Winter Self-Care

Winter Self-Care

Happy Valentine’s Day! There are still five weeks of winter and this is the time of year when I start questioning my sanity. You too? So many Monday holidays in the winter which is hard because didn’t we just finish winter break?

So if February feels endless, it’s because it’s still winter.

Which brings me to winter self-care. Each season has it’s own needs. Winter definitely has it’s own set of self-care needs especially around rest and quiet.

One of my favorite ways to make sure I am thriving in each season is to evaluate my self-care needs and then making sure I get what I need.

Questions I ask myself to assess my seasonal self-care:

How is my energy? Do I need to build in more time to sleep, nap, rest and nest? In the winter, the answer is undoubtedly, yes.

There is a certain surrender to caring for your needs seasonally. Take a look outside. The trees have shed their leaves and are in dormancy. This is because nature has built in rest as a way of healing and getting ready for the next busy season – spring. But here in February, we’ve got another month of dormancy.

We’re sleepy in the winter because we are still biological creatures. The light and circadian rhythms matter.

In order to gather more energy in the darkest months I started using a dawn simulating alarm clock about 20 years ago and it completely changed my relationship with winter mornings. I now wake up to sunlight no matter what time of year. (Every one I recommend this to says it is a life changer)!

Using a light box for the last few years has also helped me get more “sunlight” into my body and helped me increase my winter energy levels without more caffeine.

What am I doing to fuel and nourish my body? Am I eating warm, cooked foods? Am I eating what is in season? What ways can I get more seasonal fruit and vegetables in my body?

I am a huge fan of shopping at the farmer’s market and the natural foods coop to get lots of seasonal produce. I use this as a starting point for searching for recipes. I’ve got a bunch of tried and true recipes here.

What am I doing to quiet my mind? Meditation is a great practice to take up during the quieter winter months.

I’ve been using the Headspace app for years and highly recommend starting this life changing practice now.

What am I doing to move my body?  Despite being a season of rest, we still need to move our bodies in the winter months. I have found walking early in the morning or at lunch outside – dressing for the weather — helps me keep my mood steady and my sleep sound.

What are you doing for you skin and hair? My face, neck and chest skin is LOVING the No. 1 Brightening Oil . My hands and body are loving the citrus mimosa hydrating lotion. My fine hair is loving the kid’s shampoo. The kid’s conditioner is great too. I have been slathering my feet in organic avocado oil at night before bed and they are so soft.

Winter is a great time to start finding safer personal products that work for your skin and hair since it all seems to need some extra TLC during the colder months.

What are you doing for winter self-care?

How Compliments Might Stunt Your Growth

How Compliments Might Stunt Your Growth

Happy Compliment Day! Yes, it is a real thing. Today is the day to throw compliments around like confetti and yet if we aren’t careful our well-intentioned compliments might stunt our growth and that of those who we love the most.

Let’s talk about how what we compliment matters. And the subtle ways compliments can stunt growth if we aren’t careful.

Back when I was a beginning teacher, my mentor’s mantra was “praise the deed and not the child.”

She said if you want a student to work hard, praise hard work. If you want students to work toward solving ever challenging problems, praise effort toward that end. If you want students to rely on their own inner guidance rather than look to you for praise, remind them that their hard work matters to them.

What she was getting at is backed in research on growth and fixed mindset.

Did you know that when kids are complimented on their smarts, it can lead to them to a fixed mindset? Did you know that people with a fixed mindset would rather not try a challenging problem than to be seen as anything less than smart?

This was exactly what happened to me as a child. Teachers and adults in my life always told me I was smart and such a good girl. This lead me to do whatever it took to keep others believing that about me even though I did not.

I had a fixed mindset. It wasn’t until I started my career as a teacher and learned how and what we say to students can have a lasting effect on their lives well into adulthood.

Those with the fixed mindset believe that you are either born with it or not. They spend a lifetime trying to keep that belief rather than growing.

When we compliment kids on their effort or work within the framework that our brains are muscles and get stronger with each challenge, kids develop a growth mindset.

People with a growth mindset will keep trying new ways to solve problems, work harder, start over and keep coming back at problems until they have solved them.

Praise the deed, not the doer.

Complimenting appearances is another place where we mean well, but the well-intentioned message can be misinterpreted.

When we focus on traits that are out of our control – hair, eyes, shapes of the body – kids can take that to mean that is what matters most. They can get focused on outward appearance as how the world sees them and not develop their inner skills.

Again, what we notice is what kids come to believe is what matters.

If we want to raise kids who show initiative, tell them you appreciate that they noticed a job that needing doing and they got it done. If kindness is an important trait, notice when your kids have been gentle and helpful (the definition of kind) and tell them you noticed.

Sometimes kids don’t need more than a sincere thank you to feel encouraged. A genuine thank you goes way further than a hollow “good job” any day of the week.

All these go for adults too.

Next time you want to compliment a friend or colleague, notice something about them rather than their appearance.

Some examples are:

“Noticed how you spoke up in that meeting and I was cheering for you.”

“Thank you for showing me what hard work and dedication look like. I really admire you.”

“You look really happy.”

What kind of mindset do you have: fixed or growth? What kinds of compliments to you give and receive?

Your ACES Score and Why It Matters to Your Longevity

Your ACES Score and Why It Matters to Your Longevity

ACES, or Adverse Childhood Experiences study, looks at childhood experiences like divorce, neglect, abuse, loss and trauma and the connection to long term adult health problems like heart disease, cancer, depression, autoimmune disease and more.

One of the comments I got from a client last summer in a group coaching program is that I “took away the stigma” from seeing a mental health professional because I talked so openly about my own relatively high ACES score.

I am lucky in that I have been in and out of therapy since I was 10 years old and realize how much better off I am because of that experience. I feel it really saved my life and I’ve been able to heal so much of my ACES experience and build up my resilience.

The long and short of it is if you’ve had early trauma and you haven’t yet dealt with it, now is the time. There are long term health consequences that might lead to early death.

Watch this TED Talk from Nadine Burke Harris — she breaks down what ACES is and what the study is finding long term. She also brings up the point that many people write this off as something that happens to other people’s kids ie the poor kids.

That couldn’t be further from the truth. People across all races, socioeconomic backgrounds, genders have high ACES scores.

If you’d like to find out your own ACES score and learn more about what it means, click here.

If you’d like to learn 8 Ways People Recover from Post Childhood Adversity Syndrome, click here.

I have done 7 of the 8 practices mentioned in the article: taking the test, writing, yoga, meditation, therapy, EMDR, building community are all part of my healing.

There is hope. We can heal from our past. But first we must admit that we bring our past into our present.

What practices will you do to help recover from your ACES?

Boost Your Health With Nature (Even Indoor Plants)

Boost Your Health With Nature (Even Indoor Plants)

Modern life has many of us inside and on screens for much of our days, much to our – and our kids’ – detriment.

Science is finding evidence that being in nature positively impacts our mood and behavior. We are physically and mentally more healthy when we interact with nature.

Nature helps us:

Reduce anxiety

Reduce stress

Increase attention

Increase creativity

Increase connection with others.

A Japanese study compared urban city walkers and forest walkers. They found the forest walkers had significantly lower heart rates, more relaxation and less stress than the city walkers.

A study out of Finland showed that people living in cities who walked for as little as 20 minutes in an urban park versus on the city center showed significantly less stress than the city walkers.

Nature might even make us kinder, more generous and better connected to those around us according to a study out of UC Berkeley.

What are the some ways to bring nature into our daily lives?

  • Bring nature indoors with plants. (Today is Houseplant Appreciation Day! — why not celebrate by bringing a new one home? Check out The Best Houseplants for Small Spaces).
  • Walk through a botanical garden near you.
  • Stroll through the local arboretum.
  • Search for nature spots near your work so you can have a midday nature break.
  • Eat lunch in the park.
  • Drive the pretty way wherever you are going.
  • Check out the parks in your city.
  • Add nature photos to your phone and computer background – even nature photos help!
  • Look up when you are outside – notice the change in the seasons.
  • Do some yoga in the grass.
  • Bring your dinner outside and eat on the patio or porch.
  • Read outside.
  • Take your laptop outside and pay your bills.
  • Invite a friend for a walk+talk instead of a coffee date or happy hour.
  • Try a moving meeting – take a co-worker on a walk outside to talk about work.
  • Have a picnic in your backyard.
  • Listen to nature sounds while you work or commute.
  • Research hikes within an hour of your house.
  • Look out the window – never know what nature you might find.
  • Challenge your kids to a treasure hunt: have them find different colors, textures, species.

How will you bring more nature into your every day life?

6 Common Mistakes That Get in Your Way of Developing Healthy Habits

6 Common Mistakes That Get in Your Way of Developing Healthy Habits

Today I’m sharing the 6 Common Mistakes That Get In Your Way of Developing Healthy Habits.

The first mistake I see people making is in wanting to change everything at once. This is so common! Every client I work with comes to me wanting to make change in their lives and they are ready to get to work.

The secret to making change is to add one small step at a time. It’s not sexy, but it works.

We will use exercise as an example. (I like to call it movement because exercise has too many negative associations with it).

If you want to become someone who moves their body daily and you currently don’t move at all, an every day goal is unrealistic when you are starting out.

Set your movement goal to be 20% of where you’d like to be. Once you have mastered that 20% you can add another 20%. Keep mastering your smaller goal until you reach your ultimate goal.

In the Self-Care for the New Year podcast I did with LiveFabLife, (click the link to listen) I talk about how a doctor broke my fitness steps down so small that they felt silly to not reach them.

The second mistake I see people make is in their mindset: it is all or nothing. The thinking goes if I do not move my body every single day, I might as well do nothing.

Nothing will set you up faster for failure than a black and white way of seeing things. Progress over perfection every single time.

The third mistake I see people making is they fail to keep track of their progress. What we monitor grows. I have been wearing a Fitbit for the last three years and just the simple act of noticing the number of my steps motivates me to move my body.

The forth mistake I see people making is they fail to set reminders of their desired new habit. It is hard to be what you can’t see.

If you want to be someone who is a daily exerciser, how will you remind yourself of that? Some of my clients are visual and love making checklists to hang next to their beds, others let their phones remind them by setting daily alarms and others use the remind features in their activity trackers.

The fifth mistake is failing to set up accountability. If you aren’t someone who is internally motivated, you are not alone! A big part of the population are Obligers (otherwise known as people who need outside accountability). This could look like hiring a coach, finding a friend to meet you for walks, or joining an accountability group.

The sixth mistake is failing to celebrate your accomplishments along the way to reaching your goals. Some clients celebrate by shouting it from the rooftops, others buy themselves gifts they want, others want gold stars. No matter what each milestone is worth celebrating.

You can apply these same principles to making new healthy habits.

What will you start in 2019?

An Invitation to Work Together in the New Year

An Invitation to Work Together in the New Year

What are your self-care goals for the new year?

Are you planning a new exercise routine?

Are you ready to start eating all the fruit and vegetables you buy each week?

Is this the year when you stick with your New Year’s resolutions?

I am here to help!

Self-care SOS sessions are all about developing new habits with the support you need in order to make those resolutions a reality.

Let’s face it, most people don’t keep their resolutions because they don’t really know how to break down their goals into actionable steps.

The other big barrier to success is lack of accountability. Most people try to start a new habit the first week of the new year only to abandon them by the end of January. Most people don’t build in accountability to their plans.

Working with me you not only get a realistic actionable plan, you also have built in accountability for your goal. Together we come up with a plan that will work.

If it doesn’t work, we revise the plan and get back to the goal rather than feeling bad about ourselves and giving up. Again.

If this is the year you really want to make lasting sustainable habits and crush your self-care goals, I am here for you.

Click here to schedule your free Are We a Good Fit call.

Let’s make 2019 the year of you!