Saturday, July 23, 2011

Being a Better You

Today I began to think of some ways we can slow down and enjoy the simple pleasures that life has to offer.  I think it is so crucial that we all do this- it is truly nurturing for you mental and physical wellbeing.  I think there are all too many people out there that believe that if they work hard for forty years, then they'll eventually get to wind down and relax when it comes time for retirement.  Well- what if your health deteriorates before you reach that time?  What if you lose your significant other?  What if you lose your job?  These "what-ifs" aren't meant to be anxiety provoking or negative.  It's just to illustrate the fact that life can throw a real wrench in our life plans sometimes, and this is why I think it is so important to treasure the here and now.  Be grateful for what you do have (not what you don't) and live for today, not for tomorrow.  Much easier said than done, right?

I found a list of 75 things you can do to brighten your day over at ZenHabits.  Here are my personal suggestions- most things take a minimal amount of time, which makes them ideal for busy people:

  1. Take a walk.
  2. Buy a plant and take a few minutes to care for it each day to observe it's beauty.
  3. Have a cup of tea and savor every sip.
  4. Sit outdoors and truly experience what nature has to offer (feel the breeze on your skin, watch the clouds float by, feel the sun, etc.).  
  5. Take a time out to do some bird watching.  Set up a feeder and observe the beautiful birds that come to visit.
  6. Read a few pages in an inspirational book.
  7. Listen to music- preferably some songs that touch your soul or make you get up and dance.
  8. While you're out and about, admire the innocence of a child.
  9. Love your pet- give back some of that unconditional love that they show you every day.
  10. Inhale the aroma of a candle (preferably made from a natural source like soy or beeswax vs. the average kind that's made with toxic chemicals) or essential oils.
  11. Take 10 minutes to lie down and practice diaphragmatic breathing.
  12. If you can afford it, get a massage.  If not, get a loved one to give you a massage!
  13. Call an old friend.
  14. Tell someone what you love about them.
  15. Discover the therapeutic properties of laughter!

Some inspirational quotes to write in a journal or hang around your house (maybe on a mirror or the fridge?):
  • “The sky has never been the limit. We are our own limits. It’s then about breaking our personal limits and outgrowing ourselves to live our best lives.”
  • “To wish you were someone else is to waste the person you are.”
  • “Your time is limited, don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma, which is living the result of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinion drown your own inner voice.  And most importantly, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition, they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.” – Steve Jobs
  • "Men talk of killing time, while time quietly kills them."  ~Dion Boucicault
  • "Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you have, and only you can determine how it will be spent.  Be careful lest you let other people spend it for you."  ~Carl Sandburg
  • "Time is an equal opportunity employer.  Each human being has exactly the same number of hours and minutes every day.  Rich people can't buy more hours.  Scientists can't invent new minutes.  And you can't save time to spend it on another day.  Even so, time is amazingly fair and forgiving.  No matter how much time you've wasted in the past, you still have an entire tomorrow."  ~Denis Waitely
  • "You cannot do a kindness to soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late."  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Benefits of Yoga

I did not get into yoga to get stronger or to become more flexible.  My body actually kind of "forced" me into yoga because it was too sensitive to tolerate any thing else.  Because of the Lyme I am on an aerobic restriction, and even if I wasn't, the fatigue makes it very difficult to have the energy to exercise.  So, during my most recent flare, I discovered yoga.  I'd been doing yoga on the Wii fit (which I know really doesn't count) for a couple of years, but I didn't realize that there's so much more to it.  Yoga has truly changed my life- the way that I view things, my relationship with my body, my reaction to physical pain, my ability to handle stressful situations.... I could go on and on.  I am blessed to have a one on one instructor who has taught me so much.  I'd like to share some of my favorite poses and then I'll talk about my favorite kind of yoga- Restorative Yoga!

"Pose of the Child"

"Modified Child's Pose"

"Tree Pose"

So, why yoga?  According to the MayoClinic, here are some of the great benefits:

  • Stress Reduction
  • Increased Fitness
  • Management of Chronic Health Conditions
  • Weight Loss

Okay, now on to my favorite kind of yoga- RESTORATIVE YOGA!!!  This type of yoga is very passive- it uses blankets, yoga blocks, straps, sandbags, eyebags, etc. to do all of the work for you!  It truly feels like a vacation for your body!  You hold each pose (as you are supported by your prop) for a given length of time (maybe 5-15 minutes, depending on the pose) while you just lie there and experience a great state of relaxation.  Sounds pretty good, huh?  My group instructor says it can really help with getting us out of that constant "fight or flight" mode that most people are constantly in.  According to her, it can also be helpful for fighting adrenal fatigue, boosting the immune system, helping chronic pain, and coping with grief or stress.  Here are some examples of restorative poses:

To learn more about yoga, check out these yoga sites:

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More Natural Sunblock for the Summer

UV Skinz are swimshirts with a UPF rating of 50+, but without all of the chemicals!  These are a great way of protecting yourself from the sun, without the added worry of reapplying sunblock through out the day.  With Melanoma on the rise (a 200% increase since the 70's), these are a great way to prevent those nasty burns that can lead to skin cancer.  This site sells shirts for babies, kids, and adults.  They also have hats and little shade tents to provide protection for those sunny days on the beach or at the park.  Check out their site to learn more about the products UV Skinz

Looking for more sites with products to protect you from the sun?  Check out the following:

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Combat the bugs & sun- the NATURAL way!

Although summer has already started, I wanted to do a quick post on some must-have healthy products!  Protect yourself from the sun and bugs, while protecting yourself from unwanted toxic chemicals that are in many traditional sunscreens and bugsprays!

Bug Away by Real Earth (find it at Abe's Market) - A Natural & Deet-Free Insect Repellent

Bug + Sun (SPF 30) Protection by Real Earth (find it at Abe's Market) - All Natural Bug & Sun Combo

BuzzAway Citronella Candle by Quantum Natural Insect Repellents (find it at Herbtrader) - It comes in a cute little tin (which is great for traveling!) and burns up to 20 hours.

Bug Off! Bug Bite Soother (find it at Abe's Market) - A natural soother for the post-bug bite itch!