How’s your self-care battery doing?

Self-care is about recharging yourself physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  We only have a finite amount of energy and once we run beyond our limits there are serious consequences and yet we’re very bad at setting boundaries and protecting our precious energy reserves.

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The simple analogy of the ‘self-care battery’ can really help to simplify the self-care process.  Picturing a battery pack helps to encapsulate where your energy levels are at and whether you might be in need of a boost.   It can also be applied to the activities and even people in your life – do they boost or take from your energy reserves?

Unlike our devices our energy levels don’t come with any visible warning signs that our energy is waning.  Mindful practices help us create the headspace to take a few breaths and check in on how our battery pack is performing.  So take a few deep breaths and make a note of where your energy is at.  If you need a boost what activities could you put in place that might help restore you back to full power?

It could be as simple as a few breaths or a breathing exercise like box breathing or a walk round the block, water break or making plans with friends who energise you.  Remember it’s also sometimes about saying no to plans too.  If your battery pack is running low, prioritise you and your precious energy reserves – self-care isn’t selfish – you’ll be a better version of you for yourself and others if your battery pack is fully charged.  #selfcare #selfcareisntselfish #energy #selfcarebattery #mindfulness #mindfulmovement

Pilates for speaking with confidence

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Photo by Lucas Pezeta from Pexels

I read an article this week called ‘Speech Anxiety: Use “Grounding” to Look and Feel More Confident’ on tips for speaking in public with strength and confidence.  I was fascinated by the parallels with the ABCs of Pilates – alignment, breathing and centering.

The emphasis of the article was on body language, grounding, posture and breathing techniques to help us convey our message with confidence.  All areas that we cover each week in Pilates. Another reminder that the lessons we learn on the mat are equally as relevant off the mat.

So if you wish to create ‘standing’ through your ‘standing’ with your audience take a read of the article and if you haven’t experienced Pilates know that much of what is covered here is what you can expect to experience in a good Pilates class.

I particularly loved the Oak Tree analogy – it inspired my guided relaxation in Zen Pilates this week.  So thank you Gary Genard – most interesting!  #pilatesforconfidence #pilatesposture #pilatesABCs #zenergyactive #garygenard #pilatesforanxiety #grounding #posture #breathing

 

 

Did you know you have 3 brains?

This weekend I listened to Dr Chatterjee’s podcast (Feel better, Live more), he was interviewing Dr Tara Swart a neuroscientist and psychologist who was talking about coping with emotions.  She mentioned almost in passing that whenever she needs to make a big decision she places her hand on her head to ask her head for a logical response, then on her heart for an emotional response and then on her tummy for a gut instinct response.Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Copy of Zen-3

I’ve since discovered that scientists now recognise 3 brains (who knew!) – our cephalic brain (head), the cardiac brain (heart), and the enteric brain in our gut.  Our head brain has over 100 billion neurons, our gut has a sizeable 100 million neurons and our heart 400,000.  Each organ has complex neuro-networks in which to store and process data before sending it to the brain via the Vagus Nerve.

In Zen Pilates we finish each class with a guided relaxation, in this week’s practise we’ll be tuning into the combined inner wisdom of our 3 brains.  Visiting each area in our minds eye with nourishing breaths while listening to the head brain for logical input into any problems we may be experiencing, then dropping down to the heart and exploring our emotional response and finally the gut for intuitive guidance.

We so often look for answers on the outside when we have the power of 3 brains on the inside to call upon for guidance! The art is creating the time and space to tune in to them and truly listen.

Tips for beating anxiety and creating energy and calm

It’s impossible not to be feeling anxious at the moment. So I wanted to share my top well-being tips and techniques for creating energy and calm in the mind and body. The criteria I set myself was that they had to be free, require no ‘kit’ and be easy to do.

You don’t need to do all of them all the time, just find the ones that work for you then try and do those a few times a week. Small and often is better than big and never. I’ll keep adding to this list so share any favourites with me.

They’re in no particular order – although the first two are my personal favourites!

1.Breathe – Calm breaths puts the breaks on our anxiety. Invest the time to practise slow and steady breathing when you don’t need it so that when you do you’ve trained yourself to manage your natural stress response. Here’s a link to my favourite breathing techniques

2.Move – we all know that movement is great for body and mind. Understand your energy level and then pick a class, movement or activity that makes you feel good and nurtures your body. If you’re feeling full of beans then go for a run or dance round the house, feeling in need of a stretch then go with that but try to create time to move for at least 15 minutes a day every day

3.Eat well – eat a colourful plate, with sensible portions and eat mindfully rather than while distracted – not just to eat less but to actually enjoy every mouthful.

4.Affirmations – A positive short statement in the present tense that you repeat to yourself first thing in the morning loudly and proudly. It should focus your mind on a positive behaviour or mindset you want to create (usually countering one you don’t currently have) so for example: ‘I am happy’, ‘I am in control’ ‘ I will succeed’.

5.Gratitude – we’re programmed on a primal level to look out for danger and negativity to protect ourselves. A technique to reprogramme our minds to focus more on the positive is to take a few minutes out every day to reflect on the day we had looking only for small almost insignificant moments where actually we can find something to feel grateful for. A parking space, a smile from a stranger, a compliment etc.

6.Reframing – if you’re ruminating on something that has happened or might happen – strip out the emotion and look just at the facts. Become an observer – treat the scenario like you’re just a commentator going through the facts and see if you can find a different way to look at those facts minus the emotions.

7.Walks in nature – this works on many levels – you create energy, positive chemicals release, you’re exposed to Vitamin D, your problems feel insignificant around ancient trees and you absorb yourself in your environment not your mind

8.Journaling – not writing a diary but simply getting your thoughts out of your head. Unacknowledged thoughts way heavy on our minds. So pick up a piece of paper and get your thoughts out.

9.Watch the self-talk – ‘Talk to yourself like you would a friend’ is one of my favourite tips.

10.Set yourself up for a good night’s sleep – Create a routine, avoid bright light (can you brush your teeth with just the hall light on), avoid your screen and see if you can fit in a 30 second gratitude practise before bed.

11. Set yourself up for a good day – make your bed (you’ve achieved something before you’ve even left the bedroom), choose what you do wisely with those first few minutes that will set the tone for the day. Write down your goals before you look at your phone so you know what you want to achieve and then appreciate it when you do!

12.Connect – we are social creatures, nurture your connections friends, family and community – also helps to create a sense of belonging. Find time to talk and also listen. Hug (if it’s appropriate) physical contact also releases chemicals for the giver and receiver. Pets count too!

13.Get to know yourself and prioritise yourself – know what brings you energy and calm and protect this by setting boundaries and saying no. You’ll be more useful to everyone else if you prioritise you and your needs as well.

14.Give – reward chemicals are released when perform acts of kindness for others. You benefit, they benefit. It’s a win win.

15.Meditate/mindfulness – this doesn’t mean sitting still and shutting out all thoughts for an hour. You can meditate or be mindful through gentle or dynamic movement focusing on how your body feels and your breathe. It’s simply about being in the present moment in a state of awareness rather than worrying about the past or the future. If during your practise of mindfulness you do drift into your thoughts, come back to your breathe and remind yourself – ‘you can’t stop the waves but you can surf them’.

16.Have fun – make time for doing things that are simply being done for no other reason than to be fun.

#wellbeingtips #anxiety #toptips #calm #energy #breathe #wellbeing #zenergyactive

We need to relearn how to breathe

copy ofGiven each of us breathes roughly 23,000 times a day you’d assume we’d be pretty good at it. The fact is we’re not. And because of that we’re missing out on a raft of well-being benefits.

Research is proving that the simple act of breathing correctly benefits both our physical and mental well-being. Shallow breathing increases the heart rate and blood pressure pushing up our anxiety levels. Whereas steady, regulated, deep breaths are proven to switch you into the parasympathetic or ‘rest and digest’ nervous system allowing you to feel calm and think clearly.

This article from the BBC is states “scientists are finding that a particular frequency of breath – at around six exhalations a minute – can be especially restorative, triggering a “relaxation response” in the brain and body”. So that’s the equivalent of breathing in for 5 seconds and out for 5 seconds 10 times.

‘Breath work’ was a hot well-being topic at Live Well London – a well-being event I went to recently . I was lucky enough to attend a workshop by The Breath Guy – Richie Bostock (who is quoted in the BBC article). He specialises in working with corporates to help employees unlock energy, creativity and focus all through a variety of breathing techniques.

At the start of the session he asked us all to breath in through our mouth and as we breathed out to make an audible sigh. After just a few of these steady sighing breaths looped together my shoulders felt lower and my brain clearer. As Richie said ‘it’s not called a sigh of relief for nothing’.

The most powerful aspect of creating calm in this way is that it’s quick, simple and free. As Richie says ‘the answer is right under you nose’.

You can read the full BBC news article here: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20200303-why-slowing-your-breathing-helps-you-relax

 

And here’s Richie Bostock’s details: https://www.thebreathguy.com/

The Breath Guy session – Live Well London