Simple Self-Care for the Super Busy

So you’re super-duper busy. Who isn’t these days? Busy seems to be a way of life. Oftentimes we put our self-care at the bottom of the pile, something to get to last, if there’s time.

Thing is, self-care isn’t really optional, it’s not a luxury. It’s not fluffy-duffy-day-at-the-spa-get-your-nails-done stuff. It’s taking appropriate care of our vehicle for action in the world; taking care of our body, mind and spirit, so that we can show up as the best version of ourselves and contribute to society and the world around us.

Not having time for self-care because you’re too busy is like not having time to stop and refuel the car because you’re in a  hurry to get somewhere. Running out of fuel while you’re racing along is more time-consuming and less efficient then just stopping for regular re-fills.

That said, how do you slot those re-fills seamlessly into an already full life?

The Why

First, always, take a moment to get super clear on why you’re committing to make some time for self-care. Do you keep coming down with colds that knock you out for days? Do you keep blowing your fuse and getting into relational messes that you then have to clear up? Is your cup running empty but you’d like to have something to give once again? Are you just missing out on feeling great most of the time and sick of it?

What’s the why? We always need a strong why before making ANY change. We’re creatures of habit, without a strong why to fuel our changes we will just keep doing what we’ve always done.

The How

How do you slot self-care in when you’re busy?

The answer: 1 minute practice

If you don’t have 1-minute you really don’t have a life at all. If that’s the case, you might want to look at that! So I’m going to assume you do have minutes to spare. You’re reading this after all 🙂  Sprinkle several self-care-power-minutes throughout your day and notice the difference it makes. Setting a timer is a nice way to trigger these new self-care mini habits.

The What

What can you do in 1 minute that’s going to make a difference?

  1. Meditate, stop, drop and breaaaathe deeply for one minute. Set a timer, everything can wait for 1 minute. For 1 minute make the world stand still by letting it all go and entering a deep pause. It’s not quantity but QUALITY that matters. Take one minute and make it count. I’ve meditated for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, hours before, and sometimes only been really present when the timer went off to start and to signal the end. So get grooving with the present moment (possibly my favourite definition of meditation ever!) for one minute. 
  2. Move your body! Jumping jacks, sun salutes, walking, jogging on the spot, a mini-dance party. Whatever floats your boat. Just get your breath going, your heart pumping and your body moooooving. Notice the difference after just one minute.
  3. Earth/Ground: Go outside, take your shoes and socks off and plug yourself directly into mother earth. For bonus points look up at the sky and soak up heaven and earth for 1 minute. Guarantee you feel better.  Won’t go into why this is amazing here but if you’re not aware of earthing definitely check this out.

And there you have it, super, simple self-care for the busy bee.

 

If you’re ready to get serious about self-care, ready to dial in the daily habits and routines that will unlock the best of you,  then join me on my next HAPPY, HEALTHY HABITS adventure. You’ll gain 10 new habits in 10 weeks that will set you on a better trajectory for life!

Learn More

Move Your DNA

 

Movement Matters

One of my great joys in life is discovering a new teacher who opens my eyes to something I’ve hitherto overlooked, or just not fully grasped.

Katy Bowman is my current teacher-crush. She’s a bio-mechanist which means she focuses on the mechanics of the human body; how we humans move and how our movements affect our health and how we function. It’s a black hole area that’s been largely overlooked. We know we need fresh air, clean water and nutritious food for optimum health, but most of us don’t realise that movement is also vital. It’s not a cherry-on-top-optional-if-I-can-squeeze-it-in-that’d-be-great-health measure. It’s essential.  Our DNA expects us to move in specific ways to function optimally, and most of us aren’t getting nearly enough movement.

Our Sedentary Culture

We did not evolve over thousands of years to sit at desks for 35-40 hours a week, plus extra hours sitting in cars, plus extra hours sitting for leisure time.  If you do an hour of exercise a day, by most modern standards you’d be lumped in the ‘pretty fit and healthy’ category. But one hour of exercise does not make up for 23 hours of sedentarism.

She actually compares exercise to vitamin pills. It’s not the same to eat junk all day and then take a range of pills to cover the essential nutrients we need as it is to eat a healthy, well balanced diet.  Exercising for an hour a day, often in the same repetitive way e.g. jogging, cycling etc….is not the same as moving your body frequently and in many different ways throughout the day, thus giving your body all the nutritious movements it needs.

Diseases of Captivity

Our bodies signal the fact that we need movement in order to be healthy by sending us signals of ‘movement hunger’. As we age, the number of years spent sedentary and repeating the same restricted range of movements (largely sitting in chairs!) compound to create problems. Back ache, dodgy knees, an ache here, a niggle there. In many cases these are signals of ‘movement hunger’. Our bodies are being starved of the nutritious movements they need to thrive.

One example she gives is regarding just how important movement is in helping fresh oxygen reach every cell in our body. If our cells don’t receive oxygen, they die. We think of the heart as being the organ responsible for pumping blood; getting oxygen in and around and waste back out. The reality is that the heart isn’t designed to bear this weight alone. Through moving lots we assist the heart greatly and ensure each cell receives the nutrients it needs. She suggests that one of the reasons for higher rates of heart disease is mechanical. We’re not moving as we evolved to (i.e. lots!) which is placing a new (in evolutionary terms) burden on our heart to do all the work of pumping blood around our system.

To make this point clearer she uses the analogy of the orca in captivity. It’s common for a captive whale to suffer from a collapsed fin. This is because it evolved to swim long distances and dive deep under the ocean water. This natural movement ensures its fin stays upright. In captivity, however, we see a different mechanical environment. Whales swim around in small circles and spend much more time above water. The droopy fin is a disease of captivity.

Dropped fin, hunched upper back…same, same but different. Diseases of captivity!

How many of our common ailments and health issues are diseases of our own captivity? We’re domesticated and live in incredible comfort, which ironically has led to discomfort as the capacity of our bodies has shrunk to fit the tiny range of movement we routinely use. 

Top Tips To Restore Health Through Natural Movements

So what to do? It’s not about exercising more, but moving more in day-to-day living.  You’ve probably heard the saying “it’s not what you do once in awhile that matters but what you do every day”. Well it’s not what you do for 30-60 minutes a day (i.e. exercising) but how you use your body for the remaining 23 hours as well.

 

Feet

Let’s start with our foundation, it affects everything above it.

We spend most of our time with our feet in sensory deprivation chambers i.e. shoes. Although our feet have hundreds and hundreds of muscles and the potential to move in myriad ways, we have become accustomed to walking and standing on flat, smooth surfaces, mostly in shoes.

To add more movement we can simply go barefoot more frequently, indoors first and then if you’re feeling daring outside in the garden too. Outdoors barefoot gives you the added benefits of earthing. Find some interesting stones to walk over, if you dare. It’s all great stimulation for your feet, although it mightn’t feel like it!

A tennis ball or massage ball is a great way to slowly break up the monotonous block of foot that we’ve created and start to get some movement back into our foundations. No special technique, just get rolling and try to cover each part of your foot, imagine your mowing the lawn 🙂

My stats so far for January. If you don’t measure you can’t improve it.

Another top tip is simply to walk, walk, walk: use them feet to walk. Our hunter gatherer ancestors were walking around a thousand miles a year, which is about 2.75 miles a day.  It’s better to vary how much you walk so that some days you walk more and some days less, but if you’re not walking enough then aiming for 2.75 miles a day isn’t a bad place to start.

I got myself a basic pedometer so I could start to track my movement. You don’t have to spend a fortune, I bought one for£20 which works great. It’s linked to an app on my phone so I can see week-by-week and month-by-month how much I’m moving. I find this brings out the competitive nature in me and encourages me to walk more to get my ‘score’ up nice and high 🙂

 

Sitting

It’s the new smoking apparently. It’s not sitting per se that’s the issue, but the fact that it usually represents being in a single position for many hours a day.

Sitting in chairs repetitively tightens up our hips, but there’s more than one way to sit. Consider sitting on the floor sometimes. We’re addicted to comfort and have a natural tendency to do as little as possible, to conserve energy. But our environment these days make this far too easy, which ends up making us uncomfortable as we get stiffer and physically weaker with age.

So many different ways to sit. What’s a different seat you can take?

Everything you own that makes life more comfy, the sofa, bed, etc…is actually taking the work from your body and making you less physically able to cope. You don’t have to get rid of your furniture, but consider sitting on the floor sometimes.

The floor is less comfortable so you’ll naturally find yourself moving around more frequently and in different ways. Plus you’ll open up those hips passively without having to go to yoga (although I still recommend going to yoga, obviously 😉 )

Another bonus is that you’ll maintain the capacity needed to get yourself down to the floor and back up again easily. If you’re not sitting on the ground regularly then you won’t know you’ve lost this capacity until it’s gone.  It always strikes me how nimble the elderly are in countries where sitting on the ground and squatting is a normal daily movement versus here where decades of sitting in chairs mean our elderly end up struggling to get in and out of a chair, never mind the floor!  Use it or lose it. You’ve been warned.

Hands

Reverse prayer

Computer hands anyone? Mobile phone hands? It’s all tippy-tappy on various devices and not a whole lot else. Generally. Here are some movements Katy prescribes.

 

Bring the backs of your hands together for reverse prayer. Press your hands down away from you but only as far as you can go while keeping the backs of your hands and all fingers and thumbs together.

 

Pull fingers back.

 

Pull your fingers back for the opposite of computer hands. I also like to do this one on hands and knees with my fingers pointed back towards my knees, I slowly peel my hands from the floor stretching along the length of my palm and fingers.

Arms and shoulderS

The angel

All the slumping forwards that’s part of modern living, and using our arms within limited ranges i.e. right in front of us, means most of us can benefit from opening the shoulders and arms up and back.

The angel is a nice simple movement. If you can lie on a bolster or some pillows and then circle the arms up and overhead, reaching towards the ground behind you.

Reclined twist

A reclined twist is another simple and effective move to open into the upper back, shoulders and chest.  From reclining, draw your left knee into your chest and pull it across the body like a lever to the right. Reach your left arm up and circle back. Let the left shoulder melt towards the ground behind you. Yummy, this is definitely nutritious.  This is my current wind-down pose for the end of the day

 

Hanging is another great movement that lets your

Hanging

body experience a different load.  Start by hanging sideways like the picture shows. Next lamp-post you see, OK? From here we can progress to monkey bars and swinging. All this to look forward to!

 

 

 

This was tough but felt amazing on my shoulders and a great whole body stretch!

 

 

Other nutritious movements

  • Notice any tendency to clench your jaw. Throughout the day bring awareness to your jaw and release it by letting your bottom teeth relax away from your top.
  • Notice any overexertion of the eye muscles. Again, throughout the day bring your awareness to your eyes and soften your gaze. If you stare at a computer for much of the day take regular breaks to look into the distance, or up at the sky when you get a chance – this uses different muscles so you’re not constantly holding the same contraction.
  • Look at the devices you use to make life easier and experiment going without them. An example is brooms and mops. These devices allow us to stand and clean the floor where previously we would have been down, either squatting or on hands and knees, moving around much more. I’ve been getting down to clean the floor and it’s actually been an easy transition. Plus you can really get stuck in when you’re closer to the ground 🙂
  • This is going to seem a bit out there, but Katy also talks about our mattresses and pillows as being ‘subversive immobilising devices issued at birth’.  Hold on tight, I’m going to unpack this one a little more. Using big fluffy pillows and super comfy and soft mattresses causes our bodies to adapt to need those things.  Then you go camping and sleep on a different terrain and your body feels like it’s fallen out of a sky-scrapper over night!  Have you ever had a massage or done some yoga only to discover some sore or sticky spots in your body? The question is, why didn’t you know about these until someone started prodding you? Katy says “sleeping on a mattress dampens the pressure to your body. The cumulative effect of sleeping every night on a giant squishy surface is that it keeps you blind to the fact that parts of your body have become so immobile and inflamed that being touched hurts. If you’ve gone to the massage therapist and found relief from the application of pressure over time, consider the compound effect of getting “worked on” by the floor every night”.   I’ve inadvertently   been doing this sort of cross-training since baby Lila came along. I’ve been camping out on the floor in the spare bedroom for the last seven months.  At first I thought this was terrible for my body but my body has adapted and I’m noww more comfortable on the floor!! I think this warrants more investigation and a separate blog post!
  • Just get outdoors. It’s so good for us in so many ways and in ways we don’t fully understand. The effect of sunlight, of UV rays (did you know they decrease risk factors for inflammatory demyelinating diseases like MS?), the good vibes the trees and plants give off, the effects of touching the ground (earthing again!) even the sounds of the natural world compared to the sounds of our devices and cars beep beeping constantly.

So there you have a few tips from Katy Bowman, the legend! I’ll leave you with  one more quote from my favourite lady of the moment:

“Our zoo-like environment is not necessarily invalid, but it implies that there’s nothing we can do about our captivity or that we’ve agreed to staying in our cage of comforts. We have the key to unlock the door and move our DNA to a new environment whenever we choose to. What are you waiting for?”

How will you move your DNA today?

If you’re into podcasts definitely check out her Katy Says Podcast https://nutritiousmovement.com/podcasts/

 If you’re not into podcasts, you’re missing out. Get listening while you move about more!

If you want to know more definitely read her book Move Your DNA.

The Power of Doing Nothing

I recently installed a news feed eradicator that replaces your facebook newsfeed with an inspiring quote. For me, this is a gentle reminder each time I log on that maybe I don’t want to lose half an hour of my day scrolling through the facebook feed. It’s been a game-changer!

This morning’s quote was from the wonderful Alan Watts:

Consider this, some of the absolute bestest things we can do for our health and wellbeing involve doing no-thing at all.

Think: sleep, meditation, fasting.

Our bodies are super intelligent.  We just need to get out of our own way occasionally.

We don’t often give much thought to the important role space plays amidst all-of-the-things-of-life.

We tend to focus on what we’re doing during the day, but not how we’re resting at night.

We might take great pains to eat healthy food, but we don’t necessarily honour the silent digestive process between meals, or pay attention to whether it’s working efficiently and effectively.

Truth is, the space between, is just as important as the ‘things’ and ‘stuff’ around it.  There’s a whole-lot-of-something going on in the nothing.

Most of us aren’t tapping into the power of daily doses of good-quality space.

If you’re curious about how you might benefit from more consciously doing less, run these experiments and see for yourself.

Let me know how you get on!

Create a Bedtime Ritual

Each night we get the opportunity to heal, restore, and recharge so that we can step into the new day at the edge of our potential.

 
Sleep is a veritable elixir. It repairs our body, regulates our hormones and emotions, and optimises our cognitive function.  
 
Did you know people who don’t get enough sleep find it much harder to maintain a healthy weight? That’s just one side-effect of not heeding our body’s signals for rest.

When we don’t honour this nightly space for quiet regeneration our body starts to wear down and quickly becomes inefficient.

If we want to experience deep energy during the day we need to experience  deep rest at night.

Make sleep a practice,  something you attend to consciously, and get better at with time. Create a conscious bedtime routine to get you prepped for a high-quality, nightly reboot.

Some ideas to make this a conscious practice:
  • Have a ‘digital sunset’: turn off all you electronics at least an hour before bed
  • Do something just for the joy of it: take a bath, read an inspiring book, give yourself a massage
  • Journal or meditate to release the day
If you want more tips on this follow my 10 day sleep revolution on instagram: 10 tips over 10 days to get more from your sleepy time.

Create Space Between Meals

Are you a serial-snacker? An all-day-grazer?
Until last year that was certainly me.
One of the major lessons I’ve been embodying recently as I’ve been studying Ayurveda is the need to allow sufficient space between meals. A healthy adult should be able to go 4-6 hours between meals without snacking.  A healthy adult also needs to allow a good 13-hour window of fasting between dinner and breakfast.
If we don’t give our digestive system adequate space and rest between eating it can’t do its job properly. We make it harder for our bodies to run efficiently and smoothly.  Because our body is part of us (duh!), if our body’s having a harder time than it needs to we too experience life as being harder than it needs to be.
If you’re waking up in the morning feeling stiff and congested in your body with a foggy mind, then this experiment for you.
I’ve had a bit of mental-morning-fog myself recently. I’m seven months pregnant and my digestion is mega-sluggish. I’ve been waking up with undigested food in my body and that’s been blocking my physical and mental channels.  Sick of the lack of mental clarity upon arising I decided to extend my overnight fast period from 13 hours to 15-16 hours to see what that might do.
Guess what?
My body cleared out the junk: bye bye sludge, hello strong digestive fire to blast out the mental fog.
The power of doing nothing. Don’t underestimate it.
Experiment with leaving space between meals (that means no snacking!) and ensuring you get a good fast overnight. You need an overnight fast to have a break-fast in the morning!

Sit in Silence

 Take some time to simply sit in silence.
More commonly known as meditation, this simple practice has massive payoffs.
Just like our digestive system needs space to breakdown, assimilate and eliminate the food we’ve eaten in order to be effective, our mind too needs space to simply be with what is.
If we don’t create some mental space we get mental bloating. Our thinking becomes less clear, more congested.
When our mind is constantly busy, busy, busy, and thinking, thinking, thinking, we end up unable to see the trees for the woods. We create more work for ourselves and more stress.
This practice is super simple (which doesn’t mean easy!) :
  • set a timer, even 1 minute counts
  • sit in silence and observe what is: observe your thoughts, sensations in your body, the sounds around you, notice it all without responding or reacting.

If you want more help with this one, here’s a tipsheet I made.

 Vibrant living

I’m half way through my first 10-Week Vibrant Living course and we are having a blast!We’re picking apart our daily routine

s and dialling in the habits of vibrant health. If you’re interested in joining the next group you can apply here.

film Hacksaw Ridge 2016 streaming

The Benefits of a Spring Detox

We get so caught up in the daily grind, moving through life on automatic, that we need to take time out occasionally to shift gears.  We need to take conscious breaks to step out of routine to examine our routine itself.  The things we’re routinely eating, the activities we’re routinely doing – are they supporting our higher vision for ourselves? Are they in alignment with what we want and need for ourselves? Do we even know what our heart’s deepest selfie desire is? Or are we on a treadmill mindlessly running on the spot full speed to destination nowhere?

It can seem hard, selfish even, to take time out for ourselves. But if there’s anything I’ve learned from yoga it’s that we are entirely responsible for ourselves and our experiences. If we don’t put ourselves first and fiercely defend our right to feel awesome and enjoy life, well guess what? Yeah no one else is queuing up to do that work for us.

A detox doesn’t have to be all about food, although giving ourselves a break to only consume foods that nourish us deeply is a wonderful and obvious place to start.Roblox Hack No Survey No Download

My spring detox this year has involved me giving myself permission to cut back on busy-ness and slow right down. A focus for me was simply to cut back on snacking between meals. I know I eat for many reasons other than hunger (stress, boredom, excitement even!) and I know this habit undermines me. When I snack I steal a little joy from my next meal, because I won’t be fully, truly hungry to properly receive the nutrients and nourishment.

It’s a good idea to plan a detox in advance. Clear the calendar and Warrior get everything ready so that the process is as easy as possible.

Dividing your detox into three phases is a good approach so as not to shock the body; have a preparing phase, going in deeper phase, and finally a chance to emerge back into regular life, hopefully with some new insights and health uplift.  Enter. Go Deep. Emerge.

For my entering phase I switched to living foods, i.e. raw foods. I focused on my snack habit and started to bring more awareness to when I was snacking, what my triggers were and how I felt after the cheap nfl jerseys snack-attack. I wanted to beat myself up for snacking in this phase as I’d hoped I could just stop immediately. But this has been part of весна my detox practice, being compassionate with myself and simply getting curious, without judgment, about what was arising.

For my going in deep phase I switched to juice feasting. Juice feasting means you can have as much fresh juice as you want. You’re not worrying about calorie restriction but rather giving your digestive system a break, because juice is super light and easy to digest.

I was really quite worried about the juice feasting. I seem to have a lot of fear around going hungry. I expected to get very ragey and ‘hangry’.  I was most surprised to find this wasn’t the case at all. The juices I made were choke-full of nutrients The and I found myself feeling deeply nourished without solid food. A revelation!  I was also able to stick to three large juices a day with no ‘snacking’ in between.

The point of dialing everything down to zero in a detox is that you can then see very clearly what’s optional. What extra snacks, drinks, meals, are we eating that our body doesn’t really need? What activities are taking up mental bandwidth without adding any actual value? What emotions are we stuffing down with chocolate and biscuits that would be better acknowledged? How much unnecessary weight/waste are we lugging around? It all becomes much clearer through a detox.

The problem with snacking as I’ve discovered is that it makes your blood sugar level constantly bounce around, up, down, PoE up, down.  Our digestive system never gets the opportunity to fully digest what’s already been consumed and move into the deep fat metabolism that makes us feel grounded and calm in mind and emotions. All layers of our being are interconnected; if the body is out of whack the inner, subtler layers will be affected too. I can see from this detox the negative impact snacking has on my mental performance.

It also means we’re out of synch with our natural hunger/satiation cycle. If we never allow ourselves to get fully hungry, how can we ever feel properly satiated?

As Tidying I experienced the benefits of not snacking I realised that the same principle applies to my relationship with the internet/social media. I’m constantly checking emails and social media whenever there’s a spare moment.  This has my mind constantly bouncing around on a superficial level.

From this detox I’m taking forwards the practice of not snacking and scheduling time to check email and social media. I need a little more space in my life to digest my experiences fully.

One final practice that I’ve been focusing on this detox is the practice of self-oil massage. As I cleared space in my diary from the busy-ness and social commitments I booked daily appointments with myself for a importantes self-oil massage followed by a hot soak in the bath.  In Ayurveda oil is linked closely to love. Self-oil massage is like enveloping our body in liquid love. It’s such a nourishing practice to amp up self-love and acceptance. It’s hard to articulate how it has such a profound effect but from just a couple of weeks I know this is a practice I’ll be taking forwards.  My critical mind has rarely been happy with my body as it is and I know I’m not the only one. Our culture promotes a subtle or not so subtly self-loathing of our bodies. Through self-oil-massage I’m massaging away the ridiculous notion that my body isn’t perfect as it is right  With the help cheap nba jerseys of this liquid love I’m accepting all of myself into a loving embrace.

Detox is a chance to step off the treadmill, cheap mlb jerseys pause, re-evaluate and open to experiencing new and better ways Magazine of being.  You pick up the thread of your life post-detox ready to continue living at a higher level.  Schedule time in just for you. What are you waiting for?