Do you ever feel like you have so many thoughts going through your head that you can't keep them straight? When this happens you can't give any one idea your full attention because there are so many other things rattling around in there. I know this happens to me pretty much every day.
This is why I decided that my Wellness Challenge for April would be to journal every day. Then I could take a thought, write it down, and come back to it later if I wanted, instead of trying to keep everything straight in my head. This has been a great benefit because I have so many great things coming up, but they all need my attention!
I began the journaling on April 1st, while on vacation in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Starting this challenge while away was perfect, it gave me a little time to start with a clear head and focus on what was important. Over the next few weeks, the journal became more than just paragraphs on my daily life. I also started exercising more and used the journal to plan out work-outs and basic guidelines. This month has also brought about many in-depth discussions regarding future plans for my relationship and opinions on important subjects for us. Having the journal has been a great outlet to help organize my thoughts. (Side note: This challenge was actually my boyfriend's idea, so I also got him his own journal which has been helping him, too!)
This year is also going to bring many significant changes to Evolve, which I am hoping to introduce in a few months. Being able to keep my mind clear and thoughts organized, has allowed me to put in the planning that these changes deserve.
I hope to continue journaling, as it has been a great comfort and wonderful help in planning the future.
What's the challenge for May??
I will set aside quiet time at least 30 minutes before bed. No TV, no music.
Let's see how it goes!
I think we can all agree that the average American diet is not very well-rounded. We eat a lot of fast food, carbs, refined sugars, and oils. Throw in excessive amounts of caffeine and you've got yourself just about the worst diet imaginable.
Personally, I don't think my diet is too bad. But I make many irresponsible choices when it comes to food, such as not eating throughout my work day. And I definitely do not have a well-rounded diet. Case and point, I don't like many vegetables and sometimes go a full week without eating any!
So I figured this would be a perfect challenge for March- resolve to eat at least one serving of vegetables every day.
Considering I'm a not a huge fan of veggies, I thought a perfect way to eaasily incorporate them into my diet would be with smoothies! I planned out a different smoothie recipe for every week, using spinach or kale as the base. In addition to the smoothies, I made sure to add veggie side dishes on the nights I had time to cook dinner- usually in the form of a simple garden salad.
Everything went well for about a week. Then things took a downward turn!
Turns out, my body doesn't exactly like raw vegetables. Even though I've known this for a while, somehow I just didn't think it would be a problem! I can handle raw fruits and veggies in moderation, so I didn't give it much of a thought. But when I started consuming them every day... my body put a stop to that pretty quickly.
So now my entire smoothie and salad plan had to be scratched and replaced with only veggies that were cooked, peeled, and de-seeded. That was not the easiest thing to do with my schedule, so I also decided to simply cut down on the amount of veggie servings I was eating per day, enjoying raw ones in very small portions. (Note: The amount I was consuming was in no way excessive, but I think for my body it was not working.)
Unfortunately, considering what my body went through, and having to cut down significantly on my plan, I cannot write this and pretend that I feel so much better after a month of veggie-eating. To be honest, I feel a little worse! It has made me wonder if my aversion to veggies was never really about disliking them. The truth is, I don't hate veggies- I just don't love them so I forget to eat buy them or incorporate them into my every day life. What if my lack of love is actually my body telling me what I need- or more importantly, what I don't.
Over the last month or so I have had some issues with nutritional health that need to be addressed and I am glad to have experienced this challenge. It brought to light some underlying issues and helped get me more in touch with my body's needs.
**Please remember, before making any drastic change to your diet it is wise to consult your physician and get some well-rounded nutritional counseling. Not every body responds well to every diet (no matter how healthy that diet may seem)!
My April Wellness Challenge is a fun one- to journal every day! Join me!
Social media is a huge part of our daily lives. It has become just as essential as having electricity or running water. But over the last year- between the pandemic, political controversy, and social unrest, apps like Facebook, Instagram, and others have become sources of stress and anxiety for many people.
For my February Challenge, I decided to swear off social media for the month. I gave myself two exceptions- I could still post on my business pages; and I could also still engage with a family page we have on Facebook.
Other than that, all social media was off-limits!
Within a few days, I noticed that I had almost immediately replaced the continuous scrolling of social media with scrolling on other sites- such as Pinterest or Google News. It made me wonder- what is it that makes scrolling so addictive? Is it just because it passes time? Are we intrigued by the constant bombardment of new content and ads? I think it is a little of both, but mostly I believe it is due to having simply become a bad habit. Much like biting your nails or cracking your knuckles, we don't do it because we enjoy it. The repetitiveness becomes habitual. Similar to a bad habit, after about two weeks of restriction, I noticed the habit seemed to break and no longer was I endlessly scrolling.
As the month went on I realized that I get most of my news from Facebook and without it, I was very out of the loop. I follow the local news and major news outlets, the White House, our governor, our senators, and local representatives. Without their content being presented to me, I noticed that I did not actively seek it out, or even realize that I wasn't seeing it. I have not seen the state Covid numbers in a month. This is not because I don't care, it's because I am so accustomed to everything being automatically delivered to me that I usually don't even have to think about finding it.
Despite not being glued to the news over the last month, I have not missed anything important enough to affect my life. This makes me wonder- how much time have I spent stressing over things that are completely out of my control? How much of what goes on in the world actually affects us on a daily basis? We are made to feel like we must pay attention to ALL news ALL the time, as if being a spectator will somehow change the outcome of a story. The truth is, we need to remain informed but not at the expense of our mental health.
I made one final observation in my time away from social media. Occasionally when I'd visit my family page, old habits would take over and I'd start scrolling down the regular FB news feed. I would quickly realize what I was doing, because it wouldn't take long for me to come to a friend's extreme and radical post. This was the most profound lesson I learned over the last month- that we are such a culture of extremists!
Extremism is something I have always tried to stay away from. In my opinion it is one of the most toxic habits of our society. Even the best idea, belief, or movement turns negative if taken to the extreme. When a protest for a righteous cause dissolves into looting and burning; when love for a political candidate turns into a violent and deadly riot; when dislike for a celebrity leads to an accusation of devil worship; when fandom turns into blindly following someone's every word. None of this is healthy, or good, or justified. Obsession, radicalism, extremism turns us blind. And social media LOVES extremism. It caters to it, promotes it, and profits from it.
With social media being a platform where we can all "loudly" share our opinions, regardless of our education or knowledge of a subject, it is our responsibility to make sure we protect ourselves from misinformation, extreme reaction, and from getting sucked into that abyss of negativity.
Though I have missed aspects of social media I am glad to be rid of some of it. Going forward, I have decided to not only limit my social media time to less than 30 mintu4es per day. but I am going to unfollow many people and pages than thrive on extreme reaction and radical responses. I am certain my mental and emotional health will thank me!
For March, I have decided on a fresh, spring-inspired wellness challenge- to eat vegetables every day. To most of you, this may seem like a very simple challenge (and not much of a challenge at all!). But I am a notorious veggie-hater, and often go several days without consuming anything green!
If you have a favorite veggie recipe, please fell free to share it with me!
I am a lover of all things tea! The wellness benefits, the pleasures of a warm cup, and the art of tea-making itself, all make tea a special delicacy. Over the years I've become a bit of a tea snob, but I am always happy to introduce a novice.
Recently, I began offering TeaForte teas at the office. TeaForte is my favorite brand of tea. They offer everything from classic blacks to exotic tisanes, each finely crafted and exquisite.
When I first moved out on my own 10 years ago (yikes!) I had just started my career in massage therapy. I had a big rent payment, a big car payment, tuition payments, and very little income. Somehow I made it work- mostly by scraping together every penny and rarely treating myself to anything beyond the basic necessities.
Finally one day I splurged and purchased the large assortment box from TeaForte. I think it was around $50, and at the time I thought that was an enormous amount to spend on myself! I had so much fun trying a new tea every day. Even now, some of the ones I experienced in that first sampler remain my favorites- such as the comforting Orchid Vanilla or exotic Jasmine Green.
Making and drinking tea is a ritual for me. I never take tea to work, and I never make it if I don't have the time to truly sit and enjoy it (that's what coffee is for!). If I ever have a day where I am tired, or stressed, or for some reason my head just is not focused on the task at hand, I always think about the cup I'm going to have once I get home and it gets me through.
Sometimes all you can do is make it to that next cup of tea.
I've been practicing yoga for a few years. It began as a way to exercise and strengthen my core. After about 6 months, I started to notice that a powerful change in my mental and emotional health.
As 2020 came to a close I found myself being so busy that yoga was taking a back seat. So when I decided to create different wellness challenges for myself in 2021, restarting a daily practice seemed perfect for Challenge #1.
I choose to do yoga at home, either following different YouTube videos or simply doing my own routines. My favorite online yogis are Yoga with Adriene and The Journey Junkie. (I recommend YWA for those who are more interested in the physical aspect of yoga, while JJ tends to have more spiritual elements. I love the spirituality, but if you are a beginner start simply and then go deeper once you feel more comfortable)
YWA always begins the year with a 30-Day Yoga series, so I decided to follow along. This year's series is called "Breath" and I have really enjoyed it. It's a great mix of physical toning and core strength, combined with mindful meditation.
Very quickly I started recognizing some of those old toxic habits I had been letting take over- Habits like not living in the moment, allowing anxiety to consume me, and being overly self-critical. One example became clear to me during a session on January 6th.
That week was frustrating for me. I had a Covid exposure and had to cancel out the last half of my week. Along with that, I was also worried about my parents who both tested positive. (They're fine!) That was also the day of the Capitol riots, which was scary to witness. As I practiced that evening, I realized how in just the first week of my challenge I was already allowing myself to lose focus. This was especially apparent when it came to my feelings about having to close. I found myself being angry about it, and thinking more about what I was losing financially rather than focusing on safety and health.
It turned out that those few days were filled much-needed grounding and re-centering. Yoga is all about learning who you are, where you want to go, and how to get there in a healthy way that honors yourself. That has been a common theme in my life lately. I know who I am, I know where I want to go in life, and I like figuring out how to get there. Yoga helps me work on the "in a healthy way that honors myself" aspect.
January 27th is my birthday. I turned 31 this year and I feel really good about it. Daily yoga has allowed time to reflect on myself every day, and I recognize that though I feel accomplished in my life I have much more ahead of me than behind me. Most of the people I know seem to dread their birthdays once they get into their 30s, and I actually had several people ask me if I feel old! My response was.... absolutely not. Many of my 30-something friends and family lack energy. It's not a coincidence that they are the same ones who say they feel old. Regular yoga not only helps ease those aches and pains of aging, but it also helps increase endurance and energy, which ultimately makes one feel much more youthful.
So did I achieve my goal for January? Yes. Did I practice yoga every single day? Nope. I confess that I did miss a few days. But that is all part of the journey. I ended up seeing a difference in myself, physically and mentally. And that was the goal.
Did you commit to the January Wellness Challenge? If you did, let me know how you feel!
I hope you will join me for my February Challenge- No Social Media!