Quieting the churn

This year has been one of great personal transformation for me. I am about to wrap up a year long program at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition which has kickstarted a whole new passion and career as a health coach. It’s been busy and hectic, but manageable for a number of reasons.

First of all, I had a lot of support from my friends and family for pursuing something completely new. My main motivation was to keep me on track with my own wellness journey. I’ve maintained my weight loss from bariatric surgery for over a year now, with my second surgiversary coming up on July 5. So — mission accomplished there.

I’ve acquired a great deal of knowledge about coaching behavioral modifications and helping my clients find their own definition of health. It looks very different for each of them, and they all have different goals and different areas of focus.

One of the main reasons I got through all of this has to do with mindset. I am winding down my career as a government worker bee, so I have the motivation to be successful in this new chapter. But it’s not always easy. I have struggled with anxiety and depression for many years now, and while it’s a lot more manageable now post-surgery, I still have to work at it.

Meditation, not medication, has been my secret. Oh yeah, I am medicated too, but that’s not what has kept me focused. Mindfulness is such a buzzword these days, but it was my gateway to meditation.  I found the podcast 10% Happier in 2016 while contemplating weight loss surgery, when I was overcome with depression and grief after my dad died. The host, Dan Harris, is an ABC news anchor who had a panic attack live on TV which ultimately led him to meditation. I love his irreverence and skepticism about nearly everything, but the thing that sold me was his interview with the Dalai Lama. (Definitely check this out for all of the feels!) I didn’t actually decide to practice meditation however until I started my health coach training.

Journaling was an amazing outlet for me (we won’t talk about my office supply and journaling materials fetish) and I had already established a gratitude journal which really transformed my mindset. But I never really tried meditation because I figured I couldn’t shut that damn voice up in my head — that voice that is always churning. I started with some breathing exercises that I learned at a stress management training I took at work. Then when my Apple watch upgrade introduced some mindfulness apps I tried a few out. First it was Headspace, then Calm, then Simple Habit. After a bit of experimentation with longer form guided meditations on YouTube, I settled on Calm as the one I liked the most. Ten-ish minutes a day I can fit in. It quiets the mind, even mine with the spinning hamster wheel squeaking away.

I don’t get panic attacks very much, but over the past few weeks, I have been awakened out of the blue from a dead sleep with that horrifying chest tightness and heart palpitations which for me are a telltale sign that a panic attack is happening. It’s odd to wake up in the middle of the night to something so scary, so I am definitely looking into what that is all about, but it’s made me appreciate knowing that if I bring everything back to the breath, I can get them under control.

I’m normally encouraging people to step away from their phones and get some sunshine and fresh air, but this week, I thought it would be good to recommend something that really can enhance your health and get control of those damn hamsters churning away in your head.

Do you have any apps that have helped you on your health journey? Let us know what’s your fave!

What’s getting in your way?

Get Unstuck

We can be our own worst enemy, or, we can be our own best friend. Sometimes a little of both.

When looking at long term goals and achieving satisfaction, whether it’s in career, relationships, creativity, or some other area, we can be our own roadblock. We are sailing along, performing our action steps and doing our due diligence, then suddenly we lose sight of the big picture and start letting things get in our way.  Maybe it’s a sense of obligation to others. Maybe it’s the fear of success. Whatever the reason, if you recognize this as a pattern, how do you handle it? How do we find ways to put ourselves first without feeling selfish?

Self-care is not selfish. Self-preservation is not selfish. Treating yourself with kindness is one of the best things you can do for yourself so that you can be more giving to others.

Here are a few tips for nurturing a more positive mindset:

Let it go

Negative self-talk

Treating yourself with kindness begins with letting go of your negative self-talk. Listen for it. When you hear your inner voice go into that negative space, find a way to turn that thought into something positive. You are awesome! Let that be your mantra.

Compare and Despair

It’s so easy to look around you and feel like a failure when you compare yourself to others. Whether it’s career-related or weight loss, tell yourself, “where you are right now is perfectly okay.”  Keeping that single point of focus on achieving your goals will help you get unstuck and help pave your own path and find your best solutions. Great ideas only come to an open mind.

Fear of Change

Think about how things are going for you. Think about patterns you are in. Are you stuck? Well then maybe those patterns aren’t quite the right direction — for you! Think like George Costanza — do the opposite of what you normally do. You may have to get into uncomfortable territory to make a breakthrough.

Turn it around

Be Grateful

I’ve said it before — a little gratitude goes a long way for change and personal development. Developing a grateful mindset automatically creates a more positive space for change to happen. Find something to be grateful for in every single bad experience — your own personal silver lining.

Find Your Tribe

Surround yourself with people who support you and uplift your spirits. They will help you find your way and your confidence.

Clear Your Mind

Find ways to incorporate quiet time into your day for meditation, mindful breathing, and to quiet your mind too. Nothing lowers stress levels like clearing your mind and letting the physical tension drift way with some nurturing and calming activities.

Random Acts of Kindness

Do something kind for another person. Kindness is infectious and has a profound effect on your mood and mindset.

Get Unstuck.

You can do this. It really takes discipline to get in touch with yourself and understand the things that are holding you back. Sometimes a simple shift in thinking is what does the trick.

Share some of your strategies in the comments.

Self-preservation during the holiday season

season4stress

How well do you know yourself? If you’re anything like me, the holiday season just saps the life force out of me. As an introvert (who seems to get more introverted by the day), I have learned to be very protective of my time. The social calendar keeps stacking up with work holiday parties, multiple family holiday parties, and other social gatherings. This year I’m putting into practice all of my strategies for managing the stress of a busy calendar.

I found myself a little overwhelmed a few weeks ago, and my live-in health coach (a.k.a. my husband) asked me a really great question. “What would coach Marilyn tell you to do?”

That’s it, right there.  I could tell you the same thing you can read on HuffPo — rest, gratitude, self-care, time management, etc.  In fact, those things seem to be a theme on this blog.

But really, ask yourself, “If I was my own health coach, what advice would I give myself?”

Only you know and understand your threshold for family drama, exposure to excessive sugary baked goods and alcohol, and small talk with acquaintances at parties. Really take some time this holiday season and come up with your own plan to manage life’s chaos. We really do have our own answers, but sometimes we just need to ask ourselves the right question.

Having trouble finding the answers? Or the questions? Let me know if I can help. You never know how a single conversation can change your outlook on everything.

Peace to all.

Breathe.

Reboot your thinking

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break.

Period.

We can be so hard on ourselves, and this time of year when the calendar gets full and work gets intense trying to meet deadlines while working around holiday schedules, it’s important for me to remember: self-care is not selfish.

Over the past few weeks, I have found myself overcommitted, full of anxiety, and with a to-do list a mile long. The most important thing I did was to recognize those feelings, own them, then come up with a plan to mitigate what felt like an impending implosion. Okay, truth time: I had a bit of a mini-meltdown.

I know I am not the only one who has experienced these emotions.

So what are some strategies for rebooting? Here’s a few I have been employing.

  • Sleep. I have worked on my sleep habit over the past few years. I aim for 7-8 hours which is a huge improvement over 4-5 that I thought was enough. After my mini-meltdown, I set an 8:30 bedtime for myself and even chose sleep over exercise to just get my energy back on track.
  • Protect your time. I have had to pass on some lunch and coffee invitations because as an introvert, they are a huge effort for me. I love my friends, but I needed to recharge before I can engage, at least for now.
  • Take some mental health time. I have so much banked vacation time, so I have been using it as a way to rest and refocus my energy, especially while building up my coaching business.
  • Eat well. Nutrition for your body contributes to the nourishment of your soul. What you eat affects how you feel.
  • Practice gratitude. Daily reminders of the good things in life help reframe your mental energy when in a rut.
  • Hug your dogs. (Well, that’s what I do.) If you don’t have a critter to hug, maybe it’s time to open your heart and adopt one!
  • Hydrate. Dehydration can add to your funk. With the weather getting cooler, herbal teas have worked their way into my hydration agenda.
  • Laugh. Read or listen to a funny book, or indulge in some Netflix time for a mental break.
  • Breathe. Practice focused breathing or meditation to help bring some mindfulness to the situation.

What are some of the ways you choose to reboot? Share them here or tweet with me @OffthePlateMC.

Namaste. 🙏