Feeling Graceful?

Finding the Ease

Some days I find it easier to feel more graceful than others! When I think of “grace”, the obvious image that pops into my mind is that of a ballet dancer – smooth, relaxed movements, with a look of calm serenity ever present on their face, no matter the complexity of the shape performed.

Now, I’m not much of a dancer but it would seem that I’ve not been much better at being graceful in my life either! Sure, when life is going reasonably well I can be graceful but when those rain clouds appear, as they surely do from time to time for us all, I have all the grace and elegance of Bambi, his first time on ice.

A great way to start building more grace into your life if, like me, you could do with a little more during life’s tougher times, is through some kind of physical activity, like dancing. For me, I’ve found yoga a perfect way to begin trying to integrate grace into the poses (asanas) first of all and, after some time, that’s really helped me begin applying this to my life off the mat too.

In yoga, the formation of the asanas include both “sthira” and “sukha”, once you have the basics down. Sthira is a Sanskrit word meaning solid, hard, firm, strong, lasting and permanent. Sukha, in Sanskrit, means gentle, ease, pleasantness and mildness. In the poses, we work to achieve both on the mat, grounding down through the spine and the back of the body whilst simultaneously easing our heart and chest space upwards and trying to avoid holding tension in the face and body – so no gritting our teeth and forcing our bodies into positions that it may not be ready for yet.

It’s a bit like the dualism concept of yin and yang in Chinese philosophy – the idea that two opposing concepts can complement and support each other rather than fight one another. To be whole, whether in dancing, sports, yoga or life, you need both to feel whole and well.

In Western yoga, this is often described as “finding the grace”, as grace is a concept more recognisable to us in the West. Holding a pose that you find difficult on the mat, whilst also relaxing your body and face and even smiling despite the strength being used to maintain the pose, is for me, what yoga is all about.

But it’s when you start to make the connection that you can “find the grace”, the strength to face whatever life throws at you with a relaxed, smooth and even calm manner, without adding in unnecessary stress and tension, to your life off the mat too that the tools and practices of yoga (or your physical activity of choice!) really advance to the next level.

Recently, I’ve been able to see this happening in my own life with a few tough weeks over the last month or so. Whether family issues, work, the odd health issue or finances, I’ve pretty much had all of them thrown at me at once and whilst I’m not going to say I found them easy to deal with, I definitely found them easier to deal with when I began trying to “find the grace” in the situation by treating them each like a yoga pose.

With finances, for example, where could I ground into the situation – well by taking a long, hard look at where my money was going. Spending £70.00 the month before on takeaways for 3 of us was completely unnecessary for one! Where could I release tension in the situation? By stopping spending so much on takeaways but not completely restricting myself by maybe cutting out the more expensive takeaways to maybe just a chippy tea twice a month instead of curries/pizzas at a third of the cost.

Another example was to consider if my youngest really needed to go to Breakfast Club anymore which she wasn’t really enjoying and, due to a change in the time she started school this year and the time I started work, grounding into the looking at the cost of this versus the benefit. An extra £60.00 a month for little to no benefit was a complete no-brainer and helped me ease the financial burden I found myself in, again helping to find the grace in the situation.

It wasn’t easy to do these things when I felt completely battered by other things life was throwing at me but I found it far easier to do when I repeated the mantra quietly to myself of “find the ease” and approached each problem like a yoga pose.

Of course, you’ll have to find your equivalent but yoga is a practice I highly recommend. It really can be any hobby. Is there something that you really enjoy doing that requires a certain amount of knowledge and application to perform but that goes more smoothly when you relax into it? Again, examples for me include knitting, cooking and playing guitar or even blogging. How could you apply that to your everyday life?

What’s Stealing Your Energy?

Discovering the Secret to Feeling More Energised

Over the last decade or so, this has become something of a personal quest for me – just why am I so darn tired all the time? To answer this question, I’ve seen doctors, had blood tests come back “all clear”, been prescribed anti-depressants and been referred to NHS talking therapy services. Whilst these all served their purpose and helped to some extent, I still found myself feeling more tired than I felt I should be and still wondering just how I could get more energy.

Asking the Right Questions

But maybe that’s not the best question to ask, as pointed out by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love in this linked article which I wished I’d come across years ago: https://www.glamour.com/story/elizabeth-gilbert-advice. Maybe a better question to ask is:

“Where is your energy going?”

Elizabeth Gilbert

Maybe, as Elizabeth Gilbert suggests happened to her, it wasn’t that I needed more energy; I just needed to learn how to spend it more wisely. It sounded so simple, I had to ask myself why I hadn’t thought about it this way before!

Energy Saving vs Energy Spending

When it comes to finances, I consider that I have a fairly good balance between saving and spending. Thinking about it, I’m not so sure I’ve applied those skills to my personal energy bank account quite so well. Over the years, especially through my twenties, I know I invested my energies in things that didn’t serve me well but, at the time, it didn’t really matter because it seemed so much easier to bounce back then.

Fast-forward a few years and those continual poor energy investments have led to some majorly depleted energy deposits that, like with any debt, take time to replenish – a time of “energy austerity”, if you will.

Now, despite a far healthier lifestyle and choices throughout 2019, it’s taken the best part of 12 months to start feeling like my old self and climb out of the red into the black.

Is it Not Just an Age Thing?

To a degree I’m sure it is – but it clearly isn’t just about age as some older people seem to have more energy than those younger than them. Of course we’re all different and will have different demands made of us, but just like with finances, it seems that how we spend what we do have, can make a world of difference to our daily energy levels.

So, Where is Your Energy Going?

Spending some of your hard-earned energy answering this question properly is likely to be an investment that pays dividends in the long-term.

Unhealthy Diets

We know we get our energy from food so the obvious place to start is to clean up our diets. That doesn’t mean we starve ourselves or dive head first into the latest diet craze, but it does mean we stop fuelling our bodies with unhealthy processed foods that take our body a considerable amount of energy to break down. Having said that, be sensible about it. If your body is used to a daily chocolate bar or packet of crisps, start reducing this slowly and gradually so you don’t hit your body with going from a certain daily amount of sugar to none at all. You’ll feel more tired than before that way. Maybe start with a couple of times a week, swap an unhealthy snack for a healthier version and build it up. You want to be aiming for treats to be a couple of times a week in the end but remember, it’s a marathon not a sprint if you want your new healthier food choices to last.

Unhealthy Habits

This one was the hardest for me – smoking, too much alcohol, lack of exercise, too much screen-time. These will be different for everyone and unlikely to be something you conquer overnight. What amazed me when I refrained from my unhealthy habits was realising just how much energy my bad habits were robbing from me. For me, it’s been taking one energy stealer at a time and taking them on one at a time, replacing them with healthier habits, swapping cigarettes for Champix, only drinking around once a month, daily yoga and dog-walks, putting my phone down and knitting, cooking or playing guitar. I found that until I quit smoking and massively reduced the alcohol intake, I just didn’t have the energy to engage in these healthier habits so if you have more than one bad habit like me, it might be worth asking yourself, which you think is robbing your energy most and start with that one.

Unhealthy Environments

It can be easy to underestimate this one – toxic workplace, toxic family, toxic friends – not the easiest thing to change. I spent years of my life trying to convince some people why they should like me and change themselves/their opinions before realising it was a complete waste of my time and energy. Now if I find myself around someone who is toxic, i.e. draining my energy repeatedly, I ask myself are they worth being around.

Of course, we can’t avoid and cut out everybody who is toxic to our energy – we may need that job or they may be a close family member/friend. But we can limit our contact with those people and set clear boundaries. This has been an absolute game-changer for me this year. I find that I have more time to spend with those friends, family and colleagues that I enjoy spending time with which means that when I do have to interact with someone I find draining, I have more energy, compassion and patience to do so. This isn’t about labelling people toxic/non-toxic or only being around those who always agree with you. It’s simply removing or reducing contact with people who you find draining to be around.

Obviously I’m no doctor nor medically trained in any way so obviously speak to your own healthcare provider before applying any of this to your own life or circumstances. If you’ve any tips you’d like to share to inspire others who may be feeling exhausted and run down feel free to add them to the comments below.

photo/woman-holding-sparklers

Lost Your Mojo?

Rediscover Your Inner Spark

It happens – one day you feel like you can take on the world whilst the next day you feel like hiding from it. You’re in a funk and it’s unnerving, uncomfortable and worse, you’ve no idea how long it’s going to last. We’ve all been there. But is there anything we can do to speed the process up, rediscover our inner spark and feel like we’ve got our “mojo” back?

Luckily, the answer to that is a resounding yes! So, if you’re feeling out of sorts, read on to find out more about what might help, as well as identifying what probably won’t.

Get Back to Basics

Quite often, when I find myself feeling like this, it’s because I’ve burnt myself out, taking too much on than I can comfortably handle.

Of course, sometimes we have no choice but to take those tasks on, say as a single parent having to be both mum and dad, or working full time whilst caring for our elderly parents, or even just during exceptionally busy times in our lives period. It’s during these times, however, that we need to really take some time to assess and evaluate what absolutely must be done and what needs to take a back seat.

For me, getting back to basics is crucial to either avoiding burnout altogether or to recovering more quickly from a bout of it. It’s about doing all the things we probably don’t feel like doing during these times: eating healthily, drinking plenty of water, getting enough sleep and taking adequate time for ourselves to rest and rejuvenate. The oft-quoted example of this that I see is that of the instructions when on an aeroplane to put your own oxygen mask on first before assisting others, such as any children.

The difficult part of this is being motivated enough to do it! Just recently, I went through this exact situation. I knew what I needed to do, I just couldn’t be bothered to do it because I was so burnt out. It’s a Catch-22. But do it you must if you want to speed up the healing and recovery process.

Tip: Start small. Identify one or two things that you could start to do now, today, that you know are good for you. What you’re looking for is to start building momentum so that things you want/need to do but don’t feel ready for just yet, feel a little easier once you’ve got some of the basics under your belt. Things I did:

  • increased water intake;
  • went to bed earlier;
  • listened to guided meditations;
  • made sure to have 3 meals per day;
  • started taking vitamins and probiotics again;
  • contacted the GP for help quitting smoking.

A week later, feeling buoyed up with having cared well for myself that week, I felt inspired to take on some other essential self-care that I’d let slip but that a week before seemed just too difficult to face:

  • made sure to have a healthy breakfast;
  • took up yoga again;
  • reconnected with hobbies (knitting, blogging, etc);
  • reconnecting with friends and family;
  • reading self-care books/articles;
  • journalling.

The plan for this coming week is to stay on track with all of the above now that I’m feeling much more like my old self. A couple of weeks ago, every single one of these would have felt impossible.

Set Healthy Boundaries

I’m sure that some of you are thinking “Great – and just when am I supposed to find the time to do all of this?” and I totally get that. The answer, however difficult you may find it (myself included!), is to stop doing all the things that you’re currently doing that you don’t need to do.

I can’t speak from a male-perspective, but as a wife and mother of two who works full-time, I’ve realised recently how much I was doing for other people that I didn’t really need to do or that could wait for a time more convenient to me. It still feels incredibly selfish to write that sentence because, somehow, I have this perception that I “should” be doing those things.

I realised that if I wanted to be a better wife, mother, employee, me, something had to give. I couldn’t give myself the things that I needed for my health and well-being if I was constantly doing things for others first (think oxygen mask analogy again). I also would inevitably burn out eventually and then couldn’t do all the things I needed to, whether for others or myself, and then I really would be in a pickle.

Maybe it comes from wanting to feel needed or liked on a subconscious level but these last 2 weeks I stopped. Told the family, friends and my students that actually I wouldn’t be doing anything that I felt that they could and should be doing for themselves. Yes, there were a few who complained but you know what? The world kept on turning, they did it themselves and I had time for self-care. No, maybe they didn’t do it the way I would have done it but, turns out, my way isn’t the only way! They also learned how to do things that they otherwise wouldn’t have known how to do so actually everyone was happier.

Tip: What did this include? Ironing for the husband and 18 year old. No reason at all why they can’t do their own and saves me a good couple of hours each week. Helping the 18 year old get her first contract phone. Normally, I would have dropped everything and just done it for her and caught up with my work afterwards cutting into my evening time. Instead, I offered to help her to do it at the weekend which we did. With my 7-year old, instead of just doing little things like putting her shoes away and tidying up any toys she left out, asking her to do it which she did (sometimes begrudgingly mind!). With my law students, returning work full of written English errors that could easily be corrected by them with an effective proofread without marking and asking them to resubmit once they had finished their work to the standard they know is required.

What did I learn from this? To set boundaries. This doesn’t mean that you gather your nearest and dearest and inform them that you’ll never lift a finger for them again, but rather that these things do not become something “expected” that you will do, especially where they are the responsibility of someone else. If you want to do something for somebody or if somebody needs your help, of course you will still want to do that but only if your self-care isn’t being compromised in the process.

Result: more time and energy for me to practice self-nurturing habits and build up to the big one – cutting out the things I knew were bad for me!

Banish the Bad Habits

I’m sure most of us have at least one habit that we desperately want to conquer but for some reason we keep on doing it. Mine – apart from not setting healthy boundaries – was smoking. I’ve been ping-ponging for years between quitting and smoking/smoking and quitting. I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it by myself, made the call to the GP and went to see the nurse who prescribed Champix. I have to say it’s not for everyone but has made quitting incredibly easy over the last two weeks, more so than any other method I’ve tried. There are uncomfortable side-effects of course but I’m guessing heart disease and cancer, the almost guaranteed side-effect of smoking, are far more uncomfortable and deadly!

I’ve mentioned before on this site that at the end of 2018, I drastically reduced my alcohol intake to no more than around once per month for special occasions e.g. a holiday or celebration and, frankly, my life has been a million times better as a result and I don’t miss it at all now it’s become the norm.

What your bad habit is will be individual to you and, like me, you may well have more than one. That’s fine. I have no issue if anyone wants to smoke or drink or anything else for that matter. This is really for anyone who feels that their bad habit is making them feel bad about themselves. It could be as simple as stopping biting your nails or swearing (next on my list!). If you feel there’s a bad habit that you’d like to change, again, start small. Do a bit of research on the internet on how others overcame the same habit. Start putting a plan together, including a date for when you plan to stop or reduce your habit and maybe start building a “toolkit” to help you in your challenge.

If it’s a habit that takes up a lot of your time, and I can honestly say until I stopped I didn’t realise quite how much time smoking, going to the shop for supplies, drinking, recovering from a hangover and the like took up of my time, then you’re in for a treat when you do get past the first difficult weeks of stopping. You’ll have a ton more time on your hands for more self-care and you time. The only thing to watch with this is that you don’t substitute one bad habit for another!

Another example of how I did this was when I tried to quit smoking previously I replaced cigarette breaks with coffee/tea breaks. Whilst I’m sure nicotine and all the other chemicals are far worse for us than caffeine, being over-caffeinated to the point I was I’m sure contributed to the feeling of burn out. And then I had to wean myself off the caffeine too! Not helpful.

Also, don’t give up if you don’t manage to break your bad habits the first time. I’ve quit smoking so many times now that I doubt anyone believes me anymore, not even myself. I can’t wait to surprise everyone! Remember, we call them habits for a reason and, regardless of our reasons for having these habits, at some point we’ve clearly come to rely on them to help us get through the stresses of the day. Go easy on yourself and take it one day and one challenge at a time. If you do relapse, take a break from quitting your habit of choice, dust yourself off, regroup, re-plan and try again.

Finally, don’t expect overnight results with any of these tips. It took time for you to lose your “mojo”, it’ll take time to get it back again. Just start taking steps in the right direction, at the right pace for you and you’ll regain that inner spark in no time.

How about you? Have you any tips that could help others feeling under-par to get them back to their best selves? Why not share your tips in the comments below.

Toadstools and grass

Looking for Something A Bit Different?

Try This!

Depending on what you mean by “different”, this may or may not be it! Over the last few weeks, I’ve been working through a 6-part guided meditation by White Cloud Mystic, who I follow over on You Tube, which I’ve really enjoyed listening to. I’ve included a link to the first one below for anyone who fancies giving it a try.

What is a Guided Meditation?

For those of you who’ve not yet tried a guided meditation, you might wonder what it involves. Generally speaking, guided meditation is where one person leads a person into a meditative state, usually by describing a story or scenario for them to imagine and/or follow the instructions given.

Why I’m Recommending It

Because I enjoyed it and wanted to give others a chance to enjoy it too! It has a really nice simple storytelling style, tone and pace which is so relaxing. I always had a great night’s sleep after listening to one of these.

Sharing here is also a good way for me to make others aware of the channel so that hopefully it grows and we get more great meditations from White Cloud Mystic 🙂

The whole series has a child-like innocence and nostalgia to it where you get to follow your own fairy into a magical world whilst you relax and drift away. There is also, for those interested, the idea that this meditation can be used to develop your own “magic”, whatever that means to you.

Give it a go if you’re interested by clicking on the video above. If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments and feel free to share with anyone who might benefit from a good night’s sleep tonight!

model with autumn leaves as a dress

How Do You Get Autumn Ready?

Ideas for Making the Most of the Autumn

Autumn” – it’s just such a cosy sounding word isn’t it conjuring up images of warm drinks, the last of the warmer days and the crunch of fallen leaves.

It’s also the time for a lot of fun celebrations, depending on your beliefs and location on the planet. Here in the UK, we have the Harvest Festival at the end of September, Halloween at the end of October, which is followed shortly after by Bonfire Night on 5 November. In the USA, there is of course Thanksgiving celebrated rather than Bonfire Night. After this, thoughts soon turn to the winter and Christmas Holidays in our house.

Before then, why not make the most of this Autumn to try a couple of the following autumn-inspired ideas:

  • Cook a warming soup, a stew or casserole
  • Visit a pumpkin patch/apple orchard
  • Try a pumpkin latte
  • Bread baking/cake making
  • Go to a professional bonfire and/or firework display
  • Watch scary movies
  • Organise your autumn/winter wardrobe
  • Go on a nature walk to take in the changes
  • Decorate the house seasonally/have a Halloween party
  • Trick or treat
  • Carve pumpkins
  • Knitting
  • Rake leaves
  • Stargaze
  • Toffee Apples
  • Warm apple cider
  • Bat-watching
  • Gratitude journal
  • Getting the garden ready for winter

So there’s a few things to do to welcome in the change of a new season should you wish to. Re-organising and updating the wardrobes has already started in our house with the kids heading back to school this week. Looking forward to a pumpkin latte too – that always feels soothingly autumnal.

Which one do you feel inspired to try?

doors choices

Feeling Undecided?

Decisions, Decisions

If you love the story The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C S Lewis but haven’t yet read the prequel to it, The Magician’s Nephew, then first of all get yourself a copy of it as it really sets up the later stories (7 in total), explaining how it is that the wardrobe leads to a magical world, for example.

In fact, it always surprises me how few people know that there even is a prequel. Maybe this is because the 3 Disney films now available in the series start with the second, but better-known, story of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, followed naturally by Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

“The Deeper Magic”

When I was younger and read The Magician’s Nephew, it was just a very good story but, as I’ve said in previous blogs, what makes a story good to me these days is something that stays with you even after you’ve finished reading. In this case, what stayed with me was the following poem from the story:

"Make your choice, adventurous Stranger,
Strike the bell and bide the danger,
Or wonder, till it drives you mad,
What would have followed if you had."


C S Lewis - The Magician's Nephew

Slightly dark for a kids’ book really! A lot of truth in the message though – how many times have we said something to ourselves like “I’d rather do it and regret it afterwards then spend my whole life wondering what might have come of it if I’d done it”. This poem, read as a child just because I liked fantasy stories, is something that comes back to me, again and again, whenever I’m on the fence about something, because it always helps me make up my mind.

What about you – is there a favourite book quote you find comes back to you at certain times? Or could the above poem help you make up your mind?

Thoughtful woman

What’s Your Greatest Asset?

How to Make the Most of Your Best Feature

Growing up as a teenager in the 90s, articles like this could regularly be found in every young girl’s magazine – how to maximise your bewitching eyes or contagious smile, master a timely hair flick or use make up or clothes to highlight your fantastic face or body shape.

With the arrival of the internet, nowadays, these articles can just as easily be found online but most articles continue to push this idea that your greatest asset or best feature has to be something physical. It’s a rare occurrence, relatively speaking, for it to be suggested that your greatest asset could in fact be unrelated to your physical appearance.

I personally love the following quote:

“Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset”

Joss Whedon

I love this quote because it doesn’t really say whether that asset is a physical attribute or a personality trait, a talent or a skill. It could well be your dazzling smiling that people find captivating or maybe your persuasive personality can charm the birds from the trees. But I bet there’s also something else about you that you’ve been told is “weird”, in a good way, at least once or twice.

For me, I think probably being described as “down-to-earth” a few times suggests to me that this could well be mine. Not that being “down-to-earth” is necessarily something weird but maybe there’s something about me that makes this side of my personality stand out. For instance, maybe it’s because I come across so down-to-earth that I find it incredibly easy to small talk with virtually anyone. The good thing about this skill for me is that, most of the time, I can put people at their ease and build a rapport which certainly makes my job as a further education tutor that much easier when I’m meeting new students all the time.

“You have to be odd to be number one”

Dr Seuss

“Weirdness” for me is just what makes you stand out from everyone else or something unexpected, what marketers would call in business your “unique selling point” so I have to say I completely agree with Joss Whedon and Dr Seuss on this. I suppose it really depends on whatever makes you weird or odd!

Once you’ve figured out what it is about you that is complimented the most, the next thing to do is to learn how to make the most of this feature. So, if you’ve been told you’re funny, whilst you wouldn’t want to overdo it, knowing when and where to make use of this skill might be a way to be more successful – whatever success means to you.

Or, maybe simply being more aware of your strengths so that you can combine and play to all of them is your greatest asset?

Taking even 10 minutes just to sit and think about what makes you tick can help you with this exercise. Take away the job you do, how old you are, whether you’re a parent or not, what’s “expected” of you – if you had the choice, what is it you enjoy doing? That may well be your “weird” thing. How can you now make the most of it?

Sad adult female hugging giant teddy on bed

Had a Bad Day?

Healthy Ways to Boost Your Mood

Bad days happen to the best of us, sometimes quite unexpectedly and/or due to circumstances beyond our control. You can’t stop them entirely but you can at least try to make the best of them by using them as an excuse to treat yourself especially well and indulging in something that you know will make you feel better.

Trick or Treat?

Treating yourself when you’re going through “one of those days” can help to make something trying far more bearable. Unfortunately, in the past, I would often use a bad habit to make myself feel better: smoking, alcohol, chocolate, etc. All things that made me feel better in the moment but usually made me feel even worse as I’d end up feeling guilty for succumbing to my bad habits on top of having had a bad day to begin with!

As many of you already know from previous posts, 2019 for me has been about trying to change as many of my bad habits as possible and, so far, even though I slip from time to time, that decision is one of the best decisions I’ve made yet. The bad days have come less and less this year which is fab – but what to do now when they do strike?

Smoking, drinking and death by chocolate are not past-times I indulge in these days but I still want to feel good when a bad day does hit. Like today, after someone I considered a good friend took their crappy day out on me. My first thought was to have a cigarette to “cheer myself up” but luckily I clocked that thought for what it was (habit craving) without succumbing to it. Now, a couple of hours later, I’m glad I resisted the urge.

So for anyone else looking for healthier ways to boost their mood after experiencing a bad time, here’s what made me feel better after my bad day:

Feeling Supported

Fortunately, another friend of mine witnessed what had taken place and was able to give me a pep talk to encourage me to take a step back and avoid making a bad situation worse. Call in your support network and let them help you through a difficult situation even if it’s just listening as my friend did for me; it can make a world of difference.

Soak in the Bath

Honestly, I love a good soak in the bath whether I’ve had a bad day or not but candles, bubbles and coming out smelling delicious always lifts my mood at least a little.

Snuggle a Pet

I didn’t actually “snuggle” our pets as such as they’re not really about snuggling, but I did clean out the guinea-pigs’ cage and give them a stroke whilst putting down fresh bedding, food and water for them. It was a good distraction and immediately made me feel better. If you’ve not got a pet, snuggle up with a teddy!

Putting the Kettle On

Is there anything more British than putting the kettle on to make a cuppa in a crisis? No, there is not and the reason for that is because it works. Soothing for the soul, especially a nice herbal blend like Pukka’s Night Time concoction. Think chamomile, lavender and Valerian root to really relax yourself.

Journal

It’s funny as I’d been toying with what to blog about all day and not quite made my mind up and then, when this happened, I thought why not blog about this in case it could help someone else? It definitely made me feel better to get my thoughts “down on paper” if nothing else and far better to turn my bad day into a positive experience in this way than to bottle it all up and explode at some later date which can also be another bad habit of mine!

There are of course loads of different things that might work for you, exercising, meditating, yoga, listening to music, reading, playing a game, sleeping, watching TV, etc – I just picked out 5 that I happened to do this evening which I noticed had a lifting effect on my mood however slight – it all adds up after all.

I think one of the most important things to remember is that it will pass and that occasionally we have to endure dark days to better appreciate the light.

What about you? Have you any tips that help you boost your mood on a bad day?

Do something today quote on green wooden background with daisy

Happy Monday!

A ship is always safe at shore but that's not what it's built for quote overlooking statue of liberty
Believing in yourself quote
If you knew how capable you were quote with ladies hand pointing at it on green background
Trusting yourself
Don't think too much, just do what makes you happy quote girl on swing at beach in moonlight
Happiness quote
Set a goal quote on ocean and sky background blue yellow
Goalsetting
The trouble is, you think you have time quote Buddha
Sobering thoughts
Sometimes you win quote overlooking city skyline at dusk/dawn
Life lessons
Walt Disney quote fun to do the impossible
Enjoy the ride!
Venus Williams quote believe in yourself
Self-confidence building
Do something today quote on green wooden background with daisy
Pep talk

A few posts that helped improve my mood on a Sunday evening in preparation for the coming week – Happy Monday!

🌻🌻🌻

Could heart opening poses be the cure for modern living?

Heart Openers: The Cure for Modern-Living

Modern Living Cure: Heart Openers

Having dabbled in a bit of yoga here and there for several years now, my New Year’s resolution to myself for 2019 was to make yoga a daily practice in my life. Nearly 8 months on, I have been absolutely amazed at the ways yoga has massively enhanced all aspects of my life for the better, most noticeably via regular heart opening poses and stretches.

Could You Benefit from Heart Openers?

An easy way to test this is to check in with yourself right now. Without changing position, quickly scan yourself to see how you are sat/lay/stood as you read this:

Is your back slouched?

Are your shoulders up near your ears?

Are you hunched over in the “text-neck” position so commonly seen these days i.e. leaning forward with head bent down?

Next, try self-correcting your posture so gently slide your shoulders downwards, away from your ears, straighten the back, lift the chest upwards and lift the head so the weight is evenly balanced across the neck, neither heavier in the front nor the back. In this better posture for the body do your shoulders round inwards towards your chest or outwards?

I would say that from my observations of people generally who do not practice stretches regularly to counter-act today’s modern-living hunched over computers, phones and other screens, most people’s shoulders tend to roll inwards. For me, that is a clear sign that some kind of heart opening exercises would likely benefit that person.

And this was me too until, over the last few months, I’ve noticed a gradual change in my daily posture whereby now my shoulders do naturally gravitate down my body turning out instead of in which has the effect of lifting my head, neck and chest and straightening my back as a matter of habit. Cue a lot less back and neck complaints, less headaches as well as a downturn in aches and pains generally. I would add that my posture up until my daily yoga practice was exceptionally poor.

What Are the Likely Benefits Then?

Physically:

  • Back pain lessened;
  • Shoulders feel less tight;
  • Neck pain reduced;
  • Healthier spine generally;
  • More flexibility in the rib cage making breathing easier and increased blood flow/better circulation;
  • Better sleep quality;
  • Improved digestion;
  • More energy;
  • Improved balance by using counteracting poses.

Emotionally:

  • Anxiety symptoms reduced;
  • Depression symptoms reduced;
  • Stress symptoms reduced;
  • Mood elevated;
  • Releasing of negative emotions in a safe environment and way;
  • Increase in self-confidence;
  • Better emotional and psychological balance;
  • More loving and capable of receiving love;

Spiritually:

  • More open heart chakra;
  • More compassion for self and others;
  • Better connection to inner and outer world;
  • Deeper connection to your “Higher Power”, “God” or “Universe” whatever this means to you.

I’ve listed all of these benefits from research I’ve conducted from numerous websites and only listed the ones that I genuinely feel that I have experienced for myself. I would also add that learning to breathe correctly through these poses and practising pranayama (see here if you’re unsure what this is: https://myholisticliving.co.uk/yoga-meditation/what-is-pranayama/) massively increases the benefits experienced.

If you think that you could benefit from improving your posture through heart opening poses then join a local class or head over to You Tube or similar to find a good online tutor who will walk you slowly through the poses in a safe and gradual way. As you may have noticed, my online yoga teacher of choice is Adriene Mishler, whom I strongly recommend especially for beginners:

https://yogawithadriene.vhx.tv/monthly-yoga-playlist

Feel free to share this post with others that you feel might benefit from the contents. What about you – have you tried particular poses, stretches or exercises that have helped to improve your posture?

Always check in with your healthcare practitioner before starting any new exercise regime. Please note that I am not a yoga teacher nor medically qualified myself and therefore you should ensure you seek the guidance of both before undertaking any recommended practices.