Just Live Mindfully


Author: jennmullenhc (page 2 of 8)


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.


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…


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…


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.

Time IS On My Side

Is time on your side?  Do you find yourself saying “Better late than never” a lot?  If so, you might want to think about how you are spending your time.

I am one of those people that despises being late for anything.  But every now and then, life catches up with me.  I’m sure you can relate.  Most of us are always busy, going from one place to another and living life an the most spontaneous way.  But is that always a good thing?

You might have days where you only have a few things to do, but they take you all day to do them.  And those tasks, no matter how big, may take you all day to do them because of the distractions in your life.  Recently this happened to me and it made me stop and take a minute to realize just how I was spending my time and how some of my time is spent on things that aren’t really priorities.

As a woman, I think I struggle with this concept of trying to do everything for everyone all the time.  Women of the world, do you agree with me?  Yes, I think men experience this too, but not nearly as often as women.  Think of the things women feel like we have to do – manicures, pedicures, dying our hair, shopping for things we don’t necessarily need.  The list can go on and on and on!  Finding a balance between these things and what we really should be doing is where scheduling comes in.

This is my baby.  It comes with me just about everywhere and helps me find balance in life.  It helps me plan the things we have to do and the things I want to do.  It’s a Day Designer and it’s the planner that’s helped me fit everything in that I need to do.

I literally plan out everything.  Work at my full time job, activities on the weekend, doctor’s appointments and especially, downtime.  This is coming from a Type A personality, but it helps me figure out how I can manage everything I do.  I have a ton of people ask me how I fit in so much and this is how I do it.  This is how I control my time rather than my time control me.

Now if planning is not right for you, that’s ok.  But you  might experience your time controlling you a lot more than you’d want it to.  So how do you do the opposite and control your time?  Get a system in place that works for YOU!  Only you can figure out what system works for you, but here are few ideas to help you get started.

Use what you already have! – Most people in the world today have a smart phone.  That smart phone typically has a calendar already built in.  Do you use it?  If not, start now!  On the iPhone, I use my calendar religiously.  And I have separate calendars for the activities in my life – work, home life and my business.  They’re color coded, which helps with easy reference when I’m looking at a particular day and need to know what’s going on.  This is probably the quickest way to help you get started.

Get a planner or notebook you can carry with you. – Now if you don’t have a smart phone or don’t want to use it for planning your time, get yourself a small planner or notebook you can carry with you.  There are HUNDREDS out there so you might have to play around until you find the one that works for you.  I’ve tried a bunch of different brands and the Day Designer is the one that works best for me.  You  might want more room for creativity too and if that’s the case, just get a simple notebook or journal and set up a bullet journal.  For each day, you just bullet out the things you need to get done and voila!  You’re on your way to making your time work for you.

Do a self-audit. – What’s a self-audit?  Well, it’s basically a check of all the things you do in life and you rank them to see how much of a priority those things are.  You probably have to work so that’s going to stay on the list.  But you might not really need to go get weekly manicures.  You could probably do them yourself at home.  Doing that one little change will save you time and money.  And if you’re married, you’ll make the other half happy.  If you’re not into manicures but love to go golfing, do a check of how often you went this past season.  Regardless of the activities you examine, only you can really say if they’re the right ones to remove from your schedules.

These three actions are just the tip of the iceberg.  As you go through the process of beginning to take back control over your time, you might find other areas to evaluate and other ways to make the clock work for you.  Which one are you going to start with?

Wow…What a Week…

Wow!  What a week, right?  Yea, it’s been a crazy one for me and it’s only Tuesday!  I honestly don’t think my emotions can’t handle anymore.  It all exploded after my workout tonight.

This is what I looked like.  Not pretty right?  But honestly, who cares.  I totally broke down.  I’m was done.  Exhausted – mentally,  physically and emotionally.

First, I’ve got a TON going on at my full time job.  I’m in the middle of my normal monthly project and then an even bigger project gets thrown in.  I mean, it’s one where you’d have to drop everything if you got an email.  This one…mental stress.

Then, in the wake of what happened in Las Vegas, I was literally torn apart.  No, I didn’t know anyone attending the concert, but honestly I don’t think that matters.  The fact that this event even took place is devastating for anyone.  I’ve been to Las Vegas and loved it.  I’ve stayed at Mandalay Bay before.  I’ve been to outdoor concerts.  I have never had something this awful happen in my life.  However, the fact that it CAN happen, scares the crap out of me.  Over the past few days so many questions have been running through my mind (and I’m sure yours too) but some of them I can’t answer.  All I can do is tell my loved ones how much I love them and give them all hugs next time I see them.  This one…emotional stress.

Lastly, tonight’s workout was a challenging one.  It was the last straw, if you will.  Tonight we (my husband/accountability partner/workout buddy) did a 45 minute kickboxing workout.  It’s one of my favorites because the music gets you amped, the moves are fun to do because they make you feel like a true fighter and at the end, you’re sweating buckets.  It might not be the workout for everyone, but it’s the workout for me.  There are a few tracks that literally leave you breathless.  Like crazy breathing.  Out your ears breathing.  Whenever I do this workout, it makes me think back to 5 years ago when I first started my journey.  Back then, I would have never been able to get through this workout without pausing the DVD.  This one was not only physical stress but it was emotional stress too.

So what do I do with all this stress?  Well, I could do a few things:

•  I could cry my eyes out every day.

•  I could bottle it up and just harbor all that energy.

•   I could decide not to leave my house because it’s too scary of world out.

•   I could go see someone and get things off my chest.

Granted, I do the first one maybe once a month but that’s not so fun.  Harboring energy, whether good or bad energy is never a good thing so I think I’ll pass on that one.  Leaving my house is just not an option.  But, I can get help.  And listen, it’s not a bad thing to ask for help.  It might feel like you’re failing, but trust me…you’re not.  Getting help is one of the best things you can do for yourself because it’s part of self-care.  There are many, many people out there that swear by therapy because you’re getting feedback from unbiased parties.  It can be as simple as that.

So has your week been stressful like mine?  If so, how are you handling it?  Stress management can happen in a variety of ways and I love to hear what you’re doing to get through it.  Leave me a comment and share!  You  just might be helping someone else in the process.


When I Grow Up…

When you’re a kid, adults always ask you what you want to be when you grow up.  Some some an astronaut, some say a fireman and some say a veterinarian.

When I was little, I didn’t want to be any of these.  I wanted to be a marine biologist.  But not just any marine biologist, one that was a helper.  I wanted to work at Discovery Cove, a place that allowed children with disabilities to swim with dolphins.  Now I’m not sure if they do this anymore, but the reason I wanted this job was because it was a magical place.  The act of swimming with dolphins had healing properties and while the children that swam with the dolphins wouldn’t necessarily be cured, they would improve.  Most importantly, I wanted this job because I knew it would make me happy.

As I’ve gotten older, that’s one thing I’ve noticed one important thing about this question that gets asked.  Not many people say they want to be happy.  It’s sad but I have a feeling many people don’t even know what happy really means.  As kids, we have it made!  We gt to play with our friends, learn new things in school and don’t have to get up and go to work every day.  But part of America’s culture is that we have to grow up, get a job and start making money to better yourself.  I know this is how it was for me.  And now looking back, I realize it was a good thing, but it was also a downfall too.

I think we grow up too fast in America and as a result, we don’t get to know what happy really feels like.  We all have our own definition of happy but as I get older, I am realizing that’s my ultimate goal.  And for me, that’s living a life that has more meaning.  It’s about giving back to my community and leaving my footprint on this planet.

So here’s my question to you.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  You might still say a profession, but whatever it is make sure you really go after it.  Give it everything you’ve got to truly be what you want in life and don’t let anything stop you!  If you don’t know the answer to this question, do some personal digging.  find out what you love and what you wanted to do when you were little.  See how that relates to you as an adult.  Remember, you only have one life to live so live it to the fullest!

And please, share with my what you wanted to be when you grew up!  I’d love to hear your childhood dream and help you relate it to your life today.

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