Do you have difficulty falling asleep at night? Are you gaining weight despite not overeating or changing your diet? Do you frequently feel unsettled, on edge, or anxious throughout the day?
All of these are side effects of your body frequently being in the sympathetic nervous system, also known as fight or flight. When we are put in a stressful situation, the body switches to the sympathetic nervous system. This causes increased heart rate, impedes breathing and eyesight as well as inhibits digestion. None of which is good for the body.
Also, being in constant fight or flight weakens your immune system making you vulnerable to colds and flu.
What you want to be in, is the parasympathetic nervous system, where your heart rate is normal, you can see and breathe clearly and your food is digesting and providing you with the nutrients you need to go about your day feeling energized.
If you are like most Americans, you may find yourself living a lot of your life in fight or flight and don’t know a way out. The good news is that it only takes 90 seconds to pull yourself out of fight or flight and into a calm state of mind.
The easiest way to do this is deep breathing. When you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed, try this simple technique.
If you can, close your eyes. Take a breath in through the nose for a count of 3 and slowly breathe out for a count of 5. Repeat this for at least 90 seconds. Or, for as long as you need to feel your body relax.
Note: When calming the nervous system, you should always exhale for longer than you inhale.
You’ll notice your face softening, your heart rate slowing and your shoulders dropping away from your ears. The fog will begin to clear from your mind and you will experience a sense of clarity and peace.
This practice can be done anytime or anywhere. The more you do it, the quicker you will feel that sense of calm as your body will become used to the practice and know what to do.
If you know fight or flight is a constant problem for you, you might want to take up yoga.
Unlike other cardio-based exercises like running, weight lifting, zumba and the like, yoga keeps your body in the parasympathetic nervous system. So you are maintaining a sense of calm, focus and peace while strengthening and stretching the body. You are also burning more calories because your digestive system is functioning normally. Also, over time, your body learns how to better handle fight or flight and is more resistent to it because you have trained it stay calm and focused when stressors come calling.
Sound and vibrational healing is growing in popularity, and you may be wondering why. Here is a simple explanation…
You are a living energy field. Your body is composed of energy-producing particles, each of which is in constant motion. So, like everything and everyone else in the universe, you are vibrating and creating energy.
Vibrations are a kind of rhythm — and happen on a large scale, like seasonal changes and tidal patterns—as well as within the body, such as heartbeats, breathing rates, and circadian rhythms.
But there are much smaller vibrations happening in your body, too. Inside each one of your cells, molecules vibrate at expected rates.
Researchers study these vibrations in the body using atomic force microscopes, which detect vibrations on the nanoscale, and have found that these vibrations generate electromagnetic energy waves. Researchers have found that vibrations and the electromagnetic energy associated with them cause changes in your cells, which can then affect how your body functions.
How can you access these vibrations? One place is nature—the sound of the wind on a walk, the ocean breaking against the shore or crickets on a warm summer night. Don’t have access to nature, but want the benefits? A sound machine can help you sleep at night. Or, listening to white or brown noise. Search it on whatever listening medium you use. Another way is a sound bath.
Sound Baths use singing bowls made of metal and crystal, rainsticks, and chimes. While listening to the sounds deepens meditation and promotes relaxation, they also affect gentle yet powerful changes to the mind and body. The vibrations from the singing bowls massage every cell in the body. Sound healing brings emotions to the surface, so oftentimes feelings that you are harboring will arise shortly after a session—or it could take up to a day for you to feel this emotional impact.
Interested in trying a Sound Bath? We offer them the first Friday of each month in our studio. Learn More
At our monthly women’s circle this past Sunday, we explored the topic of body positivity. Not an easy topic, but those in attendance all contributed heartily to the discussion, and it was beautiful to hear all these women talk about how they deal with the issues of female body image.
Whether a woman, man, or nonbinary, you have been subjected to body norms set by our fickle society.
While women have traditionally been more of a target, men suffer too, and it isn’t far to acknowledge their struggle.
For example, here is a chart of the male standard of beauty:
While there are differences, it isn’t as drastic as women. One man can conform to each of these standards without surgery or too much effort.
Well, maybe not in the 80s. I’m seeing flashes of Arnold Schwarzenegger—who still fits that mold as he approaches his 76 birthday.
However, woman’s standards that been much more drastic than men’s. Take a look at the chart below.
Unfair, right? Well, enough of this. Let go of the shame. Stop thinking about the parts of your body you want to change.
Why? Because…who cares? Who are you trying to impress? How does it serve you?
Instead, let’s embarrass body positivity. Because we only get one body and one life to live in, stop wasting time on self-judgment, and bring on self-love.
How? Here are a few tools:
Tape love notes to your mirror.
Scrub Social Media Feed — Add Positive Minded People & Groups
Let go of the people that don’t support you and bring in supportive people.
Stop comparing yourself to others. Your body is unique; embrace your uniqueness!
Focus on what you like about yourself.
Accepting that body image distress as normal (You aren’t alone!)
You aren’t alone! I was shocked to learn that I fit into the average American woman. I am 5’5 and 140 pounds. While I know I’m in relatively good shape, I still see flaws in the mirror, more so as I age.
I often reflect on how harsh I was on myself in my 20s. I see pictures and can’t match my hate for my body with the beautiful young woman I was. Hell, typing out beautiful just now felt wrong. I wanted to hit the backspace, but I didn’t. Why? Because I am embracing self-love.
This body gave me 2 beautiful children and has been my constant companion for 44 years. So I am choosing to celebrate it. And you should too!
I’m leaving you with a bit of homework. Take out a piece of paper or open up the notes feature on your phone and answer these questions:
Why am I grateful for my body?
What makes you valuable? (Because you are more than the way you look!)
Hold onto this paper or save the note and come back to it whenever you are being particularly hard on yourself because your body is strong, resilient, and beautiful. The only one you’ll get, so start treating it like your dearest friend—because, at the end of the day, that is what it is.
As our kiddos finish their last days at school before the freedom of summer, our minds start to gravitate to the stressful task of occupying their time without a screen in front of them. Enjoy these fun summer activities with kids.
Nature Scavenger Hunts
Create a list of age-appropriate items for your children to find on a walk. It can be in your neighborhood…
Find a house with green shutters.
Find a fluffy white dog.
Or in a local park ( My favorite is Tyler Park—they have some beautiful, mostly empty trails leading to a covered bridge, dam, and amazing views)…
Find a small animal: bunny, snake, toad, etc.
Find a leaf with four points.
Getting out in nature can be relaxing and invigorating for you both. Don’t let the hot weather keep you inside. Remember to bring plenty of water and choose shady paths on hot days, or get up early and enjoy the cooler mornings.
Story Writing Contest
Want to keep their minds active and explore their creative sides? Have themed story-writing contests! Stories can be a paragraph for the smaller kiddos and a page for the older ones. Make the prize something fun, a special treat, to motivate them.
For example, the theme could be scary stories. Have everyone read them around a fire while roasting marshmallows. Fire not an option? —get flashlights and sit in a dark living room to set the mood.
The winner gets to choose the film for the next movie night. Or, even better, have an outdoor movie night with a sheet and a projector (Amazon has some reasonable options.)
Rock Painting is a calming yet creative activity. As an added bonus, you can leave them in a place to motivate others and make your fun activity a source of random kindness.
While on your nature hike, collect rocks or have the kids search for them in your backyard. You can also buy them at arts and crafts stores. They even sell kits!
I buy Sharpie paint markers. They work great and allow you to add more detail. Don’t forget the finishing spray if you leave it out in the elements.
Impromptu Dance Party
It is important to be silly and have fun with our kids. We spend so much time shaping them to be mature adults, but you also need to show them that being an adult isn’t all serious. Sometimes we need to show ourselves this as well.
Choose a fun theme appropriate for the age of your child…
Under the Sea
Create a fun soundtrack and invite the kids to dress up. Then, dance like no one is watching and have fun! Feel the stress melt away and the silliness bubble up.
I know this isn’t an Olympics year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring the spirit of the Olympics into your home for the day or maybe even two weeks.
We did it last year and had such a blast. Have everyone choose a country to represent.
Fun educational activity—help them learn facts about their country to share with the family during the opening ceremony.
Yes, have an opening ceremony! Make a torch out of tissue and construction paper, a sign with the Olympics rings, and metals (see the picture below). Pull out the glitter, glue, and creativity, and have fun with it. Afterward, play that iconic music and get those steps in processing through the yard, house, or both passing the torch.
Next, figure out events. Here are some ideas:
“Ice” Dancing – obviously, there’s no ice…but pretend there is! Encourage your kids to choose a song and choreograph their dance. Wearing socks gives the same effect as skates on the kitchen or a hardwood floor.
Curling – They sell sets online, but you can create your own with tape, a broom, a stick, and a hockey puck.
Speed Skating – set up a course inside the house, make it windy and fun, then put on your socks and slide through the course like ice skates. Make sure to time it! The fastest skater wins.
Diving/ swimming – (for those with a pool), video it for instant replay for the judges!
Shooting – Use Nerf guns and set up targets.
Basketball – Who said PIG couldn’t be an Olympic game?
Truly, the options are endless. Feel free to create your own events. They don’t have to be Olympic-related. You can play frisbee, have an egg toss, play corn hole, or whatever fun family activities you like.
Now get out there and enjoy these fun summer activities with kids. You will look back on the memories you made fondly!
Beauty and passion are not love. Love is a choice. We can only love people if we unconditionally accept them, warts and all. Let’s discuss the importance of letting in unconditional love.
The idea of unconditional love can be a hard statement to swallow. I know, I have struggled with it since puberty.
Take a moment and evaluate why you love your significant other. Or what you want in a significant other if you are still searching for “the one.”
Go past the physical…go deeper.
Seriously, beauty changes. For example, when I was in high school, Kate Moss was the ideal of feminine beauty. Today, it’s Chloe Kardashian. These two women couldn’t be more different! Why should I hold myself or my partner up to these standards?
Ask yourself, what are the qualities you value in a partner?
Wait, don’t make it about fulfilling your needs. You are the only person that can complete you! (Ignore all those unrealistic Hollywood standards! You are smarter than that!)
In the past, I often jokingly said, “I would never divorce my husband because I trained him, so why would I let another woman benefit from my hard work?”
This thinking is insulting to my husband and myself. He isn’t a dog. I don’t need to improve him. I need to unconditionally accept him for who he is…no limitations, no standards—just acceptance.
Sounds easy, right? It’s not. But I put the effort in every single day.
William Shakespeare helped me with this. My favorite love poem is Sonnet 130. I’ll share it with you now. I added the emphasis.
My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun;
Coral is far more red than her lips’ red;
If snow be white, why then her breasts are dun;
If hairs be wires, black wires grow on her head.
I have seen roses damasked, red and white,
But no such roses see I in her cheeks;
And in some perfumes is there more delight
Than in the breath that from my mistress reeks.
I love to hear her speak, yet well I know
That music hath a far more pleasing sound;
I grant I never saw a goddess go;
My mistress, when she walks, treads on the ground.
And yet, by heaven, I think my love as rare
As any she belied with false compare.
Ok, once you get past the ol’ timey language and listen to what he is saying, the message is beautiful.
He loves her because she isn’t perfect. He loves her because of her flaws. He knows she’ll age, as beauty always does, and he doesn’t care…why?
Because love is unconditional. It always has been that way; we just forget in this modern world.
So finally, make that list of what you value in your partner and love unconditionally.
I was having a conversation with my 11-year-old the other day about a movie we had just seen, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.
No spoilers, I promise!
To stage the scene, there is a bad guy that is trying to create the “perfect species.” There is a lot of cruelty and murder along the way. That’s where I’ll leave the movie analogy.
My son said, “Why was that guy so obsessed with perfection? What is perfect anyway?”
I got really excited and put on my teacher’s hat, and said, “Wow! That is a great question.”
And here is, in a nutshell, what I told him…
What may be perfect to you won’t be perfect to me or anyone else.
For example, you love the color purple. So you may see a shirt that is the perfect shade of purple and think, “This is the perfect shirt!”
However, Daddy doesn’t like the color purple, so he won’t think that shirt is perfect. The blue one will seem perfect to him, and yellow for me, and so on.
Rather than striving for perfection, you should strive to be “good enough.” Put in your best effort, and that, for you, is perfection.
He smiled and ran off to play, but I kept thinking about this idea of perfection. I remember all the times in my past, I thought, I’ll never be good enough. Or why bother? It’ll never be perfect.
Somewhere along the way, whether in childhood, our tumultuous teens year, or adulthood, we are bought into the idea that we aren’t good enough, so we decide to try and become perfect, which is an endless, tireless pursuit.
Because, again, your ideal of perfection is different than the person you are trying to impress. Think back to your teenage years. How many times did you change your look to attract someone you liked? Then when they didn’t think you were ‘perfect,’ it was devasting. Why? Because a boy or a girl didn’t find us attractive enough? Smart enough? Athletic enough?
“We learn our belief systems as very little children, and then we move through life creating experiences to match our beliefs. Look back in your own life and notice how often you have gone through the same experience.” – Louise L. Hay.
It’s never too late to change this perception because…guess what?
YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH.
Repeat it to yourself a few times right now.
Now, take some time to reflect and consider how this limiting belief, ‘I’m not good enough,’ affects your life. Get out a notebook and answer honestly.
In what ways do you recognize this belief in your own life?
How has your life been affected as a result of carrying this negative limiting belief? What results have you got?
As we begin to think differently and take ownership of new ideas, we can change the way we think, change the way we interpret the past, and change and modify our expectations of the future.
If we’re bold enough to accept the fact that who we are as individuals is ‘good enough’ – not perfect – but ‘good enough’, then this sets us free for the rest of our lives.
We no longer have to strive for perfection and can simply commit to a journey of self-improvement, where we work on being a better version of ourselves today than we were yesterday.
Every time you start to think, “I’m not perfect or good enough,” stop yourself in your tracks and say proudly, “I am enough.”