Wellness for the Weekend: End of Summer

What should I do with the last weekends of summer?  Rest? Relax? Play?

Well, if you’re like me, you may be tempted to sit down with the calendar and piles of paper and emails and frenziedly plan for the fall.  This time of year is packed and gets more packed by the day!  (Can I run screaming now?)

How can we take our wellness into account when we head into planning mode?

  • Let’s be realistic about our abilities.  There are only 24 hours in a day and we do actually need to sleep during some of them.  Are we in a recovery period from illness, degenerative disease, mourning, moving, changing jobs or school, birth of a child, etc.?  Any of these require time in themselves.  If we have more than one, it requires more time.  What kind of time? Time to process. Time to live. Time to think. Time to feel.  These things generally don’t happen while running from one activity to another.  Be sure to allow plenty of time to recover!  Remember that others in your family also need time to recover.

 

  • If we consider our energy level figuratively in terms of adrenal dollars, we can say that each day we start out with $100 to spend.  As above, if we are recovering (or need to recover), we may start out each day paying a debt – let’s just say we start out with an interest payment of $20.  Now, how are we going to spend the rest of the $80? Are we going to spend impulsively? Are we going to have spending leaks? Are we going to go into greater debt? Are we going to borrow from the future with adrenal stimulation (e.g. caffeine, high stress movies, video games, or even stressful thoughts)?  Or, are we going to make a payment toward principal and endeavor to build and support our health?  And, are we going to thoughtfully invest our adrenal dollars in what is most important to us?

 

  • We need to take the time to recognize what is most important.  Have you ever seen the illustration by Stephen Covey in Seven Habits of Highly Effective People about Big Rocks?  Basically, each of the things we spend time on is a rock.  The important things are big rocks and the unimportant pebbles.  We need to fit our rocks into a jar representing our time.  If we just react to the many things that happen during our day, we are probably filling our jars with little pebbles, leaving no room for our big rocks.  So, we need to place our big rocks in the jar first and then, if there’s time left, fill in with some pebbles.  My big rocks are my husband, kids, health, family – oh yeah and prayer!  I need to recommit to placing them in my schedule first!

Here’s a fun quote: “Schedule the Big Rocks, don’t sort gravel!” http://www.franklincovey.com/tc/publicworkshops/productivity-workshops/the-5-choices-essentials-1-day A concise list of choices to help find the most important. (Not necessarily recommending the workshop – just liked the list.)

 

Here’s a blog about how life is not about fitting the most rocks (of whatever size) into your jar! http://www.lifeofasteward.com/coveys-big-rocks-illustration-is-wrong/ (I’m not familiar with this author, so have no idea what the rest of the content is like.)

 

  • Basically, we need to keep our ultimate goals in mind.  I endeavor to ask myself when I’m scheduling anything, “Does this help us as a family to meet our goals?”  We have goals and needs for the family as a whole and then individual goals and needs for each member.  An example that comes to mind for our family is sports.  We have a couple of boys who would enjoy sports (we have a couple who wouldn’t). So, we have to ask ourselves, “Does joining this sport meet our goals?” For the boy, yes it would be fun and help him exercise more.  For the family, no, it means we’ll be running around two nights a week and most Saturdays for 2 months.  As a family, we can’t handle that right now.  Are there other ways for our boy to have fun and exercise that we can handle?  This may feel like we’re depriving our son of opportunities.  However, no matter what we choose, we are depriving him of other opportunities.  We can’t do everything!

 

  • Since we can’t do everything, but often try, we need to schedule rest.  If it helps you, think of resting as something you’re doing – then there’s less guilt.  “What are you doing?” “I’m resting.”  A friend of ours said that when she felt the need to rest, she would start a load of laundry and put something in the crockpot.  Then, she could say that she was doing laundry and cooking dinner while she took a nap on the couch.  It’s not being lazy, it’s taking care of yourself!

So, that brings me back to my original question… What should I do with the last weekends of summer?  I will include time to Rest, Relax and Play!

Thoughts on “Wellness Approach to Stress”

  • This DVD came about because we have thought for many years (as we are recovering from chronic stress overload), that this topic is so needed in our society.  The level of stress that we accept as normal is actually crushingly high and leading to degenerative states in our bodies.  We are in desperate need of redefining what it means to be well!

 

  • This DVD (“Wellness Approach to Stress“) is power packed with information.  It is information dense.  You may want to only watch one segment at a time so that you can absorb the information and concepts – and make decisions about how you can change your lifestyle to maximize your wellness!

 

  • The more I think about Peter’s approach using the Four Essentials for Life, the more I appreciate it.  He provides a framework for approaching any situation affecting our health – in this case, the situation is stress and how to alleviate it’s affects in our lives.  From watching the DVD, I was able to affect my personal experience of stress positively and easily (read my blog post Stressed?).

 

  • Peter discusses ways we are actually creating stress in our lives through our daily choices.  Usually, this comes from things we think are helping us actually decrease our stress.  Argh! Self-sabotage!  Rather than helping ourselves, we end up hurting ourselves. (Thankfully, he does provide alternatives.)

 

  • Peter also discusses simple interventions that can help alleviate underlying stressors.  I was going to say “easy interventions,” but since behavior modification is seldom easy for us, I’ll stick with simple.  We just need to do them, realizing that by doing these simple things we can have PROFOUND positive impact on our lives over time.  And, I’ve found that when the underlying stressors have been lessened or are gone, the daily stressors that crop up on me don’t overwhelm me!

 

  • Unexpectedly, we have recommended the DVD to people just for the Food section.  People often ask us how to go about changing their diets to support their health.  This DVD is an excellent resource for the basics.  These are the first steps!

 

  • Peter gave a similar presentation while speaking in Australia. :)

Stressed?

I just finished an intensely scheduled period in my calendar.  I was very busy!  I could tell that I was experiencing physiological stress – my breathing, heart rate, sleep, thoughts were starting to be affected.  I was definitely feeling overwhelmed!

Then it occurred to me, “We just published a DVD on ‘Wellness Approach to Stress.’ I know what to do here.”  Sometimes, I just need a reminder….

In the DVD, Peter considers Stress from the perspective of his “Four Essentials for Life.” I decided to pick one thing from each of the four essentials that I could do to help myself during this packed-schedule-time.

Food:    I could already tell that I was being tempted to shortcut on my normal diet because I was so busy.  I was being tempted to order out. Especially since I knew that we would be eating out for two meals during the most busy days and, from past experience, we know that our immune systems suffer after that, I decided absolutely not to eat out before then – thereby, hopefully, avoiding a major immune system crash in the whole family.  This meant that I had to take time to plan ahead for meals for the family or they had to get used to the idea of eating sandwiches.  We both compromised during that week.

Water:  Again, I could tell that I wasn’t drinking enough water just because hours of activity would go by without me paying attention.  So, I made a rule that every time I passed the kitchen, I would drink at least some water – and I would take a water bottle with me in the car. (I drink a lot of water during red lights.)

Air:         For this Essential for Life, I had two strategies. 1) If I felt overwhelmed, I would remind myself to take a deep breath.  It is amazing how quickly that changes my internal perception of the situation – both thoughts and feelings. 2) When I did sit down (I had the advantage of having to sit down to nurse a baby frequently during the day.), I would consciously take a series of deep breaths, focusing on exhaling as much old, stale, stressed air out as possible and then inhaling as much clean, fresh, vital air in as possible.  I would do at least 5 breaths.  Again, it amazes me how fast this changes my physiology and outlook!

Love:     I realized that I do not have time for the luxury of stress.  Stress eats up a lot of time and energy!  Whenever I found myself ruminating on how stressed I was, or something that didn’t work out right, or an obstacle or interruption, I would intentionally shift my thoughts.  How? Say a prayer. Say an affirmation.  Express gratitude or appreciation. Breathe.

Thankfully, we made it through that intensely scheduled time – without me getting sick (actually none in the family got sick!) and were able to recuperate with an unscheduled weekend.

Breathing is Essential for Life

Breathing is very important for health and wellness because it is essential for life.  The body starts to die in minutes without oxygen.  But, in less extreme and less noticeable ways, the tissue becomes unhealthy and stressed when there is reduced oxygen.  Reduced oxygen or blood flow to an organ eventually leads to dysfunction or disease.  On the positive side, if we supply plenty of oxygen to tissue, we can reverse consequences of stress and decay.

Think of it this way:  if I have reduced breath volume (shallow breathing) because of poor posture, shoulder tension, or stress; then my body will slowly decline – I might even expect this process and call it “aging” or “normal” degeneration.  But, if I increase my breath by even 10-20%, the health benefits will be profound.

How can I increase breath?  Make improvements in these three key areas:  practice good posture habits*, learn to manage stress, and practice breathing!

In “Introduction to Four Essentials for Life,” I focus mainly on breathing and give practical  training on how to engage in conscious breathing to enhance health.  Sure, you could figure this out on your own, but why not learn from someone who has been doing this for nearly 20 years.  Listen now to “Introduction to Four Essentials for Life” to minimize your learning curve and maximize your wellness.

 

* To utilize Aston-Patterning to practice good posture habits, go to our practice webpage or find a practitioner in your area.

Healthy Eating?

Last week, I had the great pleasure to talk with some fellow moms about healthy eating.  Since then, I have desired to blog about it and my brain has been working through several issues.   Finally, I have time to sit down and write them, so here are some thoughts.

It is always my desire to teach truth.  I came away from the class worried that important information hadn’t been conveyed in an efficient manner.  Eating healthy is such a broad topic!  However, my main point was what to avoid – the zero tolerance list.

Making it to FOOD

Is this enough information on eating healthy?  As I reflected on our lives and experiences, I realized that this is the MINIMUM for eating healthy.  AND, this brings our diet into the FOOD category.

In Peter’s talk “Introduction to the Four Essentials for Life,” (Listen now!) he discusses the power of Food, Water, Air, and Love as not only essentials for life, but also tools for healing.  From the 4 Essentials perspective, Food is actually a relatively inefficient tool for healing.

However, eating toxic food is an extremely efficient tool to poison the body.  If we are adding toxins through “food,” our bodies have to use resources to DEAL WITH the toxins.  This diverts precious resources from healing.  And, what if we don’t have enough resources to deal with all of the toxic onslaught? Where do the toxins go? How do they eventually leave our body?

What’s the TRUTH?

During the class, the ladies expressed, in different forms, their frustration at the overwhelming and conflicting messages we receive about food in our culture.  How do we make the best decisions for our families while standing in the grocery store aisles, while reading the latest article or watching the latest documentary, or while perusing recipes to make our weekly menu?  How can we tell when the information is propaganda and when it’s true?

This relates to one of our principles (discussed in “Essential Oils for Your Family”): Be a Super Sleuth!  We have to know our bodies.  We have to be aware of subtle changes in our bodies and in our family members’ bodies and behavior.  We have to investigate possible causes for these changes if they occur “out of the blue,” or we have to look for the effects after we’ve introduced a new change.

When we are Super Sleuths, it doesn’t matter if such and such diet or product worked for someone else.  It matters if it works for us.  Super Sleuthing can be a learned skill, so don’t worry if you aren’t a Super Sleuth, yet.  Just start paying attention.  One way I learned to pay attention to my body is through what Peter calls conscious breathing which he discusses in “Introduction to the Four Essentials for Life.”

Diets as TOOLS

So, what is the RIGHT DIET?  Vegetarian, Vegan, Plant-Based, Raw, Macrobiotic, High Protein, Zone, Gluten-Free, No Grain, Paleo… Is there one?  My belief is that there is not one diet that is best for every person in every time in their lives.  Our personal experience is that we’ve used diets to cleanse, to build, to support, to maintain, for pregnancy, for recovery, for busy schedules and slower times. We’ve avoided a variety of foods (meat, dairy, wheat, soy, grains, cooked…) for a variety of reasons, including just to see how it worked for us.  The main point is that once we’re dealing with FOOD (instead of poison), we can use food as a TOOL.  What do you want to accomplish with your diet? Is your current diet accomplishing it?  If not, what will you change?  And, what will you pay attention to as a Super Sleuth?

Be not afraid.  Make a change and pay attention.  Be consistent, then evaluate.  Repeat.