As 2018 begins, I am sure many of us are reflecting on this past year. The good, the bad, the unforgettable… if you are not reflecting then maybe you should start now!
I value self-reflection. There is something about taking the time to find inner tranquility among our daily hustle that can be really refreshing and give rise to the mental clarity most of us so dearly need.
I think I have done more yoga and meditation this past year than ever before and I feel that at 27 years old, I am at my healthiest I have ever been.
Eating healthy or healthFULLy, is only one piece of the puzzle. I see it often, people with anxiety, overwhelming jobs, family stress becoming unable to meet daily expectations.
Such is life. The American Dream. That ideal job, perfect soul mate, wonderful interactions. It all sounds great, but it is simply not the reality.
Hate to break it to ya…
So, we can choose to get anxious, stressed out and upset when life does not turn out EXACTLY as planned (which I am definitely guilty of ), but it accomplishes absolutely NOTHING.
It is not easy to change a thought process or mentality, but there are some great and effective strategies that have helped me out during tough times AND that have been studied as help for stress management and mental health 🙂
Here are my top 5 tips to help you regain mental stability and achieve balance in 2018:
- YOGA– Often misunderstood, yoga is actually a great workout and a awesome way to reset your mind after a long stressful day, or year. What I love about yoga is not only the killer work out, but the way that despite all the chaos, deadlines and pressures that are all around, you can step onto your yoga mat and feel centered. The best is a hot vinyasa on a Friday after a long week to rid the body of toxins and set yourself up for a relaxing weekend. Yoga helps to strengthen not only the body, but the mind and spirit too. With each pose and flow comes new breath and flexibility as you work your body toward easing inflammation. It can be very challenging at fist, but do not get discouraged. Seeing the body’s progression over time is one of the most rewarding parts of yoga practice. We are all capable of great things. I love seeing MMA fighters, business men and seniors all taking the same yoga class, its truly inspiring and really speaks to the impact yoga teaching can have on all walks of life.
- MEDITATION- Please do not underestimate the power of meditation! I attended the ICAMP conference last year and one of the presenters discussed how he was using meditation and breathing with his patients as a form of pain therapy. Now, fortunately I do not have pain but there are many people who deal with chronic pain on a daily basis and it makes total sense how distracting the mind from the pain stimulus and meditating on a single mantra can be and integral part of pain management, along with a clean eating pattern of course. 2017 introduced me to the MoveWith app which is seriously THE BEST fitness app. Not only does MoveWith have yoga but they also offer running, HIIT and yes, they also have meditation! Personally I have used the meditation whenever I have had problems falling asleep- which fortunately does not happen often but when it does and that restlessness creeps into my mind I have found that a quick 5-7 minute meditation puts me right to dreamland. Try it!
- EAT CLEAN– Eating clean foods means avoiding additives, packaged foods that have a million ingredients listed and focusing more on organic fruits,vegetables and lean proteins. It is unfortunate that I hear people say diet is not their issue or they eat vegan or gluten free so they have a healthy diet but in the end they still cannot lose desired weight. Everything falls back to the food that is going into your body. Do not underestimate the work a good dietitian/nutritionist can have on your life. If you are in need of someone to jump start your 2018 health kick I am here to answer any and all questions so what are you waiting for … just ask ! Cleaning up the eating pattern is the first step to cleaning up the mind, you CAN do it.
- BLACKOUT TIME– This is something I wish I did MORE of. When I say “blackout time” I mean at least a solid hour away from the phone, social media, laptop, TV all devices. Can you remember the last time you did that? I discovered how renewing it is to disconnect when I lost my phone (in my house). Of course it was on silent and it was hours before I realized I had misplaced it but within that time frame I was able to accomplish so much around the house and it felt great to be within my own thoughts. I realize that in today’s world we have jobs that require us to constantly be connected. But I urge you to take a blackout break, it is helpful for your eyes, mind and soul. A Harvard study links the blue light from our devices to cancer, diabetes and heart disease although it is not yet directly clear how exactly – the thought is that it is due to the change in the circadian rhythm and melatonin release leading to increases in blood sugar, decreases in the satiety hormone leptin.
- FRESH AIR– Do you realize how many hours we spend within various buildings and cubicles? Part of that amazing feeling you get after a killer day at the office is the rush of fresh air hitting your face as you walk out right?! I like the school of thought in which the cure for sadness is time, fresh air and hydration. I remember listening to a podcast, although the name escapes me now, I will never forget how the doctor who was being interviewed explained that the cure for depression lies in time. He insists that taking the time to go through the stages of grief, followed by drinking lots of water, and stepping outside into the fresh air are the keys to moving through depression. I think about this when I am feeling down and make a conscious effort to go for a walk, take a “breather” and recenter my mind in nature. There is serious value to this. Utilizing this tip in 2018 may just be the turning point in your mental health to make for an amazing year.
I wish you all an amazing 2018 filled with joy, great food and health. Remember, ain’t no shame in your mental health game. Take the time, take those breathers and step outside into nature. There is enlightenment around every corner.