Who doesn’t want to wake feeling better rested? Good news! It may be simpler than you think. Try out these 5 tips to help you bounce out of bed feeling more refreshed.
1. Learn how to relax and allow yourself time to unwind at regular intervals throughout your day. The inability to relax is a major contributing factor to sleeping difficulties and we need to be mindful of our levels of stimulation throughout or whole day, not just prior to bedtime. This includes managing stress, what we eat and drink and our visual diet too.
2. Develop a pre-bedtime ritual. Choose activities that unwind the mind and body in the hour before bed to pave the way for a better night’s sleep. This includes sleep cues like PJ’s you love, scent, listening to or reading something soothing, some yoga stretches or journaling activities to end the day on a positive note.
3. Work with your sleep window. Get to know your own body clock, noting the number of hours of sleep you need to function well (for most people this is 7-9 hours) and the times that help you best drift off and rise feeling ready for the day. Once you are aware of your needs, be consistent and make getting to bed an active priority. Everything will wait for you and you will be more productive when you are better rested.
4. Don’t stress about being awake. If you have trouble drifting off or find it hard to get back to sleep, don’t worry about being awake. If you can’t sleep, just rest and if relaxing feels challenging then focus your attention on the sensations of your breathing. Sleep, rest, relaxation and natural breathing all stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you heal and re-energise. Don’t count the hours you’ve had or not had. You’ve got what you’ve got and you will sleep again another time. Self-care will see you through.
5. Upon waking in the morning, think of one thing that you happily anticipate in your day. Let your mind linger on it before you even think about getting out of bed. As your feet hit the floor, sit tall and feel the support of the earth beneath you. As you stand, you could spritz a little uplifting scent and take a few mountain breaths paired with the affirmation, I am grateful for this breath, this day, this life. Feel how this transforms the beginning of every day.
If you’d like to explore any of these strategies in finer detail and to hear many more, come along to my workshop on May 7.
You will learn ways of relaxing that take little time, even some activities that you can do at your desk or at the kitchen sink. We will look closely at relaxing the mind and body in building your own soothing pre-bedtime ritual and methods of helping you sleep when it feels illusive, including mantras and breathing exercises. You will leave the workshop armed with your own sleep-boosting toolkit, pre-bedtime yoga sequence and a divine L’Occitane goody, guaranteeing instant calm. Can’t make it to my neck of the woods? Don’t worry, let’s get really bespoke over Skype.
“I’m stressed!” The modern catch cry! We all know that feeling of time pressure, mental overwhelm, sleeplessness, tight jaw, adrenals in overdrive… The thing is, stress isn’t going to go away. The day where there is an absence of stress is the day we are pushing up daisies. In fact, even positive and much longed for events can also tax our minds and bodies… Getting married, scoring that promotion, falling pregnant and then hells bells, adjusting to the demands of them being on the outside! We have to get a handle on stress because its effects are cumulative, too much stress is plain dangerous for our health and it puts the kibosh on happiness.
So what’s the solution? Daily nourishment, valves that release that mounting pressure, and simple mood boosters. These things must be at our fingertips touch when we need it the most and most of all, quick! I call it my ‘self-care toolkit’ and it helps me manage my stress. Even better, it helps me be the kind of mother, partner, friend and practitioner that I aspire to be. Win win! There’s nothing selfish about that.
10 ways to stress less:
- Breathe – it is literally impossible to feel stressed at the same time as breathing well. We still may be aware of uncomfortable sensations, thoughts and feelings but we don’t feel stressed about them while breathing well. How do we breathe well? Simply stop, be still, and feel your breathing. Relax into the sensations of the inhalation filling you up, a tiny pause at the end of the breath in, the surrender of the exhalation and the pause at the end of your breath out. Become your breath for as long as it takes to feel more grounded.
- ‘Put and ring around it’ – identify what it is that’s stressing you and put a ring around it. It’s not everything, it is just this one defined thing. And if there are multiple stressors that does genuinely make you feel like it’s everything, put a ring around this time. It won’t be like this forever. This ‘chunking down’ tool helps you get a better handle on life’s challenges.
- Are you ‘hangry’? Quite often when we’re feeling headless, it’s because we haven’t fed ourselves appropriately. Have some life-giving snacks at your fingertips because we’re not just feeding our body, we’re also nourishing our mood and mental clarity. Make sure you are well hydrated too.
- Move – this is not just about exercise, this is plain movement. If you’re feeling stuck, low or scattered, move your body. It is a natural antidepressant and research shows it boosts creativity so you will be more resourceful in your approach to problem solving. Nothing fancy or elaborate is needed, just a quick walk around the block can do the trick.
- Reach out – take some time to think about who is on your ‘team’. Who are the people you turn to when you need a kind ear, a sounding board, a cheerleader, someone to yoga with, coffee mate, movie buddy, for your body MOT (my physio and hairdresser are definitely on my team). Write down the names of these people and know that there are different times when they each come to the fore. When you’re feeling wobbly, take a peek at your list and reach out to the appropriate person. Social connection feeds the soul so make sure you are investing in these relationships.
- Scent – don’t underestimate the power of scent. It is so quick and effortless. Spritz your favourite fragrance or light a scented candle and stand tall. Take a few deep breaths and relish that moment. For added potency you can pair scent with affirmations too – use a phrase that channels how you want to feel.
- “I have all the time I need”…. Repeat, repeat, repeat. Even if you don’t believe it! This mantra will help you relax and feel a greater sense of spaciousness in your day. It might even help you refine your priorities.
- Mood boosting music – identify your happy tracks and press play when you need a boost. A dose of classical can be medicinal if soothing is what you need.
- Nature’s beauty – drink it in and let it blow away the cobwebs. Nature is another potent antidepressant and helps us connect with what matters most in life. If you can’t get out in it, seek it out from where you are. Maybe it’s the moving cloudscape during your commute or a vase of cut flowers on your desk at work. Be open to the therapeutic power of Nature and self-care becomes so simple and accessible.
- What’s your WHY – so often stress leaves us feeling a bit discombobulated. Remind yourself of the purpose behind your actions and this galvanises us when the tough gets going.
So, self-care needn’t be elaborate, take much time, energy or expense. Turn to these strategies when you’re feeling under the pump and feel the tension dissipate. Better still, engage in them regularly and you’ll have stress rolling off your shoulders before it raises your blood pressure.
These are just a selection of self-care activities. Book in for your complimentary 15 min phone call about how we can create your own bespoke self-care toolkit. It’s time to reclaim your vitality!
Modern life is undeniably full on and somehow as a society we seem to glorify those who never seem to stop. But this ‘sleep when I’m dead’ stuff has serious ramifications. If we don’t tend to our health – and I’m talking emotional, energetic and mental health as well as our physical body, we run the risk of falling into a heap when life tosses us a curve ball. Curve balls come in all sorts of forms – illness, work stress, relationship issues, and even fabulous things like getting a promotion or falling pregnant. We need to find ways to boost our resilience in the face of these inevitable stressors of life. I’d go even one step further – we need to engage in self-care because it is the cornerstone of happiness and wellbeing, and the means by which we become the kind of people we aspire to be. There is nothing selfish about that.
3 ways to destress in less than 60 seconds:
- Use the mantra: ‘I give myself permission to…’ you fill in the blank. For me, I like to pop in the word ‘rest’. It’s amazing the strife we cause ourselves by resisting the way that we feel, denying what we need or just plain wanting things to be different than they are. Use this mantra to create a little more space around your feelings or to free yourself up from guilt about particular actions. Do what you need to do. Allow yourself to feel as you do. This will diminish your stress.
- Zoom in on beauty or something you find captivating. Take a 60 second break from worry, rumination, problem solving or just plain stressing and take a close look at something awe-inspiring. I love to zoom in on the tiny hairs on my little boys face – helps me restrain from wringing his sweet little neck 🙂 Or gaze on natural beauty around you. Seek it out, get absorbed in it and feel how it transforms your mood.
- Get anchored in your body. When you begin to feel flooded by stress hormones or anger, stop and get connected to your physical body. Feel your feet on the floor, your legs if you are standing and elongate your spine. Seek out areas of tension – you are likely to find it in your forehead, eyes, jaw, shoulders, neck and hands. Soften any clenching you find. Next, feel your breathing. See if you can relax into the sensation of breathing and allow your breath to move freely through you. Notice how just anchoring your attention on your body and breath can help you disentangle yourself from stress.
Repeat after me: self-care isn’t selfish.
We all know that to shed unwanted kilos we need to make healthy food choices and exercise regularly, but did you know that to burn fat we need to relax and unwind too?
Why stress is the enemy to weight loss:
- During periods of stress, the ‘fight or flight’ response is triggered and the body is flooded with stress hormones adrenaline, corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH) and cortisol. These hormones can make you crave sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods.
- While the immediate response to acute stress can be a diminished appetite, when stress becomes chronic it can make you feel ravenously hungry, adding weight gain to your list of concerns.
- Turning to food for comfort can also become a habit – so be mindful of the activities you choose to relieve stress.
- With your adrenal glands pumping out cortisol, production of the muscle-building hormone testosterone slows down. If this is sustained over a long period of time, the drop in testosterone can cause a decrease in muscle mass, meaning you burn fewer calories and store more fat. While this occurs naturally as we age, high cortisol levels can accelerate this process.
- Stress hormones can also lead to the tendency to store visceral fat around the abdomen, which is linked to an increase in both diabetes and heart disease.
How yoga aids weight loss
- Exercising for too hard for too long can actually raise cortisol levels and make you feel more stressed, inhibiting weight loss. While we need to move to burn fat, we also need to engage in gentler activities like yoga to assist the body in de-stressing, facilitating fat loss.
- Stress interferes with good sleep patterns, in turn raising cortisol and making us feel more stressed out. Yoga can be a fabulous activity to promote better sleep. There are specific sequences you can engage in before going to bed that will help you unwind, fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. Breathing techniques from yoga can help you get back to sleep quicker when you wake.
- Relaxation produces brain chemicals which are the antidote to stress hormones. Incorporate a regular yoga or meditation practice into your daily schedule to keep the effects of stress at bay and help you feel more resilient when you are under pressure. As little as 7 minutes a day can have potent stress-busting effects.
Yoga in Berkhamsted: making it work for you
- Classes can be a great cost-effective way to incorporate yoga into your weekly routine. I teach a general class at BAYoga, Tuesdays, 1:15-2:15pm which is designed to help strengthen, shape up and stretch our your body. The pace and intensity of the class is specifically chosen to maximise fat loss – working out at the right pace to burn fat and also stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, helping you unwind. Check out a studio near you to find a class that fits with your week.
- New mums, it’s your turn. Come and enjoy some postnatal yoga with your baby at Carmenta Life, Mondays, 1:30-2:30pm. We will gently strengthen your core, tone and stretch out your body and replenish a weary mind. Top up your energy levels with yoga designed especially for the postnatal period. We will also do some moves for the babies to develop strength, boost digestion and happily tire them out promoting sleep. Sounds good? Book in to secure you’re place. With a maximum of 10 participants you will get hands on attention.
- Can’t get to classes or don’t feel quite ready? Book in for a private session with me. I will take you through some basic moves to prepare you for group lessons or I can design you a routine to do at home. As little as 7 minutes a day will pave the way for more efficient fat loss and help you navigate periods of stress. All you need in your own body and a little space on the floor, I can provide you with your own bespoke sequences.
Have any questions about making yoga work for you? Interested in a private session? Get in touch! 07951 440 255 or email@example.com
Looking for happiness? You’re not alone
There’s no shortage of advice on how to find your bliss. From magazine articles and the internet through to self-help books and TV shows, it seems that everyone has a ‘3 Step Program’ for giving you back your mojo. But what happens when you’ve tried all the Top Tips but you still feel tired and discontented? Are you just not trying hard enough?
Perhaps the reason you’re not finding the right answers is because you’re asking the wrong questions. Perhaps the question ‘what will make me happy?’ is making you unhappy. How can you reframe that question in a way that will give you the results you’re looking for? (more…)