Setting The Stage For A Great Day

Setting The Stage For A Great Day

The Power Of Bookending Your Days

The number one complaint I hear from women when it comes to taking care of themselves is that there just isn’t enough time. Of course, we have the best of intentions but once the day starts to unfold, taking care of ourselves just gets lost in the shuffle. Well, there’s a solution for that!  

I think we would all agree that typically we have a greater ability to “control” the earlier and later parts of our day, our am & pm routines. The middle of the day not as much, where people and things we didn’t anticipate come into play. Of course, there are no absolutes but generally speaking we have a heck of a better chance at determining how we want our mornings and evenings to go. Darren Hardy, motivational speaker and author of The Compound Effect refers to this as optimizing the bookends of our days.

Ideally, I like to use my mornings to exercise but of course there are days my schedule or body is asking for something else. Regardless, whether it’s an hour or 15 minutes, my morning routine hands down includes some form of rejuvenating self-care practice. Most recently, I’ve incorporated a game changing habit called the Three-Minute Morning Mindfulness practice, introduced to me by Pilar Gerasimo author of the Healthy Deviant: A Rule Breaker’s Guide to Being Healthy in an Unhealthy World. The idea behind it is to start your day on your own terms rather than exposing your mind to stressful, distracting thoughts and outside forces. 

You chose any feel good activity-stretching, meditation/breath exercises, petting your dog, journaling, stepping outside to listen to the birds, or even finding a favorite spot where you can just look out the window and enjoy having a cup of tea/coffee for at least 3 minutes or longer-as long as you find whatever your doing rewarding and doable.

One caveat though, before and during the Morning Minutes practice, they’ll be no checking into your phone first , or TV, or any other sensory distractions or stressors. Emailing, texts, social media, or news will have to wait. The the whole point of this exercise, is to gradually & peacefully give our body and mind a chance to establish an early state of mindfulness and wellbeing, making it easier to retain and reclaim throughout the day. Part of the morning minutes practice uses the last few moments to set intentions for the day and then visualize how you want it to go or to reflect on the things you are most grateful for. Then close the practice with three deep, energizing breaths before moving on to the active part of your day. You’ll be surprised how just taking 3 minutes to yourself without exposing your mind to any external stressors upon awakening, will markedly make a difference how the rest of your day unfolds. 

But keep in mind if we want to fall into supportive morning routines, it all starts the night before with a good nights sleep. Evenings are the perfect time to hone in on some self-care practices, to decompress, quiet our minds and prepare our bodies for restorative sleep. Of course that looks different for everybody but research supports shutting down our phones and electronics is key to reducing the blue light stimulation that interferes with restorative sleep.  All the more the reason to get off our devices and use our pm hours towards self-care practices. (i.e. journaling, reading, meditating, taking a bath, connecting with those near & dear, etc…).

As bookends are used to support a row of books from collapsing, your am and pm routines can have the same capacity to ensure a great day ahead. Use this more “controllable” part of the day to set yourself up for greater success and wellbeing, try optimizing the bookends of your day!

Wishing You The Best Of Success

-Holly-

 

The Struggle Is Real

The Struggle Is Real

Feeling Depleted? 

Hell yeah! We have been operating under some pretty heavy energy lately. Now, almost 8 months into a global pandemic where the “new normal” is indefinite uncertainty, we are no longer in an emergency phase but rather living in a chronic state of heightened stress. Of course we’re feeling depleted, much of what grounded us no longer exists, we are grieving multiple loses while still managing the ongoing impact all of this is having on every single aspect of our lives.

So how do we adjust to this ever-changing situation where so many of our systems aren’t working as they normally do, creating radical shifts in our work, school, and home life? Unfortunately, there is no handbook on this one, nothing in history comes close to its impact.  Sure there have been horrific events in history showing how very resilient we humans are but 2020 is an unprecedented disaster. It’s unique, magnified with 24-7  news coverage and intense political division in our country, complicating a unified approach on how to best navigate this unchartered path.

As a women’s leadership coach, naturally I’m asked for advice and suggestions on how to ease the angst we are all experiencing. I wish I had a direct answer but the truth is I’m just figuring it out myself. Of course, there are some sure fire ways to combat worry, lessen anxiety, face our fears but in this instance if I had to specifically hone in on where to focus our attention it would primarily be on our self-care and sincere acceptance of our reality. Rather then putting on a brave face, I think it would serve us all better to embrace how “shaky” we truly are feeling, allowing us to support ourselves in a way that is more constructive instead of exhausting our energy on trying to avoid the uncomfortability that surrounds us right now. While in addition seeking activities, new and old, that fill us up…practicing extreme self-care (sleep, nutrition, exercise, meditation, gratitude, and connection) and self love & compassion. I believe there is a way to simultaneously attend to our grief while also move forward proactively, gaining a greater appreciation of life and surpassing our capabilities that were present before this crisis hit us all.

My advice…resist the urge to suck it up, the struggle is real! Put YOUR oxygen mask on first so you can go the distance and still be of service to others.

Wishing You The Best Of Success

-Holly- 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s Start Kicking Some Corona Virus Ass

Let’s Start Kicking Some Corona Virus Ass

We’re In This Together!

Ok ladies, we are well into this “Corona Virus Pause”, by now most of us have fully transitioned into our new remote living reality. This ain’t no joke, we gotta pull out the big guns and dig deep to start impressing the hell out of ourselves. Pretty much everything that organized our days has changed. There’s already too much out of our control but the truth is it’s not going to last forever. It’s time to start reinventing the wheel. I see we have two choices here- step into our greater power or throw in the towel. How awesome would it be to take this crazy Corona pandemic and use it to our advantage- learning more about ourselves becoming stronger and more resilient then ever? 

Honoring that everyone processes things differently and what serves each person best will vary, I’m taking this month’s blog post to inspire some positive action just to get going on figuring out how we can support ourselves in ways that fuel us, rather than drain, by suggesting taking daily positive action from the below 4 different aspects of our life to earn a minimum of 10 points per day. Here’s the thing though, you must gather at least 2 points in each area. To bring about sustainable wellbeing we need to build our overall resilience by attending to our whole self; body, mind, heart, and spirit. Although focusing on any one of these variables singularly will make a difference, attending to all 4 you will thrive.

“Corona Virus Pause” Challenge

Earn a minimum of 10pts per day with at least 2pts earned from each category

Relationships
Examples: connect with family & friends via phone, facetime, zoom (get creative host a zoom cocktail hour/book club), spend quality time with those living in your home (game/movie night, manicures with daughter, walks with son, etc), date night with significant other (even if that has to be virtually), participate in live interactive webinars, write a letter/send a card to someone near and dear to you, contribute to your community (donate to organizations in need, buy gift certificates from local business’ websites), surprise someone you lost touch with with a “how are you doing text”, etc.

Health
Examples: practice social distancing, exercise in any shape or form (it’s just about moving your body), eat nourishing food (no cookies & crap for one full day), stay hydrated (with water!), take vitamins/supplements, attend to any chronic or temporary illnesses/injuries, encourage a good night sleep,  etc…

Self-Care/Fun & Enjoyment
Examples: journaling, reading fiction for fun, watch a funny show, take a bath, dance, give yourself a manicure/facial, listen to your favorite podcast, meditate, play with your pet, go for a walk/drive alone should you need some space, set new boundaries with kids/spouse so you can have uninterrupted work time, go to bed without your phone, etc..

Personal DevelopmentExamples: knock off any work related project/tasks from your to do list, listen to educational podcasts, participate in on-line educational webinars, learn a new skill, read books/articles that enrich your knowledge & wellbeing, clean out your inbox, organize your space etc…

For those who may feel 10 points may be a lot to aim for, realize you can knock off two points in one action, like taking a walk alone qualifies for both a health point and self care or going with your spouse or child would be relationship building as well as health. Try to be creative, definitely time to start thinking out of the box. Also you’ll be surprised how once you just do one proactive action it improves your mood and then desire to do more. This challenge is not meant to be stressful, that’s the last thing I want to create for anyone. If you’re experiencing something very difficult right now, a recent loss, sick, need more time to process this significant disruption in our lives maybe this is something you can return to when the time is right. This blog post comes from a place of love & support, simply just some food for thought and hopefully inspiration.

We may be down but we are not out! Yes, we are going to have our good days and bad days, hell that might be reduced to hours and there will be moments you’ll see the best of yourself as well as the worst but remember this, there WILL be a vaccine. This WILL end. There are challenges ahead but humans are resilient and positivity is contagious too!

Wishing You Always The Best Of Success

-Holly-

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prescription For Self-Love

Prescription For Self-Love

Selfulness

The evidence is clear, research supports our social relationships are the most powerful predictor of happiness. Whether you consider yourself an extrovert or an introvert, there’s tons of evidence supporting that the common thread amongst “happy” people is that they all have broad social networks and positive relationships with those people in their networks. And to be clear here, we’re not talking about quantity but rather the quality of our social relationships in all areas of our life; work, community, personal, intimate and moreover with ourselves. As without love of self there is no basis to start from, self-love is the pre-condition to loving others. Understandably though for some, the act of practicing self-love can feel initially uncomfortable, and overly self-indulgent but self-love is not to be confused with self-centeredness. Rather self-love is more about thinking about the “me” so that you can build a strong “we”.

I was recently introduced to the word “selfulness”. As you can see it’s a play on words, it’s definition in the urban dictionary is used to describe a person that creates a balance between caring for themselves along with others. With contemporary western culture often plagued by the schism between love of self (egoism or selfishness) and love of others (altruistic or selflessness), the word selfulness I think is a great way to capture a way of being where we extend how we relate to ourselves towards others as well. It makes a lot of sense if you think about it, how can we have loving, positive relationships with others if we don’t practice a healthy relationship with ourselves? A great analogy for this is when we hear the infamous instructions of flight attendants reminding us to first put on our oxygen mask before helping others in case of an emergency landing. Why is this an important rule for ensuring everyone’s survival? Because if you run out of oxygen, you can’t help anyone else with their oxygen mask. This is a perfect metaphor to consider especially for women as we are notoriously known to put our self-care and needs on the back burner.

Learning to love oneself is a key ingredient to greater happiness. Self-love is at the very core of well-being, joy and empowerment. If we don’t care for ourselves we limit our success in all aspects of our lives; experiencing burnout, fatigue, reduced mental effectiveness, health problems, anxiety, stress, and heightened frustration. It’s time to let go of the guilt and the excuses, put your oxygen mask on first and start practicing a little more self-love in your life.

 SELF-LOVE PRACTICES

 #1 Recognize Your Own Good Qualities– Many of us have the tendency to focus on what it is that we aren’t enough of. Defaulting to negative self-talk is one of the least loving things you can do for yourself. So today, right now, take a few minutes to make a list of all the things you like about yourself. Think of physical attributes, mental or emotional strengths, successes you’ve experienced, the way you support your friends and family, or anything else. Make your list as long as possible, and keep adding to it. Go to people you trust and ask them what they’d list as your positive characteristics. You may be surprised to find out that people see a lot more of your strengths than you realize.

#2 Treat Yourself With The Same Level Of Kindness & Respect You Do For Others You Love- You know how you treat someone you really care about, the way you love  and support that person and treat him or her with kindness and respect? Well, do that for yourself and just as you’d challenge a close friend who’s making bad decisions with his or her life, challenge yourself as well. Remind yourself just as you would a good friend of your worth as an individual and that you deserve great things in your life. Resist the tendency for settling for less, encourage yourself as you would someone you love to challenge yourself to achieve the best life possible.

#3 Give Attention To Your Needs And Desires– This may sound a bit silly, but some people really don’t know what they want and need. They can go through their entire adult lives never stopping to self-assess and check in with how they are truly doing. One of the best ways to love yourself is to carve out some time weekly to answer honestly how you are feeling physically, emotionally and spiritually. Some great questions to consider: 

  • Do you feel significant/loved/respected?
  • Are you allowing companionship to lift and enlighten your life?
  • Do you feel in control of how you react to situations in your life?
  • Are you treating your body well (i.e. sleep, diet, exercise, necessary doc apps, stress management)?
  • Do you feel a sense of inner-peace and calmness?
  • Do you have a sense of purpose and appreciation for your place in this world?

Now take it one step further and ask yourself, how can you, at this very moment, take better care of yourself, so that you have more to give instead of less?  Remember self-love may start with the “me” but it ends with a “we”. In the spirit of Valentines Day, a holiday many of us designate as time to express love to those near and dear to us, I’m going to ask you do the same for yourself!

 Happy Valentines Day Everyone!

-Holly-

 

Anxious?

Anxious?

The Elephant In The Room

Believe it or not there’s nothing wrong with you. Anxiety affects tens of millions of people world wide, though we don’t talk about it, many of us grapple daily with intrusive thoughts and worries — sometimes to a disabling degree. Quite frankly, it’s a very normal response to unprecedented times where the bombardment of email, social media, and onslaught of constant world news is now the norm. We never get an opportunity to shut down or recover, unless we consciously take steps to do so. There is only so much the human mind and body can process and wrap ourselves around. In this month’s blog post, I’m inviting you to consider the role anxiety may be playing in your own life, and options you have for making it better. 

After close to 20 years in the helping profession, as therapist and now women’s leadership coach, the one thing I have come to learn for sure is that there is no one silver bullet or magic pill out there that serves as a cure-all. Just as there is no one thing that causes us anxiety, we need to consider a number of practical shifts we can make daily that will help to build our own collection of anti-anxiety strategies. From simple self-calming techniques to fundamental lifestyle and perspective shifts, I will offer suggestions on a wide-range of anti-anxiety tactics that are now out there and proven to be making a huge difference in the quality of people’s lives.

Combatting Anxiety One Step At Time

*Please note-anti-anxiety tactics are not numbered in any intentional order to follow 

#1: Nutrition– The relationship between food, mood, and anxiety is garnering more and more attention. There is a growing body of evidence and research explaining how anxiety can be triggered by inadequate nutrition. Here, I share a great article found in Experience Life Magazine titled ANTI-ANXIETY EATINGIt gives you the skinny and the scoop along with four key nutritional strategies that support a calmer state of mind. It’s a great place to start understanding how our eating habits can be vital in keeping anxiety at bay. 

#2: Sleep– Sleep plays an essential role in regulating our emotions, behavior, and physiology. Experts agree that 7-9 hours of sleep are necessary for optimal health and wellbeing. However, as many as 40% of adults are sleep deprived, or regularly getting less than 6 hours a sleep a night. As someone who has struggled with quality sleep issues herself, this has become a number one priority for me to master as I know the toll it has taken on my mind and body.  After much personal research, I have come up with an arsenal of sleep strategies ranging from deep breathing exercises, pre-bed-time rituals, understanding the effects of caffeine and alcohol on my system, along with tips for dealing with sleep interruptions and falling back to sleep. Here, I share a great podcast found on The Living Experiment “SLEEP” episode. Well worth carving out some time to listen to, it covers all you need to know.

#3: Exercise– Nothing surprising here, physical activity as we all know is a key factor when it comes to fighting off anxiety. From the obvious of  creating a venue to release pent up emotions as well as distracting us from daily stressors-as it’s really hard to exert ourselves physically and ruminate on negative thoughts. But there is also a real science (“EFFECTS OF EXERCISE AND PHYSICAL ACTIVITY ON ANXIETY” by Elizabeth Anderson and Geetha Shivakumar) behind how exercise reduces stress hormones and stimulates productions of endorphins which together help foster a calmer state of mind. 

#4: Social Connections– Meaningful relationships and physical interaction with others is a critical factor in helping to mitigate anxiety. People need people, whether you consider yourself an introvert or extrovert, having the support of others tells our brain that we are safe, loved, and accepted. It’s not about the quantity of relationships but rather quality and most importantly physical proximity. Do not mistake likes on your social media page to go the distance. Or texts to qualify for meaningful conversations. Carve out time on your calendar to be with those who lift you up, make you laugh and support the best version of yourself. 

#5: Digital Diet– Unplugging from the digital world is a great way to reduce the stress that being “on” all the time brings into our lives. Start powering down, limit the number of emails or texts that you send. Pick up the phone and have an actual conversation with someone or better yet go with face to face contact. Turn off your alerts from time to time, put your phone on silence mode, and only check into all correspondence or social media during specifically set times of your day for only a set amount of time each day. Create boundaries…technology isn’t going to slow down, it’s only going to become more consuming.

#6: Spend time Outdoors– Research indicates that getting out into nature reduces anxiety by increasing the activity of the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for digestion and rest; part of its activity involves slowing the heart rate. When the parasympathetic nervous system is active, physical side effects of anxietydecrease and subjective feelings of peace and relaxation increase. It doesn’t have to be a big grand gesture like a hike in the mountains, simply just stepping outside, breathing in the fresh air, feeling the sun or wind on your face, and focusing your attention on the sights sounds, and smells around you can be enough to make a difference. But of course, the more you make a point to get outside the greater the benefits you will reap.

#7: Medication– As a former therapist I understand that everyone has different levels, types, and ways their body experiences anxiety. In some instances, when anxiety becomes so debilitating that putting into practice any of the above tactics becomes far reaching, medication may be a consideration. This is when it is time to consult with your doctor or a mental health practitioner. But with the understanding that anxiety is not like an infection that can be cured with medication. As it only helps to dull anxiety, acting as a bridge to access life long coping skills that when practiced daily can truly eradicate anxiety.

The reality is, life is challenging. There is no sugar coating that but I know despite how hectic, stressful, and complicated life can get, every woman with the right “tools” and self-knowledge can live a life with greater ease and success!

Wishing You Always The Best Of Success

-Holly-