Posts tagged ‘calm’

June 17, 2013

The Simple Life

fab

Hi, Friends! Do you ever have those moments where everything is working really well in your life? When events are spinning themselves out so smoothly that you swear (sassily and a bit smugly) that you really can do it all? I feel this way one day maybe every other week, if I’m lucky! Mostly I feel like the pieces of my world are like errant socks on laundry day—I reach down to grab a pile of dirty clothes to take to the washer, trying to gather all the whites, say, at one time. It’s a weird, OCD-ish game I play with myself, but if I manage to grab all the clothes at once without dropping any bits on the journey across the house, I win! Usually I end up dropping a sock or two, so then I lean down to grab the escaping footwear and more socks (unmatched, of course) jump out, along with a few panties. Aaaaack!

normal washing

We live in a busy, fast-moving world, and we are juggling a ton of things. Our days are filled to bursting, and sometimes just glancing at my calendar the night before makes me so anxious and panicked that I just wait until I’m back at the starting block the next morning, when I’m more mentally stable and armed with caffeine. Then the day starts, and GO, GO, GO! Things are moving along nicely, and then you remember you were supposed to call so-and-so. Then you make the call, and forget to allow for construction on your way to work. You miss your turn, and now you’re about to be late for a meeting. Lunch comes along and you haven’t packed a good lunch because you meant to go to the grocery store last night after leaving the gym and you just forgot. And so it goes. Before long, your equilibrium is off kilter and things snowball from there. If I find myself in a cluster like this late at night or for several days in a row, I quickly reach the end of my rope—tearful and exhausted, unable to cope with the smallest setbacks.

busy mind

In trying to help myself find my way back to sanity during these times, I’ve come up with a little TLC checklist—I call it my Love List. I use it to quickly check to see if I’ve taken care of myself well enough and to figure out where I’ve veered off course.

Love List

1. Nutrition: Have I eaten well enough today? Have I had healthy meals at the appropriate times? Did I get my snacks in? How do I feel right now? Have I eaten enough healthy food to get me through all my activities?

2. Exercise: Have I moved enough today? Have I enjoyed living in my body today? How does it feel? Have I challenged it enough? Does it need rest and care instead of unrelenting activity? Do I feel strong?

3. Sleep: Did I get enough sleep last night? How did I feel this morning? Did I feel rested or was I dragging? Am I feeling good now, or am I in a fog?

4. Water: How much water have I had so far? What’s my goal? How do I feel? Would having more water help me feel better right now?

5. Care of the Soul: Have I prayed today? Have I had enough uninterrupted time to think or dream? Have I done at least one thing that has nurtured my soul? What do I long to do? What would make me happy?

ok

The answers to these questions provide clues to what’s out of whack in my life. They also give me a structure to do one thing at a time to heal my crazy ways. I don’t know about you, but if I don’t go step by step, I soon get lost in the rat’s nest of mental and psychological chatter in my mind. By reviewing my Love List, I can breathe easier and get my grip back. Maybe this list (or your own special creation) will come in handy when you find yourself adrift.

Have a wonderful and simple week,

Brooke

February 12, 2013

Love on the Run

hearts

Hi, there! It’s Brooke here. Valentine’s Day is growing closer—will you be ready? By that I mean have you been treating yourself with loving kindness? Or have you been running yourself ragged moving at Mach 10, desperately hoping you don’t fall apart before you finish all the things that MUST BE DONE? I have absolutely no idea what that feels like—ha! With this craziness in mind, I’d like to share several of my favorite tricks on how to relax when your time is tight. As with any healthy relationship, not every caring gesture has to be grand. Little things can be profoundly powerful, as you will see.

breathe rock

Deep Breathing: You’d think we’d know how to breathe correctly, seeing as how we’ve been doing it all our lives. But we would be wrong. Most of us breathe shallowly from our chest, our shoulders naturally rising on every intake of breath. Yes, this gets the job done, but at a cost. We form the habit of shallow breathing and the muscles we use to do this (chest, shoulders, neck, and back) compensate by becoming stiff and tight. When we are stressed or worried, especially over a period of time, our body’s stress response causes us to take short, small breaths, which then causes our shoulders to creep upward toward our ears, when then causes those shoulder, upper back, and neck muscles to tighten up. Before we know it, we feel breathless and trapped, with burning, aching muscles and a raging tension headache. No, no. This won’t do!

Try It!

Start by putting your left hand on your chest and your right hand on your belly. Now, breathe in like you normally do (using your mouth or your nose), with your chest rising below your left hand. That should feel natural to you. Now, breathe in through your nose while expanding your belly below your right hand. Do you feel the difference? Try it again, noticing the way your breath slows down as you inhale through your nose and the larger capacity your “belly,” or diaphragm, has for expanding. This is called deep breathing, or belly breathing. This action floods your cells with oxygen, clearing up your muddled mind, and slows your heartbeat, lowering your blood pressure. Take another deep, slow breath in through your nose, expanding your belly, and then breathe out from your mouth. Do this 3-5 times.

love hand

Healing Touch: It’s nice to have a great massage therapist on your speed dial, but escaping to her quiet studio for an hour is not always possible. Luckily, you can enjoy the healing power of touch given by your own two hands.

Try It!

First, find a calm place. Then as you look at your hands, set your intention to spread healing through your touch. This doesn’t have to be weird or woo-woo. Just notice the warmth and strength of your hands as you work. Starting at your left hand, use your right hand to firmly squeeze the muscles of your left palm and fingers. Then let go and move up your wrist an inch, then squeeze again. Let go and inch your way up your arm the same way, firmly squeezing then moving up, all the way to where your shoulder meets your neck. Then switch hands, and work your way from your right wrist up to the top of your right shoulder. Gently place the palms of both hands on either side of your neck, resting your fingers around the back of your neck (but don’t squeeze!). Just rest your hands gently around your neck for 10 seconds.

occipital massage

If you have a tension headache, this is your go-to move: Take your palms and place them gently over your ears, then spread your fingers out. Your thumbs should be almost touching along the bony ridge on the back of your head. Now take your thumbs and move them outward along that ridge to the bony edge half an inch behind your ears. If you feel softness and not bone, keep moving away from your ear until you feel the bony ridge of the base of your skull. Hook your thumbs underneath that bony ridge and press upward firmly (according to your comfort level) and hold for 10-15 seconds. Then move each thumb half an inch toward the middle of the back of your head and press upward again and hold. Do this until your thumbs meet in the middle.

Now, press the heels of your hands into your scalp, moving around your head after each squeeze. Take your fingertips, and carefully press your temples (or rub in circles). You may want to wash your hands for this next part if your skin is prone to breakouts. Your face is delicate, so you will use just your fingertips now. Start at the middle of your chin and gently squeeze your skin along your jawbone between your thumb and first two fingers, working out toward your ears. Then, come back to the center and while keeping your mouth relaxed, squeeze your lips between your fingertips—it’s probably best that you do this move looking away from other people (or toward a mirror if you need a laugh!). Now, starting at the crease where your cheeks meet your nose, gently press two or three fingertips in place along your cheekbone, working in little increments toward your ear. Then come back to the center, and with one or two fingertips, do the same gentle press along the lower orbital bone (below your eye), working outward and around the entire bone (above your eyes). For an instant stress reliever: Starting at the inner edge of each eyebrow, squeeze and hold the eyebrow between your thumb and forefinger for 8-10 seconds. Then work your way outward, squeezing the eyebrow as you go.

lavendar bushes

Soothing Scents: Depending on your mood, you may lean toward calming scents or revitalizing ones. There are so many lovely possibilities when aromatherapy is involved, but we’ll explore just a few. If you are in need of peace and relaxation, try lavender or eucalyptus essential oils. These scents are classic choices for all manner of calming rest. If you need a little boost, peppermint, spearmint, or wintergreen are excellent choices. Another category of invigorating scents are the evergreens—cedar, spruce, and pine. You can find these essential oils in grocery stores, online, or my favorite massage supply store—Body Logic (www.ebodylogic.com) for $4-$15. These oils are very powerful, so if you want to use them on your skin, be sure to dilute them by adding them to a safe carrier oil or unscented lotion. You can also use these oils by making “smelling salts”—put ½ teaspoon of kosher salt into a little glass vial and then add 5 drops of your favorite scent and cover tightly. Anytime you need a whiff, just open the vial for a portable pick-me-up. You can also add a few drops of oil to a tissue or paper towel tucked nearby and enjoy. And if you don’t have oil, a nice fragrant (unused) tea bag unwrapped on your desk can transport you in no time flat (my favorite for tea-bag aromatherapy is Tazo tea in Earl Grey).

For Valentine’s Day and every day, may you find a few stolen moments to treat yourself to some TLC. Goodness knows we all need it!

XO, Brooke

November 30, 2012

How I Accidentally Nurtured Myself . . . And You Can Too!

 

Ok, so I’m going to let you in on a dirty, little secret. I’ve been a massage therapist for 4 years, and I can count on maybe one hand (possibly part of another) the number of massages I’ve received over the years. I know it sounds bad. It IS bad! Not only is it a crime how knotted my rhomboids and traps are, but spending my days encouraging all I meet to enjoy the benefits of massage and not going myself is just plain fraud. In the past, if one of my clients would ask me how often I got massages, this standard refrain would ring out inside my head, “Me get a massage? You must be joking. I don’t have time to relax! Now, you there on the table, just close your eyes and breathe deeply. Relax . . .” Can you feel the hypocrisy dripping right off? Wow.

Fast forward to a particularly stressful and horrendous week, when I felt like the juggling act that is my life was not going well. I reached my breaking point when I just had to surrender and call in reinforcements. “Help me, please!” I cried to my favorite therapist. My massage was heavenly and profoundly healing, as I knew it would be. And I made that secret promise to myself (again) that I would come back on a regular basis, and then floated out the door. I swear that the grass and gardens I passed going to my car glowed vibrantly greener, and my view seemed more panoramic than before. Remember Brad Pitt’s character in Interview With a Vampire, when he wakes up in the garden after becoming a vampire and stares up at the angel statue, every sense heightened, as if he can feel everything “living” in Technicolor around him? That’s how I felt as I melted homeward.

Public domain image, royalty free stock photo from www.public-domain-image.com

A calm hush had fallen over my weary spirit, and it was so long overdue that my heart just wanted to cry. I needed to nurture myself, as I would anyone I love. So, once home, I put on a comfy shirt and my favorite, butter-soft jeans, and then finally took the time to do a scrub and ultra-moisturizing mask while I (gasp!) sat still. Then I gathered the ingredients for a wonderful green smoothie. I’d never had one before, but it just felt right. Like I needed to cleanse and heal my insides as the massage had done for my outsides. My favorite recipe right now is modified from the Glowing Green Smoothie from Kimberly Snyder’s The Beauty Detox Solution:

  • 1.5 cups water
  • 1 head organic romaine lettuce, chopped (I use ½ package of Power Greens—kale, arugula, chard, and spinach)
  • ½ head of large bunch or ¾ of small bunch organic spinach (I use a large handful of bagged organic spinach)
  • 3-4 stalks organic celery, chopped
  • 1 organic apple, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic pear, cored and chopped
  • 1 organic banana
  • Juice of ½ organic lemon (I don’t use this because I like my drink sweeter)

In a blender, add the water and chopped greens, and mix until smooth. Add the celery, apple, and pear, increasing the speed as you go. Add the banana last, and if you like your smoothie thicker (and colder), add some ice cubes. This recipe makes about three or four 10 oz. servings, and you can store any unused smoothie in the blender in your fridge and re-blend when ready. Super easy!

green smoothie banana

I took my smoothie and my books and curled up on the couch, contemplating how to take better care of myself. I even took a lot of very deep breaths. It was a lovely afternoon that brings me peace even now as I remember it. Since that afternoon, I’ve been trying to do better, be kinder to myself. I’m a work in progress, as we all are. But I wish you lots of joyful pampering of yourself and your family during this busy holiday season. You are wonderful and you deserve all the happiness and help you give to others.

XO, Brooke