We force ourselves out of bed to live the same day again and again and call it a life. - Jay Shetty
It's January again. I always have issues with this month. The Christmas lights outside have disappeared, making everything gray and dark. We see little sunlight and depression is lurking.
The idea for this blog came today, on Tuesday 18 January, a day after Blue Monday. I already started the morning with difficulty, meaning: I didn't feel like getting up because the bed was too comfortable and on the way to my son's school everyone was cyclying in the way. Then I didn't feel like going to the office because I had to finish another to-do list for myself. In short, I just didn't feel like today was going to be anywhere near fun and productive. But then something clicked. What if I take half an hour for myself and listen to a podcast for some inspiration? I'm a big fan of Jay Shetty and I hadn't listened to his new podcast about your intentions for 2022 yet. Perfect to start the day with. And you guessed it, after listening I had learned something new again making my mindset a lot more positive.
We always talk about 'self-care' and taking a moment for yourself, but I don't see many people around me that actually allow themselves a relaxing moment. Our lives are on automatic pilot and that while, by giving ourselves a little attention, our lives can be so much different. Sustainability is not only about external factors, it is also about how you treat yourself 'sustainably'. So that you feel good, have a positive attitude to life and can give to the world around you without losing yourself.
Does this sound familiar to you? I am still learning in this area, but I have started applying 5 tips to my life that ensure I take better care of myself. And with results, because I have never had such a positive and good life as now. I would like to share them with you, because who knows, maybe it's something for you too!
Meditation is good for stress reduction. But why is that so important? Recently I saw the documentary “Health” on Amazon Prime which explained that about 95% of all illnesses are caused by stress. I knew that stress could be a pathogen, but not that it is the basis for all the diseases we know.
About 7 months ago I decided to try meditation. And what a difference it makes. It took me a while before I started to notice the effect, but now I feel so much stronger mentally. I am better at reflecting my own behavior, habits and can get my stress level down because of this. It has now become a nice habit that makes me take better care of myself.
Does meditation take a lot of time? You can make it as long or short as you want. I meditate for about 10 minutes a day, but recently I feel the need to expand that. And how do you do that, meditate? I mainly meditate with the app Headspace. I like to hear a voice that guides me, because when I do it alone I am still too easily distracted. Headspace is in English by the way, for Dutch guidance I can recommend Meditation Moments.
Learning gives a lot of satisfaction in your life. It's fun and it makes you feel better. So why stop learning when you're done with school? The internet has made it so easy to keep learning. I myself learn by listening to podcasts (Tip: On Purpose by Jay Shetty), reading books (Tip: Becoming Supernatural by Dr. Joe Dispenza & The Code of the Extraordinary mind by Vishen Lakhiani) and by doing the occasional coaching session (Tip: Charida Elzinga). But there are countless of other ways to keep learning. Also consider following a workshop, online course or masterclass. Open yourself up to wanting to learn and I'm confindent something will come your way that you actually enjoy!
- Be grateful
I believe you should focus your life on observing the little things, because one day you look back and realize they were the big things. – Jay Shetty
By being grateful you become much more positive in life and appreciate it more. That helps your mindset, but also your stress reduction.
When I first read about being grateful in life, I found it a bit awkward. The article ended with a simple exercise: When you go to bed at night, come up with one thing you are grateful for that day. It sounded eay and I went to tried it, together with my husband. The first few times I had to think very hard, what had I done and experienced that day? Now that I do this regularly, almost daily, I can name a whole list of things for which I am grateful. The smaller things in life are now much more noticeable and that gives a lot of satisfaction!
Tip: This exercise can also be implemented in an evening meditation.
Healthy food, together with stress reduction, is the most important factor to be able to lead a positive, fun and healthy life. You probably secretly know what is healthy, but actually doing it is difficult. Because yes, that cookie or bag of chips is very tasty. What has helped me is looking at it from the other side; what is the health benefit if I don't eat that certain food?
I have suffered from migraines and pain in my back and hips for years. And I was also always tired. At the beginning of 2021 it got really bad; because of the pain, all I could do was lie on the couch, even though I was only 32 years old. For me this was the last straw. I had an orthomolecular test done in which my deficiencies and intolerances came up. Not much later, this result was confirmed by the Wildfit philosophy of Eric Meades, a nutrition program that my husband followed. Since then I listen to my body and I don't want anything else.
What works for me? I eat dairy free, gluten free, soy free, very little sugar and drink no caffeine. In addition, I eat vegetarian 3-4 times a week, the rest of the week 1 x meat, 1 x fish and 1 x chicken. My meals mainly consist of a lot of vegetables. I also drink very little alcohol, usually only at a party or dinner. The result? My complaints are gone, I suffer less from mood swings, I think much more clearly and I have come to appreciate my body much more. For example, if I do eat gluten once, then I notice not long afterwards that my back is bothering me again and that I am more tired. It's a good reminder for me why I eat the way I eat. I no longer look at what I am not allowed to eat, but I focus on the health benefits I gain when I don't. Living a life without vague complaints? I'm up for it!
I'll be honest with you; I am not the sporty type. I hated PE at school and it didn't get much better later on. That's why I only do active things that I enjoy, like yoga (and dancing). I came into contact with yoga years ago and since then it has become an integral part of my life. Of course there are periods when I do it less, but lately I've been practicing again.
Why is yoga good for you? By taking this moment for yourself, you don't have to think about anything other than the yoga positions and that gives you peace of mind. You remove the stiffness from your body and become more aware of your breathing (good for stress reduction!).
What suits you?
Nobody really wants to live with a lot of stress or vague complaints, we all want to be more positive in life and feel good about ourselves. I have now given you an insight into my life and how I try to take better care of myself. I hope I have inspired you too. Do you have any questions for me? Feel free to ask! I am of course not an expert or coach, but I can share my thoughts with you. This way you can find out what suits you and do what feels right.