to find a Life Work Balance of 50/50
  • Learn to Tame the Mad Monkeys – those thoughts that stay in your head all day every day! Learning excellent breathing techniques works as does Mindfulness – Check out the APP  Store for a great FREE selection of breathing and meditation practices  Stop Breathe Think 
  • Identify time just for you each day – even if it’s just a walk, sit down and switch off, meet with a friend, have a great soak in the tub, you choose – something just for you.  It could even be a whole day off!

Self-Care Strategies/Small Steps which work:

  • A massive key is how to relax properly and understand the difference between Passive/Focused/Complete and which can lead to a meditative state. These come with practice – just 3 minutes to start with on a regular basis.
  • Assertiveness and learning to say NO! (not rejecting the other person but just saying NO to the request) is life changing and aids self-confidence
  • Time management/Allocate times to all tasks – did you guess right?
  • Listen to gut instinct/knowingness it is a great guide
  • Build in Time for Self – you do it for TV, i pads, computers, phones others, why not self?
  • No multi tasking – too many mistakes get made
  • Empower others (in other words delegate! lol)
  • Stay in the moment – Mindfulness is key
  • Manage your energy – take breaks, don’t let another slurp your energy either (click here)

 Top tips/Small Steps:

  • Freeze-unfreeze – check for tension then let it dissolve
  • Add some focused breathing into your day – 3/5 minutes every so often – releasing tension
  • 3-minute rule – if it can be done in 3 minutes or less just do it – you get tons of half-finished tiny jobs completed
  • Self-care checklist – list what you need to do for you and get on and ‘do it’

It begins to feel like magic as it starts to come together – but small steps peeps one at a time and stop for a bit of reflection……

Until next time – look after Yourself

Warmth

Donnah

A Mindful Smile – Can reach all parts of the body

A Mindful Smile can reach all parts of the body!

I know I bang on about Mindfulness and I know you all tell me you don’t have time….even when you are doing it unconsciously (bet I could find you time if I followed you for a day too!). But a Mindful Smile is natural medicine.

Let’s take Mindfulness to a Micro Level which is doable and as we all know it’s about the ‘DOING.’  So my challenge to you is to have a go at one of the tasks/practice I have given my students…….The Mindful Smile

The Payoff will be….

Less stress at the end of the day, those 4 pm headaches will lessen, you won’t go home and kick the cat or the partner and you will have a more peaceful evening!

Make a commitment to yourself

Decide to take 2 minutes time out and sit quietly where you won’t be disturbed.  Feet flat on the floor and back straight.

The Practice

Take a couple of deep breathes in and out relaxing the body; especially the shoulders, jaw and solar plexus!  Just drop into that lovely quiet space you can feel when you daydream

As you breathe in begin to mindfully smile to yourself. Feel that radiant energy flow into your face because you are releasing those smiley endorphins into the brain.  It’s a big cheesy grin that appears and your eyes crinkle.

Cheesy Grin

  • As you breathe out;
  • Release your mindful smile, relaxing the whole of your face and notice how your body also releases tension.
  • And now breathe in smiling again feeling it reach your eyes
  • And out, relaxing the face….don’t forget to release the jaw as that gets so tense during the day resulting in migraines/headaches.
  • Notice how the lungs and belly expand.
  • Let go of thoughts by just focusing on the breath, the smile and the energy beginning to change throughout your body

Keep this going for 2 minutes and check out how happy and balanced you feel at the end along with more energy.

Moving On

Do this a few times throughout the day and it’s amazing how your energy changes.

Continue with the rest of your day.

Want to ramp it up a bit then check out How Bubbles can boost your energy and wellbeing click here

Guess what…this is a phenomenal exercise to do with the kids they love it…start them early.

Until Next time

Warmth

Donnah 

Unconscious Mindfulness – in other words you’re doing it anyway!

Unconscious Mindfulness

Unconscious Mindfulness, is that you? Yep more than likely; just like 98% of the rest of the population (OK I made that figure up, but it’s lots of people!).  You are doing it, but you don’t know that you are!

So you talk about being Mindful?

Well, don’t you? There are so many times I smile when I hear peeps say they would love to learn to be more mindful or come to class to meditate, but they just don’t have time/space/know how to do it.  Why do I smile?  because they are probably more mindful and meditate far more than they realise but it’s all done at an unconscious level trucking along inside the brain.

Mindful Brain

 

Let’s look at it – this word Mindfulness

Has there really been a significant resurgence of ‘Mindfulness’ over the last few years? Well not really it’s been around since the 1970’s when Jon Kabat-Zinn presented key attitudes and practices to students to de-stress and just be in the moment.

It’s now become a bit of a buzzword and has made its way into the mainstream of everyday living over the last few years with lots of publicity. It’s not new, and it’s not rocket science; however, the marketing and media tribes would like you to believe it’s the best thing since burnt toast and worth paying mega bucks for…well no shit! They love making money.

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Strength and Stability in your Life/World

Strength and Stability.

Strength/Stability – Powerful words that you can use as an affirmation or as a supportive and mindful reminder that you can do anything you set your mind to it.

These are two of my favourite words and ones I find most empowering.  I have students who use them every day to centre and balance themselves.  Others use the words when they have to go into meetings or give presentations. In class, we use them just as a straightforward affirmation or sometimes incorporate a visualisation with them.

Both words can lead you to Grounding yourself for the task ahead – for more on grounding follow

Getting started

For the affirmation,

On the in breath hear the word STRENGTH in your mind as you fill the belly and pause, on the out breath hear the word STABILITY as you release slowly and just keep this going for a couple of minutes ‘feel’ the words as you say them.  This will raise your confidence and energy – you can do whatever it is you need to do.

You might need to visualise the two words several times before embarking on what you are going to do.

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Splish, Splash are you taking a Bath

Splish, Splash are you taking a Bath

Ok, so this blog is more about Soaking Away Stressors rather than Splish Splashing…. It’s a Whole Person Compassion Technique but you can chuck water about should you wish to.

Stress Release - Soothe the Body Mind Spirit

Stress Release – Soothe the Body Mind Spirit

It is a successful technique I share with my tribe, and it’s your challenge for day 5 of a 7-day challenge.

How often do you get to a point where you need to give yourself a bit extra? Not just at Physical level but Public/Mental/Emotional/Spiritual levels too?  Without a doubt, you will also need to cleanse your energy after a busy day undertaking all you have to do and all the people and situations you come into contact with.

You will need to set some ground rules with your nearest and dearest so that you can have a bit of space and time just to indulge in this stress reduction Self-Care routine.

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Rugby Players Note; Not just for Ladies

Rugby Players – Not just for the Ladies!

Rugby Players need sensitive hands. Day 4 of the 7-day challenge to ‘Self-Care’.

Hands that can ‘FEEL’ the ball and position it ready to throw in the right direction are crucial to Ruby Players. Therefore this technique/exercise can be for the guys not just for the ladies.

Rugby Players need Sensitive Hands!

Rugby Players need Sensitive Hands!

In fact, I used it once with a bunch of Rugby Players I was working with they loved their soft hands at the end…mind you the guys did say they would drop the ball if the did it before a match so they might get the opposition to practice this technique….

Reduces Work Stress

Several years ago I was commissioned to write a training programme around the subject of Reducing Work Stress.  The following exercise was one I used; the outcome was everyone who attended bought hand cream into work and had it visible on their desk. – guys included.

They would exchange hand creams for others to try.  They had an internal policy. If anyone was using hand massage,  they were left alone for a few minutes as it was a sign they need five minutes out. No one abused the practice. How cool was that?!

Your Self- Care Hand Massage

Before you begin massaging your hands, fingers, and cuticles, take off any  jewellery.  Now, first apply the cream to the back of your hands as this is where it is often the driest, think about the skin that the sun hits the most.

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Visualisation: The ancient art of Mind Compassion

Visualisation and Mind Compassion

Visualisation plays a large part in the state of Wellbeing.  You will be aware that at the beginning of August I set a little 7-day Self-Care challenge for those who wish to take it. Today is Day 3.

This mindful challenge will take no more than 10 minutes.  It will reach that part of your brain that often needs respite…Your MIND. I’m sure if you look you will find the time and add a new technique to your Toolbox.

The Mind is in there somewhere

The Mind is in there
somewhere

Why use Visualisation you may ask?

I’m sure your will remember as a kid you would daydream and imagine, at a physical level the superpowers you had when playing games like film hero’s/heroines.  Maybe just lying in the sun and let your thoughts dwindle and your imagination come to the fore, you find that space where you could escape from the day to day stuff that crowded in on you.

I used to drape a tarpaulin over the washing line, make a sort of tent with it and sit under it in the rain. It became a rain forest and could just listen to the sounds the water made as it hit the tent. I knew I was safe, warm and could then daydream…..an often forgotten skill.

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Scan your Body or Forget Your Body: Your Choice?

The Basic Body Scan

Your Body Mind Spirit – During the first few days of August I have set a little Self-Care challenge each day for those who wish to take it. Most of the tasks will take between five and ten minutes not much time in the scheme of life. I know that many will say they don’t have time; if that’s the case your Skills and Techniques Toolbox will be lighter.

Why a Basic Body Scan? In truth, regular scans of your body during the day will

  • aid tension release
  • it will increase your mindful practice
  • bring you back to a necessary balance in your body, breath, and mind.

There are lots of writers who have shared their version of The Bodyscan; my  favourite is one of the first I came across in the very early 1990’s from Eric Harrison ‘Teach Yourself to Meditate’ a ‘fab’ book to use as a tool for development.

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Self-Care vs Social Media – should it be a contest?

Self-Care vs Social Media

Should it be a contest?

Over the next 7 days, I will set a little Self-Care challenge each day for those who want to take it. I know that many will say they don’t have time; well if this is the case get over and see The Time Doctor…

Those of you who read my Blogs know that even though you get a few Musings of a Vintage Diva you also get my take on Mindfulness and Self-Care. After 40 years of ‘People-Work’ I have a bit of insight into what makes them tick or explode having been both sides of the coin myself. However there is only one constant and that YOU.

Mindfulness as a Tool

If you haven’t tried Mindfulness properly then let me remind you what Jon Kabat-Zinn said,  “Mindfulness is not a special state you achieve through a trick or a technique. It is a way of being.” so when you drink a cup of tea, just drink a cup of tea.

So why is Mindfulness so necessary in the 21st century? In truth I believe it helps bring balance and wellness back into lives. It aids combating tiredness and helps to increase energy levels; many students find it can also help with reducing challenges like;

  • Insomnia
  • Lack of self-esteem
  • Low self-confidence
  • High stress levels

Several of my tribe use most of the techniques we practice find that tension in their body reduces considerably. Headaches are reduced and that they believe it aids coping with day to day lives in this busy world. Significantly it helps them to focus on the present rather than rushing furiously into the future or getting caught up in the past.   They keep all these excercises and techniques in their Tookbox/Bag.

Customise your Tool Box

Customise your Tool Box – Bag

Undertaking practice on a regular basis can enable individuals to take further control over their lives and ultimately find time to have more FUN.  In fact just 5/10 minutes essential relaxation included into your daily life will help you greatly and 5/10 minutes a day is far better that 1 hour a week. The daily habit begins to embed into the brain and becomes part of your routine  –  Relaxation is the first key to emotional well-being and helps reduce stress and other ailments once you can learn to relax effectively then Focused Relaxation, Mindfulness & Meditation will be the next stages.

Brain Spam/Mad Monkeys

One of the biggest distractions of learning to relax is the millions of thoughts that come hurtling through the brain.  Buddhists describe the mind as: ‘the mad monkey’ and that relaxation and meditation is a way of training that monkey.

Tame the little buggers!

Tame the little buggers!

Because when we are at the beginning of undertaking our relaxation practice, we are leaping from one thought to another just like the monkey jumping from tree to tree with no purpose, planning, we are illogical, erratic and irrational.   However, if you use the monkey as an analogy for your attention then you can begin to train your attention gently to focus on breathing, subtle feelings, symbols or images and thus cut down the times you leap from tree to tree until you become proficient in just focusing on relaxation

Lets start with DAY 1 – Practial Relaxation

 PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN!

PUT THE LAPTOP DOWN! Let Go of Social Media for 10 Minutes

Have a Practice  this one I have used for years; similar can also be found at; Quick, on-the-spot relaxation:

  1. Sit up and back in your chair so that you feel firmly rooted, legs slightly apart, feet flat on the floor. back straight, this keeps you energy flowing
  2. While you take a deep breath, letting it out slowly and drop your shoulders. Close your eyes if it helps. Focus on your breathing. Breathe in slowly to a count of three or four – hold for a count of three – breathe for a count of three or four – pause for a count of three. Repeat at your own even, comfortable rhythm.  It can help to imagine yourself relaxing more each time you breathe in and the tensions flowing away with every out breath.
  3. Next, slowly tense, hold, and release the main muscle groups, working up through your body. Start with toes and feet; tense as much as possible, hold and release. Move on to legs and thighs, stomach and torso, in the same way.  Paying particular attention to your back and shoulders, this is where we hold a lot of tension.  Then work on your fingers hands and arms..  If you are brave enough, screw up the muscles of your face and neck and slowly release.
  4. Return to focusing on your natural breathing and check your body for any remaining tension just like a slow bar-code machine.
  5. Finally, check your seating position, drop your shoulders again, and place your hands comfortably on your upper legs and concentrate on the sensation of warmth as it flows out through your hands.

The Payoff

Everyone is aware that research shows that most people use Social Media for a minimum of 45 minutes a day, TV much longer, are you worth just 10 minutes. Should it be a contest or should you put yourself first? #JustSayin

Check out Tiny Buddha for more Self-Care ideas

Learning to use relaxation as a Self-Care tool in this way can be invaluable if you get anxious in public places and need to sit somewhere to compose yourself . Use it at work when you feel overwhelmed, it is well worth the 5 minutes to put your pen down or leave the computer and completely erase the scrambled thoughts from your brain! (some of my tribe go off to the loo to relax for a few minutes to get away from the distractions.). Can Social Media do this for you?

Give Mindful Relaxation a go, with practice you will embed it and use it as a tool from your toolbox/bag.

Day 2 tomorrow….Watch out for it…..

Diva x

 

 

Banish “BRAIN FOG” : Gain WELLNESS

“Brain Fog” vs.” Wellness”

“Brain-Fog” appeared on my radar 12 months ago.  I was aware something had triggered my condition and had put it down to the Post-Concussion Syndrome I had acquired after my accident last June where I had 17 staples in my head…..but it was going on too long. So what next…..?  The Full Version

I ploughed through my lengthy repertoire of what could be causing it…..was it my SAD which attacks me every year but I have strategies for that….was it my diet…..ok that can always do with a check over…….was it I was under-challenged and needed a new undertaking….?

Nothing was making sense….so time-out? I took a break. I returned as tired and washed-out. All I wanted/needed was to sleep, would drop off any time but not at bedtime! Stare at the distance and do nada! My short term memory was none existent.  I would be in the middle of a conversation and totally forget what we/I was talking about…..I would lose my train of thought and go off into Diva world.

  Diva 'Brain Fog' World

Diva ‘Brain Fog’ World

This needed sorting – the medical model of care could not find the cause…it’s Easy to point the finger at getting older – NO! I knew it wasn’t that, Brain Fog was real.

My Symptoms included:

  1. Muscular pain
  2. Joint pain
  3. Poor short-term memory and concentration, and difficulty organising thoughts and finding the right words (“brain fog”) WOW my words….!
  4. Bloating/constipation/diarrhoea (yes….you really wanted to know that!)
  5. Sleeping problems, such as insomnia and feeling that sleep isn’t    refreshing
  6. Sensitivity or intolerance to light, loud noise, alcohol and certain foods
  7. Psychological difficulties, such as bouts of depression/irritability

So, what do you do when you need to reflect on ‘self’……run! No, you recognise you need a bit of support/help and ask for it.  But what sort of help or support? It is different for everyone…..but you know deep down.

I decided to do what I usually do and take a few mindful minutes to meditate on the challenge. I had been meditating on it but was getting nothing. So one time I just asked “who/what do I need”…..simple. I just left it to the universe to chuck the answer/s at me.

Coming back from one meditation after a lovely visualisation but no eureka moment I was p****d off.  Went for a stomp (Diva Style).  Yes, the alter ego gets in the way lol!  During the stomp, a name came to me. An old colleague who gave up teaching many years ago to become a Homeopath……stomping stopped. Got an answer; thank you Universe.

Later that day I was pulling a book off my shelves and spotted one I had forgotten……’Brain-Fog Fix’ by Mike Dow.  Universe strikes 2.  Ok! Getting it now…..I have to ‘Do the Doing’ don’t we all?   Dipping into Mike Dows’ book, what I was reading made sense, however, I needed to get to the core.  So contacted my Homeopath…..and arranged a visit – it paid off! The first visit yes very low energy and several intolerances……worked on those; had to be focused.  The second visit still very low energy, intolerances shifted but energy levels a concern. Third, visit energy up by 20% better than it was.

Planning the way forward

After further discussion and testing, it appeared that I was being challenged by a moderate level of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)/ME which causes persistent fatigue (exhaustion).  It affects everyday life and doesn’t go away with sleep or rest. I had a list of symptoms to consider as well as the fatigue.  Several were a match with mine:

My Plan:

  • Small, simple things like sitting out in the sunshine (wrapped up at the moment) coz vitamin D is crucial to wellbeing…..when suns out.
  • Watch carbohydrate intake – need some but not overload
  • Eliminate any junk/processed foods (not a big deal for me!)
  • Meditation – (Research show that there is a connection between mood disorders like anxiety/trauma/depression and other emotional problems and that regular Meditation can help alleviate symptoms
  • Massage – I have booked a monthly Indian Head Massage with Colleen Budge – this can help stimulate the Vagus Nerve (Every organ in your body is connected to the vagus nerve, so there’s little wonder that stimulating your vagus nerve helps relieve fatigue, anxiety, brain fog and more. The vagus nerve is important to your sense of intuition, or your ‘gut sense’ which can help you to pay attention to tiny but important details that help you make good decisions.)
  • Gentle exercise – for me it’s walking
  • Water – to drink more
  • Mindful Breathing techniques – Helps to slow things down and help reduce anxiety/panic/anger/irritability/impatience
  • Pacing – involves balancing periods of activity with periods of rest, not overdoing it or pushing yourself beyond your limits. If you do more than you are ready to, this could slow down your progress in the long term.
  • Laughter & Happiness – can release the right chemicals in your body that help produce a sense of well-being.

The Future and YOU!

Although I recognise this will need to be ongoing and that the CFS will not disappear I do have much better days than I did.   I continue to see my Homeopath every eight weeks at present and would say that PACING is the most important for me as doing too much sets me right back.

Therefore, how about you? Is it time to reflect on your wellness? Do you need to make a few changes?  In my experience, just like me, many of my clients/students deny the truth to themselves about Self-Care. Why?

Seven ‘R’s’ of Wellness

     Wellness Brain

Wellness Brain

Therefore a quick and simple checklist to consider; embed into your life?

  • Relaxation – Do something good for you/Schedule worry time/Schedule time out/undertake real relaxation
  • Responsibility – Remember you are in control/Establish your priorities first/Say No more frequently
  • Reflection – Know your stress triggers/Be aware of your stress symptoms/Check your balance in life
  • Relationships – Maintain supportive relationships/manage your relationships/improve your relationship with yourself/remove those relationships that are toxic
  • Roles – Be aware of taking on roles you no longer need to/Become a positive role model for other by walking your talk
  • Refueling – Monitor your diet/ditch processed foods/eat mindfully/drink lots of water
  • Recreation – Laugh more/Smile more/Have fun/Enjoy Life

I am sure most of you reading this are doing many of the points here but if, not have a go, you have nothing to lose.

Until next time

Diva x