Daily Rituals for Nurturing Mind Body and Spirit

Today we're talking about daily rituals, things you can add into your everyday routine aimed to calm the senses, lower anxiety, relieve stress, and improve your mood. Routines practiced daily, help to ensure you're integrating the rituals that nurture and support optimal health mind body and soul. You can develop rituals to support changes you want to make in your life. For instance, integrating the Mantra "I love you, I am listening" with deep breathing would be useful in supporting decreased anxiety, and improving self-love, and/or a deeper connection with self. Dancing when something goes wrong can be helpful if you have a hard time letting things go, or moving on with your day after an upset. Below are my favorite daily rituals for calming and nurturing the mind body and spirit:

  1. Start your day with Gratitude. Seriously, it makes a difference. Wayne Dyer reported he verbally said the words "thank you" repeatedly upon waking every day. I had a morning last week where I lay, listening as Matt ground the coffee in the kitchen and felt pure gratitude for the sounds of our home, for the little rituals that made our home our home. How you start your day matters, and I can think of no better way to start than with gratitude.
  2. Meditation. There's no way this can't help you. If you think you're not a meditator, that you just can't quiet your mind, or you just can't meditate the "right" way, then you have the most to gain from meditation. There's so much research out there supporting the benefits of meditation on anxiety, focus, and mood. Even just a few minutes every morning will make a difference and there are so many free guided meditations available nowadays. 
  3. Coffee or Tea. I like to have my coffee in the morning and some decaf tea at night. Warm beverages, when drunk mindfully can become a calming ritual. Just make sure you dedicate your attention to the experience of your cup to reap the benefits. 
  4. Write in a Journal. Maybe you love to write poetry, maybe you want to begin a gratitude journal, maybe you just need to write about your experience because it is so intense, you need to get it out of you any way possible. Journaling can be a wonderful daily ritual to cultivate creativity, release emotions, and connect with yourself. Journals don't have to be written. If you prefer art, you could create a daily art journaling practice, where you paint, sketch or doodle for a few minutes every day. 
  5. Set an Intention for the Day. I always close my first group of the day with a short guided meditation in which I direct patients to set an intention for the day. Goals, intentions help to guide our energy. This simple practice can bring us back to focusing on what we want, and what truly matters.
  6. Mantras. Using mantras, affirmations, inspirational quotes when we are feeling ungrounded, stressed, insecure, overwhelmed, or simply to maintain good vibes, can become even more effective when paired with deep breaths. When using mantras I like to say half of the mantra with the in-breath, and the last half with the out-breath. Some of my favorite mantras include: "I love you, I am listening" (usually said to myself as I place both hands over my heart), "Peace begins with me", and "What would you have me do today" (to represent my acknowledgment I don't have to figure it all out alone, that the universe is guiding me).
  7. Reflecting on Control. Reminding yourself of what you do and don't have control over can be incredibly helpful. Try, then to let go of all the things you don't have control over, and make a game plan for putting energy into that which you do have control over. So much of this life is out of our control, and when we wonder, worry, lament over the things we can't control, our energy is wasted. 
  8. Essential Oils. I like to rub a small amount of lavender oil on my pulse points at night. I diffuse a different essential oil scent almost daily and I swear it helps to keep me calm and prevent burn-out. Scent connects and calms the part of our brain that does the stressing out, so using it to keep you calm can be a great strategy. Essential oils are so accessible now. You can order them online or pick up a couple at your nearest health food store. If you want to start diffusing essential oils into your home or office, this diffuser is on sale, and this diffuser is portable making it great for travel.
  9. Deep Breathing. The breath is your best means of calming your nervous system. When you're panicked, overwhelmed, reacting, tune into your breath, to regain control. Simple deep breathing in through the nose and out through the mouth should do the trick, but if you want more info on breathing techniques, check out my post on 4 Breathing Techniques to Lower Anxiety in Under a Minute here
  10. Get out for a Sunset or a Sunrise. Okay, so maybe you can't make it down to the beach or top of a mountain for sunset, but even getting out into that lovely dispersed light during magic hour can help calm the senses, and bring you back to a place of grounding. Try to walk outside, even if it's only for a few moments as you take a work break. Taking a few deep breaths while you marvel at magic hour lighting will make it even more magical. 
  11. Move your Body. Nobody else knows this, but sometimes when I get into work, I put on my lab coat, put away my belongings, turn on the music in my office and dance, just a little. Sometimes if I've had an intense interaction, or work drama, I go back into my office and dance it away. I always feel better after yoga, and I've never regretted a walk outdoors. Moving the body, helps to cleanse you of negative energy. Moving your body is the secret sauce because emotions manifest into the physical as cortisol is released, and muscles tense. I don't have time or space to go into the science behind movement but trust me. Movement is important when it comes to calming the nervous system, healing trauma, relieving stress. Find what works for you and do it, it doesn't have to be dancing or yoga. It could be rock climbing, boxing, crossfit, running, or cycling, as long as it involves movement, it's good enough.
  12. Heating Pad. I have a sock filled with rice that I use as a heating pad (Matt loves to tease me about my hot old sock). There's something about warmth that's comforting. Not only does warmth soothe sore or tight muscles, but it just feels good. Anything that signals the body to relax, also signals the brain to relax so you can use heat at night as you're winding down for bed to promote sleep, or in the mornings to help your body warm up. 

That's it guys, these were the best daily rituals I could think of. I definitely practice all of these rituals at least once throughout my week, and some daily. My best piece of advice is to start with developing a morning or nighttime routine and add at least one of these into that routine. The magic comes when you use rituals such as these on an ongoing basis to decrease stress levels overall rather than when you're already in crisis mode. If you want even more tips on lowering anxiety you can check out any of these past posts: 5 Ways to Lower Anxiety in 5 Minutes or Less, 10 Ways to Reset Your Energy, 10 Ways to Relax in 10 Minutes or Less, 4 Breathing Techniques to Lower Anxiety in Under a Minute 


Happy Weekend!

I can say with absolute certainty that "A New Earth" by Eckhart Tolle changed my life. I viewed the world and myself completely differently afterwards. Sometimes we experience tragedy, suffering, paralyzing fear. Everything, is an opportunity for evolution. Everything is an opportunity to learn about ourselves, to realize the barriers we have within us, and to then overcome those barriers. It doesn't always feel good though. In fact, the experiences that push us to grow often feel like absolute shit when we are going through them, and yet, they are perfectly curated moments to point us in the direction our consciousness needs for its own evolution. I know it's hard to remember this concept when you are in the midst of deep darkness but I hope the idea can be at least the smallest glimmer of light, a reminder that everything is going to be okay, and the discomfort you feel is actually evidence you're growing. Happy Weekend!

25 things to do on a No-Spend Weekend

Matt and I love to enjoy small simple pleasures. I mean c'mon, I dedicate an entire blog category to simple pleasures! There's something so nice about enjoying a weekend without spending money. It sorta feels like you're sticking it to the man, but also, like you're re-connecting with your true self, with the things that truly make our hearts happy. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the entirety of consumerism because I've been there, but I am often left feeling empty after an entire weekend of consuming, spending money on everything, feeling as though I have to 'pay' for my experiences. Check out this list the next time you want no-spend weekend ideas. 

Simple Pleasure of the Week: A Self-Care Day

An entire day devoted to taking care of yourself is this week's simple pleasure. Matt and I recently celebrated our anniversary with a couple's massage at a local spa. We started the morning with a yoga class, then had some breakfast and walked over to the spa. Spent the rest of the evening lounging in chairs, sitting in the sauna or hot tubs, and watching the sunset. I got to spend quality connecting time with my favorite person on the planet. It was the best day. I know a spa day is not in everyone's budget, but you don't need money to enjoy this simple pleasure. The luxury of a self-care day is more in the space created by it and the intention behind it. An at-home mani/pedi, with a bubble bath, heated shoulder wrap, long meditation, followed by a glass of wine, and your favorite movie sounds pretty awesome to me! Your self-care day might include a walk in nature like mine normally would, maybe a green juice just to sweeten the deal. I know it's hard to take an entire day off just for yourself, but it's so lovely when you can. Hope you all get at least an hour this weekend just for yourself. Happy Weekend!

Green Detox Breakfast Smoothie

I believe I've mentioned before that Matt and I have a green smoothie for breakfast most mornings. We switched over to green smoothies about a year ago and noticed how much more energy we had, how much lighter we felt, and we haven't looked back since. Starting your day with a smoothie provides an awesome opportunity to get some good servings of veggies while giving your body a few more hours to divert energy it would be using for digestion to rebuilding and repairing. Recently, I figured, if I'm going to be making smoothies every morning, why not create a recipe that has even more health benefits. This smoothie is packed full of good-for-you plant-based ingredients! If you're not a cilantro fan, this probably is not the smoothie for you, though I must say the flavor is quite subtle and refreshing in this recipe.

This recipe makes approx 2 smoothies

  • 1 avocado
  • 1.5 handfuls of frozen mango
  • 8 leaves of kale (though you could substitute any greens of your choice)
  • 4 tbsp flax
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • Approx. 1.5 inches of ginger root peeled
  • 4-5 large ice cubes
  • Approx. 1.5 cups water
  • Protein powder (this is our favorite protein powder)

Directions: Blend. Enjoy.

I have a fairly fast metabolism and this smoothie keeps me satisfied until lunchtime. So why these ingredients? Supposedly the combination of cilantro and flax help to detoxify the liver. Cilantro is a major detoxifier, supporting to rid the body of heavy metals, and decrease inflammation. Flax contains good plant-based omega-3 fatty acids which are so good for the skin. It also helps to balance hormones, and works in conjunction with cilantro to support the detoxification process. Mango adds a bit of sweetness, and a smooth consistency to the smoothie while providing a great dose of Vitamin A and C, both of which stimulate collagen production (necessary for smooth supple skin). Kale provides tons of antioxidants and fiber, avocado provides plant-based fat to keep you full longer, while fueling the brain and body, and ginger root further supports digestions and fights inflammation. We use and love the Vitamix blender. It's definitely an investment, but so worth it if you're into healthy eating. We use ours every morning for smoothies, for making vegan sauces, and raw desserts. We actually bought our Vitamix certified refurbished and it's worked perfectly for years. If you've been eyeing a Vitamix but just don't want to spend the money on a new one check out the refurbished options (you save about half the price) here here and here

The Detox and Rebalance Breakfast Smoothie recipe was created after reading the below articles. Check them out for more information on the smoothie ingredients, and how they work to detox and rebalance the body. 

The Best Smoothie Recipe For Bad Skin Days

The Two Random Foods That Cleared My Skin and Balanced My Hormones

Happy Weekend!

This one is a difficult pill to swallow, but it's true for all of us. Majority of our own suffering is self-inflicted, caused by the meanings we assign to things, the stories we tell ourselves about events, the attachments we hold onto about how we want things to be different than they are. We all do this at different intensities, but we all do this to ourselves. Matt and I were discussing this very topic right before I found this quote. For some reason, we humans make things a lot more complicated than they are. We choose to kick and scream the entire way, unaware that we can get to the same destination in a much more pleasant way. We all go to the same destination in the end, and life really is about the journey, the how you choose to travel this life. If you can, try not to stand in your own sunshine along the way. Happy Weekend!

One life-changing principle to guide your life by

There are a few principles I guide my life by, one of which is sustainability. I'm constantly assessing whether my life is sustainable. Dictionary.com defines sustainable as "capable of being maintained at a steady level without exhausting natural resources or causing severe ecological damage". So many lifestyle choices aren't sustainable, so many products marketed to us actually drain us of our health rather than sustain it.  Is my lifestyle sustaining me? Are my relationships sustaining me? My work? Diet?, or are they draining me of my resources, taking away, depleting my energy, or spirit, or enthusiasm for life? This is always a guiding principle when I assess my life. Recently, with the beginning of some nerve pain in my foot, it became a guiding principle for buying shoes. Are my shoes slowly damaging, taking away, from the health of my feet, or are they sustaining it? Is my diet sustaining my body and health, or slowly draining it? Matt and I have made small dietary changes over the years, first cutting out processed food, then meat, then gluten, now most dairy and refined sugars. Don't get me wrong, I love to indulge in pizza, or ice cream, or bacon on a special occasion, but these are treats, exceptions to my diet, because I believe consistently consuming these foods would slowly detract from my health rather than sustain it. Relationship habits can also be sustaining or slowly draining, quietly leading you down a path of burn-out through a 20-year long road to divorce. Poor communication, unspoken resentments, passive-aggressive actions, secrets, can all be non-sustaining relationship patterns. Stressful jobs with long hours aren't sustainable. Crazy diets, chemical-ridden conventional beauty products, luxury shopping sprees, social isolation, excessive exercise routines, are all non-sustaining practices which take from us. Maybe I'm trying to say life is all about balance, but it's even deeper than that. Are you creating a life that's nourishing, sustaining you, or does it deplete you? Where can you begin making small changes? Can you apply the concept of sustainability to every aspect of your life, to all the decisions you make, to every dollar you spend, everything you consume, the relationships you keep, the amount of crap in your home? This concept is really about looking at how experiences, decisions, actions, food, relationships affect our energy. The media tries to sell us so much, most of which detracts from our life, but if we take the time to critically judge everything with the sustainability principle, we can see past marketing strategies. Live well everyone. May you always choose that which sustains you, nurtures you mind body and spirit. 

Simple Pleasure of the Week: Wearing an outfit you love

Ladies, I know you know what I'm talking about! Guys, this post might not be for you, sorry. Not sorry. Sometimes, if I'm having a really bad morning, I put on an outfit I love and it makes my day a little better. This picture was taken right after I'd bought that jean jacket and I was loving it at the time. Maxi dresses make me feel like I'm getting away with basically wearing a nightgown around town. Athleisure was the best invention ever because it allows me to feel cute running to the grocery store dressed in basically the most comfortable clothing on this planet. This simple pleasure can apply to an outfit you like the style of and/or just something that feels good on your skin. Personally, I'm not even sure if I'll bother to put on jeans this weekend because what are weekends if not for wearing yoga pants? Have a good one!

Shows We've Been Loving On Netflix

Shows We've Been Loving on Netflix. Happiness | Collective

I do believe we all fall on an energy spectrum. Some of us have high levels of energy and feel most at home when we are "doing", and some of us feel most at home when we are "being". I tend to fall more on the lazy side of the energy spectrum. There's nothing I love more than a rainy day spent watching something amazing on the television, cuddled up with a cup of tea and some dark chocolate or a big bowl of popcorn topped with nutritional yeast. Life is all about balance, and sometimes getting lost in a movie or TV show is the best form of medicine. I love hearing what others have been loving on Netflix, so I thought I'd share some of our favorites below in no particular order.

  • Stranger Things: Matt and I devoured this show! If you like thrillers, the paranormal, magic, or if you grew up in the 80's you will love this show as much as we do. Watch the first two episodes and you'll be hooked. Netflix killed it with this one. 
  • Friday Night Lights: This is one of my favorite shows of all time and I hate football with a passion. This show is about so much more than football. You will fall in love with the characters and the story. The acting is phenomenal, and the cinematography makes you feel as though you're actually watching this story unfold.
  • Parenthood: This took us a few tries on the first episode, but once it hooked us, it hooked us good. We flew through this series, and loved every minute of it. If you're a parent, you'll love this show. We aren't parents yet, and we still loved this show. The characters are complex, you will fall in love with this family, and get sucked into their story.
  • Sense8: Oh this show! This show might be my favorite show of all time. It follows a group of 8 people all over the world who are connected through their senses. Something happens to wake up their connection, and the story that ensues is riveting. This show makes me both so happy and so sad because I love it, but Netflix won't be creating a third season. To preserve the integrity of the story, there will be a 2-hour closing to end the series properly. 
  • The OA: For some reason I feel like this series has flown under the radar. It's phenomenal. The first episode starts off with a scene of a young woman jumping off a bridge, and shows her waking up in a hospital bed. She identifies herself as "the OA" when asked her name. Later hospital staff find out she's been missing for 7 years, and before she went missing she had been blind her entire life despite the fact that she has perfect vision now. That's all I'll tell you. Watch it. 
  • Love: This is a really quirky show chronicling a love story between two young adults. This is a great Netflix original series to check out. 
  • Master of None: Truth be told we haven't watched the second season but first season is definitely a winner! Master of None was a pleasant surprise for us. We didn't expect to like it as much as we did, but definitely a good show to check out when you need your spirits lifted. 
  • Sherlock: The first 3 seasons of this show are solid! I think everyone knows the story of Sherlock Holmes, but this was a very well-done version. 
  • Black Mirror: I'm adding this one to the list per Matt's request. He definitely enjoyed this series more than I did. Each episode is a new mini story about the future and some dark aspect of technology. It's a dark show for sure, definitely interesting, but don't expect it to raise your mood. Proceed with caution on this one.

When you're feeling lost, lonely, bored, or just in need a good binge, I hope this list helps. Are there any shows you've been loving lately that didn't make it onto this list? We are always looking for new ideas!

Happy Weekend!

I truly believe we draw in experiences that provide the opportunities to learn the lessons we need to learn, to heal the wounds we need to heal, to feel that which we've been avoiding. Feelings, situations, negative behaviors or relational patterns will continue until we've learned what we need to from them. It's all opportunities for growth and evolution even if it doesn't feel very good in the moment. May you learn what you need to know along the journey. Happy Weekend!