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This Is The Year: How To Stick To Your New Year’s Wellness Plan

“Without health, life is not life; it is only a state of languor and suffering.” – Francois Rabelais

2016 will soon be upon us and, if you’re like most people, you’re debating the idea of wellness new yearsetting some wellness goals for the new year. You’ve done it in the past and done reasonably well, at least for a while. You came out of the gate pretty strong on January 2, exercising ambitiously while following a rigorous diet. You held up well for a while. Somewhere around 90 days or so you lost your mojo and slowly drifted back almost to where you started from. You ended up just slightly better than you were on January 1, rationalized that it was okay, but deep inside you know better. This has happened before at the beginning of many years. Why does this happen and, more importantly, how can you prevent it from happening again this year?

There are a number of reasons why people fail in their wellness goals. Most people consider wellness to be a matter of vanity. If they look better, then they believe that they are more well then when they started. The problem is that wellness is more than mere vanity and a matter of looks. Unfortunately, true wellness cannot be measured with a tape measure or a bathroom scale. Inevitably, some aspect of life will arise and challenge you within those first 90 days of the new year. Someone will get sick, maybe even you, work will get demanding, your car will break down, your parents or children will need you, and that slightly overly ambitious program of diet and exercise will be too much to sustain. Wellness is not a goal to be reached, but a journey to be maintained and enjoyed.

If you’re someone who announces to everyone in their life that “This is the year that I____________, ” then they will notice when you begin doing whatever your goal is. If you goal is to lose weight, then they will begin to notice when those first few pounds come off. You’ll get praise and recognition from them, making you feel pretty good about yourself. If you’re not careful, this will be reward enough. You’ve received their praise and if you are someone who is externally motivated this might subconsciously give you all the reward that you need, making it easier to give up and rationalize quitting. After all, even if I didn’t lose those 25 pounds at least I lost 10, right? A lot of research indicates that it makes sense to keep goals to yourself and learn to become internally motivated, satisfying yourself and learning to reward yourself with positive self talk and improved sense of purpose and self esteem. While letting others know may put extra pressure on you, that kind of logic is difficult to sustain over the long haul. Remember, wellness is a lifestyle and a journey, not a destination, and it is up to you to maintain it day in and day out.

A complete plan of wellness attends to three major components of the human experience-physical, emotional, and spiritual. When most people fail to follow through or begin to compromise their wellness program, it is usually because one of these three areas gets out of balance with the others and a person is overwhelmed, confused, and loses their drive and motivation. The key to sustaining wellness is to be aware of the three separate areas and strive to keep them in balance. If you examine times when you failed to maintain any one aspect of your three areas, you’ll probably find this to be true.

Let’s take a look at what is likely to be an obstacle to each of the three areas:

1. Physical Wellness.

“To me, good health is more than just exercise and diet. It’s really a point of view and a mental attitude you have about yourself.” -Albert Schweitzer

There are a number of consistent ways that people inadvertently sabotage their physical wellness. Usually it is the tendency to externalize wellness, meaning if I look good physically then I am healthy and well. Looking better, particularly if you’ve allowed yourself to get too out of shape, can take too long to hold your interest. Not getting praise or accolades from others after 30 days of hard work can be enough for you to give up, or at least to begin to compromise your plan. Strive to find ways to reward yourself, rather than rely on others for feedback. Rewarding yourself for consistent effort is the first step towards sustaining a wellness plan that will become a permanent part of your lifestyle.

It’s important to start with small, manageable, yet measurable steps that you can notice Scalebefore anyone else does. For example, noticing that your resting pulse rate in the morning is coming down, that blood pressure is improving, or that those pants are getting a little bit more loose, are some of the first steps that may give you enough incentive to continue. Coming out of the gate too enthusiastically and ambitiously with a program that is impossible to keep up with,given the realities of your lifestyle, is a setup for failure. If a commercial gym or formal exercise class is too difficult to get to, then you are not going to do it. Fit it into the schedule that you already have as much is possible. Don’t get too wrapped up into what the best exercises are, program to follow, class to take etc. The best exercise routine is the one that you will do.

“Do the best you can, with what you have, where you are.”-Theodore Roosevelt

If you don’t have a steady block of time during your day, break up the day into small bouts of walking and exercise. Five or 10 minutes stretching in the morning, followed by a half an hour walk during your lunch hour, supplemented by some resistance work, calisthenics, or a gym workout in the evening, makes for a well-rounded program. If you missed the gym workouts for some reason, it’s not a big deal because you’ve already got some exercise in that day. If you’re creative you can find a multitude of micro-moments in your day that can keep your wellness plan on track. Consistency is the key.

2. Emotional Wellness

Staying on top of your mental health is not something that most people consider to be part of their wellness plan, but it is the critical component that holds the whole plan together. If you are coming at your life from a place of emotional weakness, doubt, and the lack of confidence, you’re not going to have a satisfying life and you are certainly not going to stick to a wellness plan. Being aware of your thoughts, moods, attitudes, and mental energy levels can make all the difference in the world and influence whether or not you are living the kind of life that you want. Too many people are completely unaware of their typical thought processes, the nature of their self talk, and lack insight in their beliefs and views about the world.

Self-awareness has to be a part of a total plan of wellness. Naturally, some psychotherapy or coaching can help with this, but there’s a lot someone can do on their own with a notebook, pen, and some well-planned exercises of self-help. Setting aside a few moments each week to get in touch with your emotional state creates self-awareness that can carry over into all areas of your life and relationships. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an excellent vehicle to develop this insight into yourself. It can be done with a therapist, counselor, or coach, but can be equally effective if done properly as a self-help tool. I’ve written some Quickstart guides available on Amazon.com Kindle that are available for instant download here: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00LRJF0W6. These guides are a good place for you to start.The “Categories” section to the right of this post has many helpful articles as well.

Emotional wellness can help you get a grip on states such as depression, anxiety, guilt, and shame, which can derail a plan of wellness and condemn you to an unsatisfying and unfulfilling life. Being aware of the onset, causes, and antidotes to the states are all components of emotional wellness. Learning to manage stress without these negative emotional states is one of life’s most basic challenges. While we will never defeat these challenges, a good plan of emotional wellness just may be able to get you a truce with these negative emotions.

“Fatigue makes cowards of us all.”-Vince Lombardi

Mental stress is the most insidious type of fatigue, and is the biggest factor in why people give up on a plan of wellness, compromise their goals, and stop attending to aspects of life that they deem to be important. The day to day grind of struggling to make a living, and trying to maintain meaningful relationships and connections with others simply wears people down. Much of this fatigue is mental. Physical fatigue is far more easily remedied than mental fatigue. Being aware of the emotional states that cause this mental fatigue is perhaps the most important component of a wellness plan. Learn to notice what causes this fatigue, learn how to cope with it, arrange a truce with it, and your wellness plan will stay on track.

3. Spiritual Wellness

“We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” – Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Spirituality is something that is seldom thought of when people speak of wellness and is a missing piece for a lot of us when it comes to how we are feeling emotionally, as well as physically. Spirituality does not necessarily mean belief in formal religion, or even a belief in God, although it can. If your religious beliefs are those of an organized and formal religion, consider yourself lucky. You have a blueprint for living, clear guidelines to follow, text to consider and digest, and probably a support group of others that feel the same way that you do. If you don’t have formal religion, you must seek to find it. It is important part of how you process human existence and your place on the planet, shaping how you view the world and your outlook on life.

Whether theist, atheist, agnostic, or just someone seeking the truth, we all need to have some sense of what we’re doing on this huge chunk of rock hurtling through the universe. We are connected to nature, all its creatures, human and otherwise. We are all connected to those who have preceded us, as well as those who will come after us. Our time here is merely the blink of an eye. This realization can be depressing, energy depleting, and terrifying at times. It is important for all of us to have a belief that supports us, allowing us to be as fulfilled as possible in the time that we have. Getting to the basis of some ultimate questions is an important part of a complete wellness plan.

“Nothing in nature lives for itself. Rivers don’t drink their own water. Trees don’t eat their own fruit. The sun doesn’t shine for itself. A flower’s fragrance is not for itself. Living for each other is the rule of nature.”- Unknown

A way to develop your spirituality is to be inquisitive about the nature of your human spiritualityexperience. What are you doing here? How did you come to be here and where are you going after this existence is over? Read what great minds have given us for great spiritual books such as the Bible, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Koran, the Tao, and great spiritual traditions such as Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam etc. Be curious and inquisitive, know what these traditions espouse before you condemn them. Read what great philosophers have said about the nature of human existence, and then formulate your own philosophy, one that works for you and gives you a life meaning and context. Find your own truth.

In your day-to-day life, be kind to other human beings, creatures, and living things as much as possible. Doing so will make you feel better about yourself physically and emotionally, grounding you in a way that nothing else can. Be sure to include yourself among those human beings that you are being kind to. Remember, wellness is the ultimate act of self kindness.

If your plan of wellness falters and waivers, take a look and see if one of these three elements has gotten out of balance. Don’t expect instant results or a quick fix. Sometimes miracles develop over time.

Happy 2016!


P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

‘Tis The Season: How To Avoid Holiday Depression

” ‘Tis the season to be jolly.” – from Deck the Halls, by John Thomas, 1862

Remember this time of year when you were a child? Shortly after Thanksgiving you realized that Christmas was the next thing that your family would be making a big deal out SANTAof. Maybe it was because your grade school teacher changed the decorations on the classroom bulletin board from pilgrims and pumpkins to Santa Claus and holly. You sang carols in school, TV commercials showed you objects of your desire – batteries not included – and you compiled a wish list that you hoped you’d receive because, after all, you really weren’t that bad over the past year. At some point your extended family got together, you got to go wild with a lot of cousins you saw four or five times a year, the adults in your tribe were a little more tolerant than usual, and you had a great time. What happend to those thrilling days of yesteryear, and why does the holiday season make so many adults feel sad, depressed, and alienated?

For a while, the holiday season remained a great time of year. When you’re a young adult, it is a time when your high school friends return home from college, the military, or where ever they’ve been since you saw them last. You’d meet them for a few drinks- which always turned out to be a lot more than a few- update them on the goings on in your life, with a few slight exaggerations, and have a great time. Somewhere during your walk of life however, you began a career, got married and started a family, and the meaning of the season changed. You became obligated to do a lot of things that you never envisioned when you were that little kid whose biggest holiday disappointment was that somebody forgot to buy batteries. It all starts innocently enough with visits to your boyfriend or girlfriend’s parents that turned into an obligation to spend some the holidays with your in-laws. That becomes a tradition and before you know it you’re obligated, year after year, to a routine that you really don’t look forward to any longer. You find yourself buying presents for a lot of acquaintances and feel guilty if these acquaintances have bought you something more expensive than you got them.

I don’t know how you feel reading this, but as I write this I’m finding myself getting depressed just thinking about all this. What happened wide-eyed joy that the holiday season once gave us? Too many people succumb to the commercialization of Christmas, get on that holiday roller coaster of doing everything for everyone else, and rationalize what they are doing. They have some cliché such as, “Well, holidays are for children anyway,” and bear with the overwhelm, chaos, and eventual depression that the season brings. Is it possible that an adult can enjoy the season and actually emerge on January 2 rested and ready for a new year?

Yes Virginia, there is a sanity clause. There are a number of things that a grown-up can do to make this season not only bearable, but enjoyable, meaningful, and something you look forward to. Here’s some simple suggestions:

1. Lower your expectations. Most of us go into the holiday season way too optimistic about how the season is going to go down. We have images in our minds, thoughts, and expectations that are frequently way too optimistic. We tend to visualize, imagine, and anticipate feelings that are unrealistic. We often focus on how things are supposed to be during the season. This is a set up a let down. Don’t decide in advance how you’re going to feel. Being mindful of what’s going on moment to moment and accepting feelings as they are, rather than how you think they should be, makes for less disappointment. Be flexible and remind yourself that you’ll just have to wait and see how things go.

2. Accept what experience tells you is going to happen. Yeah, your mother-in-law is going to give you one of those sloppy hugs that you receive once a year from her, you’ll have to eat some of your sister-in-law’s famous onion dip that you’re not too crazy about, one of the younger family members is bound to have a significant other that their parents aren’t too thrilled with, and it’s not Christmas if there isn’t some younger kid that’s crying and whining a bit because it’s well past their bedtime. So what? If you know these things are going to happen every year, why be disappointed when they do happen? Go with the flow and make a conscious decision to enjoy yourself.

3. Be aware of where you focus your attention. There are a lot of negative things that a person can focus on that can completely ruin the whole season for them. You could PASTfocus on the commercialism, the political correctness, and the religious and cultural arguments surrounding the season. You could also get caught up in the ghosts of Christmas past by recalling other Christmas seasons and dwelling on the pain, suffering, and loss of loved ones that are no longer here to share it with you. Allow people to have what ever beliefs they choose. Don’t be competitive over whether or not it’s a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or a Festivus for the Rest of Us. Remind yourself that it’s all good and don’t let your ego try to control the way that other people feel about the season.

While at family gatherings, office parties, or running around your local mall shopping looking for that must have item, try to focus on some positives. Noticing the joy the season brings children, enjoying a cup of cocoa with a loved one, or watching the look in the eyes of happy loved one can help remind you of what the season is all about. And before you harshly judge that whining five-year-old, or that teenage nephew with the bizarre haircut, remind yourself that you were once in the their shoes.

4. Try not to be a people pleaser. Simply do the best you can for the important people in your life. Remember that you can’t be perfect, the season can’t be perfect, and you are doing the best you can. Don’t feel guilty about including yourself on the list of people you are trying to make happy this season.

5. Accept the loss of loved ones who are no longer here to share the celebration. Deaths of important people in our lives tend to be more painful over the holidays, as we remember our times with them during this season of family and friends. Try to find some spiritual way to honor them and keep them close to your heart in a meaningful way. The spirit of the holidays is shared experience with family, friends, and loved ones. This is probably what Charles Dickens meant in his novel A Christmas Carol when Scrooge said he would “keep the spirit of Christmas in his heart throughout the year.” Loved ones who are gone would want you to enjoy the season. Remember them fondly and enjoy the season.

6. Don’t forget to take care of your own physical and emotional needs during this season. Keep your wellness plan in place, eat sensibly, don’t skimp on exercise, mindfulness, or your own spirituality. This is the season for you as well as everyone else in your life. Don’t feel guilty about this. Without a solid sense of self you won’t be much use to anyone else regardless of what time of year it is.

Enjoy yourself, family, and friends this season. Happy and joyous whatever you celebrate.12-happy-children-on-christmas Just be sure that you also include yourself.

“God rest ye merry, gentlemen. Let nothing you dismay.” – author unknown


P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

Mindful Moments : Finding Mindfulness In Everyday Life

“I wish there was a way to know you’re in the good old days before you’ve actually left them.” – Andy Bernard

Mindfulness is a contemplative practice that is the basis of most of the world’s great WomanInCentralParkWithCoffeeMeditation-850x400-2philosophical and religious traditions. It is also one of the most misunderstood and underutilized tools to maintain mental and emotional wellness. There are many definitions, most too esoteric and  philosophical for the majority of people to digest and understand. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines it as:

Mindfulness 1.  the quality or state of being mindful. 2. the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness.

There are many other self-help experts, schools of meditation, and philosophical traditions that have their own spin on what mindfulness is. There are so many different perspectives that the average person gives up on practicing this basic skill out of misunderstanding and frustration that comes from trying to figure out something that cannot be explained, but must be experienced. The simplest and best definition that I know of comes from the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thích Nhất Hạnh, who describes mindfulness this way:

“Be here now.”- Thích Nhất Hạnh

Most people associate the practice of mindfulness with the practice of meditation, as if one cannot coexist without the other. Meditation, also an ancient tool for mental health and wellness, is greatly misunderstood as well. Most 21st-century humans don’t have the patience or self-discipline to engage in a meditation practice. Most, however, can practice mindfulness by incorporating a few basic skills into their every day life. Modern life is a whirlwind of sensory stimulation, distractions, and shiny, pretty things that pull us away from what life is all about. For example, the number of people who think they have ADHD, as opposed to the number of people who actually have is a very wide gap. The American Psychiatric Association puts the number at 5%. Think about how often you hear people tell you that they have ADHD. You yourself may believe that you have this disorder. Do you really, or do you merely have a problem staying focused in the present moment? More importantly, does it even matter?

Contemporary life has never been more stimulating. We are living in the most distractible people-texting-600x399-600x337time of any society at any period of human history. Most of us carry, on a routine basis, more computer power than was available to Neil Armstrong when he walked on the moon in 1969, and carry it in our pocket. From this device we can speak face to face with virtually anybody on the planet, watch more video than existed on television 10 years ago, and get as much information in seconds as it would’ve taken you hours to gather in the public library when you were in the seventh grade. Is it any wonder that were all walking around distracted and missing the life that is right in front of us right now? No wonder we’re all missing the good old days.

In my counseling and coaching practice, I try to get my clients to appreciate the benefits of a mindfulness practice of some sort. I frequently find myself having to sell clients on the idea that slowing down and noticing things will increase their productivity, happiness, and sense of well-being. Those that buy what I’m selling are usually amazed at how quickly their awareness, attention, and focus become. Like many things human, the tendency to overthink, intellectualize, and analyze tends to get away of optimal performance.

There are a number of ways to be mindful in every day life. Taking a deep breath and asking yourself the following questions can increase your awareness of those micro-moments that are the fabric of life and will be the good old days that you someday reflect upon. Here are some basic questions that can focus you on the here and now:

1. Where am I right now? This question is not one of confusion, but one of awareness and literalness. Ask yourself, physically, where am I now? Who’s with me? Where am I sitting, standing, and being right now? A deep breath, inhaled thoughtfully, can help you zero in.

2. What am I doing right now? What’s the task at hand, if any? This can be a physical or mental task. It can also be that what you are doing now is nothing. Realizing that sometimes doing nothing and merely zoning out is okay can be truly liberating.

3. Why am I doing what I’m doing in this moment? This can help you focus and zero in on tasks that must be accomplished, or can help you to realize that, in that moment doing nothing is perfectly okay. This can give you an appreciation of those micro-moments that will someday be those good old days that you look back on. For example, realizing that you are spending time at a family holiday party in order to commune with people that are important to you can more fully bring you into the present moment and make you appreciate what you have.

These first three questions can more fully bring you into the present moment. If there is a doing task that you must perform, then being mindful can make you more aware, capable, and effective. When going into a task, ask yourself these questions:

1. What’s my attitude? Am I bringing a positive, negative, or neutral attitude into this? Remember that neutral is sometimes ok.

2. What’s my energy right now? How’s my physical energy? Can I feel it? What’s my mental energy? Pause to notice and identity your energy resources.

3. Where’s my focus? What am I thinking about, looking at, ruminating over, saying to myself? How does this help or hurt the situation I am in right now, if at all?

Being mindful has the two-part benefit of making us more efficient and aware of what’s mindfulness-istock-prvgoing on in our lives. It makes us more capable of making better decisions and choices, while giving us the ability to notice and savor those day-to-day little things that we might not notice or appreciate for years. Living life more mindfully can help you realize that the good old days are now.

“If you love life, don’t waste time, for time is what life is made up of.” – Bruce Lee


P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

Winter Wellness : How To Stay Mentally And Physically Healthy This Season

” Now is the winter of our discontent.” William Shakespeare, Richard The Third, Act 1

Winter will soon be upon us and despite the festive nature of the season, many of us will become miserable as our bodies and minds hunker down and ride out the next 4 to 5 Wintermonths. Every year we say that this is the winter that we are going to watch our diet, maintain weight, and remain physically and mentally healthy. It usually doesn’t happen quite the way we planned. Why is it so hard to keep our wellness plans in place and, more importantly, what can we do about it?

If you live in a cold climate, as I do, then you know what you are in for. You begin to dread the next five months as soon as the beautiful autumn foliage season ends. You stare at the bare trees for a couple weeks, it’s dark when you leave your home for work and it is dark when you return home 10 hours later. You begin to crave foods that you’re not too crazy about the rest of the year – thick stews, rich deserts, all kinds of sugary treats, and everywhere you go somebody is offering you something that you probably shouldn’t consume, but you do it anyway. You ignore the fact that by mid-December you are wearing your belt couple of notches larger, you stop looking at yourself in the mirror for some bizarre reason, and you find yourself spending a lot more time indoors watching TV. We rationalize all kinds of excuses to make it okay. After all, it is football season and there is an important game on TV this weekend, we have the trifecta of holidays – Thanksgiving, Christmas/Hanukkah, and, of course, New Year’s. We have to participate in all these festivities in order to stay socially connected to our families and friends. We’re supposed to be enjoying the season, but somewhere along the line we begin to feel miserable and around the first of the year we’re complaining that we can’t wait until Spring arrives.

We’re fighting human evolution. For millions of years humans responded in this manner in order to survive. By the winter time, the wood was gathered and stacked for the upcoming months, physical activity lessened in order to conserve calories and body heat. People slept longer and were physically more lethargic. That 15 pound weight gain certainly made more sense for Paleolithic man, as it could make the difference between life and death. People remained indoors for safety, to conserve heat, and to ride out a long cold season. Primitive man went into hibernation, coming out in the Spring. Of course, his lifestyle would melt away those 15 pounds in a matter of a week or two and he would emerge unscathed.

Proper planning can avoid slipping into the winter doldrums. Some realistic lifestyle goals that will help maintain physical and emotional wellness can help us get through these next few months in a healthy and happy state of mind and body. Here are some suggestions of how to keep your wellness plan in place this winter:

1. Stay physically active. Get some physical activity every day regardless of whether you can get outside are not. Don’t rely on those three visits per week to the commercial gym

Man Breathing In Fresh Air In City

Man Breathing In Fresh Air In City

you have a membership at. If you aren’t counting on that, you may be disappointed when that blizzard hits and prevents you from getting there for a few days. Yeah, I know, you’re going to say that you have no equipment at home to work out on. You have gravity, chairs, a floor, and, yes, even a snow shovel. You can work out without getting to the gym. Don’t underestimate the importance and benefits of a brief walk on your break at work. Bundle up warmly and get outside whenever possible. The combination of mild exercise and cold, crisp, winter air will do your mind and body wonders. Make sure you do something physical every day, even if it is stretching on your living room floor. It is important for your mental resilience as much as it is for your physical.

2. Be a little more aware and conscious of the foods and beverages that you consume. While you do need to consume things like heartier soups and stews, you don’t need to go overboard. It is very difficult to control your hunger when the weather gets colder, as your body is craving those extra 15 pounds for survival. Exercise and proper hydration can trick your body into being satisfied enough to prevent weight gain. Smaller, frequent, more balanced meals will help you avoid the craving for those dozen doughnuts that a co-worker dropped off at work, or gorging on that pie that your sister-in-law left after her visit. By all means indulge in some of these things, it is part of the holiday season, just don’t go overboard.

3. Pre-game for those holiday gatherings. By this I mean to exercise before that Christmas dinner, holiday office party, or gathering of friends that you are going to. Arrive hungry, but not absolutely famished. Arrive properly hydrated, don’t ignore that veggie plate, go light on the sour cream dip, and save your calories for the foods that you really like. There is an Okinawan saying, “Leave the table when 80% full.” A lofty goal during a holiday feast, but something to strive for.

4. Post game after those holiday gatherings. Get some light exercise after the feeding frenzy is over. Walk, go bowling, play pool – anything that will burn some calories and prevent you from feeling sluggish. Walking is ideal. A slow stroll in the fresh air is one of the best activities as others may join in, making it a social activity.

5. Continue with, or develop, some kind of mindfulness practice. If you meditate, continue to do so. If you “don’t have the time to meditate,” well guess what, you do now, as the winteryogaslower pace affords time to develop a practice. That silent 5 minutes with a morning cup of coffee before the rest of the family wakes, or that brief, mindful, 5 minute walk on your lunch break qualify as meditative practices. Just build some of these moments in your daily routine. The subtle benefits will decrease your stress levels. Playing a musical instrument, writing, woodworking, arts and crafts, and reading are all activities that can help you weather the season.

6. Resist the temptation to sleep more than you do the rest of the year. Too much sleep or time in bed can make you lazy and less likely to maintain your winter wellness program. If you can, get up at the same time you do the rest of the year. Research indicates that exposure to morning light is one of the best ways to combat the depressive symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. Get to bed at your usual time as well. Studies show that an hour of shut eye before midnight has more restorative power that 2 hours after midnight.

A tough Winter doesn’t have to derail your wellness. It can be a great time of year for a lot of reasons. Some careful planing and understanding your mind and body’s evolutionary needs in Winter can comfortably carry you through till April and be ready for Summer acivities. Next year you may even look forward to it.

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.” – John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America


P. S. If you found this article helpful, you may benefit from some personalized mindbody coaching. Contact me at http://mindbodycoach.org/contact-us/ if interested in online mindbody coaching. Please check out my Products page through the link at the top of this post.. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and social media. Email me with questions at john@mindbodycoach.org

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