Just Live Mindfully

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Author: jennmullenhc (page 1 of 8)

Holiday Stress

We’re in the midst of the holidays and I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to feel it.  What am I talking about? Stress.  Anxiety.  Pressure.  It happens for a lot of us during the holidays.

Whether you celebrate Hanukkah or Christmas, you might be feeling it too.  As we get closer to the end of the year, there are more parties to go to, celebrations with family and friends, shopping for the perfect gift and the cooking.  Oh, the food.  Everything seems to be more decadent during the holidays, doesn’t it?  So how do we get through it?  We all have our ways, but I thought it might help to share some of the ways I get through it.

My first step is to Schedule your Time.  When you schedule your time, you can look ahead and see what events or activities you have coming.  Scheduling also helps you to avoid overbooking yourself.  For me, I try to do only one or two things on each weekend day.  By doing this, I still have time for me and things around my house, like cleaning, laundry and food prep.  I use a few different means to keep my schedule.  At home and for work, I use the Day Designer.  It’s an old school way of keeping your schedule withe pen and paper, but I love this planner because it now only gives me a month view and a daily view, but it also gives me space to write a daily gratitude.  I also use my iPhone calendar so I have everything at my finger tips.  Try a few different ways and find a method that’s right for you.

My second tip is to Create a Habit.  I’m not talking about just any habit, but a habit that will help you stay in check this holiday season.  It can be anything you desire, but try to find something that will help you maintain calm and keep a balance.  For me, Monday through Friday, I take about 10 minutes to practice a guided meditation.  I practice this as soon as I sit on the train to go to work.  It helps me focus and get in the right mindset for the day.  Another habit that I’ve created to help me stay in my own version of normal is to make sure I hit at least 4 workouts a week.  Exercise keeps me healthy and helps me balance out all the extra calories that might hit my plate during the holiday parties.  I keep it short so I’m not spending a ton of time, but I’m getting in something good for my body.  What a simple habit you can create today?

The last tip I have to give you is about something I carry with me.  Have you ever heard about the power of crystals?  I carry or wear crystals with me almost every day and each crystal or stone I have has a different power. Carrying Crystals with you is something you can do without too many people knowing, if you’re worried about questions, and an easy practice to put in play.  One of my favorite stones to carry is quartz.  It helps break negativity, clear your mind and focus to stay calm.  Quartz amplifies positive intentions too!  Crystals have different powers so you’ll have to do some research to find out which is the right stone for you.  To help you get started, go to Energy Muse’s quiz to see what you’re searching for help with.  When I took the quiz, I got exactly what I was looking for.

Hopefully, one, if not all, of these tips will help you.  And if they don’t seem like a good fit, come up with one of your own.  If you already have a tip that you use to cope through the holidays, share it in a comment.  You just might be helping someone else! 🙂

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So What’s With Inflammation?

What is up with inflammation?  I feel like it’s a new buzz word that everyone is using lately.  Now, it might sound like I’m upset about that, but trust me, I’m not.

Inflammation is something that all of us have and it comes out in different forms.  Some of us experience inflammation in the form of acne.  Some of us in the of sinus issues.  Some of us stomach bloating and even gas. For me, it mostly comes out as nasal congestion, acne, bloating and there are a few others.  And these signs I’ve started to pay more attention to.  Mainly because over the past few years, I’ve realized that a lot of what I put into my body is causing these issues.

Yes, I’m talking about the food we eat.  America is such a fast-paced society that we’re aways on the go.  Because of that, a lot of our food comes from fast food joints and quicker versions of the “real thing” because we don’t have time to cook anymore.  I’m in this boat, so don’t feel like I’m casting a shadow on those of you reading this that feel like you have to stop at those restaurants.  Trust me, I get it.

What I’ve realized over the past few years, though, is that prepping goes a very long way.  That means prepping meals and snacks for the week so you’re not left stranded looking for food throughout your day.   Prepping can seem like a daunting task but it doesn’t have to be that way.  But where do you start?  I say, start small.

If you’re out of the house only for the lunch meal, start there.  Prep meals for 2-3 days in advance to get you through a few lunches during the week.  Think of something easy that you can do a lot at the same time – chicken and vegetables, turkey burgers and a salad, greek yogurt and some berries.  Try to have a protein, a good carbohydrate and a healthy fat.  And don’t forget, you can use leftovers to prep too.  We do that in our house regularly.  Whatever is for dinner one night can be lunch the next.  Make it easy on yourself.

Now that you know how to prep, what types of food do you prep?  I just mentioned protein, a good carbohydrate and a healthy fat.  These are your targets.  You take it from there.  Just try to avoid a few things like fried foods, overly processed foods and foods with ingredients that you don’t even know what they are.  Here is a list of the Top 10 Anti-Inflammatory Foods to help you get started.

Educating yourself is the best way to learn about how to heal yourself and ease things like inflammation.  But starting is the most important part.  You just might get rid of that inflammation and ease some of those aches and pains you have.  🙂

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Breakfast with Buddha

I just finished reading a book and it had a very strong reminder for me.  The book is Breakfast with Buddha.  If you’ve read it, I want to hear your thoughts so make sure you comment below.  The book is about a man named Otto who’s parents died suddenly.  Otto has to travel halfway across the country to settle the estate and his sister asks him to bring a monk along for the ride.  Now, Otto has never met this monk and in the beginning, doesn’t necessarily believe in everything the monk stands for.  Along the journey, Otto tries to show the monk a little bit of the American lifestyle – tourist spots, the beautiful scenery and of course, food.  A lot of this book is how tasty food is or can be.  On the other side, the monk also tries to show Otto a bit about his practices.  They have to stop along the route at speaking engagements and while Otto resists learning, he comes around.  In the end, Otto learns a lot and realizes he needs to look at life differently.  Very differently.

The book had a very strong message for me.  And no, it wasn’t about practicing religion or becoming a buddhist.  The message for me was about gratitude.  That word is pretty big.  And most people, including myself, don’t take time to actually think about being grateful.  Think of the food you ate today.  Was it good?  Did it have flavor?  Do you even remember what you ate?  Were you grateful for the meal?  I remember what I ate, but. I definitely can’t say I took the time to be grateful for being able to buy breakfast and lunch and be fed.  Let’s think of it another way.

Most of us have cell phones.  Smart phones, at that.  We use them throughout the day, off and on, and some of us use them more than others.  When they stop working, we freak out!  The volume doesn’t work, the screen is cracked and your favorite app doesn’t open.  Ok, here’s the deal.  Why do we freak out?  This is a material thing and in all honesty, it’s not a priority.  Think of our parents or grandparents.  They didn’t have cell phones and they got by just fine.  I like to call this “First World Problems”…you may have heard of this phrase.  Do you use it?  I use it jokingly but it’s true.  This is a true problem.

Instead of thinking of all the bad or negative things that happen, let’s try to think of it differently.  With your food, savor every bite.  Experience all the flavors by eating slow and enjoying it.  But not too much.  With your modern day life, be grateful that you can have a smart phone.  Some people can’t even afford such a luxury.  With your friends and family, be present and live in the moment.  Enjoy your time with them.  Laugh a little.

My challenge to you is to start thinking of at least one thing to be grateful for each day and increase over time.  Start paying attention to the world around you – the colors, the smells, the senses on your skin.  And say thank you…a lot!  Start tonight!  Comment below with a moment of gratitude from today.  I’ll start…

Naptime!

Ahh, nap time!  It’s an amazing time, right?

But how many of us get a chance to actually take advantage of a nap?  I bet it’s not many.  The unfortunate thing about this is, we might not be taking full advantage of the benefits of taking a nap.

So what are the benefits?  There are actually a lot.  For starters, naps can restore and increase alertness.  You know that feeling when you just can’t use your brain anymore and want to turn it off?  That’s the point when your brain is not alert anymore and needs to rest.  Think of your brain like a muscle.  When a muscle gets tired or sore, it needs to rest.  When you take a nap, you’re resting your brain and helping it come back to normal.  According to a study by NASA, even just a 40-minute nap can increase alertness back up to 100%!

Another benefit of taking naps is that performance can be enhanced and mistakes and accidents can be reduced.  In that same study by NASA, the astronauts improved performance by 34%.  It’s a small increase, but hey, it’s an increase!  When you’re at work and you get that “2 o’clock feeling”, you just want to go lie down for awhile, right?  I get that feeling regularly and I know by just taking a 15 to 20-minute rest I’ll be able to bring myself back into focus and keep working.

The third benefit, and my personal favorite, is all about the psychology.  A nap can be seen as a luxury or a mini-vacation.  A lot of people don’t have the time or money for luxurious vacations, but a nap might be the next best thing.  It can be a quick way to get in some relaxation and rejuvenation.  When you give yourself time to take a nap, you’re allowing yourself to get some extra rest.  Maybe the rest you need to keep pushing through the day.  And even though it’s quick, you might even get a chance to dream of that luxurious vacation.

Why am I bringing up naps?  Because it’s getting closer to the holidays and it’s the perfect time to start making a habit of taking naps, even if it’s just on the weekend.  Whether you take a spontaneous nap or schedule one, it can be a good thing!  You might need that extra time for yourself and the extra rest to get through the rest of the year.  When are you going to take your next nap?

Keep Calm and…

Around the holidays, we all tend to get a little stressed and our lives tend to get out of control.  It’s because we tend to lose a little bit of our focus and deter from the path we’re on.  Sometimes a diversion is a good thing, but not always.  For some of us, we get wrapped up into the spirit of gift giving and spend beyond our means.  For others, we get excited about all the food that will be spread out on tables and overeat.  For me, I do both.

In our family, and I mean the extended one, we have a lot of children.  I love to see their faces when they open presents.  The joy on a child’s face is like nothing else in the world and if it doesn’t warm your heart, then I don’t know what will.  Over time, my husband and I have learned to shop early and save money by shopping the clearance or sale rack or online stores.  In the past, we have definitely spent beyond our means just to make the children in our lives happy.  But we’ve also realized, we don’t need to go crazy every single year.  It’s too much for our own sanity and for our wallets.

As for the food, God have mercy!  (Geez, I sound like Elvis.)  During the holidays, food is everywhere for us.  Thanksgiving is at my parents house and my dad is the chef.  He seems to think we are feeding an army so cooks for 25+ people.  We have a ginormous turkey, potatoes, green bean casserole and at least five other sides.  Of course there’s rolls too.  Why wouldn’t there be some type of bread on the table?!   Then there’s dessert.  Pies, more bread, cookies, brownies.  And the wine is flowing too.  Like most of you out there, you may say “Oh it’s only one day” and drink and eat until you’re ready to pop.  And no, one treat day may not totally steer us off course, but if eating until you’re ready to pop is never good for your digestion.  Where Christmas is the following month, Thanksgiving Day leads to a whole month of goodies and overeating…if you’re not paying attention…

This holiday season, try to remember everything you’ve accomplished all year or keep where you’re headed in perspective.  Yes, one day is not going to hurt you but during the holiday season, it may steer you off course.  Be conscious of your portions (both in your wallet and on your plate).  And of course, remember to breathe.  If you stay calm, you’ll have a smoother holiday season.  I can promise you that!

So…finish this sentence on what you’re going to do this holiday season!

I Stayed In My Pajamas Because…

Today, I stayed in my pajamas.  All day.  Yup…all…freakin’…day…

And guess what, I’m totally cool with it.  Why?  Because I was able to get a TON of stuff done.

I had a healthy breakfast.  I researched a topic for a few talks I have coming up in 2018.  I watched the Pats.  And I rested.

Rest is totally a part of the program.  And it should be a part of your life too.  Believe it or not, you can still rest while getting things done.  Life is never going to be stress free, but it can have less stress. The question is, how do you get there?  The first step is to make a decision.

Decide you want a change.  Decide you want to have less stress in your life.  Decide that you want to have one day a week, a full day, in your pajamas.  Once you do this, you’re on the right track.  What’s next?

Make it a habit.  Make the practice of taking one day a week to do what you want, even if it is staying in your pajamas.  Give the day a name if it helps you stick to it.  Get your family involved.  Over time, taking the day will become a normal practice for you…and your family.  Now what?

Now, sit back, relax and enjoy.  Enjoy your decision.  Enjoy your life.  And enjoy the new pajamas you’re about to buy for the next pajama day.

5 Myths About Exercise

Ever heard the phrase “Feel the Burn”?  Yup, I remember hearing that [A LOT!] when I first started working out.  I thought it meant that I had to feel the burn in order to see results.  Well, guess what…I was wrong.

Prevention Magazine recently did an article all about exercise myths and I just had to read.  I learned about these myths a long ago, but the reminder is always nice.  Sometimes we get caught up in things we hear in the media and just believe them to be true.  Like the saying “If I read it on the internet, it must be true.”  I’m not so sure about that whole internet saying.  I mean, not everything is true, right?  Hello, fake news!

To help you get a better feel for what’s true and what’s not, let’s go through the myths in the Prevention Magazine article one at a time.

Myth #1 – No pain, no gain.

If you’re experiencing pain either during or after a workout, it’s not a good thing.  True pain is different than muscle soreness.  Pain is our body telling us that we need to take a break.  Muscle soreness is a normal part of a good workout and is how our body grows stronger muscles.  If you’re hearing this phrase from a trainer, get a new one.  One that knows the body.  And if you’re experiencing true pain, you may want to see your physician.

Myth #2 – You can slim your belly with crunches.

Ummm, nope.  I’ve tried.  Doing crunches will strengthen your ab muscles, but it won’t necessarily help you burn the fat just in your abdomen.  That’s because you can’t target weight loss to one particular area of the body.  The real key to losing belly fat is through nutrition.  I’ve learned that weight loss is 20% exercise and 80% diet.  If you really want to lose your belly, take a hard look at your nutrition.  If you need help deciding what’s right for you, contact me and we can work together to make a plan.

Myth #3 – To see results, your workout has to be an hour long.

Another myth that I always thought was true.  I’ve done both long workouts and short workouts and both give me great results.  However, there’s just one problem.  Long workouts can be really long!  If you’re like me, you’ve got a ton of things going on and a shorter workout is better for you.  If you’re looking to get some time back, but still fit in nutrition, try a shorter, more vigorous exercise like high-intensity interval training (HIIT).

Myth #4 – Doing static stretches before exercise can help prevent injuries.

The truth is, static stretches, or long, slow stretches, can actually do more harm than good.  Static stretches don’t necessarily help warm up the body and warming the muscles is really want you need for a good workout.  Instead, try dynamic stretches.  These involve movement while doing the stretch.  Think of a lunge with small pulses.  According to the article, the dynamic stretches are spot on if they mimic your actual workout, just at a lower intensity.

Myth #5 – Strength training is better than cardio if you’re trying to lose weight.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love strength training but I wouldn’t necessarily use the word better when comparing it to cardio.  The article indicates that cardiovascular exercise burns more calories per minute than strength training and while this is true, I don’t think you should do solely one or the other.  I recommend incorporating interval training of some sort because it will increase your heart rate, keep the body confused and you’ll get in both cardio and strength training.  My favorite workout that does just this is P90X3 – it has cardio, strength training and is short.  For me, it’s the best of all worlds.

Now that we’ve gone through the myths, is there anything that surprises you? Or is there another myth that wasn’t mentioned in the article?  Share your thoughts below.  And remember, don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

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Don’t Be a Robot

The other day on my way into work, I felt like this…

I felt like I was in a long line of robots, just trying to go through the motions, day in and day out.  Each person is trying to get to their destination and not actually noticing what’s around them.  It felt like an out of body experience.  And it felt weird.

I think this came up because I’ve been realizing how much of a challenge it is to be away from my family so much.  I don’t think I’m alone with this too.  Most of us may experience this feeling from time to time because other things take up so much of our time.  For me, it’s the first my commute and my job.  I love my job, but it’s making me miss my family more and more.  As I get older, I pay attention more.  Not only to my surrounds, but also my wants and needs.  And lately, I want to and need to see my family more.

Recently, Chip and Joanna Gaines decided to stop taping the show Fixer Upper and it’s because family comes first in their life.  I love the show, but I love this even more!  The Gaines’ know what’s important for their life and I think that’s amazing.  Mainly because a lot of people don’t figure that out until it’s too late.  Family should come first and but in some cases, it doesn’t.  Why?  Only you can answer this question for your life.

What I think we all need to do, including myself, is take a minute to actually look at our lives and see where we’re at.  Do a self check.  If you’re not where you want to be, figure out why and create an action plan to get to there.  Yes, it’s easier said than done, but it is doable and I bet it’s totally worth it.

The next time you’re out and about in public, see how you feel.  If you feel like a robot, you might want to set aside time to do that self check and re-evaluate where you’re headed.  Having a robot to help you out around the house is cool and all, but my guess is, you don’t actually want to be one…

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My Self Doubt is REAL!

My self doubt is real.  Not all the time, but sometimes it creeps in and sometimes it’s terrifying.

Do you have self doubt?  Do you have self doubt and not even realize it?  You might not.

If I’m being totally vulnerable here, my self doubt is a process I’m working through.  From the outside, my world looks great – I have a home, a car, a husband, two cats that I adore, a good job, a bunch of friends and my schedule is always jam packed.  But you probably don’t know what’s going on on the inside.  Most of the time, I’m never going to let you see me sweat.  Only a core group of people are going to see that and they are even going to see it only when I have to let them.

I think I have self doubt for a lot of reasons but mainly because I’m a perfectionist, I’m super loyal I never want to intentionally hurt other people.  Even as a kid, I was like this.  Ask anyone who knew me growing up.

Today, when I have a decision to make, I still struggle.  I sit on it, toy with the possible outcomes, do a bunch of research and sometimes ask for others’ for their opinions.  And weeks later, I make the decision.  Yes, even for simple things like buying new socks.  For others this is totally strange, but for me, this is normal.  Others might make a decision and only after the decision is made does the self doubt kick in and make them question what they just did.

I only realized I truly had self doubt after listening to the internal discussions in my head.  It’s like there’s an angel and a devil up there and they are in constant conversation.  The only time they stop is when I go for reiki or therapy.  True statement.  If this sounds like you, here’s your challenge…

**LISTEN TO THEM!**

Yes, I am totally encouraging you to have internal conversations with yourself.  I promise, this is totally normal.  And when you hear them talking, force yourself to be the unbiased party that adds to the conversation.  Listen to what each is encouraging you to do, take note of what they’re saying and try to make a decision for yourself.  It’s going to take time, but after awhile, you’re going to start to hear the self doubt.

Once you learn you have self doubt, what do you do next to deal with it?  Personal development.  Read books, listen to books on tape, listen to podcasts, watch TED talks…there’s a million ways to start but I just want you to start.  Personal development is what helped me hear the self doubt and start to make my own decisions.  It will help you do the same.  You’re going to need to give it time, work at it and not give up.  If you need somewhere to start, I highly suggest grabbing Jen Sincero’s book You Are A Badass.  It’s an amazingly fun read and will help you get in gear and start believing in yourself and getting rid of that self doubt.

Now, share your self doubt story with me.  You’re not alone and I want you to know that.  Comment below or send me a message.   Sharing your story is part of your journey and it’s an important one.

Life is Better When You’re Laughing

Isn’t life better when we laugh more?   I consider myself an observant person and I think Americans are so focused on work sometimes that we forget what is really important in life.  Laughing is one of the most important things in life and it can happen so frequently…if you allow it.

Have you ever gotten together with friends and family and laughed so hard that you cried?  Like a good cry and a belly ache?  The kind of laugh where your stomach starts to cramp up and you’re in pain and tears are streaming down your face but just can’t stop?  That happens pretty regularly for us.  But it used to happen more often than it does now.  It used to happen about once a month.  Now, it’s more like once a quarter.  It’s dwindled, but when it does happen, it’s the best feeling!

I’ve recently been taking some actions to help me get back there because I want my life to be happy.  It’s just that simple.  Being happy includes laughing and I want to laugh as much as I can.  They say laughter is the best medicine and it’s totally true!  A good laugh can change your whole outlook on life and make your attitude do a 180.  Who wouldn’t want to be happier, right?  I mean, life can be super stressful and if we’re not careful, that stress can take over pretty quickly.

So how am I trying to make my house full of laughter?  I’ve got a few ways but I want to share one with you that we used to do monthly and it was a perfect way to get people together, eat some great food and share a laugh.  What is it?

And it’s so much fun!  Every month we would choose a house, choose a game and the group of friends we did this with would decide on the date.  We’d pick a game and we’d play for hours.  There’d be food, drinks and lots and lots of laughter.  It may sound like something your parents would do, but I’m telling you, you have to try it.  This is a great idea for friends or families to do because it gets people together, spending time with each other and without electronics.  I’m sure you cringed a little.  But one night without the phone is not going to kill you.  Plus, it’s an low key, inexpensive night to have some fun in the comfort of your own home.

During these game nights we not only shared a good laugh, but we also built relationships.  Something as simple as a game night can help you stay healthy, improve your well-being and relieve some stress.  I truly wish we could have kept these going but there’s no reason we can’t start them again, right?!

My recommendation for you is to incorporate laughter into your life at least once a day.  If you think it will be tough, challenge yourself.  Crack a joke with your coworker, read a comic strip or plan a game night.  I bet you will start to see that laughter really is the perfect addition to you and your family’s life.

If you’ve got other ideas to incorporate a good laugh, share them in a comment!  I’d love to hear how you and your friends and family get a good laugh in every now and then.

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