Top No-Sugar Added Quick Snacks

One of my group sugar cleanse participants asked for adult no-sugar-added snacks and it was such a good idea I decided to post it.  These are quick and easy suggestions (there may be better snack ideas but less quick or affordable) for when you have cravings or you are on the go.  You’ll see a lot of fiber, fruit, fat and protein here – the best snacks in my opinion.  Fat is an extremely important part of our diet (unless it is trans fats), because fats can help us guard against stress.  It is too much sugar that creates body fat.  (Note that I am not affiliated with any of these referenced websites, they just had easy no-sugar recipes formatted nicely)

  1. Corn Chips – (organic so GMO-free) with salsa (http://www.simplyrecipes.com/recipes/fresh_tomato_salsa/), sour cream (or greek yogurt!) and/or guacamole (http://www.food.com/recipe/guacamole-real-authentic-mexican-quot-guac-quot-135048)
  2. Toast! Add avocado, PB, or just really good butter to your no-sugar added loaf (Angelic Bakery has some!).  Everyone loves toast.  Satisfies me every time.
  3. Crackers and Cheese. We love the Blue Diamond Rice Crackers, and Westby cheese or local chevre!  Watch your crackers for added sugar – yuck man.
  4. Fruit – Frozen fruits are consumed twice daily around my house. It is the only way we can hold onto fruits in bulk.  And they are awesome.  A frozen banana is like a popsicle.  Ice is God’s gift to fruit.    Regular fruit is amazing too, but I’m just sayin’, freeze it!  Add sugar free cashew butter with your apples or bananas to make a complete snack.
  5. Yogurt – again, plain yogurt is the only one with no sugar. It’s a protein vitamin, good-for-your-gut versatile snack.  Use it to make smoothies (speaking of fruit).  Use it instead of milk with your cereal.  Add fruit to it.  Or add carob powder.  Or just slobber it all over your face like my kids do.
  6. Popcorn! (organic so it is GMO-free) I won’t tell you what happens to popcorn in our house, because you know how easy it is to eat. Skip microwave popcorn and learn to kettle cook it or use a popper (even better).  Then use one of these recipes to get some new flavors (find a no-sugar added one during the cleanse!).  I was going to just post one, but this website was too cool: http://greatist.com/eat/healthy-popcorn-recipes
  7. Cereal will always be the best, standby snack. Found your sugar-free version yet?  I suggest you get on it.  We add raisins, molasses and nuts to our cereal.
  8. I already shared my sugar-free granola bars recipe but here it is again! http://itdoesnttastelikechicken.com/2014/09/04/make-homemade-granola-bars/  Here’s another recipe that my daughter can make herself! http://minimalistbaker.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-granola-bars/
  9. Pretzels – Does anyone else find pretzels super satisfying? The salt, the bread – they feel guilty.  But they aren’t… typically.  I love spelt pretzels – easier on the intestines than the wheat is.  They shouldn’t have sugar either.  Eat these with some fibrous carrot sticks or other raw veggies, and dip them in hummus (below) and you’ve got a solid snack.
  10. Hummus – have you gotten on board the hummus train yet? Good hummus and fresh sweet peppers is what they must eat in heaven.  Here’s a base hummus recipe from Ina Garten: http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=647&S=0
  11. Pumpkin seeds – Chewing these eliminates stress in multiple ways methinks. The need to work harder at grinding them releases my crankiness, and the specific vitamins they have – lots of the essential nutrients, zinc, protein and iron – combat stress and low blood sugar.  Make your own trail mix with nuts, raisins (or dry your own fruit so you can have some other options without sugar) and those pumpkin seeds.
  12. Refrigerator pickles – Here’s another good-for-your-gut probiotic recipe. If you like pickles you’ll love making your own even more.  They add so many yucky things to store-bought pickles and the process of making your own is uber-exciting.  I am not a pickle lover by nature, but I will heartily consume my hubby’s pickles and get involved in the process.  This item on the list takes the longest to prepare, but is worth it! http://foodinjars.com/2011/06/urban-preserving-refrigerator-dill-pickles/
  13. Hard boiled Eggs – Boil a dozen eggs at the beginning of the week and you have a handy snack all week. You can make them salty, whip them into deviled eggs, or eat them with avocado!  Have some leftover at the end of the week, here are some interesting ways to use up hard boiled eggs (I didn’t check all these for sugar content): http://greatist.com/eat/new-ways-to-eat-hard-boiled-eggs
  14. Ants on a Log – Healthy, good, easy does not have to be just for kids anymore!
  15. PB and J – I am currently on a PB and J binge. I love lazy snacks.  Just Local Food carries a local jelly producer that uses fruit only and not sugar to make their jelly.  Get a natural PB (most peanut butters, yes, add crazy sugar!) and relive your childhood.
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Helping Kids Fall Asleep: 10 Bedtime Tools

sleepbabyGot a wiggler or a worrier who cannot settle down to sleep or who wakes frequently in the night?  Check out this list of ideas and pick one or two to add to your toolbox, as appropriate for your child’s age and personality, and get him/her sleeping soundly sooner.

  1. Routine – You’ve heard this from every source on children and sleep but it really makes a difference. It helps train my daughter’s nervous system and it mentally helps prepare my son.  Here is our typical routine for our older children: bath and undies (they don’t sleep in PJs), teeth brush and potty, stories and snack, prayer, lights out with music and sleepy spray.  For my one year old son, he takes a bath and brushes teeth with my daughter, hangs out while we read books, says “Good Night” to everyone, gets a fresh diaper and pjs, and nurses with Momma while listening to music and white noise.
  2. Get in body, lower the better – When we are overtired, excited or stressed our energy tends to be focused in our heads and chest. When we are calm and peaceful our energy resides lower in our body.  Bringing awareness to our lower body and moving energy out of our brains settles our nervous system and makes it easier to settle down.  This is called GROUNDING, here are some ideas: Wiggle toes hard and fast then relax, Momma taps on their leg or foot and child counts the number of taps, Massage – light sweeping or deeper rubs from top to bottom or just focus on feet.  I have some great sleepy yoga routines for infants that would work on any child – contact me for a lesson!
  3. “Magic” – Using imagination and INTENTION helps their whole self get involved in welcoming sleep and it makes it fun: use essential oils (Lavender, Loving Care), use a wand to sprinkle sleeping powder (ask them to tell you what it looks like), swish the yuckies out of their bubble (this is called fluffing the aura – doesn’t matter what the yuckies are), feel the light come in and send the yuckies out (ask them to tell you where you missed some). When I do this last one myself I usually start breathing light into my own body from head to toe and am asleep by the time I reach my shoulders.
  4. Pray – Prayer teaches them to rely on themselves by letting God take the problems! Ask them to pray for help getting the words out of their head, having good dreams, or whatever they are struggling with.
  5. Music – We sing lullabies at my house and each kid has sleep music that they use nightly. The same sound used regularly trains the muscles and the brain to sleep.
  6. Guided meditation stories – There are some great ones out there, sound and voice is a potent force. Here is one from YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14ss46EvaCg
  7. Breath – Slowing down breathing, using breath to quiet the mind and letting more oxygen in is a surefire way to help your child get ready to sleep. Sleepy meditation: close your eyes, listen to your breath in the silence and return to the breath when words come in.  Also, taking five slow deep breaths with sighs help reverse the stress levels.
  8. Sensory – Giving the brain a task and involving the senses brings them to the present. Get them to see five things in their room, share five sounds they hear, do they smell anything?  Have a sip of water, feel their body on the bed.  Help them focus on these.
  9. Transition – Simple review of the day. Bury the words under their pillow/bed.  Nothing else matters now except bedtime.  Remind them that sleep doesn’t matter as much as rest. Sometimes the pressure to sleep is more stressful.
  10. Remember When They Were Babies – Your child is the same child as when they were an infant.  What tools did they need to calm down or get to sleep with they were an infant?  Find a way to mimic or recreate those tools.

Does your child have nightmares or night terrors that interfere with her rest and your sanity?  Here are some suggestions – you do what you feel is best and most comfortable for you and your child.

First of all night terrors, this good definition from raisingchildren.net.au, are “when your child suddenly becomes very agitated while in a state of deep sleep. A night terror can last from a few minutes up to 40 minutes.  Children having night terrors might sit or stand up, shake, move around, and cry or scream loudly. They might look like they’re in extreme panic. A child having a night terror is inconsolable and won’t respond to soothing or comforting.  During a night terror, your child’s eyes might be open. Children having night terrors might be moving and thrashing around, but they’re actually still in a state of deep sleep.  Night terrors can run in families, so there might be a genetic component to whether children will experience them.  Night terrors are natural events associated with the normal development of sleep in children.”

What to do?  Short answer: nothing.   Though they seem scary they aren’t directly harmful and children don’t remember them.

What could you do?  Don’t wake them, it makes them harder to settle down, but comfort them.  If you wanted to you could find a reiki or EFT practitioner to support their system or find a way to heal from them.  You can also implement flower essences or essential oils during the event or later on.  We often use Rescue Remedy in a pinch, but there are essences that can bring balance to this energy so they happen less often or not at all.

The first thing I suggest, for both nightmares and night terrors, is start being aware of triggers.  Do they happen more often when your child is overtired, has had too much sugar, or there is stress in the house?  Then take preventative measures.  My daughter is sure to have them if she has had any amount of corn syrup.

I hope these suggestions help bring more peace and sleep to your family.  If you have more questions please contact me!

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“Healthy” Halloween?

candyThe American Heart Association (AHA) recommends no more than 9 teaspoons (38 grams) of added sugar per day for men, and 6 teaspoons (25 grams) per day for women. The AHA limits for children vary depending on their age and caloric needs, but range between 3-6 teaspoons (12 – 25 grams) per day.

Why?  Dr. Mercola states, “The main problem with sugar, and processed fructose in particular, is the fact that your liver has a very limited capacity to metabolize it. According to Dr. Lustig, you can safely metabolize about six teaspoons of added sugar per day. As mentioned, the average American consumes 20 teaspoons of added sugar a day. All that excess sugar is metabolized into body fat, and leads to all of the chronic metabolic diseases we struggle with, including but not limited to: Type 2 diabetes, Cardiovascular disease, Hypertension (high blood pressure), Dementia, Cancer.”  Our body struggles to process it.

Though some professionals disagree, it’s not just the fat type, calories and sugar numbers that makes something healthy.  It’s the ingredients – where did the fat come from?  What kind of sugar?  And what else is in there that is simply not food?

Greenopedia says it harshly but well, “Yes, candy made from truly natural ingredients can still lead to cavities and sugar-related health issues. But at the very least, these healthier ingredients are safer than the artificial junk found in traditional candy. Natural candy also tastes just as good, if not better, than the harmful crap.  Next time you or the kids have a sugar craving, try some healthier versions of your favorite candy and see if you can tell the difference. You may have trouble finding healthier candy at your regular supermarket, but you should have no problem finding it in a health food store or online.”

So Halloween…. Where we consume much more sugar than usual.  What is wrong with indulging, bingeing just once a year?  Nothing really.  But the holiday stretches much further than one day, it trains our children that candy is GOD and it tempts the adults – feeding the addiction that does not release us from a path of sickness.  The plus side of this is it is a great opportunity to educate ourselves and our children on better choices while STILL indulging!

THERE ARE WAYS TO INDULGE AND ENJOY WITHOUT MAKING US SICK!

If you are looking for “healthier sugar” (I use quotations because health is a vague term with LOTS of disagreements) options for this Halloween here are some ideas.

First, read ingredient labels.  Avoid: high fructose corn syrup, partially hydrogenated oils, food coloring (these first three are the ones my family noticeably responds to), soy, GMOs (buy organic!), artificial ingredients, or ideally any generic terms like “natural flavors”.  This is a lot and near impossible when it comes to candy.  If you are gluten or dairy free there are even more ingredients to watch for!  Yikes!

I went through all the candy in the local grocery stores for you… well most of it.  Here are my suggestions for a “healthier” lower sugar Halloween, another words, I’d let my kids eat this stuff (we do gluten tolerably) though one serving of these is their total daily limit for sugar:

  1. Sundrops over M&Ms or Skittles
  2. Fair Trade Dark Chocolate – there are lots of choices. (Most chocolate candy, it turns out, is better than any other candy, ingredient-wise and sugar-wise. Most Hershey products have a low list of ingredients).  I have to say I dislike chocolate for its caffeine – it is also addictive.  I prefer carob – but good luck finding it in packaged products!
  3. Organic suckers (Yummy Organic makes some) over Dum Dum suckers or Tootsie pops.
  4. Surf Sweets Gummy Gears over any other gummies.
  5. Just because it has peanuts in it does NOT make it a good option. Brachs Double Dipped Peanuts are great though!
  6. For Peanut Butter Cups (these are my favorite, but Reese’s is disgusting) try Newman’s Own or Theo.
  7. Granola bars make me angry. There are none on the market that I consider good.  Oskri brand (found at our food co-op here in town) makes some bars that use rice syrup, coconut and real fruit, and Pure Bars use dates!  Both of their consistencies are not your typical granola bar texture though.
  8. Panda Licorice products uses molasses as a sweetener!
  9. Go Organic hard candies are low in sugar and have decent ingredients.

If looking to avoid sugar all together for Halloween – you deserve an award.  We all know it isn’t good, even if it is just on special occasions – let’s set an example! Here are some no sugar options

  1. Fruit juice or date sweetened foods or dates like Clif Zfruit Ropes. My kids LOVE these.
  2. Fruits and nuts: boxes of raisins, trail mix (minus the chocolate if you can but watch the dried fruit for lots of sugar!), 100% juice boxes
  3. Bottles of water
  4. Non-candy foods: Cheese Sticks, Goldfish (whole wheat) Crackers, Pretzels
  5. Novelties – bead necklaces, glow in the dark sticks, stickers, pencils, little critters, costume stuff (fang teeth), PlayDoh, bouncy balls, play coins, bubbles
  6. Toothbrushes!

I hope this information encourages you to make thoughtful choices any time of the year in the health of you and your family.  However you move forward this Halloween I hope you have fun and feel great.  Boo!

 

 

 

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Four Week Group Supported Sugar Cleanse! Starts Nov 1, 2015

NOVEMBER: FREE 4 Week Group Supported SUGAR CLEANSE!

Want to feel better and have more energy? sugarSugar cravings feel out of control? Appreciate
group support in cutting out sugar? Learn why sugar is so unhealthy for you, where to find it and how to live without it!

BaredFeet will offer recipes, tips and successes, and a place to share your struggles. We’ll have two potlucks, but otherwise will only connect on Facebook. (don’t live near EC? Have a friend join with you and commune during our potluck, or video chat during the potluck!)

The goal is not necessarily to totally eliminate sugar, the goal is for each participant to learn about the impact of sugar, and the benefits of not eating it, and to determine their own level of commitment in 4 weeks. Some may be able to eliminate all carbs and keep it that way, most can at least eliminate high-fructose corn syrup or sodas in time to cleanse for the holidays.

INTERESTED in JOINING? Everyone is welcome!
1. The event will be happening via Facebook.  Join the event at this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/1643912839156479/

2. If you don’t have a Facebook account, and don’t want one, please email baredfeet@gmail.com immediately with your interest and you can participate that way!

 

Here’s a hint at what to expect when we start on Sunday, Nov 1.

  • Mondays – week’s goal
  • Tuesdays and Thursdays – articles and helpful information
  • Wednesdays and Fridays – recipes
  • Saturdays – we share our struggles
  • Sundays – we share our successes
    Note that we start on a Sunday, a success day – to set the focus for the duration!

 

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10 Ideas for Healthy Lunchboxes Your Kids Will Eat

I really want to support the public school lunch program, but with my children’s sensitivities, my particular views on health and my parental need to make sure they eat enough, instead of being the mom who comes in and asks to read every ingredient label and drills them on their intake, I pack my kids lunches.  No matter what they have for lunch at school, though, I worry about my girls not eating it all – eating only the Cheesepuffs and cookie (even if it is sugar and wheat free) I put in their box and leaving the rest.  It’s a hard task for them to socialize and eat on their own in typically just twenty minutes.  I want my children’s energy, mood and mental clarity to be sustained at school, I prefer not to have a cranky kid after school, and I don’t want them to get bored with their lunch (“peanut-butter and jelly again?!”).  These lunchbox ideas below will ensure their belly is full, the box is empty and they are nourished.  They also won’t take much time or planning to implement.  Try them with your kids!20151020_162952

  1. 1. Granola bars: We know they will eat them, but they are expensive and there are very few with ingredients I approve of (sugar). I finally found a super easy recipe that makes non-crumbly, healthy granola bars.  I will surely have these on hand all the time!  (Here’s an even easier one – no bake: http://minimalistbaker.com/3-ingredient-peanut-butter-granola-bars/)

Snackin’ Granola Bars (per The Quaker Oats Wholegrain Cookbook)

3 ½ cups oats                                  1 cup raisins                                              1 cup chopped nuts

2/3 cup butter, melted                    ½ to ¾ cup honey or maple syrup         1 egg, beaten

½ tsp vanilla                                  ½ tsp salt

Combine all the ingredients, mix well.  Press firmly into well-greased 13×9 inch glass pan.  Bake in preheated oven (300°F) about 30 minutes.  Cool; cut into bars.  Store in tightly covered container in cool dry place for refrigerator. Variations: add shredded coconut, carob powder (over chocolate chips), coconut oil instead of butter, nut butter added, or seeds!  I add a ¼ cup of flour to help ensure non-crumbly-ness.

  1. lunchboxideasYogurt: We all know how much kids love yogurt and it is a great option for lunches, but opt for the plain yogurt (only sugar-free route) and add fruit instead (frozen fruit keeps the yogurt cold too!)
  1. Vary the sandwich:
  • Breads – Vary up the bread to find options with better nutrition: English muffins, sourdough, tortilla wraps, rice cakes… just check the ingredient list to make sure they are free of heavy sugars and artificial ingredients. Corn bread may be a nice way to mix in some veggies (cut green pepper and whole corn can be added) and is quick to whip up:

Corn Bread (per Better Homes and Gardens)

3/4 cup – yellow cornmeal*
1 cup – flour
2-3 Tablespoons – sweetener (I use maple syrup)
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon – salt
1 Tablespoon butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1/4 cup oil or melted butter

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In medium bowl stir together flour, cornmeal, sweetener, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.    Add butter  to cast-iron skillet and place in oven about 3 minutes.  Swirl butter in pan to coat bottom and sides of pan.  In a small bowl combine eggs, milk and oil.  Add all at once to flour mixture.  Stir just until moistened.  Pour batter into hot skillet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick comes clean.* Use Certified Organic Cornmeal to avoid GMOs.

  •  Bean spreads – Vary up the peanut butter with bean spreads, including hummus. Here is a recipe for a great white bean sandwich:

Smashed White Bean and Avocado Sandwich (per Culinary Colleen)

2 15-oz cans white beans, rinsed/drained               2 T olive oil

Juice of half a lemon                                                Salt & pepper, to taste

8 slices multigrain bread, toasted           1 small red onion, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, thinly sliced                         2 avocados, pitted/thinly sliced

5 ounces arugula or sprouts (or kale or spinach!)

Combine the beans, olive oil, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Roughly mash until it comes together but is still a little chunky. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Divide the bean mixture among four slices of the bread, spreading in a single layer. Top each with some red onion, sliced cucumber, avocado, and arugula or sprouts. Season with additional salt and pepper. Top with the remaining slices of bread and serve. http://www.culinarycolleen.com/smashed-white-bean-and-avocado-sandwich/

  • PB&J alternates – Instead of PB&J try tahini (sesame seed butter) and honey! Or almond butter and apple butter/slices!
  • Burrito – Biggest mealtime hit in my family is refried beans and cheese on a wrap. You can brown it briefly in safflower oil or send it uncooked.  Sneak in something green.
  • What other foods do they love that you can put on a sandwich? Avocado? Bacon? Pesto? Olives?
  1. Sprouts: Sprouts are a great way to add packed protein to kids’ lunches, and, believe it or not, they love them. Pack them on the side or pile on a turkey sandwich.  You can buy them but they are super easy and affordable to sprout yourself (and an educational tool for your kids). http://www.amazon.com/Victorio-VKP1014-4-Tray-Kitchen-Sprouter/dp/B005FVPP04/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441940229&sr=8-1&keywords=sprouter
  1. Hard-boiled Eggs: Don’t forget this quick way to get heavy vitamins in their foods. Boil extra eggs on Monday morning and you’ll have some for the whole week.
  1. Vegetables: How to make sure kids eat their veggies?
  • Cucumbers and bell peppers are always a hit.
  • Many kids love dipping – try ranch or hummus with raw veggies.
  • Try shredding broccoli/cauliflower on their turkey sandwich or mix them into leftovers.
  • There are great dehydrated veggie packs available.
  • My kids also think frozen veggies are a treat – pack the thermos with ‘em.
  • Puree leftover soups
  1. Fruit: I know, kids already love fruit but I couldn’t help but share this recipe for homemade, healthy fruit leather.

Fruit Leather (per Ball’s Blue Book Guide to Preserving):

Apples, apricots, berries (all kinds), cherries, nectarines, peaches, pears, pineapple and plums make excellent fruit leathers.  Bananas are wonderful blended with other fruits for a smooth, naturally sweet, finished product.  Fresh fruit in season has the best flavor; however, to not overlook canned or frozen fruits which may be used any time of the year.  Wash fruit; cut away blemished areas; peel, if necessary; remove pits or seeds.  Puree fruit in a blender until smooth.  If too thick, thin with a little water or fruit juice.  Fruits that oxidize (apples, nectarines, peaches and pears) should be heated to 190°F and allowed to cool before proceeding.  Cover drying trays with heavy, food-grade plastic wrap or use specifically designed sheets that come with most dehydrators.  Spread puree evenly, about 1/8 inch think in the center to ¼ inch think at the edges, on dehydrator trays.  Dry at 135°F until fruit puree feels pliable and leather like.  Check center to be sure there are no sticky spots.  Roll jelly-roll style, while still warm; cut in pieces and seal securely in plastic wrap.  Store fruit leather in home canning jars for long-term storage.

  1. Rice! Easy to cook in large batches.  Here is a fun way to use it.

Rice Balls:

Start with what you want on the inside – veggies or fish, avocado or cilantro, and gather it into a tiny ball.  Wet leftover brown rice or cook fresh white sticky rice and wrap the rice around the inside ball.  Optional: roll it in sesame seeds.  Then wrap nori around it (kids love seaweed). Include soy sauce or Bragg’s Aminos for dipping.

  1. Asian Peanut Noodles: Here is a great menu item for kids who like pasta.

Boil your favorite noodle (brown rice spaghetti noodles work great), rise them cold.  Shred some carrots and cucumber.  Mix peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar and a little bit of honey together.  Let the kids eat them separate or mix them all up on their own in their lunchbox.  They can also practice their chopstick skills if they like.

  1. Personalize: The key is to pack the way you know your kid will eat. One of my daughters will only eat her sandwich in parts – each food by itself.  My other daughter eats, for example, bread with bean spread and lettuce, but the cucumbers on the side.  Cut up things into bites, and add a toothpick for fun.  Celery at my house is never eaten when cut in strips, but when cut into nibblets they gobble them up!

Now to put it all together!  When packing lunches, pick:

  • 1 “growing” food (grain and protein)
  • 1 fruit
  • 1 veggie, and
  • 1 “fun” food to fill in the gaps: pretzels, muffin/scone (these store well, too), corn chips, trail mix, extra fruit or veg, or extra protein (e.g. beef sticks).
  • Remember that legumes (green beans, corn, peas, lentils, beans, peanuts) are part of a complete protein when put with a grain.
  • Drinks? WATER!  It’s all they need.  They’ll be thirsty.

May these ideas inspire you.  I hope you’ll try them and share how your kids do with their lunches.

Great nutrition is so important, and an easy preventative measure for so many other troubles for our kiddos.  I’ve decided, in order to offer myself some more security, to do two other things with their lunches (which I hope I shouldn’t need to do for very long).  I’m going to put little wooden numbers in my youngest daughter’s box so she knows which item to eat first (most important), second, etc.  I am also going to buy my children’s health by offering them a penny for each day they return with an empty box.  I think they may get wealthy, in more ways than one.

Update 12/7/16:  Summer sausage, nitrate free, became a happy addition for my kids.  I have also been using frozen baby teethers to keep their lunches cold.

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What Do You Choose?

choice“What do you choose?” has been the mantra, growing in size, for myself, and my family, or at least all of 2015.  I’d like to share with you what I’ve been learning – how simply being aware of CHOICE can drastically change your daily life.

Here is what we will be looking at:

  1. Every moment has choices.
  2. Why we unconsciously don’t want to make better choices.
  3. How awareness can help you make the most optimal choices.
  4. How we respond to our choices is just as impactful as the choices we make.

Every moment has choices
Each action we take, or word we say (or not), is a choice!  This is empowering because it means what lies before us is a lot more in our power than we may think – our power lies in the now.

I struggle to make good choices in the moment.  I am not alone in my struggle with this process.  My almost five year old has been learning that each choice has natural consequences, and to choose something sometimes requires prior planning and effort.  I see all the children in my life in the choice making process — as an ongoing battle.  I witness my adult relatives making choices in their health that effect more people than they realize.  My spouse and I sigh in frustration as we clean the kitchen yet again.  Do you struggle some days with: “Why did I just do that?” or “Why do I have to do everything around here?” or “I don’t like yelling at my kids.”  Taking a deep breath is easier said than done.  So often taking a millisecond to make the smarter choice does NOT sound appealing or seem an option.

Optimal choices?
As with all things that pass through my brain, I focus my thinking on choice as a health and happiness issue.  I see so many ways that a simple choice, either immediate or long-term, could (often easily) bring more health and happiness to myself and my family — and yet I watch myself not take those actions.  I choose instead: the harder way, the negative, the more stress, the fighting stance.  I see my daughter wanting one thing so badly and almost beyond her control choosing to serve the time and lose the prize, which is such an exhausting battle.  Why?  What is the reasoning behind some of our not-so-optimal choices?

The immediate and most obvious answer to why we don’t make certain choices that could better our health and happiness may be that we just don’t know better.  We aren’t aware, we aren’t awake, we aren’t ready or willing to see or haven’t seen.  But I don’t think that excuses us from learning in each moment.  So I encourage you to be open to more, to the gentlest path, and trust that there is so much more than you know now.  This is why I and so many others share wisdom, why we all must share our personal wisdom, with an open mind – because we cannot as an individual know it all.

Another reason, almost as obvious, that we make poor choices, is the fact that we are human.  We make mistakes.  As great as our species is, the amount of amazing, positive strides we have taken, the word human-ness still and always conjures up feelings of inadequacy and failure.  (This notion had Easter hit me hard this year – so many human choices made in that story.  So much of Jesus’ life I could not imagine choosing.)  This human-ness is not an excuse either, though, for we don’t want to use it to allow us to keep making mistakes or to keep us from shining our brightest.  Love allows us to grow, fear keeps us still.

A last reason we make choices we aren’t proud of is one that we hide behind.  We tell ourselves “I don’t have time”, “It doesn’t work I’ve tried,” “It is too hard/scary”, “It’s not my fault they are the problem,” and “Why should I work so hard and not others?”  This is our protective ego, looking out for self with familiarity.  The truth, what we don’t want to admit, is there is something else that each of our choices gives us that is somehow more important than the choices we don’t make: comfort, belonging, self-validation, we can remain a victim, we don’t have to change, we want what we want, we can be in control, avoidance of the scary realization that we have more responsibility for the whole of our life than we want to admit or work for, and avoiding whatever the alternate choice brings – because it is scary, even if good.

Boo.  I want more health and happiness for myself and my family, I want it for you and your family.  So here I am.

Awareness
I don’t want to discredit some of those things our less-noble choices give us that are valuable to our ego, but simply want to bring light to the fact that they are not typically the most selfless acts and that there are more than likely new healthier options to give us the same benefits – that’s why those choices don’t sit with us right and why we know deep down “we should have” done better.  I yell at my kids because it works, but it doesn’t work better.  I eat chocolate because it’s enjoyment relaxes me, but it doesn’t give me the most ideal benefits.

I challenge… no, too confrontational… I implore, encourage and motivate and support, you (along with myself) to meet your spirit in your choices and let it grow and shine as it truly wants to.

Start to grow an awareness of your choices moment by moment  – in your household, your job, your children, dinner, how you communicate….

  1. Notice what you are choosing in each moment (start with one moment a day)
  2. Watch HOW you have chosen it – fully or not?
  3. Is that choice an investment in the past, now, or later?
  4. Remind yourself WHY or even THAT you chose it. Forgive, let go, take care, make effort, learn over and over and over.  And be thankful for the choices you are proud of.

What happens?

Your Perspective – shifts.

It is all there is.   Our perspective is what makes us different from everyone else, and is what makes our version ‘our truth’ not ‘the truth’.  When it shifts, the choice we thought was bad is forgivable or even right, or the choice we thought was great was really self-serving and only temporary, or we see another choice all together, or we reaffirm in a motivating way all the places we desire better choices, or maybe we simply see that we weren’t owning our choices in a positive way.

Help make better choices to deepen your shift:

  • Own your choices with a perspective of “for the most optimal health and happiness of all”.
  • Be the one to step out and set the example.
  • Not “why me” but “of course me”.
  • Make an effort to best achieve each choice
  • Make a small change for the better: get up five minutes earlier or got to bed five min early, let your kid win one battle that really doesn’t matter in the big picture.
  • Stick to a commitment you don’t want to.
  • Wear a smile on your way to work.
  • Research alternate healing.
  • Take a relaxing bath.
  • Take another angle when looking at your tot’s/teen’s behavior.

What DO you choose? What kind of person are you telling the world and your loved ones that you are through your choices in each moment and your reaction to those choices?  YOU CAN take ownership for your choices!  Every moment – with awareness, one by one!  One moment can set off a chain-reaction of more “best” choices.  Pray about yours, and your family’s, daily choices – support is there if you look.  I hope your days get easier and you find confidence in yourself.  I hope you get a fresh perspective that shows you how great life is.

I’ve had another choice mantra above my desk for the past seven years that has said “Do it fully or don’t do it at all,” which reminds me of the fact that I have a choice on not only what I spend my time on but how.  I struggle sometimes to remember that I chose to do certain things and yet I complain about them.  I forget that there in some circumstances there is another choice that works for everyone’s better benefit and I pick the one that serves my own needs.  I am constantly in discussion with myself over which is more important in my daily actions and relations: the immediate or the long-term.  I don’t always pick the peaceful, healthy choice but I pick the comforting habit.  I choose now to raise my choice awareness, and start making peaceful, loving choices that are not just for myself – because I know we all deserve better and this one act can help make the world a better place.  I know I’ll make mistakes along the way, but I also know that a simple awareness and desire will keep me heading in the direction that creates the most light.

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Warm-up Rudiments

I am very particular about my class warm-ups, and take them very serious too!  I’d like to share more about them with you, the basics are the same for every age and every style class, to help you learn more about the importance of warming-up before exercise – it might change your whole perspective!

My goals in warming-up are:

IMG_1151First, to ground the student in his/her body, a term called embodiment.
Essentially, this is having an awareness of your body.  I do this for several reasons:

  1. It is safer, preventing injury, when you are able to feel your body as you move and strengthen. This enables you to stop yourself before you “go too far” in a stretch, for example.
  2. Getting centered in your body enables a deeper learning! If you can feel what your body feels like in a certain movement or pose then it not only trains your muscles and your brain faster, it also informs them of the connective pathways involved in those positions.  You gain an anatomical understanding of the most natural way to move.
  3. Body awareness also teaches you to know your body and be best equipped to experience it when it’s healthy, stiff, sick, weak, etc., and then take steps to correct it. It is educational to see the differences in the body each day and see how the body feels at the beginning of class to see how it improves by the end.
  4. Additionally, grounding helps train the nervous system to relax and prepares the brain to learn. And it helps the nervous student to relax into a situation.
  5. Getting embodied also helps to de-stress!

There are countless ways to bring grounding to students. I love to introduce multiple ways to help build each student’s toolbox with methods that their individuality responds to.

Second, to release tension.   Oh boy this is a big one.  The body’s energies, breath/blood/electromagnetics/nerves, cannot flow in areas where there is tension.  Tension by definition is the attempt for the body to NOT feel something – pain of some kind or another (including emotional).  If there is no flow, then movement and health do not occur.  Additionally if tension is present it puts a huge strain on alignment also which constricts mobility, expression, and oxygen flow.  So in warm-ups we do exercises that invite the muscles/fascia to release and that encourage fluidity in the joints.  Not only, then, is this healthy, but it reminds the body of the natural connections (which we work with in the next step) and how to move optimally/efficiently.  This is necessary before any learning can occur and any bodily exercise takes place – to make sure your neurons and muscles can carry out the actions you request!

Releasing tension also allows us to FEEL – which is the key to health.  And let us not forget that tension release brings heat to the body which gently prepares it for more intense physical exercise to come.

Third, to introduce fundamentals.  Fundamentals are: breath work, core work, alignment, the body’s lines of connection, and movement development.  This is what your body needs training in – internal support, reminders of how it was designed, and reminders of how simple moving can be.  This is typically done through phrasework, Pilates-type exercises, imagery work and/or movement routine.  This part of the warm-up is fun, flowing and imaginative – I use this opportunity to turn on the creativity button as we move into the next stage of work.

After that, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour as necessary or time allows, we are ready! We’ve checked in with ourselves and centered on the present, we released excess stress and brought in heat, and we’ve trained in what we want the body to know about itself.  We then jump into skill building, creative sharing, or personal exploration depending on the work of focus.  I do not believe any valuable learning will occur, nor that it is healthy/safe, without going through these steps.

A note on stretching.  Stretching for me is two-fold: to wake up the body’s energy system and to encourage fascia release.  I don’t believe stretching has anyq other positive benefit beyond this (which is plenty!).  Stagnant stretching is harsh on the tendons and can cause tightening.  Excessive flexion in one area leads to excess tension elsewhere thus reducing joint mobility and health.  In my classes we work to build balanced muscles, in pairs, and release fascia, in the fundamentals portion and near the end of class with yoga.  I like yoga because it works with the breath, balances muscle groups, and hits at the body/mind/spirit all at once.  I stretch this way at the end because it helps instill/integrate what was learned that day when the body is definitely receptive yet ready to gently come from up to down.  It is a great transition for closing meditation and the return to self.

Now that you know more about my warm-up philosophies I hope you can identify how they may be different from what you have experienced in a way that makes wonderful sense – and perhaps worth trying out!  Contact me to talk more about this or see what is available for you.

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Summer 2015 Offerings

BMS Private Sessions
Confused about what real health is?  Are you struggling to find time for your own wellness?  Have some habits or issues that prevent you from leading a life of ease?  Getting back into health after a long break?  Are you someone who lives with high stress or anxiety, or is a Highly Sensitive Person?   Health never just effects one area of your life.  Come get wellness for your whole self with simple, integrated tools to manage your body, mind and spirit.   Take control of your health the way that YOU need.

In addition to expanding on the tools you already have and how to work them potently into your schedule, you will discover more about how nutrition, meditation, movement fundamentals (your body’s design) and creative dance/arts can make large impacts on your day to day life and long-term health.  Also you will be assisted in deepening your connection to God/the divine.

Summer reduced rate: $30 for one-hour consultation (add a deck of Self-Reminder Wellness Cards for $35) with follow-up appointments for $15/hr.  These prices will go up in a few months so get in on the offer now!  Sessions held at private in-home, peaceful studio near downtown EC or at your own home.

 

KIDS CLASSES

Yoga Magic
Let your kid experience what it feels like to slow down, to accomplish things, build strength and confidence, learn yoga poses, release tension, and find ease in the world.  We use rocks, wands, potions, imagination and stories to bring about yoga’s magic.  No mat needed.  Choose one session or attend both for a yoga-filled summer!  Ages 5-11.  Mondays and Fridays 8:45-9:45am. At Yoga Center of Eau Claire.
1st Session (6 classes): June 29-July 18
2nd Session (6 classes): Aug 3-Aug 21
One session for $40.  Both sessions of for $65.

Creative Movement
Learn how to dance for the pure joy of it, while being creative!  This class is dancing for wellness!  Learn the components of body and motion, rhythm, and how we are all different.  Kids will love the imagination, freedom and self-confidence.  Parents will love how the class trains their child’s muscles for alignment and balance, developmental gaps, skill building, and seeing their kids’ spirits blossom.  I will video-tape the last class to show dances they have learned from the instructor and each other, the stories they have created and the music they have made.  Choose one session or attend both for a vibrant summer and great grasp of movement concepts.  Ages 5-11.  Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30-4:30pm.  At Yoga Center of Eau Claire.
1st Session (6 classes): June 29-July 18
2nd session (6 classes): Aug 3-Aug 21.
One session for $40.  Both sessions of for $65.

REGISTER:  https://baredfeet.wordpress.com/classes/register/

 

(COMING FALL 2015)

Love Yourself Workshop
Come discover the amazingness of self-acceptance and the practice of loving yourself….. Do you know you deserve so much?  Stay tuned for more details!

Movement/Yoga for Toddlers
Ages 2-6 with adult.  Beginning components of yoga and creative dance, with movement development elements.  Watch your child master developmental skills like leaping and balance, bond with each other, get positive creativity for both of you, reap the benefits of yoga, and let relaxation become a habit.  Fun rhymes, stories, beats, dance and games.  Coming again this Fall!

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Chakras

chakra3Someone asked me about chakras awhile back, and I’ve been wondering if anyone else would like to hear more about them, and how to maybe incorporate them into your well-being regime.

When I was first learning about the chakras years ago I worked with them every day, and sometimes delved into them one at a time.  Like many things I get involved with, I went a bit overboard, but I learned a lot.  In my opinion, although they aren’t a one-stop-shop they are an important part of ourselves to understand, and they offer tools to navigate those mysteries called health and happiness.

What are they?  The chakras are part of our energy system, the bubble around us which separates us from the world and through which we filter the world – things come in, we process, and things go out, and the chakras are specific energy centers that rotate and process different kinds of information.  There are seven main chakras found along your spinal column:

  1. The root chakra is found in front of the base of the spine. It is associated with red, survival, security, and the earth. “I am”
  2. The sacral chakra is in front of the area of the sacrum. It is associated with orange, emotions, pleasure, relationships, all the organs in the pelvic area, and water.  “I feel”
  3. The solar chakra is located between your navel and solar plexus. It is associated with yellow, personal power, all things digestion, and fire. “I do”
  4. The heart chakra is at the heart. It is associated with green, love and peace, complex emotions, passion, the thymus and circulation, and air.  “I love”
  5. The throat chakra is in found in front of the throat. It is associated with blue, communication, creativity, listening, hearing, the thyroid and neck/shoulders, and the element ether. “I speak”
  6. The third eye chakra is located between the eyes. It is associated with indigo, sight and intuition, pineal gland and eyes, and the element of light. “I see”
  7. The crown chakra is centered just above the top of the head. It is associated with purple/white, thinking, pituitary gland, information, bliss, the nervous system, and the element of thought. “I understand”

This is my simplest introductory version.  There is a lot more depth to these energy centers.  If you are looking for more information about them (complete with lots of Sanskrit), the complex paths they flow in (nadis), and how people work with them, check out Anodea Judith’s book “Wheels of Life”.

No for how I use them…

I had taken them out of my toolbox as a regular means and am glad for the reminder for the role they play.  I had come to the conclusion, which I still agree with, that they operate all on their own and I didn’t need to mess with them (they know more of what they need than I do) as they regulate from deeper and multiple levels.  I have also learned that they are deeply intertwined with each other – working with just one doesn’t do much, and imbalances (which change) need to be assessed/understood before just telling a chakra to open.  A practitioner is required for assessment (which changes daily) and healing specific imbalances.  BUT I can support them and learn from them!

My goal with the chakras has become to observe, clean up any energetic “trash” ready to be cleared so they can flow easier, feed them positive energy, and to read and meditate on any that I seem to be struggling with. Here is what I usually do with them, all of which I do gently and only as my intuition is called to them:

  1. Observe: When lying on the floor in constructive rest (as I always do, my bare minimum self-care tool), on my back, knees bent, feet on floor, hands at my side, I often try to see them (just to acknowledge them which gives them positive energy). Sometimes I watch the two flows: create/liberate (earth to sky through the chakras) and manifest (sky to earth).
  2. Clear: There are a couple of ways to simply clear up your energy field, though intention is all that matters. You can “fluff” your entire field – by circling your hands, alternating like bike pedals, all around your bubble.  You can also use light or water imagery as your hands wash your bubble from above your head down through to the feet.  It helps to try and “see” where it feels stuck or dark or begging for it.
  3. Feed: Sometimes I invite the colors into the chakras, one at a time, and/or light. This gives them positive energy.  I will also breathe into the two flows until they feel like they move easier.   All things in our body function toward better health when flow is restored.

But there is one more amazing and profound way to work with them – read about them; understand them.  I definitely feel that just being aware that this energy body exists and learning what the chakras do and how it works with me is invaluably important.  As always, small work with big intentions has the greatest impact.

Lately I’ve been drawn to the heart chakra (as an answer to my prayers about being a mother and wife and tired person) – the first time in a long time I’ve been drawn to just one chakra.  I’m just rereading and breathing and mentally opening to new ideas.  This is a great place to be with the holidays as the heart chakra deals with love.

Love is always a good place to start – yes.  How is it flowing in and out in your life?  The heart chakra is the center, where relationship with the other chakras, other people, complex emotions, and the earth and the divine take place.  Do you feel grounded or airy?  Do you feel expressive or numb?  Do you feel lonely or overly dependent on acceptance?  Do you need healing or to let go of grief?  Are you joyous or selfish?

A balance between these means we are feeling great and is ideal.  If you think you are out of balance you can breathe light or love into that imbalance and ask if it needs to stay there.  If so ask why the imbalance is there and what benefit you are getting from it.  You can get a massage or give one, or open and close the hands, look at green….whatever feels right and not overwhelming.  Or keep it simple and hold the chakra and these concepts in your awareness as you move through your day as a means for mental stimulation that needs to be integrated rather than working with the energy itself.

This can be done for any of the chakras, as you are drawn to them.  Go with your instincts!  Another way to support them is to notice what colors you are drawn to, and repulsed by, in your life.  Our favorites are supportive, but leaning too far in any direction, again, is a potential cue to open up – look for support for this.

It is okay to have the chakras a little out of balance when life is out of balance – they shouldn’t be open and flowing all the time.  That would be great if life allowed that, but life isn’t always open and flowing.  Concerns only need to be addressed when there are serious health, spiritual or emotional issues that are preventing life, or when it is obvious that one or more chakras are NEVER opening or are never shutting down.  Seek support if you are drawn to work more with them!  There are lots of people who can help you: Reiki practitioners and yoga teachers are great sources.  Trust your instincts and what is suddenly around you.

I hope you have gleaned some knowledge for power here, and feel encouraged to open a bit to the rainbow you are!

Referenced source:  “Wheels of Life”, by Anodea Judith

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12 Quick, Easy and Potent Stress-Busters

bangheadhere

Stress is inevitable.  But it is inevitable to our health, though, that we deal with it appropriately.  Stress can cause a number of issues, from irritability to headaches.  Long term stress can lead to more serious health issues.  It can be can be silent – as it builds and builds or if we are unaware.  Identifying and managing stress is preventative, healthy, empowering and ensures smoother days.

But often managing our stress just adds one more thing to our “to do” list – sometimes adding to the stress.  We all have our own varying coping tools, many natural, some of them we know are good for us, and some we know are not only not good for us but enable us to continue avoiding dealing with the source of the stress.  BUT I believe that managing and removing stress from our lives can be easy and enjoyable!

I’d like to share some tips. In general the simplest way to redirect stress is AWARENESS.  By just noticing what pushes your buttons and how your react to them can start to reverse stress symptoms.  Below I offer some tips for cultivating awareness to help shift perspective.

Take your power and health back from stress with these quick, easily integratable tools – they are super impactful because they come to stress from a place of peace and address stress on all three levels: mind, body and spirit (and because you can do them for yourself – they save money).  Keep in mind that intention is more powerful than time – 10 minutes of direct, loving attention to yourself is better than 1 hour of slight effort. Life has constant change and with it NEW stresses.  Take time now to handle the stress you have and revamp to welcome the new.  The below tools, in random order, can help you do more than survive each day – they can help you SHINE!  Try one and see how it feels.

  1. Breathe Light This is my favorite – it is sometimes the only tool I have time to use.  Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor hip’s distance, knees up.  This is constructive rest.  Fifteen minutes a day in this pose can allow gravity to return your alignment to neutral and release tension in your back and neck.  Notice your breathing.  Now bring your attention to each part of your body – head to foot.  Hear each inhale and exhale and imagine white light entering each part of your body.  When you’re finished, notice how your body feels and how your breathing is now.
  2. Self-massage Stress causes tension.  Tension restricts blood-flow.  Our body, mind and spirit cannot function optimally if they are not flowing, resulting in headaches, muscle pain, and depression.  My health insurance does not cover massage – does yours?  Most likely not.  But you can go a long way by giving yourself a massage.  Work feet to head, part by part: twisting, rubbing, always pushing toward the heart, and use massage oil (sesame is calming to the nerves) or your favorite lotion.  Be gentle with tender parts and hold the really tight spots.  Notice connections between parts that are sore, and let go of any negative thoughts or feelings that come up.  Breathe into each muscle – oxygen is a healer.  Thank your body for all it enables you to do each day and your body will be thankful in return.  Even shorter cut? – Just do your feet really well.
  3. Sun Salute Sing-a-long More joy!  Grab your mat, do a few rounds of sun salute while singing your favorite song – sync your movements with your song and breathing.  Don’t believe that this is powerful?  Try it!  Don’t do yoga?  Just do some stretching and strengthening exercises that feel good whilst you sing.
  4. Silly Walks Don’t skip this one because you think silliness is embarrassing.  Fresh air, exercise and silly is a potent combination for joy and peace.  Go for a walk outdoors, even 10 minutes whenever you feel anxious, stiff or depressed, bring your kids along too!  And discover all the unique ways your body can walk.  This stimulates your creativity and problem-solving brain, brings you present (i.e. meditation), gets more movement into stiff muscles, and the laughing releases tension and shifts perspective better than any other method.
  5. Words Awareness is not always easy – we don’t often have words for what we feel.  We often don’t want to feel what we notice.  It is even harder sometimes to see the big picture with a big negative thought in the way.  An easy way to face our stresses without making them bigger or avoiding them all-together (no, they won’t go away on their own) is with words: a) Old-fashioned, but grab a journal and write down the events of your day and thoughts of the moment, don’t forget your successes b) Spend some time focusing on what you are grateful for: make a written or verbal list – the dinner table is the best for this – and watch your perspective change c) At the end of the day check your status against these four prime emotions – anger, joy, fear, and hurt, and validate those feelings with breaths of love. Rolling your eyes?  TRY ME.  This is the medicine.  Getting in touch with yourself like this is the most amazing part of being a spirit on an earthly journey (in my opinion).
  6. Super Shower Overwhelmed?  Sometimes we just need to wash off all that we have accumulated and no longer need.  Take a shower and wash everything “toxic” down the drain to be recycled into fresh water for the earth.  Take it a step further and pretend your fingers are scissors that can cut away all the extra things we’ve taken on and are weighing us down.  We build connections to people and ideas and activities that we give mental energy toward.  Our spirit knows what is best for us to keep and not.  Pray if you aren’t certain.  Send thankful and loving thoughts back to what you released – keep the circle of joy going!
  7. Tree imagery This is the second thing I do if I’m short on time – it is grounding and re-stabilizes energy.  It also helps your brain connect and shift you from funk to reality.  Imagine you are a tree – get fun and really imagine what type of tree you are.  Feel your feet and toes as deep strong roots, watch them get deeper and deeper into the earth holding you strong.  Imagine your legs and torso are a tall, solid trunk – with lines of water flowing.  Imagine your arms and head as branches and leaves reaching for the sunlight (top of your head not your forehead).  Breathe deeply as you feel the water, fresh air and sunlight in your roots, trunk and branches.  YES!
  8. Play with your child My kids are constantly asking me to play with them.  Often enough I give in and play, but rarely, it seems, with all my grownup responsibilities and tired mind, do I play completely with abandon and joy.  When I do, oh boy do my kids sure teach me a thing or two about what is important.  BE PRESENT and give you and your kids a present.  Play touches our deepest, oldest (and youngest) and wisest parts, and enables our minds to integrate our day.  (Sigh)
  9. Pray and listen This really should be my top time-saving stress reliever, but I tend to forget that I’m not doing all this on my own.  Prayer is probably the most potent stress-buster if you are really honest with your prayer.  Take time to just talk to God and listen to what you hear in return – and remember that you are being helped.  Don’t listen with your ears, but listen with your heart, eyes, and skin.  We often soften when we remember how big the universe is and how time is longer than now.
  10. Reality check You may be doing more to take care of your stress than you realize, or getting more help than you’ve noticed.  If you take a moment to check in with what is really happening you can see that maybe, just maybe, things aren’t as bad as they seem!  This can take off some pressure, allow you to accept some available help you weren’t noticing, and give you some perspective that removes stress.  We all tend to vacate reality from time to time — to come back, try asking yourself: a) What things do you currently do to wind down at the end of the day or what makes you feel good (from Facebook time to TV and dinner time to teeth brushing)? Acknowledge these now and as you do them in the future – welcome the benefits each time. This will lighten your load, amp up their relieving benefits, and give yourself a pat on the back. b) What is stressing you at this time? Make a list and then ask of each one: in the big picture does it need to happen RIGHT NOW? Is it really as awful as you think? c) What is the benefit from having this stress? Is that reason based on logic? If not you can let it go! These sometimes are hard questions to ask ourselves and be honest because we want someone to validate our problems and not admit that we may be over-reacting.  Think of it as realizingrather than admitting, and that you are helping yourself.  Sometimes problems are as big as you think and you DO need someone other than just yourself to validate and help you navigate them – in times like that PLEASE seek counsel from professionals.  It is so worth it, and that IS typically covered by insurance!
  11. You are what you eatUmmmm, yeah, sorry there is no way around this – if you eat poorly, you feel poorly. When you are stressed toxic foods are even more of a burden on the body — and some even encourage the symptoms.  The good news is this is the easiest, easiest one to fix (there are good versions of all your naughty favorites). Feeling stressed?  Avoid at least caffeine (chocolate too), sugars/corn syrups (read your ingredients), food colorings/additives and alcohol. Want to feel better?  Avoid white starches, wheat, dairy, bad fats, and processed foods altogether. Try instead plain vegetables, free range meats, organic fruits and whole grains.  Get a cookbook – it’s easy and cheaper to eat this way.  Stock up on probiotics and a stress complex for intense circumstances of stress.
  12. Love status All you need is LOVE.  I think the opposite of love is stress.  When you love yourself it’s hard to be fearful, when you love others it is hard to be angry, when you know others love you it’s hard to be overwhelmed or hurt.  We need a lot of love each day – from babies to adults our love quota should be the same.  Don’t underestimate what love does for your health.
  • Take a few minutes to take stock of the amount of love you let in: hugs, smiles, laughing, positive contact with others, and intimacy.
  • Seek to give/receive 10 hugs a day
  • Smile everywhere you go
  • Say something nice to others and notice what nice things others do for you
  • Plan and indulge in intimacy
  • Laugh – watch a funny movie, be goofy with a friend or child, and make a list of things that just outright make you Laugh Out Loud!

Joyful Stress-Busting, Lynn

 

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