Posts tagged ‘stress’

December 2, 2013

Enjoy the Holiday Rush

kiss me now

Now, this is my kind of holiday spirit 😉

Hi, Everyone! All stressed out and nowhere to run? I hear ya! This time of year invites not only merriment and reflection but lots of obligations absent the other 11 months of the year. Decorating the house, shopping without breaking the bank, crafting and baking (if you’re so inclined), vowing that THIS year you won’t wait until the last minute to do everything . . . all the while, the calendar is shrinking relentlessly down to zero hour. Then there’s the anxiety over sending Christmas cards—you could choose not to send them this year, but then you risk the icky feeling of being quietly dropped from your friends’ card lists. So, your list of to-do’s is long but necessary. Here are a few tips to help you cope:

is this you

Don’t let this be you . . .

1. Plan Ahead: This one’s a big challenge for me, but it saves a lot of headaches and heart palpitations down the road. Decorate your house early in the season so you can 1) enjoy being surrounded by holiday cheer and 2) focus on other tasks as the season ramps up. If you’re shopping for loved ones’ lists, do like the stores do and barely let the gratitude of Thanksgiving sink in before jumping into The Holidays. Take advantage of sales early in the month, and if you want to avoid having to fight your way through crowded lines even for a latte, do some gift getting during the weekdays. Not possible for everyone, I know, but have you seen those women who seem to have everything done, presents wrapped (nicely), and treats baked for their children’s friends’ families before the first full weekend in December? That’s how they do it! Oh, and they may have made a little deal with the Dark One—I’m just speculating.

2. Savor the Season: This is my favorite part about the holiday season—enjoying it, even as I mow through my lengthy list. When we pull all the decorations and tree down from the attic, I love to put on our favorite Christmas CDs (Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Harry Connick, Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas—I love you!). Preferably I also have a delicious iced Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks as my companion. You know that song from Mary Poppins—“A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down”? I’m a big believer in that phrase when I’m doing anything onerous or involved (for example, cleaning out my closet . . . again). Just give yourself a little sparkle to help enjoy the task at hand—it’s always worked wonders for me. Also, despite the lack of checkmarks on your to-do list, take time out to drive around and look at the lights on your neighbors’ houses, or sit down and watch your favorite holiday movies as a family. Do the things that bring cheer and joy to you and your loved ones—make those cute, little bread loafs that you always dream of doing over the holidays. Go root through your winter clothes and find your favorite comfy sweater to nestle up in, even if you have to crank up the AC, like we have to do in Texas J

3. Be Good to Yourself:  This one obviously involves bits of the previous paragraph, but sometimes we are the ones that get forgotten in the mad rush of December. Taking care of yourself is more than just pampering. You are the lynchpin to your family’s progress through their lives and this season. If you run yourself ragged, then everyone’s in trouble! Be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. Learn to say “No” politely to some requests for your time and assistance—trust me, this will change your life. Just because someone wants you to something doesn’t mean you are beholden to. And it doesn’t mean you are a bad person or don’t like the requestor. It just means that you have a limited amount of time, and you need to spend it in the way that fills you up and keeps you marginally socially acceptable (and not a hermit). Say “Yes” when you can cheerfully help out, and be gracious but direct when replying “No.” You will feel so much better when you can do this. Also, despite occasional obstacles, keep up with your healthy eating and exercise. Exercise especially is a powerful stress buster that improves your mood, relaxes your crazy mind, brings more restful sleep, and keeps your body healthy and happy. It will serve you very well this season, as will mindful eating. If you keep yourself fueled throughout each day with high-quality food (lean protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit, and LOTS of water), you will not only feel amazing but also be able to cope more easily with holiday party temptations. If you’ve been on track with your nutrition, then you (and not the double chocolate cheesecake at your work party) will be in control. Go on, have a little piece! Mama needs some chocolately cheer too!

Enjoy the season, ok? It’s going to go fast!

XOXO, Brooke

chocolate cheesecake

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October 23, 2013

It’s Okay!

Its OK3Do you feel the pressure lately? Always? I’ve been doing pretty well with the ol’ balance game lately, but something happened to me yesterday. I walked into a store to fulfill some to-do list items and saw it. The Christmas section. A dagger of panic struck me and sucked me into a “running behind” feeling; almost like I did something wrong because I hadn’t yet thought about the holidays or decorating for Christmas. Then I looked to the left and saw the Halloween section still on steroids. I felt some relief. You realize we do this to ourselves, right? I started to wonder how much of the life pressures I feel are self-inflicted? Sometimes, it’s okay that we haven’t… fill in the blank. Does the world end? Chances are, no.

For the remained of my day, situations kept happening that elevated my concern. Internally, I replied, “it’s ok.” After a while, I made myself laugh because of how often I had to “talk myself down from a mini-panic.” I’ll share that I may have a problem here, but I am on it. So, in my A-personality, planning nature, I made a list of reasons it’s all going to be okay.

It’s okay if your house isn’t decorated for every holiday.

It’s okay if you skip a year of holiday cards.

It’s okay if you don’t post ‘Happy Birthday’ on Facebook for everyone.

It’s okay if you don’t check your email, social media, or voicemails on the hour.

Further more, it’s okay if someone waits for an e-response for more than a day. If it’s really important, they should call.

It’s okay if you spill something on yourself. Instant conversation starter!

Repeat to yourself, “It’s not devastating.” 9 times out of 10, it’s not, and if it happens to be that unfortunate, still say it to calm yourself a bit.

Its OK2It’s okay that you had to cancel. Apologize once, sincerely, and don’t make it a habit.

It’s okay that you’re milking another week out of your hair color/highlights; Create new up-dos.

It’s okay that you missed a workout. That becomes your rest day, and you’re still on track.

It’s okay if someone misunderstood you. You can’t control other people. Address if you feel it’s appropriate, or just let it go. Chances are, it’ll pass without effort.

It’s okay if you trip; laugh immediately. You’ll feel better.

Its OK

It’s not okay to be mean. Don’t be mean.

Peace friends—Lacey

September 9, 2013

Find Your Happy Place

both joy

Hello, Friends! It’s Brooke, here. Where’s your happy place? You do have one, don’t you? If not, you are missing out. As far as these lovely places go, they can be locations you can actually visit, or they can be exotic locales conjured up in your mind’s eye. While both types have their uses, today we are concerning ourselves with the places that you can access easily at almost any moment.  Why? Because sometimes life just calls for a quick and powerful reset, and your brain is just too overrun to get away on its own. In these instances, it’s best to simply transport yourself to the place where you can relax and let your mind catch up later.

Follow the Clues

clue

But how can you find these places of solace and escape? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When was the last time I was really happy? Where was I?
  • What activities make me lose track of time?
  • If I could go anywhere in my entire city, where would I go and what would I do?
  • What makes my heart happy?
  • When I’ve reached the end of my tether, what would make me feel cared for?

Scour your memories for all the times and places when you were alone and content. Part of caring for your spirit is finding ways to be joyful and complete without needing others to fill a void for you. Also, your loved ones’ version of happy may be entirely different from yours. Your job is to find your glow first and share with those in your life after.

glow

You’re on the Right Track!

Remember, everyone has a different set of hallmarks they use to identify their happy places. Maybe a little boutique smells just like your favorite friend’s house growing up; maybe a painting studio lets you be wildly creative and unbound, unlike your day job. In case you’re stuck, take a peek at my top 3 places currently:

1. Barnes & Noble: smells like coffee, cinnamon scones, and new books—also, I love hanging out with my dad there, and I adore getting lost (and not being missed) exploring whatever my heart desires . . . today

2. Cosmic Café: vegetarian/vegan Indian restaurant: the food is delicious, the vibe is very spiritual and peaceful, and no beloved animals were sacrificed in the making of this nourishment

3. Exall Lake: lovely and peaceful neighborhood lake, surrounded by trees, beautiful homes, and away from the hustle and bustle of Dallas traffic; inspires me and allows me to think and ponder

You Will Know It When You Feel It

heart flutter

Here are some markers that will help you recognize you have found some happy places:

  • It makes your heart flutter happily.
  • Being there is supremely relaxing.
  • Your true self can roam unfettered by expectations of normal life.
  • Your brain can finally shut off the cacophony of b.s. it spouts incessantly as you are lost in the moment.
  • You are thinking about or focusing on only 1 thing—and it feels great!
  • You feel calm because you are in the present moment, not hampered by the past or fretting about the future.

Come to think of it, these markers are some of the very same ones you can use to identify your true calling and find your bliss. No wonder they make you feel happy!

Go to Your Happy Places as Often as Possible

beach heart

Self-explanatory, really! Keep these places tucked away in your subconscious and pull them out regularly, especially when you are feeling stressed, fried, heartbroken, or just plain out of joie de vive. As long as they make your soul sing, you’ve found your little corner of bliss!

Happy hunting, Brooke

August 26, 2013

The Fine Art of Getting Things Done

I get stuff done

Do you have trouble getting things done? I sure do! Some tasks I do just fine with, like scheduled appointments, work deadlines, and most daily minutiae. But that closet that needs to be cleaned out? Purging and reorganizing the files in my office? Cleaning out our dusty, spidery garage? Things that sound only slightly less fun than a root canal–those are the chores I put off. In fact, sometimes I put them off for so long that I become blind to their incessant, nagging existence (at least that’s what it seems like). But the psychological weight of clutter and Things To Do keeps my spirit weighed down and trapped, unable to truly enjoy the present because so much of my inner self is taken up with anxiety from these unfinished tasks.

So, when I find an opportunity to tackle these annoying stealers of joy, I usually have to get creative before I can get things done. Why I can’t just make a list and then power through it, I don’t know. I’m just wired differently. If you are list-challenged like me or if you want some new ideas on how to tackle the next big project, check out my favorite tricks:

1. What Hurts the Most? Relieve the Pressure

stress

When my to-do list is truly epic and things are so out of control that I become almost catatonic with it all, I stop and ask myself, What hurts the most? This is not physical pain I’m referring to, although if this type of pain is on the Crazy List, then of course it demands your attention. Out of the babble of chores, obligations, and distractions pulling at you, which pulls the hardest? Which must be done first out of them all? What is the most upsetting? Find THAT one, and ask yourself, What could I do about this task that would relieve the pressure? How could I breathe easier? What is one step I can take towards finishing this thing? Then do it immediately.

2. Change Your Scenery

This is one of my favorite ways to jumpstart creativity or just get some fresh air into a project that’s become stale. This trick is especially helpful if your task involves pondering, brainstorming, or other mental participation. You may not be able to get rid of your task, but you can try to put a different backdrop behind it. Years ago when I worked from home, I would often move to different locations around the house to help me slog through hundreds of pages that needed editing. When I couldn’t take it anymore, I would move outside or even to my favorite coffee shop, although this was always complicated by my need for a quiet stiller than the grave in order to work.

3. Bring a Little Magic

Mary Poppins was right!

Mary Poppins was right!

Do you remember this line from the Mary Poppins song: “A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down . . .”? This maxim is a wonderful addition to your mental-health arsenal. I rely heavily on it when I have boring household chores to tend to. I find something that would add some joy and brightness to the often mundane tasks of washing dishes, sorting laundry, or even cleaning out the bathroom cabinets. You can do almost anything if you bring a little magic to it. Make a ceremony of time with your loved ones, just because. Combine your bummer activity with your favorite place (e.g., do your weekly budget at Starbucks).

iced coffee

My two secret weapons for coping with these dreary duties are 1) my favorite drink, usually involving caffeine, and 2) audio books. My favorite: Agatha Christie murder mysteries! Her books on tape (and CDs) have been my companions for many years, and I will cherish them forever. Even if your task is festive and fun (say, decorating for the holidays), adding some well-loved music and something to sip on makes everything cheerier.

4. Race the Clock

race the clock

When you find yourself in the midst of a chore and your motivation is grinding to a halt, race the clock! Kids love to race—against each other, against time, really anything. So can you. A little adrenaline goes a long way. Figure out a tight time limit, one that will put the squeeze on you. Then challenge yourself to finish XYZ before time’s up. It may sound childish, but hey, who cares? You’re the only one watching, and if it works, it works. Maybe you have a pile of laundry fresh from the dryer, and you are feeling lazy. If the TV is on, make a game of finishing your folding before the next commercial break. Whatever it is, find a slightly uncomfortable boundary of time to be done by, and GO!

These are just a few tricks that help me get through my to-do’s with minimal muss and fuss. Do you have some great ways you get your rear in gear? If so, I’d love to hear about them. Have a great (and perhaps productive) rest of the day!

Cheers, Brooke

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

June 17, 2013

STRESS……

How do you deal with stress? We all have it, just at different levels and we all have different ways that we deal with it. Some better, than others. There is no such thing as a perfect life, and there certainly is no such thing as stress free living. However, our ability to cope with stress is what separates those who crack under pressure from those who thrive. Whether its work , relationship, family, financial or whatever kind of stress life throws your way, there are different coping mechanisms to help you power through. 

 

1. YOGA-breathing, relaxation, stretching, and getting in tune with one’s body are all great ways to alleviate stress. Even if yoga is not something you already practice, starting now might be good for your stress level. 

2. Running-put those headphones in and hit the pavement. A long run can often clear the mind and allow you to find peace. 

3. Exercise-any form of exercise is going to help you release endorphins and get out some of that negative energy and tension. 

4. Music-there is a definite healing power to music. Whether its upbeat or slow jamz, you know what kind of music will alter your mood. 

5. Talk it out-whether its a friend, a clergyman, or a mental health professional, the power of words has a great impact on stress. 

6. Rest-just with anything else, when we are sleep deprived our bodies don’t have time to assimilate to its surroundings therefore making our stress level rise. 

 

Again, life will never be stress free, but knowing some tools for working around it will make you better able to survive the tough times in your life! Image

June 12, 2013

Nailing Down Common Health Concerns

Image

Happy nails equal healthy YOU!

I recall having coffee with a coworker senior to me, when she looked down at my hands around my mug and said, “no moons.” Excuse me?  Up to that point, I didn’t know that you could tell a person’s B-12 levels by whether or not they had half moons on their nail beds. Go ahead; take a look at your nails… I’ll wait…

I was surprised that my coworker looked past my uneven fresh-out-of-acrylics short nails to observe my half moons, but we were discussing my lack of energy, chronic fatigue, and loss of memory that had transpired that year. I was a historically active, fit, energetic person about three years into my corporate career when I started feeling less energetic, and becoming frequently fatigued throughout my day. I couldn’t put my finger on the issue, but she did!

ImageLooking back it makes perfect sense. In college, although I was committed to my running and indoor cycling workouts, a proud regular of Bodyworks gym in Lubbock, Texas where I got my body in competitive shape for both Miss San Antonio USA and Miss Lubbock USA, I did not eat well. I shiver looking back at the mounds of canned fruit and vegetables I ate. Hey, I was on a college-kid’s budget, and canned food kept well for a long time. (That should have been a hint it wasn’t nourishing.) I cringe when I think about the bowls of cereal I ate for dinner. After all, whole grain cereal promised sweet dreams at the end of a long day, and milk warms the soul right? It was the perfect “go-to, readily-available” meal. Reek! I’m certain that four years of college and three years of making a name for myself in the corporate world (and in the Dallas, Texas social scene) didn’t leave me nourished, and the lack of vitamins and minerals probably started taking its toll on my body.

This same coworker directed me past the inadequate and “cheaper” supplements on store shelves toward Advocare nutritional company, headquartered north of town. High-quality supplementation and a nutritionist that I still credit to this day for my healthy relationship with food have allowed me to reverse any past damage and to propel my health and wellness into a place where I can flourish. We should all set ourselves up to flourish in life!

So, how do your nails look? For my acrylic nail-wearing glamour sisters, don’t despair. Simply take a look the next time you’re in for your “soak off.” If you don’t see half moons, let’s chat about how to get that B-12. Healthy levels of vitamins and minerals exude beauty through your skin, hair, nails, and attitude. You’ll have folks stopping and gasping in no time saying, “WOW—look at the vitamins and minerals on that girl!”

Image

Internal beauty shines brightly!

What are your nails trying to tell you?

Pale Nails: This could be a sign of impending anemia, congestive heart failure, liver disease, or malnutrition

White Nails: If the nails are mostly white with darker rims, this can indicate liver problems, such as hepatitis.

Yellow Nails: Hello, fungal infection! This can also be an alert to a more serious condition such as severe thyroid disease, lung disease, diabetes or psoriasis.

Blue Nails: Breathe, my friend! This is a sign that the body isn’t getting enough oxygen. This could also indicate an infection in the lungs, such as pneumonia.

Rippled or Pitted Nails: This may be an early sign of psoriasis or inflammatory arthritis.

Dry, Brittle Nails: Check out your thyroid if you have nails that frequently crack or split; However, cracking or splitting combined with a yellowish hue is more likely due to a fungal infection.

Finally… one close to my heart as a former nail biter: Biting your nails could be a sign of persistent anxiety or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Alas, good things can come out of the not so good, and I learned about ways to relax and create calmness through guided meditation and breathing exercises. I hope to visit with you more about ways to nourish your mental and emotional wellness with future posts. If you simply cannot stop biting your nails (or cuticle skin), it’s worth discussing with your doctor or wellness practitioner.

Since low Vitamin B-12 levels are common these days, here are other ways you can tell you may be low on this important vitamin:

Tingling hands and feet

Numbness

Memory problems

Feeling exhausted

Depression

Sensitivity to noise

Lots of brown spots

Bleeding gums

Burning sensation (possibly on thighs)

Legs hurt and “jump” at night

Pain, including bone pain in legs

Balance problems

Heavy menstrual bleeding or nose bleeds

P.S.: If you’re wondering why it was important that I mention my coffee shop friend was older than me, it’s because lately I’ve found those senior to me fascinating! I encourage everyone to get to know the senior citizens around them. They have the best stories and you could learn a thing or two from someone who’s been around the block a few times.

Image

My Grandma Lucy and I. She’s a hoot!

Joyfully and in health, Lacey

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

January 11, 2013

So Many Books, So Little Space. . .

Love books part 2

Hi, there. It’s Brooke here. How many of you like to read? No, not just the latest Twitter feed or Yahoo entertainment news (don’t get me wrong—I like to know how fast Anne Hathaway’s pixie cut is growing out just as much as the next person), but really read? I’ve always adored reading, from my earliest memories of my dad reading to me at bedtime to present day, when I have at least 3 audio books in my car at all times. You know how naked you feel when you go somewhere without your purse or phone? I feel agitated and anxious unless I have reading material stashed close by, wherever I go. This would explain the many piles of books and magazines that follow in my wake. I know this book clutter is a problem, and I’m confident a psychologist would be able to dig out some juicy analysis of my inner failings from observing my daily interactions with these piles, but I do not care. Actually I do care, but that’s between the psychologist and me. Having my beloved books nearby comforts me and makes me feel secure that if the moment arrives in which an answer is needed, I can go directly to the most helpful resource and resolve the crisis—I mean, question.

Book room quote

I’ve tried to figure out why I have such trouble with accumulating and holding on to things. You may be like this too, but for me to do something uncomfortable, possibly painful, definitely not creative or fun, I have to know the reason why I should. I found this to be true even when dieting down for a fitness competition. Maybe it’s so I can Jedi mind-trick myself into accomplishing the troublesome task, but regardless, it’s how I’m wired. Several clues to why are as follows:

I crave Input, which is apparently a natural-born strength according to Marcus Buckingham and Donald Clifton, authors of Now, Discover Your Strengths. This is a fascinating book popular in corporate management circles and among people seeking to understand themselves and others. I highly recommend it if you’re the sort who wants to maximize your potential and understand what makes people tick (http://www.amazon.com/Discover-Your-Strengths-Marcus-Buckingham/dp/0743201140/ref=pd_bxgy_b_text_y). To crave input means that you are intellectually curious and tend to collect things—not necessarily physical objects, but information such as found in books, quotes, random ideas, and lots of facts. You gather this information, stimulating your mind and storing it away, never knowing when it might be important at a later date. As you can imagine, this could swiftly lead to logistical problems for you and the people in your life if any of these “treasures” take up physical space. My husband has told me on several occasions that I have too many books and that I need to get rid of some of them. While I do consider this an offensive statement and an affront to me personally, I kinda agree. I once read an article about organizing the house—wait, I’m sure it’s around here somewhere—and it gave me the following advice: Freeing up your physical space from its clutter (books and other things) creates “psychic” space, or room for your spirit to expand and for new opportunities to come into your life. This sentence sounds just fantastical enough (and not too pragmatic, a.k.a. boring) for me to get my head around.

psychology

Also, as an INFP according to the Myers-Briggs Personality Test, I’ve learned that I am a strong “P,” which stands for “Perceiving.” In the context of the Myers-Briggs test, Judging and Perceiving are the two ways people deal with their external world. When one is a “Judging” type, one tends to be gifted at closure, organization, and planning. This also means that these folks tend to make a decision and then move forward effectively. These are skills that I’m working on improving—they don’t come as naturally to me. When you are primarily a Perceiving type, you tend to be flexible, open, and relaxed with the world. You like to observe the world rather than order it and prefer to take in lots of information. A lack of closure is easily tolerated because with new information coming in all the time, one never knows when an important piece will come along and a decision will need to be changed and improved. I can’t explain why this is, but it seems to put words to the reasoning in my head. If you want to really get under your own skin and have a few hours to spare (once you start, you’ll find it hard to stop), go online to any number of sites to take the Myers-Briggs Personality Test or assessments very similar to it. Here’s a nice little intro into the science of Typing and you’ll find some links to free testing and great info as well (http://www.developandgrow.com/lifecoach/blog/free-on-line-myers-briggs-personality-tests/).

I hope you enjoy digging into your psyche and discovering some helpful things. You may just be amazed! Wish me luck as I clear up my psychic space and continue to self-diagnose my neuroses. Have a wonderful weekend!

~Brooke

December 7, 2012

Enjoy the Holiday Rush

holiday list

Hi, Everyone! It’s Brooke here. All stressed out and nowhere to run? I hear ya! This time of year invites not only merriment and reflection but lots of obligations absent the other 11 months of the year. Decorating the house, shopping without breaking the bank, crafting and baking (if you’re so inclined), vowing that THIS year you won’t wait until the last minute to do everything . . . all the while, the calendar is shrinking relentlessly down to zero hour. Then there’s the anxiety over sending Christmas cards—you could choose not to send them this year, but then you risk the icky feeling of being quietly dropped from your friends’ card lists. So, your list of to-do’s is long but necessary. Here are a few tips to help you cope:

1. Plan Ahead: This one’s a big challenge for me, but it saves a lot of headaches and heart palpitations down the road. Decorate your house early in the season so you can 1) enjoy being surrounded by holiday cheer and 2) focus on other tasks as the season ramps up. If you’re shopping for loved ones’ lists, do like the stores do and barely let the gratitude of Thanksgiving sink in before jumping into The Holidays. Take advantage of sales early in the month, and if you want to avoid having to fight your way through crowded lines even for a latte, do some gift getting during the weekdays. Not possible for everyone, I know, but have you seen those women who seem to have everything done, presents wrapped (nicely), and treats baked for their children’s friends’ families before the first full weekend in December? That’s how they do it! Oh, and they may have made a little deal with the Dark One—I’m just speculating.

I only wish my house looked like this!

I only wish my house looked like this!

2. Savor the Season: This is my favorite part about the holiday season—enjoying it, even as I mow through my lengthy list. When we pull all the decorations and tree down from the attic, I love to put on our favorite Christmas CDs (Bing Crosby’s White Christmas and Harry Connick, Jr.’s When My Heart Finds Christmas—I love you!). Preferably I also have a delicious iced Gingerbread Latte from Starbucks as my companion. You know that song from Mary Poppins—“A Spoonful of Sugar Helps the Medicine Go Down”? I’m a big believer in that phrase when I’m doing anything onerous or involved (for example, cleaning out my closet . . . again). Just give yourself a little sparkle to help enjoy the task at hand—it’s always worked wonders for me. Also, despite the lack of checkmarks on your to-do list, take time out to drive around and look at the lights on your neighbors’ houses, or sit down and watch your favorite holiday movies as a family. Do the things that bring cheer and joy to you and your loved ones—make those cute, little bread loafs that you always dream of doing over the holidays. Go root through your winter clothes and find your favorite comfy sweater to nestle up in, even if you have to crank up the AC, like we have to do in Texas J

3. Be Good to Yourself:  This one obviously involves bits of the previous paragraph, but sometimes we are the ones that get forgotten in the mad rush of December. Taking care of yourself is more than just pampering. You are the lynchpin to your family’s progress through their lives and this season. If you run yourself ragged, then everyone’s in trouble! Be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. Learn to say “No” politely to some requests for your time and assistance—trust me, this will change your life. Just because someone wants you to something doesn’t mean you are beholden to. And it doesn’t mean you are a bad person or don’t like the requestor. It just means that you have a limited amount of time, and you need to spend it in the way that fills you up and keeps you marginally socially acceptable (and not a hermit). Say “Yes” when you can cheerfully help out, and be gracious but direct when replying “No.” You will feel so much better when you can do this. Also, despite occasional obstacles, keep up with your healthy eating and exercise. Exercise especially is a powerful stress buster that improves your mood, relaxes your crazy mind, brings more restful sleep, and keeps your body healthy and happy. It will serve you very well this season, as will mindful eating. If you keep yourself fueled throughout each day with high-quality food (lean protein, whole grains, veggies, fruit, and LOTS of water), you will not only feel amazing but also be able to cope more easily with holiday party temptations. If you’ve been on track with your nutrition, then you (and not the double chocolate cheesecake at your work party) will be in control. Go on, have a little piece! Mama needs some chocolately cheer too!

choc cheesecake

Happy Friday, and enjoy the season, ok? It’s going fast!

XOXO, Brooke