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Have you ever heard the saying “Happiness is a Habit?” The book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin promotes activities and habits that enhance feelings of happiness and content. She became an expert by getting down with the research on… you guessed it, happiness. She discovered that happiness is cultivated by certain habits and developed a project over the course of a year to increase her own happiness. I’m not going to give it away because you have to read the book, but the moral of the story is that Happiness is a Routine of Habits. I loved this book so much that I sent it to a few friends and Gretchen Rubin is now their guru.
It is the same thing with wellness. Wellness is being healthy in body, mind, and spirit, especially as a result of deliberate efforts, as defined by the dictionary. It is a feeling of balance in all areas of our lives. In Yoga lingo, this is Yoga chitta vritti nirodha… calming the waves in our mind. When we integrate activities into our day that have been proven to promote wellness, they will eventually become habits and become ingrained in our daily lives. No longer a chore, but part of our normal routines.
Finding balance can be very difficult while being a working woman AND a parent. But I truly believe that by implementing a few activities a day, that nourish our bodies, minds, and spirits…we can get CLOSER to experiencing equanimity.
Begin by scheduling these 7 activities into your daily planner. Start by taking note of everything you do in a day. Write it down. Be honest and clear about your true schedule. From the second you wake up in the AM until you go to bed. Do you spend an hour on social media at night? Write it down. Do you hit the snooze alarm 3 times before getting out of bed? Write it down. Again, be honest. It’s important to know what you’re truly working with, so you can clearly make functional changes, and not just be shooting in the dark with where you’re at NOW. Next schedule these 7 activities into your day. WRITE IT DOWN. Starting right now, take action and notice how you’re feeling. Do not let this overwhelm you. Go forth and implement these daily habits and let me know how these work for you.
Move. As much as you can. Practice Yoga. Go for a hike. Put your kids in the bike trailer and go for an after-dinner bike ride. Put on a video and shake your ass around the house. Have a dance party with the kids in the kitchen. Just move. Of course, I recommend getting at least 10 minutes of Yoga in a day…but in addition to that, we need to be as active as possible. Daily movement decreases the risk depression, controls weight, increases energy, helps to prevent disease, improves sleep, boosts memory, and can improve performance. My personal belief this that it improves creativity too. It’s a no-brainer. You need lots of activity DAILY.
I’ve claimed that meditation is the single most important activity (secondary to sleeping), and I’m sticking to it. Meditation will initiate a feeling of calmness and decrease anxiety. You don’t need to meditate a half hour a day. 5 minutes is all you need to start! But I think that the more you practice, the more you’ll like it. You will see the benefits and try to sneak in more meditation practice each day. If you’ve never meditated before, see my post for a simple beginner meditation.
3. Healthy Eating
You get out of life what you put in, right? Same goes with your body. Feeling sluggish or tired? The first place to look is your diet. Are you heavy on sugar and processed foods? Are you eating too much? Are you not eating enough? Are you drinking too much caffeine? Your food fuels your life. Nourish it with healthy food and you will have plenty of energy to complete all your life’s work and have a healthy state of mind. I tend to follow the Beachbody 21 Day Fix eating plan and these personal eating rules.
- Stay away from sugar. It’s crap and does us no good.
- Stay away from processed foods. They are also crap and not serving us well.
- Fried food. Stay away from the crap.
- Drink Green Tea daily.
- Load up on a variety of Fruits and Vegetables.
- Healthy Fats are your friends.
- Keep your carbs healthy and don’t go overboard.
Nutrition is a very personal thing and it won’t look the same for every woman. As with all of these habits consistency is key to long term success. If you break and stuff your face with a chocolate bar, just get back on track after that, and don’t beat yourself up about it. You can do it.
Women thrive on interpersonal relationships. Having someone understand us is paramount to surviving this parenting rollercoaster. Just having someone to bounce ideas off of, to laugh or cry with helps us along this journey and allows to not to feel so alone. We consider ourselves successful if we are surrounded by people we love and a tribe we know has our back. We can survive anything with the right partner or strong group of girlfriends. Take time to initiate or foster relationships that are healthy and inspire you. Be the kind of friend you want in return. Do you have to reach out every day? I personally find that connecting at least several times a week with a good friend, does me a world of good. Visit my previous post on connection ideas if you think you’re too busy for this.
Are you laughing yet? Sleep? Am I crazy to suggest that we need to get an appropriate amount of sleep every day? If you are a new momma with a baby feeding throughout the night, disregard anything I say about sleeping, and just get yourself through this time. It’s killer, but know that it is temporary. If you need some help, try the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. My pediatrician suggested it and it worked for us. I may get a lot of crap about doing the cry it out method…but that’s fine. My occupational therapist co-worker encouraged me to get her sleeping under control and teach her the skills to self-calm. My daughter is an excellent sleeper now and she is able to self-soothe without blinking an eye. It was three nights of hell to establish a solid sleep schedule. It worked for us.
But I digress. If your kids are sleeping through the night, then it is of paramount importance that you are getting a solid night of rest yourself. Do you need 8 hours? Maybe. I only need about 7 hours and it’s different for everyone. The important thing is to figure out how much rest you need. Using the free schedule above, know your wake up time, pencil it in and count backward from there. That’s your bedtime. Write that in your daily schedule. Set a sleep alarm 30-60 minutes before your bedtime to begin your nighttime routine. Try some yoga, read a book, turn off the screens…. Set yourself up for sleeping success. Does that mean that some things will take the back burner? YES. But your children’s momma is a pretty important person and your need to nurture her too. Studies are finding that lack of sleep can lead to increased risk of dementia, poor performance at work, safety concerns and lack of productivity. Get in bed a love it. You’ll never regret this planned habit.
6. Fresh Air and Sunshine
Sweet, sweet sunshine. It makes Vitamin D in your skin and decreases stress levels. It warms us and gives us light. We need it. Daily. Take a walk at lunch, or at the end of the day, with your family. Make sure that if it’s warm enough that you have some skin exposed for the light receptors to process that sunlight into delicious Vitamin D. As a country we have become seriously deficient in Vitamin D….not sure if we’re evolving not to be efficient in our production, using too much sunscreen or not going outside enough. But get outside, daily. Let the sun do its work. You’ll sleep better and be happier.
Water is LIFE. We are composed of about 60% of water. There is a multitude of body processes that rely on a significant amount of water to function properly, including EVERYTHING…and most importantly cellular function. How much water do you need? Well, there’s a lot of debate about that. I always tell patients to take their body weight, halve it, and that’s the number of ounces you need of intake per day. Especially at altitude. Does everyone need this much water? Probably not, but I find that I have a significant amount of patients that present with dizziness symptoms that simply need to increase their water intake. The bottom line is to take note of how much water you’re intaking now. If it’s close to the above-suggested calculation, then you’re probably fine. But if you’re only taking in 1-3 cups of water a day, then you most definitely need to increase your intake. Bring a 32 oz water bottle to work, and drink two of those a day. Initially, you’ll have to pee A LOT, but your body will get used to it quickly. Notice how you feel getting the right amount of water.
Wow! That’s ALOT OF STUFF!! Eh, not so much. It’s only 7 things that can easily be brought into your life. The secret is to carefully schedule these habits consistently in your planner. Pretty soon they will be integrated habits into your lifestyle and it won’t seem so overwhelming. If it all seems overwhelming, start with one and over time implement them slowly.
You can do this momma. Take it easy, and let me know what I can do to help.