Do you know those people who are always on the move? Rushing off to their next appointment, cell phone at their ear or between their thumbs? They don’t see the beginning of a new season or the smile of the cute baby in the stroller at the red light. I know because, I used to be one of them. I used to live my life with the false belief that if I had a full schedule, with a “don’t stop, don’t relax” attitude I was somehow living a more virtuous life than all those “lazy, relaxed types”. Then a year ago, after realizing I needed a more peaceful approach, I enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and many of my unhealthy beliefs shifted. The healthy, calm lifestyle changes I have implemented since graduating as a Health Coach, have allowed me to live a much more harmonious life, ironically allowing for more productivity, and best of all giving me a true sense of purpose every day.
For some of you doubters out there, who are about to stop reading, (I know, this is where I used to put down the article and convince myself I was wasting time and had more important things to address) …read on.
Our bodies and our minds are complex systems that require downtime for maintenance, tune-ups and recharge. Like any complex piece of equipment if it is “powered on high” all of the time without a reboot, it will eventually slow down and start to wear down leading to a system failure. Try this simple advice I created, and share with my clients, using the acronym P-E-A-C-E to prevent a system failure in your body and mind.
P – PRACTICE STILLNESS – Find time every day to be still. Some call it meditating, journaling, stretching…whatever you call it, just allow your body and mind to be still for a few minutes every day. I like to do it early in the morning, but anytime will work as long as you can be relatively free from noise and interruptions. Close your eyes, quiet your thoughts and be appreciative; or journal your thoughts and worries on paper in order to quiet your mind, or stretch and appreciate your body. Over time your practice of stillness will become easier and you will develop a deep sense of gratitude.
E- EAT MINDFULLY – you are not saving time if you quickly inhale your lunch to jump right back into work. You will only be left feeling unsatisfied one hour later, searching frantically for something to refuel yourself. Pay attention to what and how you are eating. When you take the time to chew your food slowly you will begin to notice that your food not only tastes better, but it leaves you feeling fuller and satisfied longer. This also helps with digestion, because your body does not have to work so hard, which in turn gives you more energy to do the things you love to do.
A-AIR – Breathe in fresh air, you will be surprised how great you feel. I used to laugh at this, until I got called out in my Pilates class for not breathing properly. Try to get outdoors everyday if you can and breathe in the fresh outdoor air. Deep breathing helps your mind and body relax by releasing tension, it helps rid your body of toxins and helps with the digestion of your food by massaging your internal organs. Try this about five times, breathe in for 4, hold the breath for 7 and exhale for 8. Notice the calm and peacefulness you feel.
C-Chose Consciously – Pay close attention to the food choices you are making and be grateful for your food. Thinking about the source from where it came, who grew it, is it in season? This appreciation for your food helps foster a feeling of gratitude that will divert your attention from your current stress, allowing you to put it aside for a few moments while you enjoy your meal.
E-Engage Others – a strong predictor of longevity is the health of the people you hang out with. Seek out positive people who enjoy hobbies your love, schedule time with them. Find an active accountability partner to reinforce your good intentions. Be a leader among your friends and family, model happy healthy behaviors so you will all be around for many years to enjoy one another.