Archive for Mindfulness

Stress, Wonder and Wisdom – Igniting Health in Healthcare Professionals

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Sadly, health care sometimes seems like anything but…especially for the professionals working within the healthcare industry.  Hours are long, stress is high, burnout comes easy, and it’s common for caregivers to give all their energy to those they care for, leaving little or no energy for their own self care.  Something needs to change, and the change must come from within.

Stress in healthcare is taking its toll on the industry from the inside out.  It’s been nearly forty years since the first studies were produced linking stress to illness and disease.  Still today, it is estimated that nearly 80% of illness and disease can be attributed to the effects on our physical, emotional, and mental well-being.  How are you managing your stress? Who better to lead the way to better health than healthcare professionals themselves?  I propose that we as healthcare professionals take “walking our talk” a little more seriously, and become the change we want to see in healthcare.  Nothing is going to change unless you change.

Just like disease, health can be contagious too-in families, among work peers and in social circles.  Becoming and staying strong and resilient to illness and disease is your best opportunity to enjoy and long quality life.  Whole health and happiness – physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually – simply requires the desire and commitment to placing value on your quality of life. Why is it that we can effortlessly make deposits into our financial retirement account, but often ignore the need to make deposits into our “well-being” account so we can enjoy the fruits of our labor with ample vitality and energy?   Only you can choose to make your life a journey of happiness and discovery vs. illness and despair.  That’s what wisdom is all about.

“Wisdom begins in wonder”   -Socrates

I love this “wise” statement.  It is so true.  The more you wonder, the more you learn. The more you experience, the more you know, and the more your wisdom grows.  This expansive state of wonder is as applicable to our SELF as it is to exploring our world.

What if you approached learning about decreasing your stress and improving your well-being with a sense of innocence, openness, receptiveness, discovery and knowing?  What if your
well-being came from starting in wonder?

Try it over the next few weeks.  Begin by wondering…  “What would I feel like and learn if…”

  • I paused throughout each day to observe my breath and slow down?
  • I took regular stretch breaks during the day?
  • I ate only vegetables one day this week?
  • I gave up soda pop this month?
  • I invited someone I don’t know very well to lunch one day?
  • I scheduled meaningful time with a special friend or family member?
  • I gave up watching TV for the week or month?
  • I kept a regular bedtime/wake time schedule and got 8 hours of sleep each night?
  • I planned ahead and brought a healthy lunch every day this week?
  • I took 10 minutes each day to sit in stillness and meditate?
  • I made it a point to show appreciation for a co-worker each day?
  • I took time to reflect and write down what it is I really want in life?
  • I took time to cook a new vegetable or recipe?
  • I took the time to be fully present with my kids or spouse and really listen to them?
  • I finally tried a yoga class or that yoga DVD at home?
  • I got out and took a walk each day?

 What do you wonder about, but have yet to try?  Why not now?

True happiness and well-being can only come from within.  There is no job, raise, praise, big house, child or grandchild, number of friends, or perfect outfit that can make you truly happy. Caring for your SELF and the resultant sense of well-being leads to more wanting and desiring what is good for you– which will continue to expand your well-being.  This is “right action” – action that is good for you, good for those you love, care for and serve, and good for the world.  What could be better?

The Assault of Excess – Reset Your Senses

The Assault of Excess - Reset Your Senses

Nature’s Course Runs Deep

Bear with me here. I am feeling compelled to share yet another “body message” with some meaningful analogies personal growth and transformation. It all started with slippery steps and a fall. I landed hard on my upper right thigh with a bruise the size of a cantaloupe! (I have pretty large thighs!) Anyway,  as I have observed the healing process, I notice that my skin color is returning to normal or balance from the inside- out, to where now I just have a discolored ring around the “landing area”.
So I realized that this relates to the process of integrative wellness. In other words, “quick fixes” for discomfort -physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually- are like putting a band aid on the surface without allowing the deeper, inside-out healing to occur. It’s so easy to grab onto fad diets, energy drinks, busy-ness, withdrawal, alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, and collecting stuff for the quick “feel better” affect rather than increasing awareness and working with the long lasting tools of a lifetime. Transformation starts deep – with meaningful choices and changes- one at a time. And yes, nature once again shows us how to return to balance…from the inside- out, lasting for the long haul.
The key is to know who you are, what you want, what you need, and what is true for you. Then go after it! This is where I have found the help of a coach or mentor paramount. Someone to guide and support you in ways that matter to you. That’s how long lasting lifestyle transformation occurs.

How does stress or “wake up calls” show up in your life?

DOWNLOAD THIS QUICK STRESS NATURE ASSESSMENT

to begin your process of “inside-out” change and healing.

Get off of “Auto-Pilot”

Get off of Auto-Pilot

Expansive Moves: Creating Space in the Body

Perform each movement until you feel a gentle sensation of stretch. Stay focused on the sensation and your breath.  Never move into pain.  Listen to your body and appreciate the feelings of expansion and balance.

Modified “Down Dog”: Stand behind chair with feet hip distance apart and hands on back of chair. Walk back until arms are straight. Keeping legs straight, lower the chest and reach back with the tail bone until the body forms an inverted “L” position. Hold this position for 4-5 complete breaths. Slowly return to standing position by walking forward and moving body upright. ModDownDogp125

Sitting Spine Stretch: Sit on edge of chair with feet positioned slightly wider than hips. Place hands on thighs. Sit tall as if a string was pulling the crown of the head toward the ceiling. INHALE, look up and arch the back, opening the front of the body. EXHALE, lower the head, drawing the belly button in and round the spine into a “C” shape opening the back of the body. Repeat 4-5 times.
(Breath pattern may be safely reversed on this exercise for different sensation)

Exhale, look at your belly button while rounding shoulders and spine.

Exhale, look at your belly button while rounding shoulders and spine.

Inhale, look up, squeeze shoulder blades together and arch back

Inhale, look up, squeeze shoulder blades together and arch back

 

Seated Twist: Sit on edge of chair with spine straight. Cross left leg over the right. Place right hand on the outside of the left thigh and left hand behind on the seat of the chair. Pull up through the crown of the head and turn the head and shoulders to the left to look over the left shoulder. Hold this position for 3-4 complete breaths. Repeat on the other side.SeatedTwistp127

Arm and Chest Stretch: Sit on edge of chair, spine straight. Interlace the fingers. Straighten and reach arms forward while turning the palms away. HOLD for 2-3 breaths. Keeping fingers interlaced reach the arms overhead with palms facing the ceiling. Drop the shoulders away from the ears. HOLD for 2-3 complete breaths.

ArmChestStrp128

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Solar Plexus Chakra: Strengthen Your Core Muscles

The Solar Plexus Chakra is located mid-belly and back and can be energized and balanced through strength and flexibility of the core muscles.
The Solar Plexus Chakra is located mid-belly and back and can be energized and balanced through strength and flexibility of the core muscles.

Strengthening your core muscles is a great way to let your body lead you into feeling stronger and more confident as you discover and share your unique gifts and talents with the world.  Additionally, your posture will improve, and you will feel better!

Here are a few simple exercises to bring strength and energy to your solar plexus and core muscle groups.  Go for sensation, not pain.  For most of these, engage your core by drawing your belly button toward your spine.

And remember to BREATHE!

Inhale, look up, squeeze shoulder blades together and arch back

Inhale, look up, squeeze shoulder blades together and arch back

Exhale, look at your belly button while rounding shoulders and spine.

Exhale, look at your belly button while rounding shoulders and spine.

 

Sit with buttocks on edge of chair, bend forward knee 90 degrees, straighten back leg while supporting on ball of the foot. Elongate spine and reach arms next to ears. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

Sit with buttocks on edge of chair, bend forward knee 90 degrees, straighten back leg while supporting on ball of the foot. Elongate spine and reach arms next to ears. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

Start on hands and knees. Lift and reach with right leg and left arm. Hold for 2-3 breaths and repeat with left leg and right arm.

Start on hands and knees. Lift and reach with right leg and left arm while keeping spine straight and belly button pulled toward spine. Hold for 2-3 breaths and repeat with left leg and right arm.

Lift both feet, keeping knees bent, belly button to base of spine and back straight. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

Lift both feet, keeping knees bent, belly button to base of spine and back straight. Hold for 2-3 breaths.

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean back with back straight and belly button drawn in. Reach to outside of thighs with hands and hold for 2-3 breaths.

Sit on the floor with knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Slowly lean back with back straight and belly button drawn in. Reach to outside of thighs with hands and hold for 2-3 breaths.

Food as Fuel – Breath for Balance

There are many ways to increase and manage your energy level.  Two of the basic everyday tools are

 Food and Breath.

The quality of what you take in pays huge dividends in the quality of your mental and physical energy and the energy you can effective share with the world.

Remember to consciously breathe deeply throughout the day. This helps keep your body and mind oxygenated and energized.  Pay attention to times when you may be holding your breath while focusing or concentrating.  If you catch yourself doing this, pause, and take a couple of deep breaths.

Balance your intake of complex carbohydrates and protein.  We need both types of food for a clear mind and an energized body.  During cold weather we often reach for the comfort foods high in simple carbohydrates and fats.  Choose instead complex carbohydrates and combine with lean protein for the best fuel for mind and body.

Carbohydrates stimulate the release of seratonin which produces feelings of calm and peace.  Choose complex carbohydrates of whole fruits, vegetables, beans, brown rice, and whole grains.

Proteins stimulate production of the neurotransmitter dopamine which helps with mental focus and concentration.  High protein foods also help you feel full. Protein is the only nutrient that can build, maintain, and repair our cells. Choose from fish, poultry, lean meat, eggs, low fat milk, yogurt, cottage cheese, peas, beans, lentils, nuts quinoa, seeds, soy milk, and tofu.

Remember, the better the energy that goes in, the better the energy that goes out.  You feel better and your everyday experience is better!

Watch the video below if you want to learn the healthy way to breathe.

Can You Remember Your SELF – Healthy?

aosh-book-cover-200x265I haven’t always been one to practice and promote healthy living.  My awakening to the consequences of my everyday choices ­ – what I ate, how I moved my body, what I thought, how I emoted, how I related to others, and how I connected with the greater force surrounding me-  came gradually.  As I have awakened, I have become even more aware of my ongoing need for self-love and self-attention.  And I must remember to give attention to my well-being everyday.

My book, The Art of Self-Health, Creating Total Well-Being from the Inside Out, was written for anyone, in any stage of awakening to their personal role and responsibility to Self-Health.  It was written for anyone interested in creating a long, resilient life for themselves that is full of energy, joy, personal effectiveness and meaning.  Can you remember your self healthy?

In the book, I share what I know and what I have and continue to practice everyday for the past several years. The course of my life has not been much different than any other person’s course of life.   I too, have been in process of seeking a fulfilling career, raising children, getting caught up thinking more stuff and more activity was going to fulfill me, meeting the needs of employers, spouse, kids, community, and school demands.  Not to mention the underlying stress of an ever-changing world, economic environment and family structure.  Until a few years ago, attention to my self and my well-being did not exist on any regular basis.  For me it took a series of big changes and loss (down-sized from my corporate job, end of my 20-year marriage, loss of my business, sudden disability of my partner, sudden death of my daughter, and my personal diagnosis of breast cancer) to really pay attention to me and my life choices.  The shifts and changes in my self-health have taken years to unfold and take hold, yet the more practice and experience I have of feeling good, the easier it is to make the choices that support my self-health everyday and to be more resilient in the face of uncertainty and changes in life.

I know the practices presented in this book work, because I use them.  I know that we are all different and have different desires, goals and intentions for greater well-being.  I know that the combination of practices that work for me, may not work for you.  That is where choice comes into play.  There are no hard and fast rules for greater well-being and there are many approaches and choices.  The key is to start somewhere.  Pay attention. Take a step and try something new that you know is good for you. I know that today, I have more energy, focus, meaningful relationships, trust in divine guidance and support, and enjoyment everyday than I have had since I was very young.  I know that this state of body, mind and spirit is what I will continue to remember…and come back to, because it feels so good!

If you are ready to remember, let me accompany you on your journey.  The tools and guidance at hand are immense – from the ancient wisdom of the turtle to the bridge between the body’s seven energy centers and seven dimensions of well-being.  Awaken and remember your SELF.  Start where you are, take responsibility for your choices, and let your best self-health unfold!

To Your Health!

Much love,

Carol