Note: If you missed the first two weeks of my meditation experience, scroll through the home page to review.
In Day 16 of the Meditation Experience, the Centering Thought is focused on the mind and the body acting in harmony.
Whenever there are stresses in your life, it doesn’t just take a toll on you mentally, it takes a toll on you physically as well. We often forget that taking care of our most basic needs in life, consistently, can be everything, particularly when dealing with negative situations:
- Getting enough sleep
- Eating right and at the same time everyday
- Exercising everyday
- Getting up at least once an hour during work to promote blood flow
- Avoiding caffeine
- Limiting alcohol consumption
- Drink water
(amongst many others)
Think about the last time you were stressed… did you end up eating a lot? Did your body swell up (inflammation)? Did your head feel like it was going to explode? These are signs that your body has an imbalance from a basic need that has not been met and while under duress, does what it should do: try to protect itself. Unfortunately, when you imbalance yourself, these “protections” are “defenses” that can increase mentally negative reactions. While everyone deals with stress and other negative reactions, some choose to take care of themselves, which reduces the negative physical side effects that can occur.
I am no stranger to dealing with stress in bad ways. When I was in my 20s, I just didn’t know how to cope. I wasn’t sleeping a lot and was consuming alcohol too much (too much “having a good time”); I wasn’t eating properly (I came to find out in the tail end of my 20s that I have Celiac Disease), and I wasn’t exercising as often as I should (low endorphins). When I felt attacked, I got extremely defensive. I would yell to get my point across and then my “off switch” would be to cry. I was unhealthy for years until quite literally, one day, I had an epiphany that changed everything…
Almost a decade ago, an ex-boyfriend (who I was still dating at the time) of mine and I were helping him move across the country. We stopped in Oklahoma for dinner and as I am preparing to get out of his truck, I see him get out of the U-Haul, kicking the front tire and screaming to himself. I remember just staring at this scene from inside the truck, wondering what the heck set him off. It then hit me at lightning speed… is that some semblance of what I must look like when I am having a “moment”? It freaked me out… in that one moment, a rush of memories came to me of times when I should have handled things so differently. I got out of the truck and asked him what happened. He said the A/C went out and just went silent and kind of smirked to myself. He made a scene because of something, that in the scheme of things, was so trivial. From that moment on, I made a vow to change who I was because I sure didn’t want to be him.
Needless to say, we broke up just days after this incident. I moved to San Diego to give myself a fresh start. I slept more, ate healthier and worked out almost everyday (Vitamin D can be everything). I wasn’t perfect at it but in no time, I was much thinner, happier and healthier. My overall mood was in a much happier state that the old me, even weeks prior, looked like a stark, dark contrast.
The basics I started to instill in myself ebbed and flowed over the next seven years. And, as I’ve gotten older (I’m now in my mid-30s), I’ve realized that taking care of myself just a little bit more in my 20s, would have made an even bigger difference in who I am today. But, I really believe that there is no wrong time to start putting yourself on a new routine to improve your overall health at any age. In the last 6 months alone, I’ve completely overhauled aspects of my life that now not only promote health, but happiness as well. Here are the top 10 things I’ve done to support a healthier me:
- I joined Weight Watchers, and it was the best thing I could have done. No one can truly know what they are putting into their body until they are held accountable for it. For the longest time, I bucked this method of weight control because I never considered myself overweight. However, since I joined last September, I’ve learned that making tweaks can be everything. When I don’t feel “right”, I adjust my menu for the following week. I cook all my meals (I eat out every once in a while) so I know what is going in my body.
- I listen to my body and what it needs from foods. I make sure I’m always eating when I’m hungry. I always have healthy foods available for me to snack on. A rule of thumb, unless you have stored cut veggies and other healthy snacks, “convenient food” is a big no-no. It promotes mindless binge eating.
- I limit alcohol consumption. It is absolutely AMAZING what alcohol does to you. Instead, I drink a TON of water. It’s all I have in my fridge at home (except for the 1/2 cup of coffee I have every morning).
- I cut out 90% of the sugar in my diet. Yes, I’m that person that buys sugar-free ketchup, uses Truvia/Stevia in moderation, and would rather taste something bland than put that stuff in my body everyday. As I get older, I’ve learned that I’d rather not live with the consequences of higher cancer rates, heart problems, sleeping problems, weight problems, attention issues and other health issues.
- I try to get in 30 minutes of exercise or movement a day. Sometimes, it’s hard for me to get it in. So, I took up a “Squat and Pushup Challenge” to motivate myself to accomplish something everyday. I can do it on conference calls! When that’s completed, I’m onto a combo Squat/Burpee Challenge!
- I try to sleep at least 7 hours a night. That’s the magical number for me. As long as it’s good, quality sleep I feel good all day! If I’m still feeling tired, I might nap for 30 minutes to recharge myself.
- I meditate 20 minutes a day. I don’t plan on ever stopping this practice. What it does for your mind, body, and soul is incredible!
- I cut toxic situations out of my life. No, it’s not selfish. When you are trying to balance yourself out (since let’s be clear, you have you and only you to live with the rest of your life), sometimes, it’s the best thing you can do to reduce the stress that can cause some of these physical side effects. It’s also one of the hardest things to do. (See some of my other posts on letting go.)
- I try to be grateful for at least one thing everyday. Generating your own positivity becomes infectious!
- I reward myself. It doesn’t matter what form that takes.
Even trying one of these things can be a great start to a new you! I encourage anyone to at least try one of these for 2 weeks and see how they feel. I guarantee you that not only will your mind and body feel connected, it will also radiate outward to others (and God knows we need more positivity in this world)!