I’ve written many times about being busy and how it can take hold of your life, your thoughts and actions. I’ve been in the grip of ‘busy-ness’ so many times, I’ve lost track. And the conclusion I have come to? I have to choose to be less busy. I have to get off the busy-treadmill, the busy-hamster wheel, and decide it’s not for me. The world still turns regardless of how I operate.
Brené Brown sums it up beautifully:
“’Crazy-busy’ is a great armor, it’s a great way for numbing. What a lot of us do is that we stay so busy and so out in front of our life, that the truth of how we’re feeling and what we really need can’t catch up with us.”
It might not be easy, but I’m trying to stay alongside my life, rather than out in front, so I can catch up with myself. And this means I have to plan well and let some ‘vital’ things pass me by…
At this time of year, lots of people take up or resume exercise – whether that’s the Couch to 5K, joining a gym, or just trying to move around more. To help keep everyone motivated, here are some interesting facts about the benefits of exercise that aren’t only to do with the usual stuff (with thanks to Diana, one of my clients, for sending the article from The Times to me).
Whilst I love this time of year, I realise that not many other people do. The gloom, the dreariness, the aftermath of festivities, the general overwhelm…
So, for this week’s blog, how about finding pleasure in the small things? If that feels like a bit of a struggle, here are some starting ideas:
What are your small things? I’d love to hear!
I post something like this every year at this time, when I am winding down for some time off and time away from 'normal' life. It’s a time when I can focus even more on my well-being, so here are a few ideas of things you can do over the holidays to boost yours.
1. Catch up on sleep at night
2. Gaze at a fire (a candle flame will do)
3. Breathe in the smell of pine or cinnamon
4. Have a day (or more) without alcohol
5. Get outside during daylight hours and walk
6. Take a screen break every day
7. Enjoy a lie-down during the day
8. Listen or watch something completely different to broaden your mind
9. Keep hydrated with water
10. Enjoy your food more by eating slowly
11. Help someone else out
12. Do what works best for you and do more of it
Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year!
(PS There is no blog for the next two weeks as I'm taking a proper break. I’m back on 8th January 2020.)
My mum has been saying for years that the quickest way to unhappiness is to compare yourself to others. It’s so true: comparing yourself with others will leave you feeling one of three things – inferior, superior or impressed. All three of these states are tricky because they all disregard the underlying principle of our true connection with each other - mutual love and positive regard, based on independently-generated self-esteem.
What to do? Be pleased for someone else and who they are/what they can do, and recognise all that you are/what you can do too. Being grateful for what you are and what you have is a great place to start. And if you must compare yourself to someone, try comparing yourself now to who you used to be – and see how far you have come!
After a particularly busy November, I’m now relishing a slightly less frenetic December, and with it comes the recognition of silence again. The modern world can feel loud: constant beeps, pings and other alerts, the chatter and the clatter, and the hum of electrical equipment. It’s why, for so many people, silence is the most sought-after experience. Even Jane Austen was said to have written: "Let us have the luxury of silence."
Here's a few ideas of how you might like to carve out some time to experience silence, every day.
• Try immersing in the stillness of an early morning, or late at night, with no one else around
• Aim to still your attention for a few minutes in the middle of your day
• Process your day and quiet your mind before bed, to aid sleep.
Of course, some might say that you don’t need actual silence to experience peace and quiet, and if that works for you, it’s an added bonus. Focusing on a quiet mind and a still body can manifest the benefits of actual silence, wherever you are, whenever you like.
Have you heard of flexion addiction? According to Dr Eric Dalton, Founder & Executive Director of the Freedom from Pain Institute, we are a ‘flexion-addicted society’. By this, he means that we have moved from being actively mobile to spending most of our time sitting at a desk, in a car, watching television, working on the computer, being on phones and so on. We spend prolonged periods with our bodies in states of flexion. Our ankles, knees and hip joints are all flexed when seated; the spinal vertebrae flex to create a forward posture whilst the shoulders become rounded giving rise to the head and neck protruding further forward.
Even an hour in this fixed flexed position causes the muscles to become tired and strained which in turn leads to muscle weakness. Normal circulation through these tissues becomes impaired and we begin to suffer the symptoms of pain and tension. Tight, tense muscles restrict a full range of movement through our joints causing stiffness and loss of flexibility. To compensate for this, the body begins to adopt alternate postures: the upper back slouches, so the shoulders become more rounded and the head and neck protrude forward, drawing the entire front of the body into a state of flexion. Stress further complicates matters, adding to the experience of muscle fatigue, tension and pain.
Here are a few tips for preventing flexion addiction:
Where does your sense of well-being come from? What is ‘at the bottom’, where you can go no further?
Well-being is not a peripheral or surface-layer state – it is something that lies right at the root of yourself. It’s made up of your fundamentals. The important thing to know is that well-being does not lie in other people, in things, at the bottom of a bottle or in the promise of future times: it needs to be in the present time.
If you have a chance today, spend some time playing around with the idea of what is at the root of your well-being. What are your fundamentals? This might feel a bit uncomfortable at first, because it can challenge our ideas and encourage us to question the status quo. Whatever you ponder, remember that caring for your roots allow for more well-being shoots to thrive.
I don’t know if there is anything better than the colours of autumn! I completely love this time of year in nature – the golds, the reds, the oranges, the yellows… And it is this week’s crop in my veg patch that has inspired today’s blog, which is a recipe, this time using pumpkins and parmesan – two of my favourite ingredients.
Pumpkin and parmesan soup
1 onion, peeled, chopped
1kg pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed and reserved, flesh cubed
800ml hot vegetable stock
110g parmesan, or a similar vegetarian hard cheese, (include the cheese rind if desired), roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat a large frying pan over a low to medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the butter and onion and fry gently for 8-10 minutes, or until softened but not coloured. Increase the heat to medium, add the diced pumpkin and continue to fry, stirring well, for 2-3 minutes.
Pour the hot vegetable stock over the pumpkin mixture and bring to the boil. Stir in the parmesan, then return the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer for a further 8-10 minutes. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Transfer batches of the mixture to a food processor/blender and blend to a smooth purée. Repeat the process until all of the mixture has been blended to a purée. If you like, you can strain the soup mixture through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan and heat until warmed through.
“I’ve never been very good at that.”
“That’s just the way I am and there’s no changing me.”
“I always…” or “I never…”
This is limiting language: pigeon-holing ourselves into small boxes that perhaps, in one sense, explain our behaviour and understanding of ourselves; yet, in another way, can be limiting and fettering. Many of the stock phrases we use to describe ourselves are just plain out-dated. They are old habits that, with constant repetition, continue to be peddled.
How about today you change your old habits and try something different? Instead of “I’ve always done that/been that way”, try instead “I’ll have a go at that and see where it takes me”. A whole new world of novel experiences and feelings await when you ask yourself if the old rules still apply. And if they don’t, where will that lead you? Somewhere exciting, I’m sure!
Today’s blog is about crying – how having a good cry can be restorative and relieving. It’s not a new concept obviously, but it’s something that I have employed recently in place of my usual ‘get even busier and do even more exercise’ coping method. It feels cleansing, a way to release pent-up emotions so they don’t lodge in the body as stress symptoms such as fatigue or pain. Tears are your body’s release valve for stress, sadness, grief, anxiety, and frustration.
It’s not just about emotional benefits either: tears are salt water and they lubricate your eyes, remove irritants, reduce stress hormones, and they contain antibodies that fight pathogenic microbes.
Our bodies produce three kinds of tears: reflex, continuous, and emotional. Each kind has different healing roles. For instance, reflex tears allow your eyes to clear out noxious particles when they’re irritated by smoke or exhaust. The second kind, continuous tears, are produced regularly to keep our eyes lubricated: these contain a chemical called lysozyme which functions as an anti-bacterial and protects our eyes from infection. Tears also travel to the nose through the tear duct to keep the nose moist and bacteria free. Typically, after crying, our breathing, and heart rate decrease, and we enter into a calmer biological and emotional state.
Emotional tears have special health benefits. Biochemist and ‘tear expert’ Dr. William Frey at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis discovered that reflex tears are 98% water, whereas emotional tears also contain stress hormones which get excreted from the body through crying. After studying the composition of tears, Dr. Frey found that emotional tears shed these hormones and other toxins which accumulate during stress. Additional studies also indicate that crying stimulates the production of endorphins, our body’s natural pain killer and ‘feel-good’ hormones. Interestingly, humans are the only creatures known to shed emotional tears, though it’s possible that that elephants and gorillas do too. Other mammals and also salt-water crocodiles produce reflex tears which are protective and lubricating.
Crying actually helps us feel better, even when a problem persists.
As the clocks go back this weekend, no doubt there will be loads of comments about how dark it is! So, this week’s blog is about light.
When someone lightens up your life just by their presence, it’s a wonderful feeling to bask in that light. When someone is a bit of a downer, there is usually some hidden inner baggage which contains sadness and darkness. Which do you bring to the party? A little light or a little dark? A lot of optimism or a little pessimism?
Before the days of flicking a switch to light up a whole town or village, one candle had to be lit by another. If you are aware that you are holding some darkness, it might be useful to spend time with someone whose light is already lit, and stays lit in most situations. Eventually, we may learn the art ourselves, and then act as a candle to others.
Some very sensible advice that I need to take for myself here:
It has been seven years since I taught my first exercise class, so I’m having a celebration this week to mark the fact that I have now taught well over 1,000 classes, not to mention the training courses and workshops that I’ve run, and the countless freelance days I’ve enjoyed. I’ve been thinking about why I love running my own business and have come up with my top seven reasons: the WWWWWHIs.
I get to decide:
For someone who craves independence and doing things my own way, this is a perfect method of working. It means I can focus on my well-being first, which is pretty important considering the field in which I work.
So, if you fancy celebrating with me this week, join one of my classes, where there will be post-exercise snacks to enjoy!
Just a final word of thanks to everyone who has attended my classes, courses and workshops over the years. Without your presence, Clean Well-Being would be entirely lacking. Thank you!
Do you ever long for the days when your life wasn’t influenced by apps, phones and laptops? If so, consider taking a manual day, a dedicated, hands-on day. This is where things are created for real, not just joined-up electrons. Try putting up a shelf finally (of course you might not be good at it, but that’s not the point). Practice doesn’t make perfect; it simply makes better. Bread and soup made, casserole in the oven, the home/garden prepped for autumn. Art or craft project started or finished. Some DIY completed. Being outside in ‘real’ weather with appropriate clothing.
We are a finely-tuned mind-body creature; and when mind and body are in synch, they produce magic. Make it a mind-body manual day today!
Hi, I'm Joanna from Clean Well-Being.
|Fitness and well-being provider||
Clean Well-being ramblings