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Make Peace With Cracks in Your Routine

Though you can’t completely prevent your routine from getting rocked by different twists and turns, you can learn to still be at peace with them. You might even learn that your routine is old and boring, and the little cracks are making room for new changes. However, there are still times when little cracks can make you frustrated, so here are a few things I’ve learned and try to practice to help keep myself peaceful and calm.

1. Prep the night before.
Put together a to-do list and then put it away. Just because you make a to-do list doesn’t mean you have to get started doing it. I remember someone said that even when your “to do” list looks complete, there will always be more tasks. Don’t worry about it so much. Other than a to do list, consider tidying up a bit, laying out your clothes, packing your bag or meal prepping. By getting those things out of the way, you’re setting yourself up for the morning to go smoothly, or at least, if you’re running late, it can help keep you from feeling too overwhelmed.

2. Create a “To Feel” List. I can’t remember where I got this, but the credit isn’t mine. I remember stumbling across the idea of creating a “to feel” list, such as “I will feel calm. At peace and ease. I will be happy.” Read the list throughout the day. I really like this one.

3. Live in the present moment. Don’t spend all day dreaming of the past weekend or wishing it was Friday. Instead, throw yourself wholeheartedly into whatever you’re doing and do it the best you can, with a positive attitude.

4. Make peace with chaos. This is something I read recently. Chaos is inevitable, and while there are things we can do to prevent it, sometimes, chaos is a part of life. Make peace with it. Understand chaos is inevitable, and see how well you react when chaos occurs.

5. Take a deep breath. I’ve mentioned this before on my blog, but a deep breath is so powerful and can change your entire attitude. A long, slow, calming deep breath can reshape your way of thinking and bring your focus back. Next time you’re letting the “crazy kick in” come out of it by taking three long deep breaths and consider how much better you feel.

6. Meditate and Pray. If you have tons of worries, say a prayer, and then take a minute to sit in a quiet space. This really helps me, and I am learning that meditating really helps me stay focused and trains me to stop multitasking and to take everything a step at a time.

Thankful Thursday (Girl Meets Life September Blogging Challenge)

I came across Girl Meets Life’s September Blogging Challenge, and wanted to hop on board.

Here’s my Thankful Thursday. (You can view the entire blogging challenge here.)

I could go on and on about how much my pug has touched my life. She’s taught me so many lessons, especially about knowing when to rest. She calms me and continually surprises me with her strength. She suffers with a back disease that is a form of slow paralysis, and yet she plays like she’s still a puppy.

I’m so thankful to have this little creature in my life.

Thankful Thursday

Tara Stiles’ “Make Your Own Rules Diet” is a Journey You’ll Want to Take

tara_stilesbook

First, I just want to say how honored and excited I am to be able to share the following book review for Tara Stiles’ “Make Your Own Rules Diet.” I was shocked and surprised when I got chosen to write a review on my blog. I hope you all enjoy, and a huge thank-you to Tara!

When I first saw a shirt with “Make Your Own Rules” on it, it changed the way I looked at myself. It was when I first discovered Tara through the television show with Tia Mowry, where Tia decides she wants to make a yoga video with Tara. I bought both DVDs. Then I found Tara’s YouTube channel, and instantly connected with the way she taught yoga. She made it accessible. She encouraged me to “make my own rules.” No one is the same–and we shouldn’t be forced to comply with rules that just aren’t fit for us. The way Tara guides you through yoga–encouraging you to do what feels good, to connect with your breath, and to forget forcing yourself into poses– made me change the way I looked at yoga, fitness, and even cooking. It didn’t surprise me when she announced that she was releasing a book about food– her “Tara Eats” videos and Tumblr blog recipes were just as easy and accessible as the yoga she’d guide me through on Youtube.

If you haven’t heard of Tara Stiles, the one thing you’ll immediately notice is that she’s all about ease, and it’s no surprise that this is the theme for “Make Your Own Rules Diet.” Tara’s not going to force you into anything. As she says in the book, her mission is for her and us to “go on a space-making journey together. We’ll cast aside the rules that other people have laid out; you’ll learn how to tap into your intuition to create rules that work for you. And because this is all about you, you’re in charge. I’ll simply be your guide.”

I love the way the book is laid out, with Tara separating “Make Your Own Rules Diet” into three parts that begins, not surprisingly, on the yoga mat, winds its way through meditation, and finally, makes its way into the kitchen.

From downward dogs and easy breathing to your cupboards and kitchen counter, you certainly don’t want to miss this journey that Tara has mapped out. Throughout “Make Your Own Rules Diet,” Tara proves over and over again how simple yoga, meditation, and cooking healthily can be.

Simple cooking is already great cooking to me, and Tara’s recipes are so delicious and vibrant in color that you’ll want to make them again and again. One example is “The Swamp,” a brilliantly green smoothie that is sure to leave you glowing, full of energy, and ready to take on the morning. If you find yourself often reaching for a not-so-great afternoon snack, then whip up a batch of her Granola, with an added twist that I adore: sour cherries. They add a perfect sour punch that’s sure to get you out of any 3 p.m. slumps or hangry (hungry+angry) attacks.

And perfect for the upcoming fall season in which “Make Your Own Rules Diet” is being released, the Roasted Acorn Squash Soup is sure to warm you up during the colder evenings and shorter days. I’ve fallen in love with soup over the years, so I cannot wait to make this one.

The “Make Your Own Rules Diet” journey will be worth it. I encourage you to pre-order “Make Your Own Rules Diet” before it hits bookstores in November, because you’ll want your hands on it as soon as possible. As a thank-you from Tara for pre-ordering the book, you’ll get the fantastic “Wake Up” yoga download and other cool gifts. You can pre-order the book and get your free gifts by going here.

You can follow Tara’s inspirational updates about yoga, travel, food, life, and more on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Make sure to subscribe to her YouTube channel for great yoga videos, and head over to her website for her weekly updates, recipes, and other happenings.

Beautiful You: Ways to Stay out of the Fear Zone

When you trap fears inside your head and you never release them, those fears are only going to grow more powerful and strong. They’ll take hold of you and, probably without knowing you’re even doing it, you’ll take root in them.

Disclaimer: These are not medical opinions, but my own. I am not a doctor. These are the things that I’ve practiced and realize help me.

But you don’t have too. When you’re trapped inside the fear-space (or “the fear zone”) in your head, here are a few ways to snap back to the present:

1. Kick the icky feeling by looking at something in front of you: your dog, a friend, grass outside the window, a flower, or a new tab on your computer, or refocus on what you’re trying to work on.
2. If you have the chance, I like what Gabrielle Bernstein suggests: write it down. Really think about where you were traveling off to in fear-land. Write down those thoughts. What Gabrielle suggests is to then change the fear into something positive.
3. Do a downward dog. Yoga has completely changed my life when it comes to coming back to the present and releasing fears. If you are able to, turn on a short yoga video, do a couple of stretches, or simply stand up. This gives you the chance to do something different; you’ll be able to change your thought pattern. (If you’re looking for a yoga teacher, I always suggest going to Tara Stiles’ yoga channel.
4. Say it out loud. Whether you believe in God or not, say your fears out loud. I like to pray. And then I try to meditate afterward, or simply focus on taking a few deep breaths. I also like to pull out my Bible and read a few quotes of Scripture that ease my worries, or I grab my small notebook of encouraging and uplifting quotes from people I admire.
5. Take a deep breath. Speaking of taking deep breaths, just taking one can change your whole mindset. Often and without knowing it, we’ll begin to breathe shallowly. This can lead to anxiety or panic attacks, or just an overall feeling of nervousness. Sit up straight and take a slow, deep breath. Then see how you feel afterward.
6. Drink a cold glass of water. The refreshing coolness will help wake you up and drag you out of that fear way of thinking. And sometimes, the nervousness I feel just goes away after drinking a glass of cold water.

I hope these tips will help you be able to release your fears (or being trapped inside future-tripping fear thoughts) and return yourself to the present, so you can live fully and happily.

Beautiful You: Ways to Ease Anxiety and Help Sleeplessness

Happy Thursday everyone! As promised, I want to share a few tips and tricks that I’ve played around with and that work for me to help ease anxiety and help sleeplessness. (Though I am sorry this wasn’t up on Monday.)

First, a disclaimer: I’m not a doctor. These are non-medical opinions and tips that have worked for me to ease my anxiety, panic attacks, and sleeplessness.

1. Supplements. Every day I try to take passionflower (calms the nervous system), and Vitamin B Complex (balances moods, gives you energy, etc.).

2. Prayer, devotional, and journaling. This works for all hours of the day, but I like to do it morning and night. Take a moment, it doesn’t have to be long, to write down the things that are making you anxious or unable to sleep, or just say them out loud. And I mean everything. Even the things you may consider silly, not really a problem, etc. If you keep those thoughts in your head, they will continue to only grow bigger and more scary, causing more anxiety. Release them through prayer and meditation or through writing. Be as specific as you can. God will hear you.
Read some of your favorite quotes, passage from a book, Scripture, etc. Read something that connects you to God. Read something that just makes your relax.

3. Move. I practice yoga for calming my mind, and I recently bought a mini trampoline to help get some cardio in throughout my day. Jumping on the trampoline also helps clear my mind, get my heart pumping, and energy levels up. Do something that can get you to clear your mind and tire your body out. I like to choose a time when my anxiousness sometimes feels the highest (usually around that 3 p.m. slump)

4. Avoid Caffeine. I hated to admit this to myself, but caffeine really increases my anxiety, especially in the morning. It’s not that I’ve had to say goodbye to my cup of Joe, oh no. It means that I’ve become mindful of the days when I need to avoid it. When I wake up calm and relaxed, I may enjoy a cup. But not everyday. Try to avoid things with caffeine, because it will increase your anxiety and it can create sleeplessness.

5. Shower or take a bath. This is relatively new to me, but it’s a great way to calm the mind and ease the body into a restful night’s sleep. I’ve been taking a quick shower at night. It helps clear my mind and by rinsing off I feel I’m washing off the day I’ve had and clearing my mind for a good night’s rest.

. Drink Tea. Though this can be done throughout the day, drinking chamomille, lavender, or peppermint tea has greatly helped with me getting a good night’s rest. I like to drink these calming teas whenever I feel sleepless or anxious. DO you ever feel nauseous because of anxiety or lack of sleep? Ginger is a miracle worker.
In fact, I’d go so far as to say that drinking any decaffeinated tea that you really, really love will help ease anxiety. I’ve noticed this myself. My favorite teas include:

Yogi Lavender and Honey
Twinings Peppermint
Twinings Chamomille
Good Earth Sweet and Spicy
Stash Ginger and Lemon

6. Lights out. Quit using a computer or other screen within an hour or so of bedtime. For me, this works because my body seems to know that when I put the computer away or turn the television off, it’s time to get ready for bed. I also use a fan (if you don’t like a fan and don’t want to buy a sound machine, I’d consider using a sleep app. The background noise you can focus on and it will help you fall asleep.)

7. Deep breaths. Practicing yoga has helped me learn when I’m breathing too shallow, which can stir up anxious feelings. When you learn about deep breathing, and how we do too little of it, you’ll realize just what you’ve been missing. I’ve used this technique from Gabrielle Bernstein many times when feeling anxiety creep it, and it re-centers me and helps me get back on my way.

8. Drink water or eat. It may seem sily, but avoiding a snack or a meal could be causing your anxiety or keeping you from sleeping well (going to bed with a growling stomach is not fun). I’ve heard eating a banana about a half hour before bedtime helps, because of it’s melatonin content. (Melatonin is the chemical our body releases to help us relax and sleep.) In general, if you are starving by the time you get to a meal, you’ll probably notice your anxiety will be up. Try to avoid this by choosing good-for-you snacks, like an apple and a piece of cheddar cheese, and avoid sugary stuff. Sugar is not good for anxiety. And before diving into a snack or meal, try seeing if a glass of water will fill you up. (Sometimes my anxiety will creep in simply because I’m thirsty!)

And that’s it for now. I hope these tips will help you in some way. Remember, everyone will have different tips and tricks that help them in some way. These, in no particular order, are mine.

Peaceful minds and sleep-filled nights to you! (I love how Kris Carr signs off on her newsletters this way.)

Ashley

Happy New Year!

Hi, everyone! Can you believe it’s 2014? It felt like 2013 went by so fast. And what a fantastic year it was! 2013 was a very transformational year for me. I was able to move forward doing work that I love, I learned how to knit, I fell in love with yoga, and even tried a meditation or two.

I haven’t made any specific resolutions this year, except to continue doing what I’m already walking on the path of: a healthier, happier life filled with love, laughter, and ease.

What are your 2014 resolutions? Did you make any this year?

Wishing everyone a blessed, blissful, and beautiful new year,

Ashley