All Articles Tagged "relaxation"
I recently had a friend take part in an usually busy day with me. We had a huge project we were working on and, as a result, were running around like crazy trying to tie up loose ends and handle our business. Meanwhile, her hubby and son were at home hanging out, you know, doing what guys do. About mid-way through our day she reached over to show me a text she had just received from her son, “Mom, can you make me an appointment to get a haircut?” We both laughed as she expressed that her husband, who goes to the same barber, was sitting at home doing God knows what, but her son couldn’t ask him to call the barber, he had to call on mom.
And so, despite her hectic day and busy schedule, as any mom would, she called the barber and made the appointment. Moms are givers. We go to the extreme to ensure everyone in our family is taken care of and put everything and everybody first, above all—especially above ourselves. That said, it’s important to take a step back and take some time for yourself. Leaving the kiddos, hubby, dog and cares behind and fully indulging in an activity, day or even vacation, all by ourselves.
Sure, your family needs you, but they’ll also survive (and might even enjoy) some time away from you! And for those hesitant to skip out on the kids and spouse for a little R&R, perhaps you haven’t noted the benefits of me time. Allow us to fill you in.
Woosah: The Benefits Of Me Time
Life can be stressful. And sometimes it puts us in a place where anger is hard to shake. At first, it’s easy to point the finger at who or what sent you into “I just can’t today” territory. But when the stress won’t let up, soon everything sends you from 0 to 100.
Thankfully, when life hands you salty lemons there are things that you can do about it. Stick to these techniques and you will not only find a way to relax, but even help take the power away from what’s disturbing your peace.
Slow breaths in and out can calm any situation down long enough for you to take a step back before you say or do something you will regret. Just breathe with this gif for a minute or so and you will feel those tense feelings slip away.
You’ve probably already seen the stories about Robert W. Coleman Elementary School replacing detention with meditation for its students. The school has partnered with a group called Holistic Life Foundation to offer the children a mindfulness room where they can calm down, regroup and take their focus away from the negative feelings that get them into trouble. The meditation and mindfulness work recenters kids in the moment that they’ve committed an infraction, as well as at other times during the day when they might get riled up. But meditation isn’t just for children. It can have a positive impact on the emotions and behaviors of practitioners of all ages.
What do we mean by meditation?
Meditation is defined as the process by which one focuses their thoughts on one particular aspect of life. Casually, meditation means “deep thought,” but as a practice, it involves “resting the mind and attaining a state of consciousness that is totally different from the normal waking state,” according to Yoga International.
In layman’s terms, meditation involves ridding your mind of worrisome thoughts and judgments — like whether you’ll get a promotion at work or how much you dislike your new neighbor — and focusing inward. When meditating, people focus their attention on a sound or a physical item. A mantra is such a sound, as its repetition encourages the practitioner to focus on the saying and the hearing of the words in order to get to a new state of consciousness.
This practice may sound odd to someone who isn’t familiar with meditation. But think of it as akin to prayer. If you pray, you focus your attention on God or another higher power, and you speak to that being while blocking out other stimuli. Meditation works in the same way except the goal isn’t to get closer to your higher power, it is to get closer inward, to yourself.
What about mindfulness?
Mindfulness and meditation go hand in hand. Mindfulness is the process of simultaneously paying attention and letting go. During mindfulness meditation, practitioners focus their attention on an object, or a sound, or their breath, and remain detached from any thoughts or feelings or judgments that come about during their practice. For example, if one is practicing mindfulness meditation and their foot begins to itch, they acknowledge the feeling of itching — where it is in the body, it’s intensity — and then let it go without judging it, i.e. thinking that it should be scratched or worrying that the itching will detract from the meditation.
Mindfulness meditation is difficult to practice at first, but doing so has real emotional benefits. Researchers at Michigan State University recently found that people who practice mindfulness, or those who are naturally mindful, can regulate their negative emotions. In fact, mindfulness meditation has been used regularly in treatment for depression, borderline personality disorder, and other mental conditions that feature negative thought patterns.
How do I begin practicing meditation?
Starting a meditation practice is easy, as you don’t need any equipment. Here is an easy, beginners guide to mindfulness meditation that can help get you started.
- Sit comfortably. You don’t have to sit with your legs cross, just in any position that is comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes. Breathe.
- Pay attention to your breath, noticing your inhale and exhale, but not judging it. Try to maintain an even pattern of breathing, and try to keep your focus on your breath. If your mind wanders or you’re distracted, don’t worry. Just return to your breath.
- Continue for as long as you can, noting that the first time will be difficult, but the process will get easier the more you do it.
There are also mindfulness meditation websites, CDs and podcasts in which someone guides you through a meditation session. This is called “guided meditation” and it is helpful for people new to the practice.
Once you get used to meditation, you will be able to do it anywhere and at any time your thoughts or emotions get the better of you.
When your day is so packed that you have to schedule time to take a deep breath, you need to prioritize a moment to decompress. Personal time is important.
How can you tell when it’s time for an emergency tweak of your schedule? When everything is on your last nerve, coffee doesn’t do it like it used to, and everything on your to-do list is taking much longer than it used to, it’s time to carve out some time in your day to focus on doing what makes you happy.
Even when it feels like you have no time at all, there are ways to squeeze a little relaxation time into the busiest schedule. Commit to blowing off a little steam here and there and you won’t burn out before the workday is over.
Even in the later half of my 20s, I still find myself struggling with this thing called adulting. I still find myself kicking and screaming and protesting my way into my adult responsibilities. Five out of school and I still find myself struggling to accept that there are no more summer breaks, spring breaks, winter breaks or random holidays off. Work starts at 8 a.m. and ends at 4 p.m. and that’s about it. There are no excuses, and even in the midst of your slow acceptance that this is indeed your future, life does not wait for you to catch up. The pressures of life begin to pile up like the pile of paperwork that’s been accumulating over the course of the week on the corner of your desk. No matter how quickly hump day comes, it feels like you’re never getting over the mountain of work you have. According to a national poll conducted by the American Psychology Association, two-thirds of men and women experience significant stress at work. It was also revealed that one in four have confessed to missing work because of that. Your work responsibilities are important, but they should never be taken care of at the expense of your health. When it feels like that is what’s happening, that is when it’s important for you to stop and take a deep breath. Even though we openly express the importance of having a designated self-care day, preferably on the weekends, it’s also important to know a few self-care techniques to perform right at your desk or work space when things get overwhelming.
Set and Maintain Professional Boundaries
Jobs that are understaffed, startups, and small businesses will often tell you that you need to be a team player. That usually translates to “We know we need more staff, but we don’t plan on hiring since it’ll be more cost effective to just have everyone perform multiple job responsibilities.” While you do need to know how to productively work well with others in an office setting, it’s also okay to stick to your own job responsibilities. I mean, that is why they hired you in the first place, right? So if you work in IT and someone asks you to work with accounting, it’s okay to politely say that it is out of your area of knowledge and would be more of a burden than an opportunity for growth for you.
Balance Your Work Schedule
Work time is work time. Lunch time is lunch time. Breaks are for breaks. Use the time allotted for each wisely. Lunch and breaks are an opportunity for you to re-energize and decompress a little. Stress comes when you’re not just working during work time, but decided that you’re going to work during lunch and during your breaks, too.
It is also important to schedule each part of your day. Using the alarm on your phone can be very helpful in keeping you on track with your time management. It can be the tool you need to tell you when it’s time to stop, save and move on to the next task.
Take Self-Care Breaks
Some jobs give you breaks in the morning and in the afternoon after lunch. These are great, but you can also take additional three-minute self-care breaks right at your desk by turning your screen off and placing your phone on Do Not Disturb for three minutes while you do some deep breathing exercises and meditation. Incorporating some upper-body yoga techniques can help you recharge and relax.
Organize Your Work Space
One of the quickest ways to lose your mind is to sit in clutter for long periods of time. When your work space is unorganized and you can’t find things right away or you’ve lost important files and papers under a pile of more important files and papers, it’s time to do some organizing. Add some beauty to your work space with desk plants and pops of color. Make sure your work space is comfortable with the proper chairs and desk equipment.
Think Before You Agree
If you’re one of those employees who is eager to learn or if you’re one of those timid employees who is afraid to say no, it shouldn’t be a surprise when you find yourself overwhelmed with the amount of work you’ve chosen to take on. Keep in mind, a company is built and run by multiple people. If a duty is too overwhelming for you or if you know agreeing to take on a new assignment would be too much of a workload given the other tasks you have yet to complete, I guarantee there is someone else in the department who would be happy to assist or help lessen your burden.
You don’t have to save your self-care moments for the weekends when you should be carefree anyway. Self-Care days are much more needed during the workweek when things are getting real. If you integrate these strategies into your day to day, you won’t have to pray for hump day to hurry up or for Friday to slide through.
When you’re just trying to hurry up and get clean, as many of us are often trying to do with our busy schedules, hopping in and out of the shower is the way to go. But every now and then it pays to slow down, take the time and relax in the tub.
Had a tough workout or worked your muscles in ways you didn’t foresee before choosing to be active during the day? Time in the tub can help with that.
Have a hard time getting to bed and need more than a glass of milk or some ZzzQuil? That’s right, the tub can aid you in obtaining a good night’s rest.
Irritated with the way things went at work and need to decompress? Run yourself some water and get to soaking.
Caught a cold unexpectedly and need help clearing your nasal passage? Let the steam of a good bath clear things out.
There are countless benefits to finding time for a bath occasionally, including boosted brain power, improved gastrointestinal health and cleansing of the skin. But to make it a must in your weekly schedule, you need more than a tub and hot water. Check out five products that will make your bath all the more fabulous instead of a sad scene out of a Rihanna video that leaves you with shriveled digits.
Filled with patchouli essential oil, Nubian Heritage’s new bath bombs are great for calming down the senses while stimulating them at the same time. Also mixed with Buriti oil, which is high in beta-carotene, vitamin E and C, the bombs can also help with collagen production and hydrate your skin. Drop them in the water and watch them fizz to perfection. The toning and uplifting accompanying body souffle ($11.99) is also a rich product that smells amazing while polishing up the skin.
After a day full of the rough and tumble, your muscles and joints may have an attitude with you. Soothe, hydrate and heal them with this amazing soak. The scent will relax you and the mineral-rich Dead Sea salts will give you the relief and spa experience at home — for much less.
Lush’s Milky Bath – $7.95
It may look a little crazy (it’s supposed to resemble a milk bottle), but it’s quite relaxing. For those looking for something they can actually have soak into their skin, this milky bath soap is a blend of cocoa butter, skimmed milk and olive oil. It’s sure to make your skin feel like butter while soothing you with a bevy of bubbles and a lovely orange scent.
Speaking of products that can really soak into the skin, there’s nothing like a good scrub to help even out your rough edges and polish your surface. Leave your body glowing with this particular sugar scrub, which smells delicious thanks to pomegranate oil, cranberry seeds and Shea butter.
Down to splurge every now and then? Invest in almond oil. L’Occitane’s Almond Smoothing and Beautifying Supple Skin Oil is the perfect product for moisturizing the skin after soaking in water. It absorbs in no time and is rich thanks to almond oil, omega-3 and 6 and camelina oil.
A couple of weeks ago I received a package of goodies from Proctor & Gamble’s My Black is Beautiful community organization. Inside were the typical items you’d expect from P&G, like Pantene and Aussie hair products, but there were also some unexpected bonuses like Andrea Pippins’ “I Love My Hair” coloring book and a set of colored pencils.
My co-workers thought I was joking when I said I was going home to color the night I received my gifts. We’d just been discussing the trend of adult coloring books and trying to figure out why it had caught on so rapidly. I was about to find out.
My mom and I used to spend weekends coloring together when I was a kid. It was one of our “things,” like going to lunch, shopping, and watching movies at the $1 theater. But once I became a teenager — aka thought I was grown — I didn’t have much interest in coloring anymore. But a few things happened once I had a coloring book in my possession again:
I realized coloring is harder than I remembered. If 6 year old’s can color inside the lines, it shouldn’t be that hard at 31. It is.
I also found coloring is extremely relaxing… almost to the point of exhausting. Pippin’s designs are so intricate, you can get lost coloring in all the detail — and tired, the patterns literally go on forever.
I felt like a kid again, like the kid who used to beg her mom for the 120-pack of Crayola Crayons with the pencil sharpener in the back because 12 colors wasn’t enough. I’ve literally spent whole minutes deciding between soft pink, blush, fuchsia, and magenta.
My eye pencil sharpener became my coloring sharpener. Don’t judge.
I unplugged. In this multi-tasking world, nobody hardly does anything by itself anymore. You tweet while you watch TV, have full conversations with people in front of you while scrolling the ‘gram. It’s pretty impossible to do any of that in addition to coloring if you want your end result to actually look like something. See point 1.
Have any of you gotten back into coloring?
All moms can agree, parenting stress is inevitable, but the last thing you want is for your baby, toddler, kid, or teen to feel is the impact of your stress. Author and founder of Stress Free Kids Lori Lite says “the constant juggling act between work and home can take a toll on your personal health, and chip away at your family unity. Stress depletes your mental and physical energy-key elements needed to maintain a productive work level and cohesive family.” To avoid the depletion of your mental and physical energy, Lite suggests in her latest five-star parent’s guide a few small things that moms can do during the day to take care of themselves.
Get out of the kitchen!
You don’t always have to grab lunch at home. Lite suggests stepping out and grabbing a bite to eat with a friend “meet other working moms for lunch or attend networking events. By speaking with others, you get out of your own head.”
Surround yourself with dreamkeepers
While you are out, make sure you’re in good company. A great way to nurture yourself during the day is to focus on your goals as well. Lite says “spend your time and share your ideas with friends and relatives who believe in you. A positive attitude supported by positive people will help manifest positive results.”
Outsource and hire help
When time permits, get help mommy. Search the web and hire help. Lite says “realize you cannot be an expert in every area. Hire help on an as-needed basis, or consider what tasks you can delegate at work. Even one hour a week of offloading or outsourcing can free up precious time you can use to revitalize your soul.”
Take a moment to read an inspirational passage
Renewing your mind with inspirational passages is a great way to block out negative thoughts. Take time out to review and mediate on an inspirational passage that is sure to motivate you.
Avoid stress by staying as prepared as possible. “When you have an important deadline or task at work, carve the necessary time out of your day to be prepared,” says Lite. Preparation reduces worrying and mistakes.
Dress for success
If you are a work-at-home-mom or a stay-at-home-mom, don’t stay in your PJs, get dressed, it will help with your mood. Lite says “when you look successful and pulled together, you will feel more positive and upbeat.”
Speak from the heart
Always use your voice and speak up. Always speaking from your heart can avoid miscommunications. Lite says “when you are truly heard, miscommunication is far less likely to occur–decreasing the potential for the stress caused by misunderstandings or untruths.”
Do you ever feel like there is just too much going on and you’d give anything for a little break? Are bathroom visits starting to feel like mini vacations? Does the idea of a spa visit make you grin from ear to ear? If your answer to all of these questions is yes, you are way overdue for a mommy getaway. It’s time to call your homegirls (or not) and start planning.
Mommy getaways are necessary because when moms become overwhelmed, tired, and stressed, no one wins. Not only does it begin to hurt mom, both physically and emotionally, but it starts to damage the kids too. When moms take the time to have fun, release stress and unwind, they come back to their families feeling happy, rejuvenated and ready to take on the world (even though that’s what got them so tired in the first place).
Planning a getaway can be a pricey endeavor, but it doesn’t have to be. Here are a few getaway ideas at a number of price points. Look at your calendar, call your friends if you’d like some company, make sure the kids will be taken care of, and pack your bags.
Here are some suggestions on what to pack:
Fact: airplanes are cold, no matter how warm the climate of your destination. A matching sweatsuit keeps you comofortable and looking sleek through possibel delays and plane changes and yes, it’ll keep you warm on your flight. Wear a cute tank top underneath so you can show a little something cute when you get to warmer temps. Try this one from Spice Boutique, $60.
Keep calm and carry-on luggage is the motto. Pack light, and never check your bags, so you can have an easier time getting to your hotel…and the fun. We’re loving Rockland Luggage.
It’s time for you to getaway. Try one of these easy getaway ideas.
Enjoy the spa. Sure, a mani and pedi over the weekend is cool, but it’s about time you splurged on a spa experience. Miraval Resorts is said to be one of the best spas in Arizona, and they offer a girls getaway package that offers everything you need to feel better than new before you head back home. If taking a trip to Arizona is too much, many hotels in your area may have great spas, so you can always book a room and spend your days with hot stones on your back.
Have a hotel slumber party. This can be as pricey or as affordable as you’d like. It all depends on the hotel you book and how many friends join you for the getaway. If you can, splurge a little, order room service, and pop a bottle of champagne. If you are able to leave town that’s great, but a hotel slumber party is the perfect local getaway. You can be just 30 minutes from home but still feel like you are hundreds of miles away. Visit sites like Expedia, Travelocity and Priceline to find the best deals.
Take a hike. Use your getaway as a chance to try something new and exciting. Plan a hiking or biking trip, or maybe you can even go skiing. It just might give you the peace of mind you are seeking. If you’ve ever thought about visiting Vermont, check out Inn to Inn for help planning the adventure you are looking for. Change is good.
Let the sun shine. If you’ve been dealing with snowstorms and the Polar Vortex, you are probably in desperate need of some sunshine (I know I am). Consider looking for a deal to the Caribbean or maybe even a short cruise. The Bahamas is a great weekend getaway and can offer the warmth, relaxation and fun you are looking for.
Rediscover yourself. As much as your may love your girlfriends, maybe you just want and need a weekend all to yourself. Maybe you want to go on a weekend yoga retreat, or maybe there is a conference you want to attend that is connected to your passion. A weekend alone can offer new experiences and a chance to engage in some of your favorite activities (like reading a book without falling asleep). Enjoy.
Around the time that I started my Musiq Soulchild workout plan, I decided to try to cultivate a more healthy lifestyle. I decided to start eating better and taking vitamins. So one morning while I was in the vitamin section at Walmart I saw that they had a sale on those gummy vitamins (you know, the ones where on the commercial people are jumping on them like trampolines). I got excited and was like: “I want trampoline vitamins!” and bought the discount supplements.
After about four days of taking them I realized I was developing a rash on the left side of my face. Even though I used my best zip zapping remedies, the left side of my face just got more inflamed, and painful with each day. Finally, I realized I couldn’t take it anymore and went to Urgicare. As I got dressed my mind raced with: “What could be causing this?” and my eyes fell on my gummy vitamins and I immediately felt betrayed.
I grabbed the jar, sat in Urgicare with my four year old bouncing next to me, and avoided eye contact with anyone who would look at my inflamed disfigurement.
After the doctor examined me, and though I presented the bottle of offending gummies, I was in a for rude awakening.
“You’re not having an allergic reaction. You have shingles.”
“What?! The old people’s disease?!”
Yes, disgusted readers, after two more doctors checked me out, it was unanimous. I, a woman still in my twenties, had developed shingles (a disease that is usually advertised for people 55 and older).
After getting enough pills to make me feel like Elvis, and tons of paperwork to read about it, I discovered that shingles (“SHINGLES?!”) can develop from a weakened immune system (usually by having leukemia, HIV or stress).
As the blisters on my face turned into scabs, I made countless doctors’ appointments, to get tested, blood drawn, and inserted into any machine to tell me what was wrong.
After about losing a pint of blood, many examinations and a few weeks of waiting for all the results I learned that I didn’t have anything. My shingles were caused by stress.
What I guess I should have mentioned earlier was that around the time I started my new workout regimen I was personally dealing with a few deaths of people around me. I was put in a position of acknowledging my own mortality, and trying to do the best that I could to ensure a good future for not only myself, but for my daughter.
I had a lot of sleepless nights wondering: “What if?” and trying to figure out if I was making the right steps.
All that stress culminated in me getting shingles. That’s when I realized my folly. I was spending so much time worrying about my future that I wasn’t enjoying my present. Each day was used to fixate on my past, worry about my future, and being a spectator in my current life.
Two things came from my weeks of having shingles (“SHINGLES?!”). The first was the knowledge that I needed to RELAX! I eliminated a lot of unnecessary stressors and I haven’t been happier. Life is too short to spend it worrying about everything. I now have a better sense of perspective. My drive is still the same, but I’m not so stressed about things I can’t control.
The second thing that developed from this is that I now have a few scars on my face from the whole ordeal. I thought about getting a few cosmetic creams to lighten the appearance of scars, but I decided to keep them for now, as a reminder to myself of what could happen anytime I begin to become stressed out.
My complexion isn’t as clear as it used to be, but I’ll always cherish these few reminders to enjoy each day and remember that stress is nothing but damaging.