Insomnia can deprive us of the joy of the day by creating anything from a fuzzy brain, to an agitated nervous system, to lousy digestion, to a compromised immune system. How do we get a good night’s sleep when our minds are on overdrive, and our muscles are bound up? One reason for insomnia can be that we haven’t used our legs enough during the day; when your legs are restless, it is difficult for your body to relax. If you can’t get off the “go” mode, sleep may be illusive—after all, for incessant worriers, what better time to worry than when you should be sleeping?
To be your most authentic self, you need to incorporate self-care into your daily life. Self-care anchors you in kindness and love, even amidst a whirlwind of stress or trauma. Dr. Kristen Lee Costa, a professor at Northeastern University and stress expert defines self-care as “being aware of a wide range of needs and deliberately taking action to support our own well-being.”
The holidays are careening toward us again, whether we’re ready or not. It’s time to take a look at how we plan to take care of ourselves during the chaos. Let’s start with a few of the demands placed upon us. Although the list can be endless—shopping, parties, where will the money come from, baking, cleaning, entertaining, will Uncle Joe get drunk and ruin dinner—you have to carve out extra time for these chores.
We are a proud people of the mentality “gotta’ do more, gotta’ be more,” where it’s common practice to boast about the busyness of it all and go, go, go until life is gone, gone, gone. I get tired just thinking of the running around that is inherent to the life culture of the masses. What we forget is that our ability to exert ourselves is proportionate to our ability to rest and rejuvenate. To that end, we must create as much time and space in our daily life to rest and restore. These days, all doctors’ orders should be something in this realm. Here are some ways to encourage restoration in your daily life.
It feels like with every passing year, the holiday craziness creeps up a little faster. While I love the true spirit of the holidays — time with family, generosity, celebration — I do find that the stress of keeping up with everything makes for some sleepless nights.
Apparently I’m not alone. Many people say that they have trouble calming their minds at night as the year dips into winter and the holiday festivities begin. Some people even resort to sleeping pills to get through until the New Year.
Fortunately, I have found that meditation works so much better than sleeping pills — and there are no troublesome side effects to worry about. The following meditation techniques are favorites of mine, and they work wonders to help me slip gently into sleep at night.
For both of these techniques, start by getting comfortable in your bed. Lie on your back with your arms resting lightly at your sides.
Recently, my husband Andy and I were jolted out of deep sleep at 5 am by a huge CRASH. We jumped out of bed to investigate (with me grabbing slippers and a flashlight). I assumed a bear had climbed onto the front porch table to get at the bird suet (not the first time).
As the only humans living on a two-thousand-acre estate, we are surrounded by wildlife and are accustomed to myriad nature sounds. Many nights we listen to the primal howls of coyotes, which I love. (Sometimes I even howl along with them!) We know our seasonal birds by their calls and occasionally hear an owl in the night whoo-whoo-whooing.
As an auditory person and lifelong environmentalist, this is heaven for me. It was just a short time ago I needed a sound machine (of nature!) to help me sleep in New York City, with all of its jarring, man-made sounds. (I swear the garbage trucks have amplifier speakers.)
It’s no wonder the number-one complaint of city dwellers is noise. Chronic, debilitating noise is more than just an annoyance — it plays a huge factor in our quality of life. Studies confirm that noise and stress are closely related to our health, and I am always surprised that more people don’t plug their ears (like I do) when a subway car rambles by.
What we hear transforms our brains and our lives. That’s why it’s critical to take control over your ‘personal soundscape.’ Customize your home environment as you would a beautiful soundtrack to create a haven of soothing sounds (and sights and smells). Here are a few tips to do that:
What can you say when there are no words?
We are all still reeling in the aftermath of the school shootings in Connecticut last Friday. I, for one, feel leveled and heartbroken. It is impossible to imagine the impact on the families who lost children, those whose children were spared but so profoundly traumatized, and the rest of us who bear witness from afar to the unthinkable.
Here, in the interest of offering at least a few words of comfort, is some guidance on how to talk to your children in the wake of this tragedy.
In theory, evening is a glorious time of day — a time to eat and spend time with loved ones and then unwind before bed. In reality, though, it’s often a stress fest – feed the kids, put the kids to bed, answer some emails, fall into bed. Or simply lost time – eat whatever, channel surf, cruise the Internet, then look up and wonder how it got to be 11:30 already.
Luckily, it doesn’t take much to transform your evening hours into the respite they ought to be. Here are four of my favorite tips for a peaceful evening. I’d love to hear yours!
The holiday season is upon us, with many of our thoughts turning to food. The popular adage “you are what you eat” is literally true, according to new research that claims a person’s diet has a profound influence on their brain function and overall health.
Just as our eating style reflects and affects who we are, I believe how and where we live reflect ‘us’ even more. Our homes are intimate expressions of ourselves. Similar to the correlation between poor diet and disease, living in a toxic environment — in any sense, physical or emotional — also impacts our health in a negative way. Luckily, the opposite is also true. By creating an environment that supports our well-being, health and happiness, our bodies and minds will respond in positive ways.
The holiday season inundates us with recipes galore (as well as stress and temptations to overindulge). To balance that, choose an ingredient (or two, or three!) from my “healthy-self’ holiday recipe below, and treat yourself to a generous helping of grounding — whatever that means to you.