Keeping a Gratitude Journal

For an extended practice, turn this into a daily/weekly habit and create a gratitude journal. As frequently as you are able to, jot down things, people, events, etc. that you are grateful for. Things to consider:

gratitude-journal

  • What brings you joy?
  • What gets you out of bed in the morning?
  • What small things do you appreciate?
  • What do you appreciate about the friends/family that you have in your life?

 

This will take the practice of focusing on the positive and make this become more of a habit and possibly make your entire outlook feel more positive.

 

Ayurvedic Warming Foods and the Doshas

Every season is associated with a Dosha in ayurveda — spring with Kapha, summer with Pitta and fall and winter with Vata.

Warming foods are best for Vata constitution or Dosha, the air element that can typically go out of balance when the season changes from autumn to winter. At the end of summer, it is time to transition back to a richer, more warming, oily and heavier diet for winter. But even before the dead of winter, it’s important to emphasize autumn – the season of gathering nature’s products before we rest for winter. Fruits, vegetables, nuts and grains are all abundant at this time and it is a preparation time for the season of rest. It is good to begin with a week’s cleansing diet of fruit and vegetable juices but in general the autumn diet is based on the building principle from late summer. For omnivores, this includes more meats and dairy products, while vegetarians will eat lots of grains and nuts, beans, seeds, as well as more dairy and eggs if lacto-vegetarian. This is also the time to enjoy the late summer harvest of apples and pears, the perfect cleansing and clearing foods to end the season. Normally you would eat less and less fruit now and turn to vegetables and grains as the season changes to winter.

As we progress to winter, nature now wants to quiet down and withdraw and rest. The climate of fog, rain and chill signals that we need to stay active to keep the body warm and circulating, but additionally a time to get more rest, and good nutrition. Ayurveda considers Winter a Kapha time with the combinations of earth and water starting to take root. Chinese medicine considers this a Yin (water) time of the year and associates it with the organs of kidneys and bladder – the storehouse of emotion. If these are not functioning optimally, the whole system is stressed. The kidneys are perceived as the “seat of the will”, which generates ambition or a desire to do something in one’s life and a lack of willpower can reflect a water imbalance. During winter the diet needs to be adjusted to produce more body heat since the weather is colder. This does not imply to increase your food intake as you may have to deal with some unwanted weight as a result, but instead a diet that is mainly carbohydrate and protein will give you more body heat. It is advised to do some light physical exercise so the system does not become sluggish. This is a great time for vegetable soups, miso and vegetable roots are especially nutritious for winter time. These would include carrots, onions, garlic, potatoes and turnips. Cooked whole grains are also great for winter since these complex carbohydrates burn as fuel and are good for elimination. Beans, brown rice, wheat, oats, millet and lentils are excellent choices for complex carbohydrates.

7 Health Tips To Keep You Strong This Fall

Fall is officially here, and you’ve probably already noticed people sniffling or appearing a bit less cheery than they did throughout the summer. The fall season does require a bit more of an effort to keep yourself healthy and happy and here are some tips to get you started.

 

  • Eat A Superfood In The Morning
    We recommend starting your day with some chia. A one ounce serving of chia contains 9 grams of fat, 11 grams of dietary fiber, 4 grams of protein, 18% of the RDA of calcium, 27% phosphorus and 30% manganese and antioxidants. What a great way to treat your body before 9:00 a.m.!
  • Strengthen Your Immune System
    Fall is a great time of the year to detox/cleanse so you can strengthen your immune system to prevent the pesky seasonal colds. Try eating raw for a day for a quick detox cleanse.
  • Eat In Season
    There are many reasons to Reap the health benefits — more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants — save money, and be good to the environment, too. Here is a great little guide we made for the best eats of the season.
  • Reflect
    Autumn suggests a downward movement — a time to get ready for a more introspective time. It’s especially important to listen to our inner selves, to our body and to slow down. It’s a great idea to write the various experiences you had during the summer in a journal.
  • Take Care Of Your Skin
    Changes in humidity and temperatures can drastically affect your skin’s balance. Keep your skin hydrated, especially on areas of the body that tend to get drier, like elbows and feet. Get a facial for your skin type and don’t wait until winter when it may be too late to prepare your skin for harsher temperatures.
  • Spend Time In Nature
    This is a good idea at any time of year, but particular when the colors of fall are at their height.
  • Start Eating Mindfully
    Focus your attention on all your senses so you can allow your mind to reconnect with your body. Practice this meditation for about five minutes before and as you start your meal:
    1. Before you start your meal, pause for a moment. Take a deep conscious inhale and a deep intense exhale.
    2. Let go of any hurry to start your meal and calm your mind down.
    3. Try identifying what you feel at this moment, with simple words attached to each feeling.
    4. If your mind starts wandering, acknowledge it, but come back to your breathing.
    5. Now, contemplate what you have in your plate. Become interested and ask yourself questions about the food you are about to eat: Where does it come from, what is it made of? Does the thought of eating this food makes me feel healthy?
    6. Bring your attention to the smell of the food by exploring the different aromas.
    7. Take your fork consciously, and take your first bite. First, listen to the texture of the food breaking down in your mouth as you start chewing and feel the sensation of cold, warm, crunchiness, or smoothness of the food in your mouth.
    8. Finally focus on the taste of your food and explore each flavor you encounter.

Guided Visualization Meditation

Guided imagery or visualization is a wonderful way to escape a stressful environment or thoughts and go in your mind to someplace peaceful and pleasant. A great way to practice this is to start with finding a quiet, relaxed place where you won’t be interrupted. Beginners sometimes fall asleep during a visualization meditation, so it might be helpful for you to sit up. During this visualization, close your eyes and let your worries drift away. Visualization works best if you incorporate as many sensory details as possible, using at least three of your senses. When visualizing, choose imagery that appeals to you, let the images that come up, work for you. As a starting point, you can follow the guided meditation below.

Vida Guided Meditation:  Scenery

Find a place to sit or rest lying flat.  If sitting, put both feet flat on the floor and place your hands resting upon your lap.  Close your eyes and take 1 deep breath.

Imagine the most beautiful scenery with the colors appearing calm and pastel.  

The scenery fills you with peace and wonder.  As you take a deep breath in, focus on these sensations.  As you exhale, let relaxation enfold your entire body.  

With each set of breaths the colors get brighter and bolder.

Breathe in (1-2-3-hold)

Exhale (1-2-3-hold)

Breathe in

Exhale

Breathe in the fullness of the colors before you.

Let the fullness of the colors fill your of your muscles with calm.

Breath in (1-2-3-hold) Exhale (1-2-3-hold)

Let the vibrant colors fill your mind with peace.

Breath in (1-2-3-hold) Exhale (1-2-3-hold)

Let the bold colors fill your heart with relaxation.

Breath in (1-2-3-hold) Exhale (1-2-3-hold)

Let the vibrant colors fill your spirit with hope.

Breath in (1-2-3-hold) Exhale (1-2-3-hold)

Embrace this moment completely.

Prepare yourself to bring it with you throughout the day.

When you are ready- open your eyes. Stand up, stretch and smile.

Breathe in

Exhale

Be Infectious This Fall… with Kindness

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random-kindness

Instead of getting an infection this Fall, try being infectious by doing a random act of kindness every day. Pausing and dropping your own agenda to help another can be life changing not only for you but for someone else as well. Depending on what you choose to do to spread kindness you will benefit by increasing dopamine and endorphins that will make you healthier and happier. Being present, calm, having humility and kindness can actually get you far in life. Having positive energy and thoughtfulness towards others can create an internal and external gratitude. Also leading by example can create a cascade of kindness so that others follow in your footsteps, the more people that show kindness the better off we all are. Being kind to others and being more community driven versus self-driven can create a sense of gratification, improve health and wellbeing and can change your mood drastically. Mood improvement from doing a good deed is significant enough that those who do good find they are more motivated and have higher energy levels to tackle their weekly goals. Remember love heals. So extend a hand, offer up your seat, buy someone a warm meal. Greet each person you meet with compassion and kindness and remember that we all struggle with things in life…. but it is harder to do it alone. Try any one of these great ways to help someone today or this week:

  • Buy someone a coffee, meal or ticket to something fabulous!
  • Donate your clothes or food to someone in need or a shelter.
  • Hold a door open, carry their bags/groceries or offer up your seat if you can easily stand.
  • Listen to someone.
  • Look at someone, smile and greet them.
  • If you don’t like to give money, ask someone what they really need and buy it for them.
  • Buy a bag of healthy foods and necessities and give it to one person you feel would benefit from it. Things you can put in the bag: nuts, apples, a toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, baby wipes, a washcloth, 3 bottles of water, protein bars, diced veggies or a bag of carrots, a loaf of bread and peanut butter.
  • Hug everyone you love, know or think could use a hug that day!

Conqueror Breath

For an extended practice, let’s do a type of breath practice known as Conqueror Breath, also known as Ujjayi breath in yoga practice.

For this practice, follow these steps.

  • Take a comfortable seat and close your eyes or take a soft gaze.
  • As you breathe in and out, focus on the air traveling across the back of your throat as it passes in and out.
  • Inhale through your nose and exhale slowly out of your wide-open mouth, feeling that sensation as the breath passes over the back of your throat.
  • As the breath leaves your mouth, you should make a long “Haaa” sound.
  • Continue breathing in this way for several more breaths until you feel comfortable with the sensation of the breath passing across the back of your throat.
  • When you’re comfortable, you can close your mouth but continue to breathe in this way which should create a soft hissing sound.

Breathing in this way is a great way to focus your attention on your breath (and keep your mind from wandering), it also helps slow your breath down, and with the feedback you get from the sound your breath makes as it goes in and out, you’re better able to regulate the evenness of your breathing. Start with 3-5 minutes of practice and you gradually work up to 8-10 minutes.

Release an Area of Tension in Your Body

For today’s extended activity, let’s use a body scan to identify an area of tension in our body and release it.

Follow these steps:

  • Take a comfortable seat, close your eyes and focus on your breath as it goes in and out.
  • Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. Feel your breath fill your lungs, feel your chest rise as you inhale.
  • Release the breath and notice the sensation as all of the air leaves your body. Repeat this 2-3 times to bring your attention inwards.
  • Start to become aware of your body on your chair. Notice the different parts of your body and as you do, notice if there are feelings of tension or comfort in those areas.
  • Find an area of your body that feels more tense and focus your attention in this area.
  • As you breathe in, imagine you’re breathing all of the air into this body part. Hold the breath for a count of 3 seconds.
  • As you breathe out, imagine that the tension leaves your body with the air that you are exhaling.
  • Continue to breathe air into this area of tension for 10 more breaths.
  • As you take your final exhale, notice your body again and pay special attention to this body part.

How does that body part feel now? Is there tension? What do you notice feels different?

The Art of Now: Staying Present

why-the-art-of-being-present-matters

The act of being present is focusing on what is currently happening in your space, both physically and mentally, and not on what has happened in the past or in anticipation of the future. While multitasking may seem like a hyped-up form of being present, it is actually the opposite, as you are constantly forcing yourself to switch contexts. This requires you to think about both what you were doing where you left off (the past) and what you need to do next (the future).

 

If you create unrealistic expectations about being able to manage multiple activities at once, you are guaranteeing stress in trying to get it all done and disappointment when none of it gets done well. Think for a moment if you can realistically do all of these things well at the same time: tackle a work project on a Saturday, text your friend about plans for next week, and watch a movie as a family. It seems unlikely that doing all these things at once will result in any of them getting completed well, yet it is likely anything but far-fetched to imagine yourself in a similar situation. Learn to take tasks one at a time, staying in the moment for each of them. Doing so will improve the quality of your interactions with others, the quality of your work, and your overall satisfaction with your outcomes.

Grab and Pack Healthy Pre-Made Lunches

Wouldn’t you love just a few extra minutes in the morning before leaving for work or school? Well, pre-packaging your lunches on the weekend can help you do that. Here are a few ideas to get you started. There are lots of other ideas on the web, too.

  1. Decide what you want to bring with you. Soup, salad, leftovers, etc.
  2. Chop and cut veggies for making salads that can be layered in a mason jar for transport. Think variety. Make it something you will enjoy. See example mason jar here.
  3. Make a big pot of soup or chili that you enjoy and package in individual containers to either be warmed in a microwave or in a mini slow cooker just for warming foods.
  4. Don’t forget whole pieces of fruit- wash and dry them. Choose something seasonal.
  5. Remember an afternoon snack so you avoid the snack machine. Think something healthy and filling to hold you until dinner. See quick and healthy snack ideas here.
  6. Don’t forget your water!
  7. Protein shakes/smoothies in freezer containers to thaw for an afternoon snack are great, too.

Take just 30-60 minutes on Sunday to prepare your lunches. You will need extra time if you are making soup. Start it early in the day in a slow cooker, then package for the week. Have an area in your refrigerator that you place all of these items so you can grab them to go in your lunchbox. Get started this weekend to ease into the following week without stress!

7 Ways to Help Keep the Lid on Stress

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large_article_im3621_coping_with_stress

Stress is good!

 

Seriously, good stress, otherwise known as ‘eustress’ serves to help you function at your best. But there also is bad stress and if it gets out of control, it can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors that aren’t good for you. So now’s the time to get your stress levels in check. Here are some tips to get you started.

 

  • Accept what you can’t change. Ask yourself whether stress can be changed by an action or managed by a different attitude. For example, rather than fuming about being stuck in traffic (think Michael Douglas in Falling Down), look at it as an opportunity to listen to your favorite music or radio program.
  • Get a gratitude attitude. Take time to reflect on the things you appreciate. This simple strategy can help you keep things in perspective.
  • Take a chill pill. Factor relaxation into your daily schedule, even if it’s just ten minutes a day. It could just be reading or playing with your pet. It’s your time to take a break from responsibilities and recharge your batteries, so enjoy it.
  • Cut yourself some slack. Look at your to-do list and pare it down to what’s vital. Delegate less important tasks to someone else and reschedule the rest.
  • Practice saying “no.” Taking on too much is one of the most common stress triggers. With all that’s behind you, now is a great time to set some new boundaries.
  • Get physical. Regular physical activity helps release pent-up stress and tension.

 

Ask your Vida coach for more information, and for tools to help you cope with stress.