I hope you all had a wonderful summer. Hard to believe it is already September and school has started. My summer holiday felt like a movie screenplay – there was a wedding, a funeral and a milestone birthday. In all of these events, I felt compelled to take time to reflect more than usual. I made time to pause – re-evaluate – and most of all – enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime activities. Like – sleeping in, roasting and eating marshmallows, taking a dip in my sister’s pool and having Lego adventures with my son Caden.
Now that summer weather is officially coming to an end and school has officially started – I notice that fear and anxiety has begun to creep in for me! The days, weeks and months ahead will be filled with new scheduled work, school and extra-curricular activities! My stomach is already in knots just writing about it!
So – with these feelings, I have had to remind myself of my top 5 TO Dos to help me – keep me –HAPPY & HEALTHY! I want to share them with you so that perhaps they could help you too?
1. Positive Affirmations
Setting an intention each and every morning with positivity will make a difference! One of my favourite visionary authors is the late Lousie Hay. Her book: “You can heal your life” actually helped me to transform my own life! She believes that positive affirmations spoken out loud and even in front of your mirror can and will change your thought patterns. According to “Psychology Today” – our subconscious processes between 60-70% negative thoughts about ourselves. We are extremely critical, pessimistic and fearful people. Have you ever talked yourself out of doing something or thought you were not good enough?
Louise Hay has a website that offers daily affirmations:
The first day of school was:
“I handle my own life with joy and ease.”
This was a great affirmation to start my day – the first day of school is always coupled with stress and fear (for both me and my son)! But with this self-talk of “joy and ease” …saying these words out loud made a difference to my attitude. It helped!!!
What will you say each morning to yourself? Check out http://www.louisehay.com for some ideas.
2. Healthy Body
Stretch & Breathe! As we age, the body is less limber and old injuries seem to creep back in. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class with me – you will know that I say “begin each day with a few sun salutations.” If you are not keen on doing sun salutations – then how about a few stretches with your arms raised up high in a “V” position? Take a deep breath-in as you raise your arms to form the shape of the letter V and as you lower your arms…exhale… You may add a little bend in your knees for added effort.
My son Caden taught me this stretch and he calls it: “The Victory stretch.” I have seen him use this stretch to help him cope with feelings of disappointment, sadness and uncertainty. Raising your arms in the air in the shape of a V while thinking or saying Victory – is a stretch for your lungs, upper body and mind. Try this stretch and feel truly victorious when you do so!
3. Creative play
When I witness my son spend hours creating and playing with his Lego bricks and characters, I see how fulfilled and happy he is when he has developed his new world. We forget when we get older that playing is not just for kids. Studies are showing that we need to stay creative and make time for play. We are born to be creative and when we tap into this part of our being, we feel happy and fulfilled as a result! Find something that taps into your creative side; there are so many ways to be creative and they do not have to be conventional or traditional.
My husband Alex loves music and when he wants to be creative he will either find himself in the garden or on the computer making a new playlist…he’s his own DJ and loves it! As for me…well, I know for a fact that when I bake, I tap into my most peaceful self – I get into my baking space and I am in my zone for “Tracie time.”
How can you tap into your creative playful side?
Show up and make time to be with friends (full stop, period).
There is a quote from Epicurus: “Of all the things which wisdom provides to make us entirely happy, much the greatest is the possession of friendship”
Epicurus was right! We are happier when we have friends! Research shows that people are truly happier when they are simply with other people. This could be in any activity – exercising, commuting and even house-cleaning! I recall reading a study that reported out of 15 different daily activities there was only one activity where people preferred to be alone – it was in prayer. Other than that – people prefer to be with other people because it makes them happier!
It is important to make time for your friends – to set the date, show up, do the drive and just spend time together. There have been so many times where I am tired, grumpy and just want to sit on the sofa and watch TV! And those times are usually the nights where I have plans with my friends. It is easier for me to cancel than to get changed and commute downtown to meet up…but I don’t give into my cozy pants and TV cravings…You know why? Because I am always happier that I showed up, laughed out loud and spent time with the people I love. In every single case, I am always happier and have more energy. Spending time with my friends always rejuvenates me!
Do you have a date set in your calendar to show up?
5. Eat clean & Sleep more
Eating healthy seems hard when you are on the go and rushed for time! My son plays hockey and we are in an arena 5-6 times a week! Tim Hortons and McDonalds start to look attractive when you’re rushed between games and practices…
But what I know for sure is that if we take a little extra time for healthy food options – we all perform better, have no digestive issues and are less grumpy. Every so often to do batch cooking – I take a chunk out of my weekend to make and freeze homemade meatballs, banana loaves and soups! I also do weekly batches of veggies and fruits where I wash and chop so that is ready to be used in lunches, snacks and even dinner. Let’s just say, ziplock-style baggies are my best friend! There are times however, when I am just too tired to do any of that…so that’s when I find a great grocery store that offers clean organic options that supplements the in-between stuff.
At the end of the day – “you are what you eat” – so try to add a few whole foods that are clean, organic and made with love to your daily menu.
What healthy snacks can you add to your daily menu? Mine are hummus and carrot sticks.
As for sleep – I have learned to love sleep…
When I was in my corporate life – I used to tell my team: “I’ll sleep when I’m dead!” I still cringe at the fact that I said those words out loud! – Who was that person? Obviously, someone who practiced little to no self-care or self-love. What I now know for sure is that I require sleep – good ‘ol delicious sleep – (7 hours or more please!) – to be happy and functional!
Studies show that sleep is just as important as breathing, eating and drinking. Poor sleep has been linked to physical problems such as a weakened immune system and mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. I recently discovered this feature on my iphone – it is in the “clock section” (I am sure androids have similar or better versions). This clock feature reminds me to get ready for bed at the same time every night. Research says that if I stick to a consistent schedule of sleep – go to bed at the same time, wake up the same time – I will enjoy the benefits of a rejuvenated body and mind!
The Sleep Foundation recommends that adults require an average of 7-9 hours a night!
How much sleep are you getting?
I would love to hear from you and learn of your own tips to keeping happy and healthy through the upcoming colder months. If you try any of the above tips, keep me posted – how did it work for you?
Wishing health, happiness and peace to you and your family.
See you on the mat!