As I approached the new year, I focused on searching for a renewed sense of balance in my life. With a new job that is both challenging and often stressful, I was beginning to lose my balance. I am a true Libra (if you believe in Zodiac signs, et al) and when my scales are crooked, so am I. If my work life is off, then so is the rest of my life. I pride myself on remaining positive, keeping positive people around me and maintaining a positive outlook. But for the past 6 months I have begun to lose that and it scares me. It makes me feel emotionally and psychologically helpless and I don’t like it. And I needed to do something about it quick if I am going to survive this job and be successful and if I want to remain sane. So I began looking at ways in which I can do this fast and economically. I am sure I am not alone and hope you too can use my “balance” tips:
Yoga: I am convinced that Yoga can cure a lot of things. Staying focused, breathing and being in a quiet space is the best for getting in tune with YOU! Identify a good studio with a variety of classes and levels. There are varying types and you want to ensure you partake in the one best for you. It really does help you regain focus. It doesn’t hurt that you are getting in shape too.
Meditation: Ah, this is always tough for me because I am always trying to do something or squeeze in another task during the day. Sitting still with my eyes closed, thinking and focusing is a challenge unless I am in on a plane (that is where I do my best thinking.) But, meditation is so great for the body and soul. It does help you get “in tune” with your life. Take a few moments a day to just sit and release. You will be amazed at how that can help you find clarity.
Exercise: Yes I know, I know, the dreaded new year’s resolution that we all make come January 1. But, research has shown that exercising or doing some form of physical activity helps reduce anxiety and stress. Upload some new tunes to your I-POD, take advantage of the deals gyms are running this month or buy some Tae-Bo tapes, and find an ideal time in your schedule. Get off the couch and get moving! I am going to take my own advice.
Create a vision board: I am a firm believer in positive thinking and visualizing what you want. It has worked for me before and so it is time to create a new one. Think about what you want today, next month or over a lifetime. Jot them down on paper and then grab magazines or newspapers and cut out symbols or visual objects of what you have written. Turn your words into a vision. Be specific. Place it somewhere you can visualize what’s on your vision board everyday.
Do absolutely NOTHING: The only thing that has helped me survive these past few months is I literally do nothing on the weekends. It would hinder me at times, but it was necessary to remain sane. Take one day and just do mindless things — go to the movies, play a board game, or do a puzzle. By Monday, you will have some renewed clarity and can make better decisions as well.
Here’s to you and me finding a new sense of balance in 2010. I will keep you posted on my progress.
I have so many girlfriends who have either had babies within the last six months or who are having babies within the next six months. I am so happy for each of them and their wonderful new blessings. I am even happier that they are saving me $35 a month because they are truly the BEST birth control any single woman could ever have!!
Seriously, some of them are on their very first and a few are already on their second. Each is having different pregnancy experiences than the other, but they are all experiencing one of the most wonderful yet stressful life events ever. One of my girlfriends who is having her first baby asked me to write a post about pregnancy and stress. So this is for her and all women who are planning a pregnancy, are currently pregnant or looking to be pregnant again. I hope the information is helpful.
One can only imagine what goes through a woman’s mind when she first finds out she is going to have a baby. She is probably filled with joy, excitement, anxiety, worry and a maybe even a little fear. In talking to several friends who have a baby or are having a baby, they have shared their fears or anxiety about “knowing what to do.” Who wouldn’t have such fears if you have NEVER done this before. It’s not quite like learning to ride a bike. You are carrying a life inside of you that is dependent on you for everything! Talk about pressure on a soon-to-be mom. The questions she asks herself are endless – - What do or don’t I eat? What do or don’t I drink? How much should I stand or walk? Is the way I’m sleeping hurting the baby? Know that these are very natural questions to ask and yes can sometimes cause you a little anxiety or stress. But do your best not to stress over these things. Perhaps making a list of questions to ask your doctor at each appointment or using a pregnancy guide like Baby Basics (offered by the What to Expect Foundation) may provide answers for some of your concerns.
I am sure you have heard or been told that stress can be harmful to your baby. While true, generally this caution is referring to chronic or high levels of stress. Within the past few years, there have been an increased number of studies that show chronic stress can have a negative impact on pregnancy as it is related to pre-term births and other adverse birth outcomes. Therefore, one of the most important things a woman can do during her pregnancy is to remove chronic or high-level stress from her life when possible. The death of a loved one, change in financial status, or another life-changing event may cause some unusually high stress. When something like this does happen during your pregnancy, there are a few methods you can try to reduce your level of stress.
The March of Dimes suggests a few simple things soon-to-be moms can do to help out with all levels of sress:
A Votre Sante!!! Which means “to your health” in French. That is what I want you to think about for 2008 – your health! Without good health, where will that leave you? As I am sure you can tell by now, in reading my posts, health to me is all encompassing. It’s not just about exercising and eating healthy, it’s about having a healthy mind, body, AND soul. Whether you are planning on doing resolutions for the year or just a few things you want to achieve, I want you to put your health first. In general, women are caretakers by nature and we tend to take care of everyone else before we take care of ourselves. This is especially true if you are a wife and/or mother. So many of my girlfreinds have told me they can’t remember the last time they bought clothes for themselves, had a pedicure, went to the bathroom alone (you know, without little feet following them), had the house alone for at least 8 hours or just did something for themselves. So listen up girlfriends, for 2008 I want you to make your health a priority! Because really, you are no good to anyone in the long run if you are not taking care of YOU!
These are my ten To-Do’s for you and your health for 2008:
Love yourself first! It’s the best gift you can give yourself. Work on fully accepting your flaws and your quirks, and be truly okay with them. When you love and appreciate you, there is nothing you can’t do in life. Confidence and self-assurance are the sexiest aspects of a woman.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. Because really, it’s all small stuff. Don’t let little things stress you out. If you don’t have control over something then you have to let it go. When you begin to do this, you will be so much more at ease. It is hard to do at first, but trust me with practice it really keeps you sane and mentally well.
Be positive, get rid of the negativity. Maintain a positive attitude and outlook on life. When you think positively, you attract positivity. When you are negative or have negative thoughts, you attract negativity. Also, surround yourself with positive thinking people. Don’t allow the negativity of others to rub off on you. Sometimes we unknowingly take on the characteristics of others, whether good or bad when we are around them consistently.
Embrace a sense of spirituality. Whether you worship Allah, God or Buddah; create and maintain a spiritual space in your life. Your spirituality can get you through the most amazing and the most challenging times in your life.
Make time for YOU. Carve out time in your very busy life to do things for yourself and take care of you. Try to do to something for you at least twice a week this year. You will be a happier, relaxed and nicer person if you take this time for yourself.
Be active. Run, walk, ride a bike, do kickboxing or go for a hike. Do anything that gets your heart rate up and pumping. Exercise is the key to reducing your risk for heart disease and diabetes, along with eating healthy. Plus, as I always say, exercising makes you feel good and can help you sleep better as well.
Focus on what you want, not what you don’t want. This year keep your mind focused on things you want for yourself and how you want to live your life. When you focus on the things you don’t want, you get exactly that — the opposite of what you want. Keep in mind your thoughts are powerful and what you put out is what you will get in return. Believe you can have anything you want!
Eliminate or reduce your stress level. Stress is the leading cause of several women’s health issues. Reduce your stress, improve your health. Meditating, eating well, exercising, and taking time for yourself are all things you can do to reduce your level of stress. Also, learn to embrace the power of no! If you are constantly overwhelmed and it is effecting your health, realize that you can’t do everything. (I know, easier said than done).
Get your health check-ups! Make your appointment today to have your annual check-ups — Pap-Smear, physical, dental, and vision. Don’t forget to also get your HIV/AIDS screening, mammogram, cholesterol test, and heart scans. Women, especially women of color are leading in heart disease, breast and cervical cancer, high cholesterol and diabetes, and HIV/AIDS.
Eat well and consciously. Know what you are putting in your body. Take the time to read the labels and ingredients of the foods you are eating. Try to incorporate more whole grains in your diet and less salt and sugar.
Is your mind running in 50 different directions from the bustle of the holidays and end-of-the year deadlines? Are you constantly feeling like you want to scream in your hands from the pressure of trying to get everything done by Friday? There is nothing more frustrating than not being able to complete proper sentences because your brain is on overload or constantly making to-do lists in your head while trying to fall asleep. I know this is how I am feeling and I am sure there are so many of you who can relate. When I get to this point, I force myself to take a few moments to literally clear out my mind from the day. My mind especially goes crazy at night, when I am in bed and this is a perfect time for me to do a little meditating.
Meditation is a great way to really clear your mind, push out stress, and pull in positive energy. Did you know that stress is one of the most common factors related to several women’s health issues like heart disease, mental health and wellness, pregnancy complications and obesity? There is also evidence showing a possible relationship between stress in women and breast cancer. When you can reduce your stress you can improve your health by leaps and bounds. You can also add years to your life. One way by doing that is taking a few minutes of quiet time to release the stress through meditation. With the New Year coming, wouldn’t it be great to prepare your mind and body for some new energy? I can’t think of a better way to enter the New Year. For me, I see a new year as a fresh start, a new beginning, and new experiences. So if this is your first time meditating, think of it as one of your new experiences.
The word meditate in Webster’s dictionary is to engage in thought or contemplation; reflect. Meditating truly gives you the opportunity to reflect on what is going on in your life and to get rid of the chaos. But because it is a focused period of time, with no distractions, I feel you truly allow yourself to let go and think a bit more clearly. You are more relaxed, as is your breathing. While our brains are powerful, they need re-charging to prevent overload. Meditation is that form of recharge. Guess what else? Meditation is free and costs a lot less than prescription drugs, hospital stays, and visits to your therapist. All of which you may encounter if your stress results in health problems.
So how do you begin to meditate?
Make time to meditate. Take 10-20 minutes out of your day to relax your muscles, slow your breathing and reduce your heart rate. That’s all it takes.
Identify where you want to meditate. You can meditate at work, home or even while walking. Pick a room in the house where you are most relaxed, close your door in your office and say you are on a conference call, or load some meditation music on your I-POD when walking.
Repeat a mantra to help you focus and settle, like “I am calm.” I actually repeat the words “clear your mind” over and over again. I use it to meditate, but I also use it to fall asleep when my mind is all over the place.
Allow yourself to let go. Don’t go in thinking this won’t work for you. It may take you a couple of weeks to really begin to feel relaxed and focused. But I am sure you will begin to feel differently, in a positive way.
I welcome any suggestions for music or books on meditation, that you all have found to be outstanding or really helpful, that can be shared with with others.
I want to leave you with this quote and I hope you will find a new you through meditation.