Before I decided it was time to write a blog post, I was entertained by the fact that the last blog post I wrote was about surrendering and giving up the illusion of control. I wrote "In order to start breaking the prison bars down, my goal and intention for the month of March is to Do Less & Allow More". I talked about how God was teaching me that I need to give up the illusion that I have control in my life. I wrote, "I have the illusion that I am in control of these things because I can take obvious action steps to keep these things in order and prevent them from falling apart. But it is just that, an illusion. Even if I do every single thing right, I cannot control anybody besides myself and how others' actions will impact my life, even if they are somebody I've never met and would never have a clue that they even could impact my life." Wow. God was clearly speaking through me, because I had zero clue that COVID-19 was going to totally change the world in just a few weeks after that post. I was just starting to hear about the virus but certainly not taking it seriously. The week before I had flown back home to visit family with my toddler and didn't even think twice about going on that trip. I thought the corona virus was a joke and I was highly skeptical. Clearly, God was preparing me, and hopefully whoever read that blog post to start to let go of control. If you haven't read it, I suggest you do so now, even if it is just to be amused by the irony of what was to come in just a few weeks after the post.
In the past few weeks with the the uncertainty and chaos that COVID-19 has presented to just about every human on our planet, I have been silent online. While I have been very tempted on many occasions to write a blog post or put something on social media, I have listened to the inner voice that told me to be still and wait. To not get wrapped up. I have been limiting my time on social media and the news and other media in order to allow for what we are all being called to do right now. Be still. Rest and rejuvenate. Take time for introspection and hearing inner guidance and intuition. Do less, allow more. Surrender. While a huge part of me told me to jump on the opportunity to share my voice and promote my online services while so many people are "listening" online in order to keep money coming in, as well as pursing one of my dreams to have a totally online business, a deeper part told me to surrender and rest.
The first week of quarantine that was pushed in South Carolina (where I live) with the schools and other places, including my child's daycare, I still tried to keep going. I kept my clinic open and had approximately 50% of my patients who decided to come for occupational therapy and coaching. I maintained the same business hours as usually, but used the downtime I would normally see patients to catch up on things I had been procrastinating on like paperwork and other administrative duties. I kept pushing myself even though my caseload was cut in half. I did not give into surrender, even though that's what we are being called to do.
The second week of quarantine I prayed and meditated to receive guidance on whether I should keep my doors open or if I should close up, even though that meant no income. Being self-employed is wonderful but times like this make it ultra scary. The guidance I received was to "take a break", so I did. I canceled all of my patients and took the week "off". The first couple of days were met with frustration as I was still trying to do paperwork and other administrative activities, trying to make the most of a challenging situation by continuing to be productive. Even though the guidance I received was not to close up, it was to take a break, I still was not listening. I accomplished some things in those first few days, but the effort I pushed forth was not met with much results, as though I was paddling against the current. The second half of the week, I decided to try harder to listen to what I was being told and to really take a break. I spent quality time outside with my daughter and husband, enjoyed the beautiful weather that we've had the past few days, and to let go of my expectation of always being productive. I enjoyed snuggles and quality time with no expectations whatsoever. I was met with great rewards of quality time with my family and a sense of peace and clarity that I had been missing. These bonding moments with our family of 3 are especially precious right now because in just 2 months we will welcome our second child and will totally change our family dynamic.
This need for always being productive is deep within me and always has been. Although I believe that I was born with this overachiever mentality, especially being a Type 8 on the Enneagram, a lot of it also comes from growing up with parents who were always pushing themselves hard and working to provide when they had very little to start in their marriage and four kids to provide for. I always put a very high value on productivity and completely devalued rest and stillness. Over the years I have realized the importance of rest as overachieving and under-resting have caused autoimmune and health issues for me, but it is still hard for me to value and appreciate it. I have learned to incorporate rest and stillness into my daily life with yoga, self-care activities like baths, meditation, Bible study and devotions, and time in nature, but doing these things is still not totally natural to me and I have to work diligently to keep them in my routine and not let them fall by the wayside when things get busy.
COVID-19 is forcing each and every one of us to value this time of rest and stillness. We are being called to take a deeper look inside and listen to the intuition and inner guidance that we have been ignoring or avoiding. It is so easy to miss that guidance, even if we are trying to hear/feel it, when we are constantly busy, whether it be productive busyness or avoidance busyness ("checking out" on social media, video games, TV, etc). We must take this time to be silent and still and hear the messages we are receiving. Our whole world has been awakening to how we are damaging the planet and living unsustainably, but most have been ignoring or avoiding it. Many have the belief that they as just one person can't do much to change the world. However, looking at our current circumstances of how much just one person can affect the entire world by choosing to take precautions and stay home or wash their hands or do whatever they can do to help prevent the spread of this pandemic, hopefully more people will realize that each and every one of us is significant in improving the world we live in. But we must listen to the guidance. We must be still. We must rest. We must surrender.
What guidance have you been ignoring or avoiding? During this time of forced rest and introspection, what are you being called to do, or not to do? We must all know that listening to our inner guidance, God, the universe, whatever you believe in or want to call it, is what will lead us to the most abundant and joyous life possible. I challenge you to take this time for introspection to hear the messages. Start a new habit or routine to get more quiet and still to hear these messages. You can do this on your own, or find a resource online (there is an abundance more than ever right now), or work with me or someone to do a guided meditation or other practice to increase this connection to intuition and establish a greater sense of peace and clarity. Stay well, rest, and appreciate this forced "vacation" instead of trying to paddle against the current.
Earlier in February, I was involved in a group devotional called "Dangerous Prayers". In this devotion, they challenged us to pray to God to break us so that we could live more fully in His will. Being a high-achieving, studious person, I took this challenge on and did just that. I prayed for God to break me. And He has. While life was going as smooth as could be the weeks prior, the weeks after this prayer were riddled with things that were far beyond my control. More bizarre, unexpected things occurred in 10 days after that prayer than had in the months or year prior. The biggest thing that I have needed God to break me from is my control and trust issues. These have been ever present since birth. Being an Enneagram Type 8, this is one the biggest things that I will always struggle with. Giving up control is the scariest thing that I can do. Although I'm not a worry wart like I was as a kid and I've learned just to give up control and not worry about the obvious things that are out of my control (things like hurricanes, pandemics, unexpected brain aneurysms, alien abductions, nuclear war, etc), I still struggle to give up control on the things I have the illusion of control with. Things like childcare and other childrearing decisions, family nutrition, how things are done and arranged in my home, decisions in my business both big and small, managing our family finances, etc I still grasp so tightly that I'm constantly on edge about them falling apart. I have the illusion that I am in control of these things because I can take obvious action steps to keep these things in order and prevent them from falling apart. But it is just that, an illusion. Even if I do every single thing right, I cannot control anybody besides myself and how others' actions will impact my life, even if they are somebody I've never met and would never have a clue that they even could impact my life. God can also decide to throw a curveball to remind me that I am not in control and that I need to trust Him more and lean on Him.
One example that broke me last week was that my daughter's current daycare suddenly and unexpectedly informed us last week that they were ending their program at the end of May. After months of stressing and thinking about where to send her and my unborn son, I decided that I would keep her in the program and put him there when he was 3 months old. Another significant factor in this situation that broke me was that the day we were informed of the unexpected ending was the last day that the 2 other places I was considering for childcare for the fall were completing their enrollment. This means that ALL of the spots for my children at the places I deemed acceptable for what I want for them and what works for my schedule were taken. I had the illusion of control in making the decision of where to place my children for care in the fall, but I had zero control in the decision that they were closing the program and the timeline they chose to do this. I never even considered it would be a possibility that they would close the program.
This was just one of more than 5 major events that "broke me" and truly allowed me to see that my sense of control is just an illusion and that I am creating my own prison with this illusion. At this time, I also happen to be consistently hearing messages in books, podcasts, etc about allowing. Allowing is a process of manifestation where you learn to stop blocking things with the attitude and beliefs you are putting out into the universe. My attitudes and beliefs that I can control the outcomes in my daily life are an energetic mismatch (think about magnets repelling each other) with allowing God, the universe, other people, etc to support me and give me what I need. I wear the superwoman cape of doing it all and being in control of all of it, which prevents me from being able to receive. When I push and attack tasks and decisions with brute force, I am blocking things from occurring spontaneously by telling God, the universe, and others that I don't need their help. As much as my ego would like to think I don't need anyone's help, I truly do. While I was able to get by (although with unneeded stress on myself) with this mentality before having children, I have a daily struggle with this because I cannot possibly do it all and maintain my sanity as a mother. It is essential that I rely on others, but this is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. However, it will ultimately be what sets me free from the prison I create by having this controlling mentality.
In order to start breaking the prison bars down, my goal and intention for the month of March is to Do Less & Allow More. It will not be easy, but it is essential for my mental health and for so many others, especially mothers. We want to have it all and do it all on our own, but this is not feasible or sustainable for anyone, no matter how goal-oriented and high achieving they are. My intention is that anytime I go to do something, make a decision, etc that I do a tiny bit less than I am ok with, so that I can allow God to fill in the rest. He will meet me where I am and give me what I need. I will do just a little bit less than I expect myself to do, let go just a little bit less of what I expect others to do on my terms and my way, and do a little bit less worrying and trying to control outcomes so that I can be a magnet to allow blessings to flow into my life. When we allow blessings and help to come forth, we usually get far more than we ever even imagined getting on our own. I challenge you to see where you can do just a little bit less so that you can allow just a little bit more.
It's the beginning of the new year and a whole new decade. As I have reflected over the past year, and especially over the past decade, I have been astonished by all that has happened. I entered this last decade as a 20-year-old and started the new one as a 30-year-old. Talk about a huge shift in perspective, lifestyle, and priorities. So many things have happened and changed for the better, but I am determined to have an even better decade than the last. Generally I am one of those people who sets resolutions each year, but then forgets most of them before January even ends, and sometimes just a week or so in. When I look back through my lists of resolutions each year that I have in my journal, they tend to be mostly the same things. Obviously, if I'm repeating them year after year, I must not be doing a great job at following through with them. As Albert Einstein wisely said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results.” So this year I decided to do something different. Instead of resolutions, I decided I was going to choose an intention word.
An intention word is like a mantra or an affirmation that I am going to be keeping in the forefront of my thoughts and is going to guide my behavior. I am going to use this word as a compass to keep me on track with what I want out of the year. The word I have chosen is: INTEGRITY. One definition of integrity by Merriam-Webster dictionary is: "the quality or state of being complete or undivided". This is the definition of integrity that I am specifically thinking about when I think of integrity as my intention. What this means to me is being very intentional in all of my choices and only making choices that are in total alignment of who I am and what I desire at the deepest levels. This means consuming foods that are sustaining and replenishing to me in all aspects, not just ones that taste good but will make me feel bad or even just subpar. This means letting go of worries or fears of what others think in the decisions that I make, whether or not it affects them. This means letting go of beliefs and stories about myself that are no longer serving me. This means only making choices that feel 100% right in my heart, soul, body, and mind.
We are already a couple of weeks into January and normally the resolutions would already be starting to disappear from my mind and my actions. This year I am actually getting stronger every day in sticking to my intention of integrity. I am aligning with that intention on a deeper level every day. My habits and routines around it are also getting stronger. There is definitely something to this that is working for me.
I challenge you to forego the tradition of a list of New Year's resolutions and to instead think of a word to use as your compass for the year. Chances are you have already had a word pop into your mind. Don't overthink it too much, if it came to you, it did so for a reason. However, if you have no idea what word to choose, a good place to start looking is to look up a list of values and choose one from there. Integrity is actually the top value on my list of top 6 values (I couldn't settle at just 5, so I went with 6). I didn't plan this or even realize it for a few days after choosing it, but I don't think it is a coincidence. Our values should ultimately be guiding all of our choices in order for us to be in total alignment and get the greatest satisfaction from life, so choosing one of your values is an excellent place to start living with more intention. Once you've chosen your word, have some fun with it to keep it in the forefront of your mind. If you like to paint, paint it on a canvas or paint your representation of it. Or you could do some fun word art or decoupage or make/buy a bracelet with the word on it. Think of something that would be fun and meaningful to you to keep it on your mind. I would love to hear what your word of the year is and what it means to you- comment below or send me an email. Enjoy!
I am often asked why it's important to take a probiotic supplement and if just eating yogurt is enough. There are so many reasons why a QUALITY probiotic supplement is vital to good health (physical, mental, emotional) and optimal nervous system functioning. Many people don't realize that gut health is so much more than just the way the digestive system is functioning. The root of most illnesses stems from the gut. I can confidently say that a majority of the population today truly needs a quality probiotic supplement and that just a healthy diet is usually not enough. Was that true 50 years ago? Probably not. Our population today is faced with so many more environmental toxins and other harmful substances that were not an issue decades ago. I would love to say that ensuring good gut health is as simple as eating a healthy diet, but unfortunately that is often not enough. The soil that enriches our food is significantly limited in the minerals that it once had due to poor farming practices and an excess of chemicals that have seeped into our water and air supply. We are constantly bombarded with harmful substances that are depleting our good gut bacteria and causing us to get sick. Factory farming involves high use of antibiotics that is then excreted via urine into our soil and water supply. An overuse of prescription antibiotics severely depletes our guts of good bacteria in its attempt to kill the bad - they do not discriminate the difference. Eating a diet full of highly processed foods and limited use of raw organic foods prevents growth of good bacteria and feeds the bad bacteria that take over. Using toxic cosmetic and household products that seep into the skin usually end up in the gut because of poor gut lining and "leaky gut". There are so many things that are going against good gut health and causing poor gut health that a quality probiotic is essential to repairing the damage. The biggest thing that people don't realize and that I was shocked to learn is that gut health is essential to proper nervous system functioning because 90% of neurotransmitters are made in the gut. So if the environment is not healthy, neurotransmitters are limited and unhealthy. The nervous system rules all and affects literally every aspect of our lives. Unsure whether you may be having gut issues that you aren't aware of? Many of these issues people don't associate with gut health, but it is the cornerstone of health and good gut health eliminates these issues:
If any of these are affecting you or someone you love, it is highly likely that you or they would benefit from a quality probiotic supplement. An issue that we face today is that there is an abundance of probiotic supplements out there and many of them just don't cut it when it comes to the severe depletion many of us are facing. Most of them are not refrigerated and the bacteria are dead before you even put them in your mouth. Another problem is that most of them have only a few strains of bacteria and most people need a wider variety for adequate re-colonization. I have had gut issues my entire life. It wasn't until my early to mid-twenties that I realized there was something I could do about it. I spent tons of money on probiotics with little relief and it was because of the aforementioned issues. It wasn't until I started taking Flora 12+ by Energetix that I noticed a significant change. Initially I was hesitant because they are on the more expensive side, but when it comes to supplements, I have learned that you really have to pay for quality and that it is a cheap investment compared to paying for health issues. That is why this is the only probiotic supplement I recommend for anyone over the age of 1 and why it is the only one I sell in my clinic (besides one that is used for maintenance once the gut has been repaired and/or for boosting the immune system in times of need) and the only one my family takes. It is refrigerated. keeping the bugs alive. It has 12 different strains of good bacteria. It doesn't have any harmful preservatives or fillers that many others do. I have countless stories of individuals, especially children (mostly because parents are better at giving things to help their children than helping themselves) that have had immediate improvements in alleviating digestive issues (chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea), as well as behavioral, mental health, sensory, and other nervous system issues. Please contact me today if you have any questions about gut health, probiotics, or to obtain a bottle and begin healing your gut.
I am a bulldozer, or as my husband has lovingly said, a snowplow, due to my Minnesota roots. I spent the first 25ish years pushing through life without regard to what my "machine", my body, needed, and without listening to the signals it was giving me. It would give me signals that my belt was burning up (I needed to take more time to rest and recuperate) but I would push on. It would start making funny sounds but I would throw some WD-40 on it (or ibuprofen, Tylenol, caffeine, alcohol, anti-depressants, etc) to quiet the squeak rather than open the hood and try to determine the cause. My check engine light would come on but I would just put a sticky note over the top of it so the signal would stop flashing in my face and distract me from pushing on. You get the drift. Rather than taking the time to be still and problem-solve through why my machine was not running smoothly and was throwing me all of these signals, I would ignore or find a quick fix to keep on running without stopping for maintenance. Eventually my machine just stopped and would go no further despite all of my tried-and-true tricks to get me back on the road quickly. The fatigue wouldn't go away with more caffeine. The pain wouldn't go away with ibuprofen, Tylenol, or even muscle relaxants. My depression continued to weigh me down with little relief from anti-depressants. I finally realized that my machine was down for repairs indefinitely. I received a more formal diagnosis of Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (autoimmune hypothyroidism) but didn't know what caused it, or rather was scared to find out. I had no idea how to fix it besides taking the prescribed thyroid medication that only dulled my symptoms and didn't get me back on track like I expected. I sought out experts to give me the answers with little luck. I searched the internet for the magical cures. I used my strong intellect and book smarts to "fix myself" but the deeper I dug, the more I realized that there was no quick fix or magical answer that was going to get my machine back on the road quickly. And I realized that my machine would probably never allow me to function at the same intensity as it did before without shutting me down.
Within the first year or so, I realized that all of the years of pushing past the signals or giving them a quick fix was what put me out of order. Running at that speed and intensity was not sustainable for life. I managed to do it for 25ish years, but if I wanted to be healthy and not feel like crap for the next 70ish years, I would have to make some major changes. I would have to learn to relax, which is something people had been telling me to do my entire life with significant frustration on my end because I had zero idea how to do that without self-medicating, usually with alcohol. The biggest problem of all was that I was proud of how hard I could push myself and all that I could accomplish without basic self-cares like rest. I lived on a few hours of sleep each night (and not quality sleep either), using caffeine at all hours of the day to give me the energy boosts I needed to sustain productivity. I was eating foods that my body didn't agree with even though they were generally healthy. I popped ibuprofen and Tylenol like they were candy with absolutely no awareness or recognition that they may be harmful for me to use at all, let alone with the frequency I was taking them. And I spent my weekends and sometimes weeknights with a beer or glass of wine (usually multiple) to get the only form of relaxation I knew how.
I viewed resting and slowing down as a weakness or vulnerability, which were way too hard on my ego to tolerate. This belief was what had to change completely in order for me to recover and get back to working order. I started sleeping 9-10 hours per night vs my usual 5 or 6, not out of self-awareness but out of complete need in order to make it through a day. I started napping when I could even though I despised naps and thought they were a total waste of time. I started to look into natural remedies such as essential oils, supplements, and nutrition to help alleviate my symptoms. They became a religion to me because they were going to "fix my thyroid". All of these things helped me to function better and slowly to stop feel like I was dying a slow death, but they didn't give me total relief. That may sound dramatic (and many will say that I am), but going at that pace compared to the intensely fast one I was going at before my crash truly felt like I was dying both physically and especially mentally with my ego. It was mentally and emotionally very painful to slow down, but physically I had no other choice.
When I started to dig into spirituality deeper and became present and aware of the messages my body was giving me, that was when I started to have the most drastic improvements. I was in a 200 hour yoga teacher training that was transformative for my mind, body, and soul. I realized that my mind and maladaptive belief systems were what caused my nervous system to become so fried that it started shutting things down. This is where I had to do the most work. 5 years later, I am still working on it and still trying to repair my body and fix those belief systems to help me heal and to be more in touch with God. I have learned that this will be a life-long lesson and that the deeper I get into the lesson, the more sensitive I will become and more quickly my body will give me a signal that I can't ignore. Thankfully I have come a really long way and am healthier than I've ever been.
Can you relate to my story? Maybe your diagnosis is not Hashimoto's but another chronic/serious health condition such as diabetes, overweight/obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease, Crohn's, Celiac's, IBS or other digestive issues, MS, Lupus, fertility issues, arthritis, chronic pain syndrome, or cancer. These all stem from stress and lifestyle choices, regardless of genetics. Our genetics do not determine what diseases we get for the most part. Epigenetics has found that our lifestyle determines whether or not those switches are flipped to turn those genes on and when. Are you ready to make those changes to prevent those switches from flipping? Or if they already have flipped, are you ready to make changes to help you manage or even eliminate those diseases from your life? Things can always get worse, but they can always get better. I encourage you to start finding ways to promote your health rather than compromise it. If you need a guide to help you along the way, I would love to work with you as your health coach to guide you onto the path that you need to heal and live your best life possible.
We have all heard the term "empathy", but have you ever heard the term "empath"? This is a phenomenon I first stumbled upon a few years ago that has brought great clarity and self-understanding for me. Considering the term "empathy" which means the ability to understand and share the feelings of another, an "empath" is someone who goes a step further and can actually FEEL this. According to Stephanie Jameson in her book Happy Empaths Workbook (which I HIGHLY recommend for anyone who thinks they or their child may be an empath), "Empaths exemplify empathy, meaning that they have the ability to take on and process the emotions, sensations, and experiences of others. They can feel even the most subtle energy, often knowing what others are experiencing even when that emotion is not expressed." Being an empath is a gift when care is taken to be energetically balanced and strong boundaries are established. However, when we don't establish boundaries and engage in lots of grounding and self-care activities, it can feel like a curse. Developing awareness of empathic gifts is the first step to developing these gifts and minimizing or eliminating the negative effects.
There are many different forms of empaths and an empath can have all of the following gifts or may have just one.
No I'm not referring to being grounded as being locked in your room and losing privileges. The type of "grounded" I am referring to is the process of becoming more aware of the present moment by taking in the senses and connecting with earth and the life force energy or "chi". Dictionary.com does not provide a definition of "grounding" itself but of "ground". Its definition is, "A connection between an electrical conductor and the Earth. Grounds are used to establish a common zero-voltage reference for electric devices in order to prevent potentially dangerous voltages from arising between them and other objects. " While this is a very literal definition and one that is traditionally used when working with electricity, it definitely applies to people as well. We are electrical conductors and electrical beings. If you don't believe me, think back to times when you've gotten static electricity and shocked someone else that you touched, or when you've put your hands on a plasma ball (All 90's kids should know what this is) and the electricity inside connected to wherever you touched the ball with your hands.
When children aren't grounded, this is much more physically evident than when adults aren't grounded. The biggest red flags for children is having little control over their body and "bouncing off the walls". They are touching everything, pushing their bodies up against objects or people ("hanging on mom"), talking incessantly, difficult to get to focus on the moment and what you are trying to tell them, and difficult to reason with. Not so obvious signs are anxiety, digestive issues, sleep difficulties, difficulty learning, getting in trouble in school, and many more. I often describe kids that aren't grounded to parents as a helium balloon that doesn't have a weight on it. The weight is earth and its magnetic field that keeps us "grounded", without it we just float away into space without a clear path or purpose. When the balloon weight disappears, it is usually related to individuals who are empathic and feel everything around them which causes their personal boundaries to disappear because they do not know what is theirs and what is those around them (see my blog post about empaths for more understanding on this).
All of the symptoms are the same for adults, but generally adults have learned more impulse control and are better able to internalize and hide how they are feeling. They are more likely to be unfocused, scattered, irritable, anxious, and lack clarity. They may also have inflammation, poor sleep, chronic fatigue, chronic pain, and suffer from a variety of diseases.
The best way to address these issues is to help re-ground using the strategies listed below. They help bring you back into your body and out of your head and into the present moment. These are general and you may find that there are others that are really helpful for you or your child- whatever works, do it! Make it a habit to do whatever grounding strategies work on a daily basis, and do extra when spending time around lots of people or just around people that have negative energy or that you notice drain your energy. While there are people we don't generally like that fall into this category, often those that we love the most fit here too (parents, siblings, friends, etc). Children will intuitively do some of these things and will find their own strategies, so it's important to allow them to do what works for them, as well as purposefully incorporating these strategies into their lives.
1. Time outside in nature. Being out in nature is very grounding and brings much clarity. In general, it brings much more awareness to the present moment as you are more aware of all of the sensations of nature. It is usually much more rich of sensation than man-made environments. Think of the way a breeze or rain drops touch your skin, the smell of the trees or fresh cut grass, the sounds of birds or a waterfall, the way the ground feels beneath your feet.
2. Earthing/grounding- walking outside with bare feet. The theory of earthing is that the earth's surface transfers negatively charged electrons into the body, which binds with the positively charged free radicals in our bodies that cause inflammation and disease. This is the same concept as Himalayan salt lamps. Scientific research has proven that walking outside barefoot in nature helps to reduce inflammation, improve immune response, reduce emotional stress, improve blood flow, calms the nervous system, and elevates mood. When you're doing this, pay attention to the bottom of your feet and really feel them touching the earth and notice all of the points of contact. Imagine roots coming from the bottom of your feet and digging into the earth's core, recharging your body like a battery. You can do this anywhere to feel your connection to the earth and re-ground. It works best to do this barefooted on the earth, but you can do this anywhere with visualization and imagining the roots digging down.
3. Epsom salt baths- these are a God-send, especially when you notice your energy shift after being around someone or something that made you feel anxious or irritable from taking on their negative energy. Epsom salt baths are very detoxifying which is essential for empaths and sensitive individuals- we are more prone to the negative effects of poor diet, toxins in our household cleaners and environment, pesticides on our food, and stress/negative thoughts and epsom salt baths helps the body to eliminate those toxins.
4. Healthy diet. The fewer the steps to get from the earth (ground) to your mouth, the better. Best case scenario would be organic fruits and veggies picked fresh from the garden and eaten raw as they contain the most life force energy having been fresh picked from mother earth. Raw fruits and veggies from the grocery store that were picked weeks prior and sprayed with chemicals to keep them fresh are still better than highly processed foods, but they have significantly less life to them than the previous example. Worst case scenario are foods from a bag or a box that contain more ingredients that are actually chemicals and unnatural substances and that you cannot pronounce. You can use this same process with meat products. For example, consider a cow that was raised on a factory farm with highly processed feed- look at how many steps it took to get the feed from the ground to the cows mouth, and then look at all of the steps that it took from that cow to get from the farm to you (farm to large processing facility and all of the steps to get to the grocery store and then finally home to you). Now consider a free range cow that grazes directly from the ground, is butchered by the farmer or outsourced a different butcher and then directly to you. Bottom line is the fewer steps taken from ground to mouth, the more grounding and healthy they are. It's as simple as that.
5. Getting the adrenaline-fueled energy out - We can often act as a sponge and soak up the energy around us if we don't have proper boundaries (and most of us don't- this is especially true of empaths). Doing a rigorous exercise or movement will help to get it out. Turning music way up and dancing it out however feels good to the body is wonderful- this works best if you are by yourself and nobody can see you because it's easier to let it all out without fear of judgement. Another activity that is great for this is running- it's also excellent for feeling your feet on the earth and provides a strong connection with the ground. This has been my go-to since I was 6 years old and I quickly become un-grounded when I go a few weeks without running. You can also go for a walk, do some yard work, dig in the garden, or any other activity that gets you sweating. It's important for whatever activity works best for you to be incorporated into your life daily- it doesn't need to be very long, just get your body moving.
6. Time alone - this is ESSENTIAL for empaths, both adults and children. This allows the individual to get clarity on their own feelings and thoughts and not to be influenced by others' thoughts, feelings, and energy. This helps to re-establish boundaries and awareness of self.
7. Breath- this is the single easiest way to calm your nervous system and bring you back to the present moment. We are always breathing, or we are dead. However, the quality of breath is key. Slow, deep breathing encourages parasympathetic nervous system activation, which is responsible for rest & digest and allows for more clarity and enhanced brain processes. Quick and/or shallow breathing leads to sympathetic nervous system activation, which is the fight/fright/flight system that causes stress to the entire body. Most of us are not aware of our breathing patterns but it is the single most simple and effective way to change every process in your body. Focus on taking deep, slow breaths and watch how much it changes your perception of the world and how you feel in your own skin.
8. Attention to sensations will bring you back to the current moment and help you to practice mindfulness. Sit comfortably somewhere that you can relax. I love to do this exercise outside because there are a lot more natural sensations you can connect with, as well as the fact you are spending time in nature and you can be earthing (while seated) at the same time. Start by closing your eyes, taking some deep breaths to clear your head (you can use the breathing strategies listed above), and then begin to name:
9. Meditation - watch your thoughts come and go. Bonus if you have a journal next to you and you write down every thought, image, and feeling that pops through your head, EVEN if it makes no sense. Do not over think this (this is the hardest part). Over time you may start to see patterns that your subconscious is trying to tell you.
10. Engage in a body-oriented physical activity such as yoga, tai chi, qigong, karate, dance, etc. Any activity that involved being very aware of where all of your body parts at any given time is fantastic for creating boundaries because it really helps you to understand where you start and end and will help you to know what is and isn't your energy, thoughts, and feelings.
I promise that if you start to take time to establish even one of these activities into your daily life that you will feel more grounded, have more clarity, and make more heart-directed decisions that will lead to a more joyful life!
Do you take time for yourself every day? Do you have rituals or routines each day that help you to recharge and rejuvenate?
For a long time I've been reading about self-care practices and how important they are not only for the individual doing them, but for those the individual gives to and cares for. If you aren't doing things to recharge yourself and refill your tank, how will you help others and take care of your family? I believe that most Americans are running around with empty tanks, trying to do more and more without taking moments to themselves for rest and rejuvenation.
Guilty as charged. I am continually brought back to this idea because I am terrible about filling up my tank. I spend my day giving to children with special needs, but don't take the time to refill my tank. I'm almost always running on empty. What does that lead to? Getting headaches, no energy, and little passion to do what I love to do the most and feeling burdened by this beautiful thing I do well. But I don't do it so well when I am running on empty. I'm tired, cranky, uncreative, and finding little joy in my work. Sound familiar?
This burnout is a common occurrence for individuals who work in the healthcare field or other career area (parenting is definitely included in this category) that they are giving to and caring for others in some capacity. Why? We love to give and have a desire to help others. Or at least, that's what brought us into this field of work. Over time, we may feel that love and desire diminish over time. So why the burnout? The more we give to others, the more our mind, body, and soul need to be nourished with self-care practices. But as giving people, we often feel that taking time to care for ourselves feels selfish. What we need to wrap our heads around is that it is selfish for us not to do things to rejuvenate and refill. It's selfish because without taking time for ourselves, we are too tired, cranky, and sometimes resentful to give to others what they need of us.
We have to change this mindset about self-care practices. I challenge you to think of this depletion as a chronic condition that is remediated by self-care practices. For example, if someone had a chronic condition that required that they took medicine every day in order to stay healthy (i.e. hypothyroidism, diabetes, heart disease, etc) and they said they weren't going to take their medication because they feel selfish doing so, most people would think they were crazy or stupid. We need to view self-care practices the same way. They are medicine that we need every day to keep us healthy and happy and to prevent depletion. I'm very guilty of not taking the time because my to-do list is too long or I'm too tired to do anything besides veg out on the couch. But as I'm writing this, I'm dealing with significant burnout, lack of creativity, lack of energy, and lack of desire to do much besides watch tv. Guess why? I have stopped doing things daily, just for me, to refill my tank. At best, I am doing 2 activities weekly. When I am doing things daily, my life is much better and smoother- I'm less stressed, happier, loving my job, not having psychosomatic illnesses (headaches for me), and feeling joy daily. One thing I've found too is that the time spent in self-cares is very sensitive to how the time is distributed. For example, if I spend 2 hours weekly on self-care on 2 different occasions, it does not have nearly as positive affect as it does when spreading those 2 hours out throughout the week and completing at least 15 minutes a day, every day. Think of it like charging your cell phone, which most people do every day. Generally, at the end of the day that would plug it in and recharge it for a full battery the next day. They wouldn't leave it dead for a few days and then leave it on the charger for a longer amount of time (beyond a full charge) and hope that a longer charge would keep the phone charged longer so they wouldn't have to recharge every day. Just like most cell phones, we need to recharge every single day .
Can you commit to giving yourself a minimum of 15 minutes a day, every single day, where you do something that feels good to you, sparks joy, encourages creativity, helps you to relax? I promise it'll be worth it, but you need to be completely committed to you during that time without distractions.
Here are some ideas to try or give inspiration to you:
I hope you find ways to commit to you for just 15 minutes a day to recharge, refill, and rejuvenate. And stick with it. Good luck!
Do you listen to your body? How loudly does it need to talk to you in order for you to listen? If you are anything like me, your body may need to scream before you pay it any attention.
Until a few months ago, I had a disconcerting understanding of my body's messages and the importance they played in my health. While I generally have always listened to my gut for life decisions, when it came to subtle messages such as pain or fatigue, I didn't pay it any attention. If I had a headache, I popped an ibuprofen (or as many as I needed to get rid of it). If my body hurt, I took muscle relaxers. If I was tired, I drank some caffeine. Get the gist? I'm generally an intelligent person and usually grasp concepts quickly, but I either had no clue or didn't want to pay any attention to those messages my body was sending. This tells me that I'm probably not the only one. Unfortunately, I think it is social conditioning by the American culture. There is a quick fix for everything and people rarely pay any attention to the side effects, no matter how intensely negative they may be. We are also often conditioned not to trust our bodies when we are told to disregard our instincts. When someone or something makes us feel sick to our stomach or just gives us the feeling that we something isn't right, we are often told that we are being silly or shouldn't trust our gut. We are often criticized and ridiculed for trusting our intuition.
I really don't understand where this all came from or why people started to think that our brains should be the only ones we should listen to. Unfortunately, our brains are often biased by anxiety, fear, ego, etc that make it less than the ideal candidate to do the talking. Although I have been ridiculed for being an impulsive person for following my gut when making life decisions, I can honestly say that I have no regrets when it comes to those choices I made when listening to my gut. However, decisions I made when using my brain and logically reasoning with pro/con lists etc, are ones that did not work out in my favor.
For some reason though, I didn't realize the importance of listening to my body's other signals such as pain and fatigue. Had I listened years ago, I don't think I would be in the situation I am in. Nearly 3 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, an autoimmune disease of hypothyroidism. Having no clue where it came from, I started researching and soon discovered that many individuals with Hashimoto's (as well as many other autoimmune diseases) share many personality characteristics with me including perfectionism, type A personality, always "on", etc. Had I listened to those signals years ago when they were talking, I wouldn't have to hear their screams when my body was forcing me to rest.
I challenge you to be an investigator when your body talks or even whispers. Do you need to rest or slow down? Are you in a situation that you shouldn't be- relationship, career, habits, etc? What is your body trying to tell you? Are you ready to listen to it when it talks? Or does it need to scream? Start paying attention to the messages, even the ones you don't want to hear. Eventually your body will win the argument if you don't join in on the conversation.
Intuition is like a muscle that needs to be strengthened. Start small and easy and feel your muscle grow. Start today by sitting quietly for a few minutes and tuning into the sensations of your body. Then, give yourself two simple options, such as what to eat for lunch or which television show to watch. Notice how the sensations change with each option. While they may be subtle, you'll feel either more positive or negative towards each choice. For me, positive sensations feel like expansion and openness. It often leads me to take a big, deep breath in. Negative sensations feel like tightness and claustrophobia. It often feels like I have a heavy weight on my chest and it's hard to breathe or it feels like I have a pit in my stomach. While your positive and negative sensations may feel different for you than they do for me, they will generally be consistent in location and sensation for you personally. Tune in and notice whenever you can and use this to guide your decisions, both big and small, but I recommend practicing and building the muscle with small choices before making any life-altering decisions. Two of my favorite experts on this topic if you would like to dive deeper into this work are Suzanne Durana & Martha Beck. I have found their books and resources extremely helpful in building my intuitive muscle and I encourage you to grow yours.