Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

Want to be a supermom? Take good care of yourself!

In my last blog I talked about how to assess your life to see if you are trying to be a Supermom, but burning yourself out at the same time.  

Here’s a little metaphor to help you understand why you need to take care of yourself before you can be a supermom ☺

The metaphor of the oxygen mask

Many years ago I was attending a Mothers of Preschoolers group. This particular group was a small group that was just forming.

There were only 8 or 9 of us at any given meeting, and because we had limited time and budget we shared the duties of organizing what we would do at each meeting. At one of these gatherings, a woman who has become one of my closest friends started her presentation by reading out of a book on women’s spirituality.  

The piece she read spoke about how important it is for moms to take care of themselves. The author used the metaphor of the oxygen mask on an airplane to explain her point:

Think back to the last time you took a flight.

Remember that introductory part that a flight attendant does before you take-off? The flight safety instructions?

 After demonstrating how, in the case of an emergency the oxygen masks will drop down from the ceiling above the passengers head, the flight attendants will instruct the passengers to put the oxygen masks on themselves before helping others who cannot do so themselves – even children!

Why in the world would they want you to ignore your children in order to take care of your own needs first???

Simple – Because if you pass out due to a lack of oxygen you cannot help your child.

So let’s apply this to life in general…

Are you running your children around so much that you do not have any time left to take care of yourself?

Are you working in a job that you can’t stand so that your children can have expensive lessons or go to an expensive private school when there are perfectly good public schools nearby?

Are you volunteering for every school committee, baseball board, girl scout troop, etc. because it’s important for your children to have a fulfilled life?

NEWSFLASH ☺

Your children need you to be relaxed and not exhausted more than they need you to lead their scout troop and serve as the PTA board president.  

Your children need you to feel fulfilled and peaceful more than they need those expensive lessons or that expensive sports gear. If your children see you as a happy person, they will be happy people!

So, put the oxygen mask on yourself first

What things can you cut back on to make more time for self-care?

What can you then add to your life for your own fun and relaxation?

Are you trying to buy your kids happiness instead of showing them how to achieve happiness through easy (often free) relaxation and self-nurture?

Comment below and don’t miss my vlog on Facebook at www.facebook.com/peacefullivingwellness to share how you are going to put the oxygen mask on yourself first!

Love & Light,

Jen

 

A New Year’s Resolution that Works: The Gift of Serenity.

A New Year’s Resolution that Works: The Gift of Serenity.

I was pleased as punch when I heard that the theme for this year’s Times Square crystal ball was “The Gift of Serenity!”  You can imagine my delight in finding out that the 2,688 beautiful Waterford Crystal plates on the iconic ball (shown below) were imbued with a sentiment so close to my heart.waterford crystals from 2018 new years ball

The gift of serenity is my life’s passion! So let’s receive this gift and get the proverbial ball rolling for serenity in our lives for 2018 – pun intended 😉

If serenity is your first resolution, the others will fall into place.

The other cool thing that caught my attention this week is that “being a better person,” outranked weight loss as the top resolution this year.

I love that!

There has been so much rancor in 2017 with the tumultuous U.S. election and the subsequent tide of negative tweets coming from the new president. Not to mention the ever-growing phenomenon of social media and the perceived anonymity of the screen that seems to prompt some people to feel empowered to engage in meanness and cruelty.  

And then, of course, there has been the outing of all of the rampant sexual harassment and assault that takes place in the workplace worldwide – I’m thankful that it’s finally being taken seriously.

It’s wonderful that the Maris Poll found personal betterment to be the number 1 resolution this year.

That said, being a better person is sort of a broad topic… 

How can we be better people?

Well, that’s where it comes back to serenity!  If we reduce our stress, practice mindfulness, and find serenity and peaceful living, we become happier, healthier people.

Happier, healthier people are more likely to be kind to others. Happier, healthier people are more likely to be patient with themselves and others.

Happier, healthier people are simply “better people.”

Some Fun Facts

  • Studies have shown that optimism and a sense of purpose equate to at least a 20%  reduction in the development of stress-based diseases such as heart disease, and diabetes
    • (Laura Kubansky and K. “Vish” Viswanath for Time Publishing, The Science of Happiness: Discoveries For a More Joyful Life. 2016)
  • Mindful meditation has been found to strengthen the human immune system, even in people with HIV.
    • (David Cresswell, et. Al.  University of California, Los Angeles).
  • Bringing serenity and peaceful living into one’s life, particularly through the practices of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, have been shown through widespread studies in the field of psychology to reduce the effects of many different emotional and mental health disorders ranging from drug and alcohol addiction to borderline personality disorder, and relapsing anxiety and depression
  • When too much cortisol, the hormone produced by the body when under stress, continually hits the brain it can cause hippocampal brain damage which results in the inability to sleep, memory loss, brain fog and an inability to control moods.
    • (Holly Lucille, ND, RN Creating and Maintaining Balance: A Woman’s Guide to Safe, Natural, Hormone Health. Impakt Health, 2004).

How to bring more serenity into your life

Start each day with gratitude.  

Instead of jumping (or in some cases slowly rolling) out of bed and rushing into your day, take a few moments to wake up your brain by thinking about a few things for which you are grateful. You will notice a difference in your overall attitude for the day when you start on this positive note.

Practice patience.

As things come up in your day that are frustrating take a few moments to breathe deeply and allow yourself to be more patient with the situation, the person, or even yourself if the case may be.

Use mindful communication.

In a previous blog I talked about the skill of mindful communication and how to say what you mean, mean what you say, but don’t say it mean.

A gentle tone makes all the difference both to the person to whom you are talking and to your inner self. It sets a tone of positivity and peacefulness.

Take a timeout.

Taking short breaks throughout your day allows your brain and body to relax and ultimately improves your efficiency and productivity.  You can enhance the health effects of the brain breaks by practicing meditation during your time out.

Do something nice for yourself each day!

Practicing positivity and self-nurture is the ultimate technique for bringing more serenity into your life!

There you have it – the gift of serenity!  

If you give yourself this gift as your first resolution you will find that being a better person becomes easy.

You will also find that being a healthier person, a more productive person, and a more successful person often follows serenity.

So do yourself and your loved ones a favor and accept this gift <3

I would love to hear from you throughout your journey of serenity! Comment here and on Facebook throughout 2018!

Love & Light,

Jen

Just Breathe

Just Breathe

In last week’s blog about resiliency, my last tip for improving your resiliency was to breathe.

Deep breathing elicits the relaxation response and facilitates an even exchange of oxygen to carbon dioxide (source).

In turn, these phenomena both reduce the heart rate and stabilize blood pressure. They also will bring about a deep sense of relaxation of both mind and body.

Try these breathing techniques & see how you feel:

Graduated Breath: 3 – 5 breaths each round.

Round 1

Inhale into your front rib cage.

Allow your heart-center to shine upwards. Feel the front of your ribcage expand and open.

Feel your heart opening as you breath in oxygen.

If you would like to set an intention or start an affirming mantra, this is a good time to do so.

Round 2

Inhale into your full ribcage.

Allow your entire ribcage to expand with the inhalation and gently contract with the exhalation.

Feel a sense of relaxation coming into your body. Bring your attention to your shoulders and allow them to soften on each exhalation.

Round 3

This time, inhale all the way into your diaphragm.

The ribcage still expands and fills with air.

But now, the diaphragm, that belt of muscle that runs all the way around your body right under the ribcage also expands with the inhalation and gently contracts with the exhalation.

Continue with your affirming mantra.

Continue to mentally coax your shoulders and now your back to soften and relax.

Round 4

Draw your inhalations all the way down into the belly. The ribcage is still expanding and contracting.

The diaphragm is still expanding and contracting.

Allow your belly to shine. The ancient yogis say that the belly is the center of our life force.

Allow your life force to open with the breath.

Round 5

Finally, allow your breath to fill your entire torso.

Your ribs expand.

Your diaphragm expands.

Your belly expands and your lower back expands.

Concentrate on the slow expansion and contraction of your muscles and bones. Feel the sense of calm that comes with each breath.

Connect your mind and your body and feel your entire torso, neck, hips and maybe even your entire body relax and let go of lingering tensions.

Continue with your mantra if you are using one with this practice.

Graduated Breath with Counting: 3 to 5 breaths each round.

Start with inhalations all the way into your belly. They need to be shallow at first.

Round 1

Inhale counting to 3; Exhale counting to 4.

Round 2

Inhale counting to 4; Exhale counting to 5

Round 3

Inhale counting to 5; Exhale counting to 6.

At this point either reverse the count back to inhale 4 and then 3 OR continue on until you are inhaling to 9 and exhaling to 10.

Opposite Nostril Breathing: As many rounds as you like.

Preparation

Take your index finger and thumb of your non-dominant hand and make a “U.”

Step 1

Place your index finger lightly on the outside of your nostril along the side of your nose. Close off the air.

Inhale through the open nostril.

Step 2

Place your thumb gently over the open nostril, along the side of your nose, closing it off.

Release the index finger, opening the nostril that was closed.

Exhale through the open nostril.

Step 3

Inhale on that same side.

Step 4

Close off that side of the nose with the index finger; Open the thumb from the other nostril and exhale.

Step 5

Inhale on that same side that you just opened. Repeat the pattern at least 5 times.

Try it out!

These are just three of many different deep breathing techniques to try.

Tune in to future blogs and vlogs for more!

Remember, in yoga, we call it “Breath Work” because it’s a practice.

If you don’t elicit a relaxation response your first couple of times using a technique, keep practicing and keep trying different techniques.

The more you practice Breath Work, the deeper your mind-body connection and the deeper your relaxation will be.

Let me know how these work for you!

If you have other techniques that you love, share them in the comments for others to try out!

We’re a Peaceful Living Community filled with Love and Compassion. So please, share on…

With Love & Gratitude!

Jen

Resiliancy

Resiliancy

“Resilience isn’t a single skill. It’ a variety of skills and coping mechanisms.

To bounce back from bumps in the road as well as failures, you should focus on emphasizing the positive.”

~ Jean Chatzky, financial journalist

Inner resiliency is an important personality trait to have in order to combat both acute and chronic stress.

I find that many of my clients and friends don’t really know what it is.

A dictionary definition goes something like this:

1. The capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; toughness.
2. The ability of a substance or object to spring back into shape; elasticity.

On first glance, it may seem that only the first definition applies to human beings.

I truly believe that both inner toughness and elasticity are necessary for human resilience.

We need to be both tough and flexible (elastic) to withstand acute stress.

For example, when facing the loss of a job, a scary medical diagnosis or being subjected to harassment.

We need to open our hearts and minds to changing jobs; this requires flexibility.

Thus, when facing a significant life change, we need to be tough in the face of the change, but also embrace the change with openness to something new
(flexibility).

A new normal

Cancer patients are counseled that they CAN live with cancer; but, they will need to adjust to a “new normal.”

They will need to be tough to stand up to the cancer and to withstand chemotherapy and radiation AND they will need to be flexible in adjusting to their “new normal.”

Cancer patients need to be flexible in order to adjust to their “new normal” of living with cancer.

We also need to be both tough and flexible in order to withstand the stressful ebbs and flows of life that cause chronic stress.

Proud Mommy Moment

I was listening to my daughter talk last night about how mean and sassy the kids in her middle school are. I was amazed by her nonchalance about it.

She just said that they bug her, but that she basically doesn’t have time for their nonsense! She is exemplifying the epitome of toughness in a chronically stressful situation!

You have to be tough in the face of chronic stress

Being flexible is just as important in managing chronic stress.

One of my biggest challenges with my clients is to convince them that they do have time for self-care.

They get so bogged down in the chronic stress of their busy lives they cannot grasp the reality that they actually can carve out time to relax and take time for themselves.

It takes flexibility in thinking and actions to take the time to do this for themselves.

What a great way to build the toughness and flexibility required for RESILIENCY!

Self-Care!

The question becomes, how do we get the toughness and flexibility to build resilience?

Here are 5 tips for building resilience:

1. “This Too Shall Pass”

When I was in graduate school I found myself in a professor’s office one day near tears (I cried a lot from the stress of grad school :/ ) .

I was very upset that I did not pass one of the questions on a Ph.D. comprehensive exam.

In hindsight it was quite silly of me to be so upset, because I passed the exam.

We had to pass two out of three questions and I passed both of the others, so there really wasn’t a reason to be upset. At that point in life I had very little resiliency to me!

The professor, wise and benevolent man that he was, sat back, crossed his arms, looked at me and said, “Jen, this too shall pass.”

To me, at that moment in time, I felt like a huge failure! I did not feel like it would pass!

Of course, hindsight is 20/20…

If I had resiliency at that time I would have been tough enough to say to myself that it was okay that I didn’t pass the question.

I would have been flexible enough to move beyond it and not dwell on the false idea that I was a failure.

I would have had enough presence of mind to not get overwrought by not passing one question, when I passed the exam!

2. “What Other People Think of Me is None of My Business.”

This point harkens back to my “Mean People Suck” vlog/ blog.

People can be both super stress relievers and super stress inducers.

When people become stressful having resilience is very important.

If we go back to the example of how my daughter is not allowing the mean, sassy kids at school get her upset, we can see how her resiliency is protecting her from taking it personally when they say mean things to her.

One thing that we all need to learn, is that while we do need to care about what other people think of us in terms of if we are being kind and polite in our interactions with others, we do not need take it personally when others are not being kind or polite to us!

When people are being mean or rude, that is when a resilient person will say to herself, “what that person thinks of me is none of my business,” and move on with her day.

3. “Practice Positivity, But Learn from the Negative.”

I have had enough experiences by this point in life to know that life can be full of joy if I let it.

On the flip side of that, I also know that life has lots of sorrow and challenges.

I can honestly say that embracing joy and working through sorrow has been the most effective method I have found for strengthening my resilience.

Thanks to the efforts of positive psychology researchers like Barbara Frederickson of the University of North Carolina, we now have empirical evidence that a mind focused on positivity is far more open and flexible than a mind focused on negativity:

“Positive people are able to maintain a broader perspective and see the big picture which helps them identify solutions whereas negative people maintain a narrower perspective and tend to focus on problems.”

~ Barbara Fredrickson, Ph.D.

Remember, flexibility is associated with resiliency!

If you focus on positive thoughts it will give you a mind that is far more flexible than if you focus on negativity.

Thus, over the long-run focusing on negativity does not build resilience.

This phenomenon is not just true in respect to how we as humans view the outer world, but it is also true in terms of how we view ourselves.

Positive affirmations and self-talk build our inner resiliency.

From the century old theories of French Psychologist Émile Coué, to current research out of esteemed universities, we are seeing that positive thinking has efficacious effects for people.

There are some cautionary tales though.

For example, psychology research has also shown that trying to tell someone not to think their negative thoughts can have the opposite effect.

It can cause them to focus on them more.

In other words, while positive affirmations are helpful in building resiliency, it is also important to accept negative emotions and see them as real.

Do not push them down inside of you or blow them off as not important. But, also don’t dwell on them.

Give them their due diligence and move forward.

Once you have accepted the negative you can move on into positivity and allow positive affirmations to work.

This is the key to building resilience. Working through the negative in order to embrace the positive.

4. Self- Nurture

One of the primary themes running through my coaching, my writing, my speaking and my life is that self-nurture is of utmost importance to reducing stress.

By taking time out to rest and care for yourself you are giving your mind, body and spirit the opportunity to heal from stress, revive and strengthen.

By taking time out to nurture yourself you are giving yourself the opportunity to strengthen.

Remember how on airplanes the flight attendants instruct us to put the oxygen masks on ourselves before we put them on our children?

I love to use real life instruction as a metaphor for the importance of self-nurture in our lives.

We need to give ourselves oxygen, so we don’t pass out, before we can take care of others.

By resting and rejuvenating we are strengthening ourselves and building our resilience.

5. And finally… Just Breathe

People often look at me like I’m being a little ridiculous when I talk about how much breathing can help with stress-management.

I mean, we all breath all day, right?

Without breath we can’t live.

I’m talking about a different type of breathing than that which do all day every day.

I’m talking about slow, deep, luxurious breathing.

I’m talking about the type of breathing that allows your entire torso to expand and contract with the breath.

I’m talking about the type of breath that coaxes your shoulders to melt with relaxation.

I’m talking about the type of breath that allows your mind to slow down and your body let go of tension.

I’m talking about the type of breathing that brings you into a place of tranquility and peace…

So, just breath my friends. Just breath…

What are your stories of resiliency? I would love to hear about the wisdom you have derived, please comment and share!

Love & Light,

Jen

Resilience and the healing power of music.

Resilience and the healing power of music.

It’s been a tough couple of months. My peaceful living has really been put to the test. I’ve had to make sure that I take extra-special care of myself in order to stay strong under the pressure of stressful times!

In recent Vlogs & Blogs I talked about how to stay strong in the face of bullying and how to bounce back after a particularly hectic time.

Both of those topics underlay this week’s topic of resiliency.

For today, I want to just give a little lead-up to Wednesday’s “Wellness Wednesday” Facebook Live VLOG by talking about MUSIC!

So when my going gets tough & I need to build my resiliency, I turn on some empowerment music and dance and sing!

Here are my Top 20 “Girl Power” songs! (in no particular order, I love them all!)

My Most Recent Favs:

1. Taylor Swift – Shake it Off!
2. Kelly Clarkson – Stronger
3. Kelly Clarkson – Whole Lotta Woman
4. Meghan Trainor – All About That Bass
5. Meghan Trainor – Better When I’m Dancing
6. Alicia Keys – Girl On Fire

The Classics:

7. Helen Reddy – I am Woman
8. Gloria Gaynor – I will Survive

The Country Girls:

9. Dixie Chicks – Wide Open Spaces
10. Dixie Chicks – Not Ready To Make Nice
11. Kaycee Musgraves – Follow Your Arrow
12. Shania Twain – Man! I Feel Like A Woman!

All Time Favs:

13. Christina Aguilera – Beautiful
14. Katy Perry – Firework
15. P!nk – So What!
16. P!nk – F***ing Perfect
17. Demi Lovato – Confident
18. Beyonce – Run The World (Girls)
19. David Guetta & Sia – Titanium
20. Sheryl Crow – Winding Road

What are your FAV pick-me- up & make me STRONG songs? Let’s keep adding to the play list!

Hugs,
Jen

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