Archive for November, 2011
Ah, the holidays have arrived. That means lots of family gatherings, parties, concerts, shopping, fighting for parking, stress, lack of sleep, overindulgence of food and alcohol, workout neglect, chaos.
The great news is that there are small things we can do to help decrease the stress this time of year.
- Learn to say no. Saying yes when you should say no can leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If it’s not possible to say no when your boss asks you to work overtime, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
- Make time for yourself. Just 10 to 20 minutes of quiet reflection may bring relief from chronic stress as well as increase your tolerance to it. Use the time to listen to music, relax, and try to think of pleasant things or nothing at all. If you feel your muscles begin to tense as you go through your day, take a mini-break: Breathe deeply, inhale to the count of six, pause for a second and then slowly exhale.
- Banish negative thoughts. If you find yourself thinking, “This can’t be done,” snap back to attention. Think instead, “This will be tough. But we can make it work.” Putting a positive spin on negative thoughts can help you work through stressful situations.
- Plan ahead. Set aside specific days for shopping, baking, visiting friends and other activities. Plan your menus and then make your shopping list. That’ll help prevent last-minute scrambling to buy forgotten ingredients. And make sure to line up help for party prep and cleanup.
- Keep your healthy habits alive. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to your stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before holiday parties so that you don’t go overboard on sweets, cheese or drinks. Continue to get plenty of sleep and physical activity.
- Keep laughing. Humor is a great way to relieve stress. Laughter releases endorphins — natural substances that help you feel better and maintain a positive attitude. Studies suggest laughter may lower blood pressure, boost the immune system and increase circulation as well.
- Take a Restorative Yoga class. If yoga were a smorgasbord, restorative postures would most definitely be at the dessert table. These soothing and well-supported poses offer us the opportunity to linger quietly for a few moments and savor the simple sweetness of life.
I invite you to incorporate a few of these techniques into your life and see how much better you feel throughout the holidays.
A wonderful and supportive family
My partner that accepts all my flaws
Friends that don’t judge
Freedom of choice
The ability to help inspire others everyday at work
Our three “crazy in their own way” dogs
My love of books and art
To live in a city so close to both the mountains and the ocean
For the kids I work with every week
Clothes on my back, a roof over head and food on the table
Mentors and coaches who have helped me grow personally and professionally
The opportunity to serve others
A wood burning stove to help keep me warm
All the extended Heims’
Fresh cut flowers
Change of seasons
Belief in something greater than myself
Hiking and biking
Our military and all those who have sacrificed
Having grown up in a small town
Living the city life now
Being true to myself
Facebook which has reconnected me with friends from long ago
Rain and sunshine
Dr. Michael McKenna
My ability to read, write, see and hear
For all those who have walked into my life, for you have helped shaped me into the person I am today.
Walking into a kitchen with the aroma of turkey in the oven, pumpkin pie cooling on the rack and marsh-mellows melting on the sweet potatoes will make any mouth water. All these great items placed around the dining room table and most of us ignore the meaning of portion control. It’s almost as if there is permission to forget all rules, “Yes, mother, I’ll have another serving of that.” Chances are that when consume enormous amounts of food in a single day, the body will have a hard time absorbing everything we’ve just eaten. What we need to be cautious of are the leftovers.
Friday morning we wake with a food hangover, regretting that third piece of pie. But you are hungry and the fridge is filled with leftovers of everything- turkey, cranberries, casserole, pie. This is where we actually pack on the pounds. Rather than reliving the Thanksgiving meal from the day before, take the leftovers and create something new:
Turkey Seco Tortillas
Spread shredded turkey in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toss with olive oil, minced garlic, cumin, coriander and/or chili powder. Bake at 300 for about 30 minutes, or until dried and crisp, stirring occasionally; serve with flour tortillas and the usual garnishes.
Indian-Spiced Turkey-Lentil Soup
Cook chopped onion, carrot and celery in butter until soft. Add a sprinkle of curry powder and cook until fragrant. Add lentils, a bay leaf and turkey or other stock to cover. Bring to a boil; turn the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender. Stir in chopped turkey and heat through. Garnish: Dollop of yogurt.
Eggs Baked in Stuffing
Pack a layer of stuffing into the bottom of a well-greased baking dish or ramekins. (If you have time for a layer of caramelized onions, even better.) Make indentations and crack eggs into them and sprinkle with grated Parmesan or other cheese; bake at 375 until the eggs are just set, 10-15 minutes.
Stuffing-Stuffed Bell Peppers
Cut the tops off a few bell peppers and remove the seeds and stems. Pack a mixture of moist stuffing (add any flavorful liquid, if necessary), grated Parmesan and sautéed ground beef or pork into the peppers. Drizzle all over with olive oil and roast at 450 until the peppers are tender, about 30 minutes.
Cook chicken parts in butter, rotating and turning as necessary, until browned on all sides; remove from the pan. Add chopped onion, garlic and ginger and cook until soft. Stir in cranberry sauce and a little chicken or turkey stock or white wine; add the chicken. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, turning the chicken occasionally until it’s cooked through. Garnish: Orange zest.
I hope you all have a safe, fun and enjoyable Thanksgiving.
I often have my students begin their practice in a position that is most comfortable to them, which usually means lying down on their back. Asking them to close their eyes and unclench the jaw. And then I say, “Bookmark any sort of sensation you have in the physical body, the breath and the mind, so that when we revisit this at the end of class, hopefully there will have been a shift since you first came in.” To me, this is a great way to begin one’s awareness within their own body. And by the time savasana rolls around, the awareness of how the body feels now compared to the beginning of class is completely different.
Multitasking has become the norm, expectation. But how truly efficient and aware are we when this happens? Or looking at it in the opposite direction where we become so engrossed in one thing, creating that sense of tunnel vision, that we forget about our surroundings and what our task is at hand. For example, a few weeks ago there was a women struck and killed by a cab driver while she was crossing the street. Little details have emerged to what really happened because the incident is still under investigation. There are many scenarios that could have caused this. Was the driver on his cell phone and not paying attention? Did she step off the curb in between cars and not see him? Was he speeding? Did she have headphones plugged in so that she was distracted? No matter what the situation was, there was a disconnect, an unawareness.
What this incident can do is teach us a lesson. Become aware. Whether you are crossing the street or noticing how the body moves during a yoga class, awareness is about the present moment. Below are a few examples of how to bring more awareness to yourself and those around you:
- Put the phone away while driving.
- Place your fork or spoon down in between each bite.
- Run earbuds free while outside.
- Take five deep breaths before heading into your presentation.
- Know your surroundings, listen to your gut instinct.
- Walk barefoot around the house.
- Notice the tone of your voice when speaking with others.
- Set alarms throughout the day to check in with yourself.
As we become more aware of what is going within ourselves, we become more aware of those around us. I encourage you to find ways where you can incorporate more awareness into your life and maybe share them with others.