Oh, so true John. And life can leave you feeling stressed, angry, sad, resentful, hateful, jealous, lonely, depressed, confused, deceived, betrayed, hurt, etc…
The list of negative emotions that we can feel throughout our life is huge!
Something I know intellectually and am working on emotionally is the skill of letting go.
Sometimes, it’s just so hard to let go of these feelings.
We want to feel angry and we have a really good reason! But does being angry for a long time serve us?
No. It doesn’t hurt the person who did you wrong. It just hurts you.
You are the one whose heart is angry.
I do think anger is a useful emotion and we do need to feel our anger and delve into it. And go through it. But we don’t want to become stuck.
Same with any negative emotion. It is important to acknowledge the feelings and really feel them. And move through them. Being stuck is the problem.
When we realize that we have become stuck in an emotion or several emotions (and that will take some honest introspection) what can we do?
Let them go.
These are some ideas that may help:
Acceptance. Stop expecting your life to be any different from what it is now.
It is what it is.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we don’t aim for a better life. We do need to have goals and plans. But we don’t say or think — “ This shouldn’t be this way.”
Shouldn’t is the word that keeps us stuck. Why shouldn’t it?
It actually is this way. Accept this and move on.
To really accept things you MUST stop living in the past.
The past is gone. You cannot change it. Stop wishing you could change it.
The time has come to make peace with the past. Feel the emotions and process the past, change what you can, and then live in the present.
Make your life now the best you can.
Take responsibility for your life.
You can only change yourself. And where you are in your life is partly due to the choices you yourself made. Yes, other people can wrong you and they do and some events are way beyond our control.
Your life is your responsibility. When we blame others, we have no power. When you claim responsibility for your life and your circumstances and your feelings — that’s when you take your power back.
Own Your Shit!
Which means you need to figure out what your shit is.
For example, you have a relationship that didn’t work out? What was your role? When you figure this out, then you lessen the chance you will do the same damage in the next relationship. And you have the power to make changes.
You will never change another person. So stop beating your head against the wall.
Your attitude, your reactions are your key to your personal power. Working on developing positive, life-affirming reactions to times of stress will help lessen the depression, anxiety, and confusion that comes in these times of trouble. Of course, we won’t be perfect. The first step is to be aware of your knee-jerk reactions. Then work on putting a pause between the event and the reaction. Over time we can lengthen that pause. Or change our reaction.
Or as Joel Osteen says:
Every day we have plenty of opportunities to get angry, stressed or offended. But what you’re doing when you indulge these negative emotions is giving something outside yourself power over your happiness. You can choose to not let little things upset you. — Joel Osteen
There are many other ways you can work on letting negative emotions go.
This can be a lifetime pursuit but realize that holding on to anger and hurt only hurts yourself.
The thing about forgiveness is this — it doesn’t mean what happened was okay, or that you will forget. It doesn’t mean you can have (or want to have) that person in your life, ever. It doesn’t mean you allow them to influence you at all. It just means you are releasing the negative emotion and freeing yourself from the bonds of anger or hurt.
It is hard. I am working on this. Like I said in the beginning, these are things I know intellectually, but admit to struggling with in my life.
I need constant reminders to put me back on track. I have several negative emotions that I feel stuck in right now and I am aware of them. I will probably need time to get unstuck as some of these wounds are fresh. But some are old and I need to release them — let them go. For my sake.
I am mostly writing this for myself, so don’t feel bad if you suck at all of these ideas. I certainly do! Most of us do. But as we work on them, hopefully, the letting go process can begin.
When you fit meditation into your day, you bring much more of yourself to all the other hours of your day — you bring your whole self rather than your stressed-out self. — Jeff Kober
But what is meditation?
Mention meditation to someone and you might hear one, or many, of these responses:
“I’ve tried meditation, it doesn’t work for me. I can’t turn off my thoughts.”
“I’m not a yoga person.”
“That’s just woo-woo stuff — not for me.”
“I don’t have time for that, I am way too busy.”
“I’m religious, I don’t do that weird stuff, it isn’t part of my religion.” and many others…
Have you encountered any of these, or thought them yourself, when you hear the recommendation to meditate?
Many of us have these thoughts. Most people say or think at least one of these when they start or hear about meditation.
Meditation is not about the elimination of thoughts, as most of us commonly believe at first, but more about the awareness of your thoughts.
Meditation is part of the eight-limbs of yoga, yes, but you don’t need to do the physical practice to yoga to benefit from meditation.
Meditation can help us use our time more effectively, making it vital for the busiest of folks.
Meditation doesn’t have any weird “magic” or “channeling” or “woo-woo” involved. It is a science-based training of the mind.
If you belong to a religion and are scared that meditating is heretical, think of this. God asks you to pray. Meditation is taking the time to listen. All good conversations require this two-way street.
Most of us have what is commonly referred to as a “monkey mind”. What is a monkey mind? Think of a monkey, always darting here and there, never still, always curious, always looking.
This is a metaphor for our minds, always on, always thinking and searching for answers and asking those questions which our minds just never seems to stop generating.
Our thoughts are like these monkeys, running here and there, always on. Meditation is about learning to calm down our monkey minds.
Many meditation teachers speak about this wandering mind. We can think of our mind wandering as training, the more it wanders the more times we can practice bringing it back.
It is the act of bringing your mind back to the present moment that teaches and calms your mind.
The practice of meditation is simply becoming aware of our thoughts wandering and bringing them back (again and again) to your breath.
Over time you will find that your thoughts wander less. But they will always wander. You are human and that is the way the mind works.
Meditation brings attention to our thoughts. We can start to have more control over them, to a point, and thus over our emotional states.
Many books and articles have been written about meditation and I encourage you to read a few. These can help start and deepen your meditation practice.
Some books I recommend are:
10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works — by Dan Harris
Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life — by Jon Kabat-Zinn
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life — by Thich Nhat Hanh
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment — by Eckhart Tolle
Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha —
by Tara Brach
and many more.
Meditation is the conscious effort to slow down and listen. It is a way to change your mind. It will help you become more aware and focused.
Learning to meditate can be a lifelong endeavor and the goal isn’t a perfect meditation practice, but merely the act of practicing meditation that gives the desired benefits.
People think meditation is a huge undertaking. Don’t think of it like that. Deepak Chopra
How does meditating regularly make our life better?
What’s in it for me?
One of the reasons that meditation is a healing practice is that you must be fully present — in this moment only — which can prevent us from worry, guilt, fear and a host of other potential negative emotions. This living in the present moment can enable the body/mind to heal itself, regenerate and allows the brain to rest. Practicing mindfulness, a lifelong pursuit, will pay you back tenfold.
Some benefits of meditation are:
• Improved sleep
• Decreased blood pressure
• Decreased cortisol release (a stress hormone — flight or fight response)
• Increased concentration and ability to focus
• Increased positivity and a decrease in negative feelings
• New outlook on stressful situations
• Increase in ability to deal with stress
• Better awareness of oneself and one’s thoughts and actions
• More present moment awareness
• Improved patience and more able to tolerate others
• Enhanced creativity
Meditation may help people manage symptoms of:
⁃ Chronic pain
⁃ Heart disease
⁃ High blood pressure
⁃ Irritable bowel syndrome
⁃ Sleep problems
⁃ Tension headaches
The benefits of meditation have been written about for many years and are well documented.
Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work. — Thich Nhat Hanh
Many studies have shown the various benefits and many physicians, health clinics, and agencies now recommend a regular meditation practice for their patients.
Ok, so meditation is good for me, but exactly How do I meditate?
There are many ways to meditate.
Find a comfortable position; sitting is the most common. Make sure your position is comfortable and sustainable. Don’t think you have to get yourself into the full lotus position here!
I often meditate just sitting comfortably with my legs up on my couch.
There are no rules. Just be aware that lying down and trying to meditate can be difficult as we usually will just fall asleep! But hey, maybe you needed more sleep!
Here are some of the most common techniques for meditation:
1. Breath awareness meditation.
This is one of the most simple ways to withdraw the senses and start a meditation practice.
Simply feel the breath as it enters your nostrils, cool and fresh. And then be aware of the warm breath leaving your nostrils. Keep your focus on the breath in and the breath out.
As a variation, some people find counting the in and out breaths helpful. For example, counting ten breaths and then resetting to zero and then begin again, counting to ten.
If your mind wanders, which it will, simply bring your attention back to your breath. It is the bringing back of our attention that is the actual training and calming of our minds.
Just begin again.
2. Mantra meditation.
A mantra is a sacred or meaningful word, words, syllables or sounds that are repeated to elicit a feeling or response. This is most useful when you partner it with a breath meditation.
On the inhale, you say the first part of your mantra and the exhale on the second part. Then the mantra is repeated over and over while you keep bringing your focus back to your breath or the words.
Some examples of mantras:
“I am” (or “So-Hum” in Sanskrit)
“Peace — Love”
“I love you. I’m sorry. Please forgive me. Thank you.”
“Aum (Om) (Sanskrit — vibration of universal consciousness)
Countless others — make up your own meaningful phrase.
Pick a mantra that works for you, is positive and has personal meaning.
Work on just that one mantra for a few sessions, it takes consistency and time for meditation benefits to work. Mantra meditation is often less about the actual words and more about the vibrational benefits of calming sounds repeated over and over.
3. Guided meditation.
There are countless apps and YouTube videos that offer guided meditations.
Find a comfortable position and listen and follow along with the guidance.
Some apps I like are Insight timer, Calm, and Omvana. There are many others, find ones you like, relate to and resonate with!
The important thing with meditation is just to keep on beginning again. Don’t be hard on yourself, all minds wander, just bring back your awareness.
Aim for a daily practice, it doesn’t have to be long. Try 5–10 minutes at first. You can work up to longer sessions after a period of time if you want. It’s important not to let this be a chore or a burden. It is training for your mind and the benefits far outweigh the efforts.
Meditation is a habit that will impact your life in a positive way. And remember, it doesn’t have to be perfect. Ever.
There’s no substitute for the practice of meditation. — Wayne Dyer
Just keep bringing your mind back to the moment. That is the training. And that is the practice.
We all need to feel like we have some control over our lives.
However, life and circumstance can and will throw situations our way that change our plans. And this can make us feel so powerless, angry, confused, depressed and anxious.
Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.
— John Lennon
It’s good to plan for the future, our relationships, set budgets, plan for big expenditures, plan trips, careers, education and more.
But don’t be surprised if it doesn’t turn out the way you hoped.
Despite all those well-laid plans – events, illnesses, or even other people’s choices can and will change some of these plans. Many times these challenges will only delay our plans, but sometimes they change them forever.
Resiliency is the ability to bend with those changes. Resiliency is:
The ability to recover quickly from depression or discouragement. The ability to spring back.
This springing back, either to your original state — or to a stronger, more evolved state, is part of being resilient.
I wrote about resilience here and how to cultivate it:
Being resilient is a way to claim your personal power.
What is Personal Power?
First off — what it isn’t:
Power is not Force.
Power is not abuse or violence.
Power is not control.
Many confuse personal power with control. It isn’t that, ever. So what is it?
Personal power is:
*Faith in oneself.
*Faith in a higher power or energy or universe or God — whatever you believe. And that you have this with you always.
*Having the courage to have your own opinions and have the strength necessary to express and maintain them.
*The ability to look within and examine your own life, actions, thoughts and the consequences of them. In short — can you stop blaming others?
*The courage to be yourself — your appearance, your desires, your own sense of sexuality and safety; and the image you project to the world.
*Being able to maintaining your principles, values, dignity and faith — without draining your energy.
And most importantly,
*The ability to choose your response to challenges and trials that come your way.
Viktor Frankl, author of the great Man’s Search For Meaning stated it best:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
― Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning
Choosing our attitude then is always part of our personal power.
As Viktor says, EVERYthing can be taken away. People can die, people can get serious illnesses or disabilities, people can cheat on you and leave you, jobs can end, money and possessions can be lost and more — but we always have the choice on how we REACT to these circumstances.
Your attitude, your reactions are your key to your personal power.
Working on developing positive, life-affirming reactions to times of stress will help lessen the depression, anxiety, and confusion that comes in these times of trouble.
Of course, we won’t be perfect.
The first step is to be aware of your knee-jerk reactions. Then work on putting a pause between the event and the reaction.
Over time we can lengthen that pause.
Or change our reaction.
This is the work of a lifetime. And working on this — not achieving perfection— but being on the path of reclaiming and owning our own power — owning our reactions and attitudes— will lead us back to peace.
Happiness doesn’t depend on any external conditions, it is governed by our mental attitude.
— Dale Carnegie
Friendship is something we all need. And as we get older, true friendships seem harder to find. And how do you know when you have a real friend?
Don’t you find children generally make friends easier than adults? They are less cynical, less bitter, and more trusting.
Children care less about what people think and thus can approach people with more openness. Openness and trust is critical in close friends.
Close friends, different from acquaintances or casual friends, are those with whom you share your inner thoughts, dreams, challenges and pain. They are by your side — through thick and thin, no matter what. Cliche as it sounds.
The mettle of friendship is tested when one of you goes through a challenging, painful time of life.
Some people cannot handle dealing with someone who is sad, scared or depressed or angry. These “negative” emotions scare them and can actually make some people upset.
How dare we bring them down? How dare we expect them to reach into their soul and actually, gasp, support us?
Some of our friends will listen to us cry, rant and rave. Over and over. They don’t ask “ Why aren’t you over this already?”
Processing and dealing with complex, difficult issues takes time. Our emotions during times of grief for example, move from anger to sadness to depression and back around — there is no linear timed response to a loss, no predictable path.
These friends, who continue to listen, to advise, to love and to wrap their arms around us; they are the true friends. The ones to keep — forever. They have been proven in the battle of life.
These friends love us. We must love them back when they need us. And of course, we will.
But those people who — when you are upset, grieving or scared — instead find excuses not to pick up the phone, come over or offer any support — these are not your friends.
How do you know if someone loves you?
Look at their actions.
One of the most impactful quotes I have ever heard was from the great Maya Angelou:
When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.
Your true friends will show, through their actions — or their inactions — who they are and how much you mean to them.
We must pay attention and believe their actions. I had plenty of warnings over the years. We all do. Believe the actions of others.
And be a friend yourself. Show your friends that they are important and you love them. People are watching your actions.
Our world, our lives need more true friendships.
Friendships will strengthen our lives and our culture, our communities and our world.
Taking care of yourself is one of the most important things you can do to enrich your life.
Different areas of your life will require more care than others from time to time, but it is vital to think about all aspects of your life when making goals and plans.
Self-care is important at all times in our life.
However, remember when you go through crappy and stressful times of life, that is the time to step up the self-care game, not ignore it.
I wrote about self-care when times are hard earlier as I have several difficult situations I am dealing with now. These ideas are mostly soothing and relaxing techniques that we can use throughout our daily lives but especially in times of stress.
In self-care 2.0 it is time to expand on these ideas.
Look at the following seven areas of life. They all require attention or you can experience negative consequences down the road.
7. Personal development
Self-care 2.0 requires that you think about taking care of all these areas of your life.
Are you spending quality time and effort on each area daily? Weekly?
Daily might not always work out, but I suggest thinking about these areas in terms of your weekly goals or focus.
1. Physical self-care
You only get one body. Take care of it. Sometimes, even after all we do, our bodies can get sick — life happens. If that happens though, hopefully you have a strong, healthy body to help you in your fight for wellness.
Put thought into the care of your body. Illness, disease and the inability to function physically can put a damper on your overall life satisfaction and happiness.
People often only appreciate their health when they lose it.
We all know what we need to do, but the advice is rarely followed:
Eat well — increase healthy fats, decrease trans-fats, eat proteins from healthy sources, limit sugar, etc. The diet advice is there. Listen. Diet is the biggest influencer of your health and BMI.
Work on getting to a healthy weight. Being overweight increases your risk of many diseases and increases your chance of injury and physical limitations.
Exercise daily — Do Something! Even 10 minutes a day is better than nothing.
Take some supplements — I recommend Vitamin D (2000 IU’s daily), Magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids (find a pure source please!), and a good multi (not a drugstore brand ok?) as a minimum.
Are you feeling depressed? Anxious? Angry?
These emotions are ok. However, if they are impacting your life, your career, your relationships or more, then you need to deal with them.
Get counselling. Perhaps you need medication. Exercise can help. Group therapy. Whatever. Deal with your emotions. It may take your whole life to learn coping mechanisms that work — and that’s ok. Just take the first step to heal troubling emotions.
Identifying how you are feeling.
Journal about your feelings. Start sentences in your journal with “I feel….”. Identifying our feelings is the first step to emotional maturity.
Try to incorporate more stolen moments of joy in every life. Cultivate gratitude.
I was raised in quite a strict religious home and have since decided that was not for me. And I’ll admit to feeling doubt and confusion when people have mentioned a spiritual life.
Spirituality, however, is not religion. We all can, despite our beliefs or because of them, experience spirituality in our daily life. This can make our life more joyful and mindful.
Anything that feeds your soul, your inner-self, is considered a spiritual practice.
For some it is church. For others, it is meditation and mindful movement. I find a deep inner journey during some yoga classes. When I am focusing on my breath and the postures only, my mind becomes still.
Nature can be a great way to move your awareness within.
Paying attention to your finances is part of self-care. Overspending, neglecting to think of your future and ignorance of where you stand financially and where you want to go, is neglect.
When you are planning your life, take time to think about your budget, your retirement (hey — don’t wait until you are in your 50’s to plan for this!), and your savings.
Make a plan to pay down your debt slowly. Put something away for the future on every pay cheque.
Think about your financial goals and touch base with them often. Check-in and evaluate how you are doing. If you have gone off-course, then get back on track.
No matter where you are at in your career, you can do things to make it better.
Take some classes, smile more at work, go back to school, make work better by improving workflow, or whatever.
People usually have many work-related goals. Think about how much satisfaction your job gives you. Work on that.
The quality of our relationships often determines the quality of our life.
If your relationships are healthy and strong — then don’t neglect them. Keep them tended. Relationships are like a garden, they need water, nutrients and sunlight to thrive.
Put in time. Time is an element of healthy relationships that cannot be replaced with gifts or anything. If you have no time for the important people in your life, what is that telling them? Are they really a priority?
Work on your communication skills. Practice opening up to those people who are close to you. Be authentic.
7. Personal Development
This area touches on areas such as confidence, self-love, and improvement.
While not suggesting you aren’t enough as you are — because you are enough — there are things we all want to improve on.
What do I want to be like? Is what I am doing making me a better person?
Who do I admire and how can I emulate and grow like they did?
Self care matters.
Think about your whole self while you make your daily, weekly and yearly plans and goals. Only focusing on one or two areas of life causes imbalances in your life and possible negative consequences.
Self-care doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Keep it simple. Keeping these seven areas in mind, while giving extra care to your self during periods of stress, can help you have more moments of peace and security.
Ah, the feeling of happiness. It’s like a bubble of sunshine.
But like the bubble, it is elusive and cannot last.
And that’s ok.
Happiness isn’t meant to be around ALL-THE-TIME. We would get used to that state and it would mean nothing.
The contrast between pleasure and pain; joy and suffering; happiness and sadness; wealth and poverty; sickness and health, is there so we can get through the hard times and relish the good times.
I just finished reading Glennon Doyle’s beautiful memoir — Love Warrior — where she emphasizes while life provides us much to be happy for, it also holds pain and suffering for us all.
“You are not supposed to be happy all the time. Life hurts and it’s hard. Not because you’re doing it wrong, but because it hurts for everybody. Don’t avoid the pain. You need it. It’s meant for you. Be still with it, let it come, let it go, let it leave you with the fuel you’ll burn to get your work done on this earth.”
― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior
Our society is obsessed with happiness — just look at the self-help section in a bookstore. While this can be a good thing if you are one who sees the glass as half-empty all the time, it can also be an unreasonable goal.
All of us have will have painful aspects of our life. We can look at other people and think “they have it all figured out”. But they don’t. We are all struggling through life.
My son had a bout with cancer earlier this year. I am going through a painful personal trial right now. Life is difficult at times. My challenge is to grow through the pain. And have faith that the sun will shine again. (It really is behind those clouds!)
The pain of my son’s diagnosis gave me clarity on what is really important in my life. I appreciated the gift of my child’s life. Even more.
“So what is it in a human life that creates bravery, kindness, wisdom, and resilience? What if it’s pain? What if it’s the struggle?”
― Glennon Doyle Melton, Love Warrior
We need to accept that challenges will come our way. Our suffering is caused, according to Buddhist wisdom, by holding on to the way we think things should be — attachment.
If we can accept what is, and love what we have now, we can lessen our suffering. We can try to find happiness and joy in everyday moments to help increase your happiness. Even amid the pain.
The pain, grief, anger, sadness will still come. We can use it to make us stronger, more compassionate, and more appreciative of what we have.
We can only appreciate the sun when we experience the rain. We aren’t meant to be happy all the time.
Into every life a little rain must fall. — Ella Fitzgerald
It’s a given that pain and suffering will come to all of us.
Emotions can ride the roller coaster of uncertainty — all the time.
Anger. Grief. Fear. Numbness. The cycle can take a day or a minute.
When hard times hit, when life takes a 180-degree turn, we need to take care of ourselves.
If you don’t, who will? If your well is dry, you can’t be there for my children, my friends, or my extended family. The old ‘put your mask on first’ analogy rings true.
What does self-care mean? How can I, and you, incorporate more of it into our daily lives?
Self-care is taking care of your body, mind and spirit during times of stress. It is finding out what you need and taking steps to make sure your needs are met.
Taking care of yourself is vital to reacting to life with resilience and strength.
Put yourself at the top of your to-do list every single day and the rest will fall into place. -Unknown
There are many things that can be classified as self-care. We all have different needs and so our self-care will look different from others.
There are some basics that we all need.
Make sure you are getting enough sleep. This can be hard when your mind is racing, but sleep is the revitalizing force in life. If life is hard and you are feeling sorrow or anger, try sleeping more. NAP!
Eat healthy foods. The temptation will be there to grab that bucket of ice cream or bag of chips and dig in, but you will feel better and stronger when you fuel your body properly. To deal with the stress hormone cortisol you must nourish your body with whole foods and not processed food.
Exercise every day. Go outside for a walk. I wrote about the benefits of walking before, and it’s wonderful for stress reduction.
Learn some physical calming techniques. An effective technique for self-calming is diaphragmatic breathing which is breath focused awareness and training.
Begin by taking deep breaths into your abdomen area — feel your abdomen rising and falling, not your chest. Relax as much a possible. Avoid using your shoulders and ribcage.
Do this often throughout the day and whenever you feel an increase in anxiety, stress, grief or anger. This can be done as part of a meditation practice (an excellent self-care practice) or devote a minute to breath awareness. Mindful breathing helps to lessen the impact of the stress response.
Try yoga. A powerful exercise that also works on healing your mind.
5. Talk to your friends and social group. Do not isolate yourself. Friends will make you feel connection, which we all need. Especially if facing a crisis such as a loss of a relationship. I have needed more support from my friends and family as I face this challenge, and thankfully, they have responded with love and support.
6. Pamper yourself. Get a massage. Enrol in a paint night with some friends. Have people over for a rousing game of Catan!
7. Journal. This can help you process your feelings. Denying your feelings or trying to stuff down emotions will just prolong the healing process.
8. Get some therapy. You will live with yourself all your life. Deal with your issues now. Even if it was totally the other person’s fault, and you are probably kidding yourself, you have insecurities or baggage that you need to take out and examine.
No matter where you go, there you are. — Confucius
9. Find something to laugh at every day. The idea that laughter is the best medicine is true. Laughter releases endorphins which are the body’s natural painkillers. Laughter can lighten the load, even if only momentarily.
Watch a funny movie or TV show. Read a funny book. I love Calvin and Hobbes. The BEST cartoon!
10. Have a warm bath. Listen to music you love. Dance.
Do things you love.
Find out what your needs are and meet them. Ask for help.
Taking care of yourself is important all the time, and especially during hard times.
Self-care doesn’t have to cost you money. Allocate time for yourself daily. Have more compassion for yourself when you feel that life is sucking you dry.
If you are going through a hard time, commit to giving yourself self-care time daily.
Fitness and Health. These words inspire many of us to get off the couch. Or make us feel guilty for not getting off the couch!
There are so many fitness crazes out there, so many exercise programs. These can confuse us and also be full of contradictory information and advice. What to do and where to start?
Walking is a simple way to get your fitness started. Many people will want more challenging exercise and training, but for some of us, walking will be a huge part, maybe our entire fitness program.
Walking daily is a goal that almost all of us can do. We can all make the time and our lives will be richer for it.
Walking has tremendous benefits for our health and for our peace of mind.
Benefits of a daily walk:
Walking is free — you can do it anywhere and you don’t need special equipment besides shoes you can walk in. Although, some people like walking in bare feet, nothing wrong with that! You can ground with the earth and connect with the energy of the earth. Just walk barefoot only in safe areas, such as a clean beach if you are lucky enough to live close by!
You can walk at any pace. You get to choose the speed and intensity of your walk.
Walking is low impact and has a low risk of injury.
Walking helps reduce your blood pressure and makes your heart healthier.
Walking reduces the risk of developing diabetes.
Walking improves fitness. I suggest slowly increasing the pace of your walking. If your health permits keep working up the pace until you are walking briskly. This brisk walking can improve physical functioning and improves cardiac fitness.
Walking will help your brain, improving your cognitive functioning.
Walking can help you with depression and anxiety. More well-being anyone?
Walking helps to keep your body weight stable and lowers your risk of obesity.
Walking with friends is an excellent way to maintain friendships. It can strengthen social connections and reduce feelings of isolation and loneliness. Loneliness can be harmful to your health. I wrote about loneliness here.
Walking can spark creativity. Many people have great ideas while out walking.
Nothing like a nighttime stroll to give you ideas. ~J. K. Rowling. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, spoken by the character Mad-Eye Moody
12. Walking gets you out in nature. In Japan, people have started a movement called “Forest Therapy”. Scientists studying this have found that strolling through trees can lower the stress hormone, cortisol, and improve the immune system.
Those who think they have no time for exercise will, sooner or later, have to find time for illness. -Edward Stanley
If we take 30 minutes daily to get outside and walk, our health and happiness will improve.
For those of you who feel that you are ‘Just too busy right now…’; I urge you to put your health and well-being above your other priorities. Health really is of the greatest importance.
If you really cannot spare 30 minutes, as you are far too busy to get out there; perhaps you could try taking a “walking” meeting, or getting some phone calls done while out walking. Or go walk at lunch or before work in the morning.
The benefits are worth it.
That’s all for now — my walk awaits!
Michelle Fyfe has been a pharmacist for over 25 years and is passionate about using holistic, natural methods of achieving true health; developing new, healthy and simple lifestyles with a side effect of increased energy, happiness and fulfillment. She is working on her first book called: The Five Keys to Health — A Pharmacist’s Guide to Holistic Living.