Balance is the aim, in order to achieve this we need more awareness!! Just like in a yoga pose, it will take a few tries and some dedication to gain the strength and agility to do the pose well, but awareness is needed to even make it possible! Doing well may look different for each individual, but there are some foundational habits that are integral for a good base to build on. Without these, you may have a hard time moving forward with a healthy life balance! So many of us have found ourselves struggling to find balance. The funny thing is, as we all seek a happy and fulfilling life, we tend to focus on the big things or extraordinary. When all the while it really is just the simple foundational tips and tools that give us physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual balance we all need to find a happy and fulfilling life!! Here are 10 core tips I find helpful in my own life for maintaining balance in health and wellness! These may seen simplistic, but that's the point! We often overlook the obvious, and then wonder why we feel so out of balance. Even a yoga practitioner, like myself, needs reminders now and then!
1) Sleep: I'm listing this first, because it's most important. Without adequate sleep we can not function properly! Make sure you are getting plenty of it. Studies have suggested that the best time to get the most restful sleep is between 9pm-12am, so don't skip it. I recommend between 6-9hrs each night, depending on your age and other factors. Your body needs about this much time each night to balance body chemistry and hormones! Sleeping while it is dark out and enjoying being awake while it is light will also help balance hormones, such as melatonin and serotonin! This will help your ability to maintain a balanced metabolism, it's also your mental balance for staying sane!
According to the ASA (American Sleep Association) 1 in 3 adults are not getting enough sleep. "If you are one of these, you are putting yourself at increased risk for several associated health problems. Not obtaining adequate total sleep time is linked to increased risk of hypertension, diabetes, obesity, heart attack and stroke – not to mention potentially deadly accidents as a result of daytime sleepiness."
NOTE > Personal Preference: for a deeper, better nights sleep I stay away from sleeping pills, sleep aid, benadril and alcohol. All of which have a rebound effect or don’t' allow you to fully achieve REM, not allowing you to feel fully rested. It's a downward spiral. Also no screen time, including TV, two hours before bed because the frequency of light interferes with your natural production of melatonin, therefore hindering sleep. I do my best to reduce stress, it's the number one reason most Americans are unable to get a good nights sleep in the first place! Also, NO caffeine after 5pm! I usually drink a calming tea before bed, and often use a mix of Holy Basil (Tulsi) & Skullcap tea (speak to your Naturopath Doctor or Registered Medical Herbalist).
2) Be mindful and present: Notice the little things, look around you and pay attention to all the little things. Engage all your senses... what do you see, feel, hear, smell, and taste! Stay in the present moment. You can do this by counting seconds while taking a breath, rub your hands together, meditate, pray, or go for a walk in nature. Notice the colors of the season or feel the air on your skin. Slow down and try not to rush! Multitasking is not all it's cracked up to be.
3) Joy: What makes you happy! Rediscover the things in life that make you smile and laugh! Read the comics, watch a funny movie! Bringing yourself more joy might mean sitting for a 5 minute break with a cup of your favorite tea in hand, fingering through your favorite magazine or catalog, or coloring in a coloring book! Pick up an old forgotten hobby, or find a new one!
4) Stay Active: Move it, or you will loose the ability to move it! Our bodies are built for movement. My personal favorites are: yoga, walking, hiking, backpacking, gardening, and dance! Whatever kind of movement you prefer, just don't forget to breathe (key for keeping the sympathetic nervous system turned down and keeping yourself relaxed)! Unless you are trying to gain weight, I recommend picking activities that don't kick your adrenaline on too high! I see this as a common problem in our mainstream fitness industry! No pain, no gain is actually an U.S. Military Air-force training slogan meant for war! We should be working with our amazing and beautiful bodies, not waging war on them! Work with the body, never against it.
5) Balanced nutrition! I hold to the consistency of a lifestyle approach! Stop counting calories. I do not advocate diet plans for two reasons, 1) The yo yo affect, this really will mess with your hormone balance which is often the core issue of weight gain in the fist place!. And 2) every body is unique, and so are our nutritional needs! Take a good look at the things you ingest, read labels on both food and beverages! The more natural the better! Keep it balanced, don't eat processed junk foods, but also don't completely deny yourself some fun treats now and then! More whole foods, less processed, doing our best to eat organic and non-GMO! Healthy life style as prevention is a whole lot cheaper than sick care! Beverages: are yours loaded with sugar and or caffeine? Both these things interfere with your hormones and tax the adrenal glands, which can contribute to weight gain.
6) Write it down: Make lists, I love lists!! I live with more mental clarity because of writing it down! Once I get it down on paper, tablet, or on my wall chalkboard I have more mental space for processing one task at a time, and in so doing I am always surprised at how much more I am able to get done in a day!
8) Date Yourself: Spend time alone and learn to love it!! Become your own best friend, pretty much means you'll have to decide to like yourself!! Can you name 5 things about yourself you don't like? Most of us can without even thinking twice. Now name 10 things you like about yourself and repeat this list to yourself daily! You are welcome to add to this positive list as time goes on!! :-)
9) Respect Your Time: enable self-respect by setting healthy boundaries. Whether this is keeping one day out a week for your own self-care, setting a time when work stops for the evening, signing up for a weekly yoga, art, or dance class, or going on the occasional vacation! Do it for your own self-care and sanity, no apologies! No money or energy for a vacation? Do a stay-cation and simply let everyone know you are unavailable/unreachable for X-amount of time or days!! Everyone needs a break, allow yourself some time off. Are you a parent? Send the kids to their grandparents house or have them visit their aunt & uncle or get a baby-sitter for an afternoon so you can regroup, R&R, TLC, or whatever it is you need to find peace and center yourself! ;-)
10) Cleanse your mind: take a break from your screens! Engage with your loved ones, family and friends in person (face to face). Our time on earth is so precious, don't waste it with too much screen time! If you want to do a mental cleanse/wake up your mind further, also dedicate 30 minutes a day to reading.... it must be on paper, no screens allowed, and not about "news".... Acceptable topics may include: Anything educational on a topic that peaks your interest or a purely enjoyable book of fiction that leaves your spirit uplifted, intrigued, or something that will get your imagination going in a positive way! Now turn off your screen and enjoy life!! :-)
About the Author: Nyssa G. Castle is a highly certified Therapeutic Yoga Practitioner (RYT), and a Yoga Therapist in training(1,000 hour YTT)! She is presently a full time Yoga Practitioner in the PDX area. She is a world traveler and an outdoor adventure enthusiast, but also has a deep love for her home farm and gardens. Nyssa offers her Therapeutic Yoga services at the Legacy Mt Hood Medical Campus in Gresham Oregon! Also serving the greater Gresham and Sandy area with group classes and private Yoga Therapy sessions in home, for specific health needs. Her training is comprehensive, but her main 3 areas of interest are: Yoga for healing trauma (PTSD), Cancer Care and Survivorship, and Prenatal & Postpartum Yoga. Take a look at her website for more information www.thenaturalisticyogi.com To get in contact with Nyssa, she can be reached by email firstname.lastname@example.org
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