So often we find ourselves stuck in a cycle of ‘too busy’. Everyday feels the same, we go to work, come home, eat, sleep, and repeat. It seems we never have a moment for ourselves. Sometimes all it takes to break the cycle are a few new habits and rituals. Here are four easy, mindful moments to introduce into your life. Try it out for two weeks, I promise you will feel better.
In the morning…
1.Wake up and stretch: first thing in the morning, drink a full glass of water. This will help you rehydrate and kick start your metabolism. Then hop on your yoga mat and sit tall (if you’re feeling extra sleepy, once in a while you can do these stretches in bed). Take a few deep breaths in and out through your nose. Feel your body slowly awaken. Do a top to bottom internal body check. How does your neck feel? Tip your ear to shoulder, switch ears. Gently roll your neck around, it especially feels nice to tuck your chin to chest to feel the stretch through your spine, hold and breathe. Now turn your attention to your shoulders, lift them up (slowly), pull your shoulder blades back (slowly), down (slowly) and round your shoulders forward (still slowly), do that a few times. On to your ribs, make circles to the right while trying to hold your core still. Circle it the other way. Lay down, lift your legs up one at a time, flex and point your toes. Now make small circles and big circles with one leg, and then switch legs. Place your legs back down on the mat, rotate your ankles and wiggle your toes. Lastly, sit up and stretch your arms up to the sky, one final deep breath. This simple set of stretches will get your blood circulating and help you feel more energetic.
Tip #1: Personally, I like to turn on my Saje aromaOm™ Diffuser to breathe in the therapeutic essential oils while I do my morning stretches. Scents can rouse our senses and help us feel uplifted. My favourite essential oil at the moment is the Yoga blend from the Saje Peaceful Collection. This oil has a citrusy yet woody, grounding scent. Interesting fact I learned from Saje, when you diffuse essential oils into the air, it gives off the same qualities of negatively charged electric ions you experience near the ocean. This helps relieve feelings of stress, anxiety and low energy (the very things we are trying to combat). Negative ions also fortify the immune system, increase metabolism and strengthen the functions of the autonomic nervous system and reinforce collagen. For more details, visit www.saje.com or visit one of their beautiful stores near you.
Tip #2: For those familiar with yoga, compliment your morning stretches with a few Sun Salutations you’ve learned from yoga class. Do 3 x Sun Salutation A. I find the forward fold feels extra nice after a long night of sleep.
2.Take a lavish and uplifting shower. If you’re a morning shower person, notice if you rush through your shower. I’m not suggesting longer showers (I’m a firm believer of responsible water usage), however we can all benefit from being a little more present while we shower. Don’t think about all the things you need to do in the day – that will give you anxiety and can wait till you arrive at work. Instead, notice what it feels like to massage your scalp as you lather up the shampoo. Notice the feeling of the water against your skin. Better yet, try a body scrub that exfoliates and stimulates the skin and blood circulation. I recently came across Vo Bath & Co, 100% all natural bath and body products, locally made in Toronto. My current favs are the Citrine Lemon and Tangerine lotion body scrub and the Coffee Shea and Beans lotion body scrub. Both smell and feel delicious on the skin. According to Vo Bath & Co, the Citrine creates an invigorating and energizing citrus scent that brightens dull skin and fades scarring for radiant, glowing skin. The Coffee is made with fresh Toronto-roasted coffee beans, organic cane sugar and rich shea butter. The combined benefits of these ingredients include improved circulation, combat cellulite and locks in a layer of moisture. Enjoy your morning shower with these lotion body scrubs! Check out vobathco.com
After a long day…
3.Give yourself a break before your evening begins. Our natural tendency after a busy day is to flop on the couch, mindlessly scroll through our phones and/or watch TV. Afterall, it’s been hectic and we’re tired. But instead, take 10 to 15 mins for yourself.
Tip #1: Mud Mask & Day Dream. One of my favourite things to do for myself is a mud mask. Feels great to wash all the grime and pollution off my face and slather on a luxurious mud mask. As the mask is setting, it’s the perfect time to day dream. Eyes closed and relaxed, set a timer or just peek on the mask every so often. If you’re like me, I smile when I day dream and it feels good, but rumor has it that cracking your mask will give you wrinkles! Likely just a myth 😉
Tip #2: Quick Meditation. If your mind is going hundred miles per hour and you can’t let go of your day, take a time-out. Find your yoga mat and meditate. It’s nice to have a comfortable yoga mat to sit on during meditation. My current yoga mat of choice is Jade Yoga™. These mats are earth-friendly and they’re nice and thick. I’ve been looking for a thicker yoga mat that’s not too heavy, and believe me it’s been a challenge to find. Most mats are too thin or the thicker mats are heavy and not ideal for lugging around. Jade Yoga mats are made with natural rubber and the open cell natural rubber guarantees optimum grip. What really won me over was the “Buy a Mat, Plant a Tree” partnership between Jade Yoga and Trees for the Future. To learn more, go to www.jadeyogamats.ca
Back to meditation, close your eyes. Inhale and sloooooowly exhale. With every breath, elongate your spine. Find more space and air between each vertebrae. On your next breath, take a deep exhale to squeeze every last drop of stale air out of your lungs. Now de-clutter your mind. When a frantic thought pops up, just …let… it… go and breathe. If you’re finding it hard to stay focused, try counting to three for every inhale and three for every exhale. Keep counting, it will help quiet your mind and allow you to relax. 10 minutes of meditation may feel quick or it may feel like a long time, but notice how calm you feel. Soon enough you’ll be getting on with the rest of your evening.
4.“Me” time before bed. At the end of the night, right before you collapse into bed, take one more moment for yourself. It’s so hard to find time throughout the day, savour the last 10 mins before you zonk out – you’ll be happy you did. Take this time to read one chapter of a book or listen to your favourite songs to help you unwind. If you enjoyed the Saje aromaOm™ Diffuser in the morning, try it before bed. I recommend a few drops of the Gratitude blend essential oil. Maybe it’s the word gratitude and I know it sounds cheesy, but thinking about the things that made you smile in the day will give you a better sleep. It could be anything, someone held the elevator for you or you noticed how beautiful the autumn leaves were on the ground or your friend, child or loved one said something funny to you. Take note of the positives in life and let go of the negatives. Go ahead, try it. Once you’ve had your final 10 minutes, now you can go to bed. Thank yourself for slowing down, it felt nice. Sweet dreams.