Wheel of Life Wellness

2018 New Year’s Resolutions

 

Ever notice how many of us set a New Year’s resolution, stick to it for a few weeks (if that!), and then it all starts to fall apart? We beat ourselves up because we can’t maintain the enthusiasm, the schedule or the energy to keep our promise to go to the gym, lose the weight or not yell at the kids. Have you ever wondered why you have trouble sticking to your resolution? I have.

 

And I have a theory: We’ve been taught to think of a New Year’s resolution all wrong!

 

In my opinion, most people see a resolution as a specific thing – usually an action with an expected result – that should fit nice and neatly in a box with a pretty bow. What if you thought of a New Year’s resolution as energy you wanted to exude and radiate every day?

 

“Sounds great in theory, Christie,” you’re thinking, “but how do I put ‘energy’ into practice?”

 

Easy! All it takes is a simple shift in your thinking.

 

Let’s take a popular New Year’s resolution as an example: losing weight. Most people will tell themselves that this is the year they will shed their excess pounds, and then set up a rigorous workout schedule and a restrictive diet that they expect to fit into their already busy life.

 

Instead, shift your intention from ‘losing weight’ to ‘radiating health.’ That resolution could look something like this:

 

  • schedule one fun physical activity into your week (going for a walk, playing outside with your kids, going bowling or hiking, etc)
  • plan and prepare one or two simple, yet healthy, meals for yourself each week
  • schedule one mindfulness activity each week (yoga class, meditation or other mindful practice)
  • make time to sit and read or soak in the tub at least once each week
  • dim the lights and enjoy a candle-lit evening once each week
  • make time for a nice meal with friends each month (either at your favourite restaurant or a simple potluck at your home)
  • schedule a massage or an aesthetic appointment, like a manicure
  • schedule time to volunteer at a local charity

 

When we set an intention from the ego self, it has a restrictive energy because it comes from a place of obligation, a need to fit in and meet others’ expectations of us. However, when we set an intention from the Soul Self, the energy is softer and more fluid because it comes from a place of self-love and self-nurture. I believe that, for many of us, this kind of resolution is more sustainable over the year.

 

So, when you set your 2018 New Year’s resolution, create it from your Soul Self, the place where your happiness and passion for life reside. Let 2018 be the year you radiate your truest potential!

 

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Improve your efficiency and productivity at work

 

Are you someone who is just too busy to take a lunch break? You sit at your desk for hours at a time because you have tight deadlines, competing priorities, demanding management and a heavy workload. You can’t afford to take a break (let alone your lunch hour!) if you’re going to get your job done and leave on time to meet your personal and family obligations after work.

 

I get it.

 

Are you interested in improving your efficiency and productivity at work, becoming more focused and better able to deal with the stresses of work and life? It’s really not all that difficult or complicated, but it does require a shift in your mindset…

 

Not taking breaks at work is simply a bad habit. You’ve convinced yourself that you can’t get everything done if you take a break. So, you shovel food into your mouth while sitting at your desk working. Oh, and you’re a great multi-tasker!

 

In actual fact, you’re not focused on anything when you’re doing two (or more) things at once. Because you’re not focused, you make more mistakes, you’re more forgetful and you’re way more stressed. You can become more efficient and productive at work (and in the rest of your life) if you just give yourself permission to take a break.

 

To help you get out of the bad habit of not taking breaks at work, I have a short Desk Yoga video to take you through a few movements and stretches that will leave you feeling refreshed and ready to continue on with your day! (Et c'est également disponible en français!)

 

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Dealing with chronic pain

 

Do you or someone you know deal with chronic pain? Advances in medicine have led to medications that help alleviate pain and discomfort, but often have side effects that cause other problems.

 

The medical community is beginning to re-examine age-old, tried and tested, drug-less techniques to help people effectively deal with their pain. Body-mind therapies, such as yoga, breathing exercises and meditation, are being studied for their ability to change how one perceives and experiences pain.

 

Practicing a combination of body-mind techniques can help take one’s mind off the pain and override established pain signals in the brain, increasing one’s ability to better manage pain. The studied techniques include: deep (abdominal) breathing, relaxation, meditation, mindfulness, yoga, and positive thinking.*

 

If you or someone you love struggle with chronic pain, contact Christie to explore body-mind therapies and practices that would be complementary to your current treatment.

 

*6 ways to use your mind to control pain (Harvard Medical School, April 2015)

 

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Spinal health and mobility

 

As society becomes increasingly sedentary we are experiencing more physical and mobility issues. Even children are feeling the effects as they become more focused on their personal devices, such as cell phones and tablets, and video games.

 

Sitting for extended periods of time and leaning back in chairs impact the position of our pelvis which then affects our hip joints and spine. If we don’t counteract our seated position by getting up and moving around, and if we don’t address our posture, over time we end up feeling like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz: we get stiff, tight, sore, and we lose our functional mobility. When our functional mobility is compromised, it means that we are unable to move our body freely because our anatomical alignment is off and our range of motion is restricted. (That’s why we see more and more people using walkers nowadays…) For example, “text neck” is a common spinal issue that arises because people don’t maintain good posture when using their personal devices. Something as simple as text neck can lead to serious physical ailments, including long-term neck, shoulder and back pain.

 

Spinal health and mobility are about more than just remaining active! If your job requires you to be in the same position for a certain time, make sure to take regular breaks, get up and move around. (The body needs to move, not just change position!) Be mindful of how you sit and how you stand, and the duration you're in those positions. Notice your body and how it moves as you do your activities. When you are aware of your posture and alignment, you can more easily begin to address issues before they become too serious or even irreversible.

 

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Core strength keeps you healthy

 

You’ve likely heard about the importance of having a strong core in your yoga or fitness classes, but have you thought about why it’s important? Is it about having the washboard abs or the flat belly, like the air-brushed photos of models in the “health” and “fitness” magazines? No. Far from it.

 

The core is a group of muscles that encompass the lower half of the torso and include the abdominal, oblique and back muscles. When these muscles work well as a unit, we have a strong and healthy core. And when we have a strong and healthy core, we experience a myriad of health benefits!

 

A healthy and strong core leads to…

 

* Better posture

Better posture helps to relieve pressure on the internal organs caused by slouching; it increases blood (and oxygen) flow to the internal organs; and it improves the ability to breathe deeply, allowing the diaphragm to move up and down, and stimulating the immune system.

 

* A lot less back pain

For many people, back pain is caused by the core not being strong enough to hold the torso erect. Learning to sit and stand upright (like you did when you were a baby!), without leaning for support, will naturally strengthen the core and alleviate back pain.

 

* Improved functional mobility

Did you know that moving your arms and legs requires core strength? Well it does! Try holding your arms up for ten breaths… You’ll likely notice discomfort in your back. Same goes for lifting your legs up. Basic every-day movements and simple activities, such as walking, require a strong and healthy core. (Now you know why older people tend to shuffle their feet when they walk or need to use a walker.)

 

* Improved balance

The core band of muscles are also used to stabilize the body. As we get older, one of the biggest concerns is slips and falls. A strong and healthy core can help you maintain your balance and even regain stability more easily in moments of disequilibrium.

 

So take a few minutes to observe your body’s posture, ability to move and maintain balance. You don’t need a perfectly flat belly to have a strong core! What you do need is to do mindful activities, such as yoga, that gently work the core muscles, keeping them functioning properly, so you can stay active and healthy for years to come.

 

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The Power of a Smile

 

The simple act of smiling can have a huge impact on your health!

 

People who smile are considered to be more likable, friendly and happy. And it’s a proven fact that happy people lead healthier lives.

 

Studies show that smiling (even a forced/fake smile) can trick your brain into thinking you’re happy. Smiling has been reported to lower your heart rate, reduce stress, alleviate feelings of depression and anxiety, and lift your mood. And all of these benefits stimulate a strong immune system which ultimately leads to greater overall health.

 

Smiling is also said to be contagious! Have you ever noticed that when you see someone smile, it can make you feel light and cheery? And smiling often leads to more positive interactions with others. Think about it: would you prefer to talk with someone who is smiling or someone who is frowning?

 

So if you’re looking to make a simple change in your life that can have a huge positive impact on your health, start by smiling!

 

 

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Changing how you sit can change your life

 

I’ve been asked many times why people find it difficult to sit cross-legged on the floor in yoga class. There might be numerous factors at play that could prevent a person from sitting comfortably on the floor, but one of the simplest things you can change could have a huge impact on your overall health.

 

We tend to use chairs for full body support which leads to our muscles not holding us up the way they’re intended to. Stop leaning back in your chair! Instead, sit up on the edge of the seat. You’ll feel your torso muscles activate to keep you upright and your posture will immediately change. And not only will your seated posture change! You’ll eventually notice a change in how you stand, how you move and how you breathe, creating a more vibrant and healthy you!

 

In this short video, Christie provides more details on how you can change your seated posture.

 

 

 

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For Health's Sake!

 

If you replay a stressful event or experience (such as an argument, difficulties at work or a mistake you made, etc.) over and over in your mind after the fact, you might want to look into finding a better way to deal with your stress… for your health’s sake!

 

Studies are now proving what yogis have known for ages: holding on to stress is bad for your health.

 

Research shows that people who do not let go of stress end up with more chronic health issues, including heart disease, joint pain and inflammation, cancer, and various autoimmune disorders, just to name a few. That’s because stress gets caught in the body’s tissues and joints, not to mention it stimulates stress hormones and chemicals in the body, which ultimately impact your quality of life.

 

Resilience is one way you can improve your well-being in the long run; it’s about being able to handle difficult situations and experiences in a healthy way. How do you increase your resiliency? By finding ways to deal with the stress in your life! Yoga, meditation, Reiki, breathing exercises, life coaching – these are just some of the ways that you can let go of stress and regain control of your health.

 

Wheel of Life Wellness offers two customized wellness programs to help you on your path to resilience and vibrant health: Path to Ultimate Vibrancy coaching program and Be Well in Your Body therapeutic program. Both programs are tailored to your specific needs, abilities and goals. Contact Christie to set up your free 90-minute consultation.

 

 

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Five simple ways to manage stress

 

For many people, especially children and parents, September marks the end of the summer and the start of a new cycle. New beginnings often bring about stress, anxiety and fear of the unknown. Here are five simple ways to help you manage your stress this autumn.

 

  • Breathe deeply. When we breathe deep into our abdomen, our nervous system can move out of “stress mode,” which makes us feel confused, anxious and overwhelmed, and into a calmer and clearer state of mind. This shift can happen almost immediately when we take the time to breathe deeply.

 

  • Move your body. It doesn’t have to be anything too strenuous. Moving your body gets oxygen, blood and energy flowing which alleviates anxiety and stress. Go for a leisurely walk or do a gentle yoga practice. But definitely move your body.

 

  • Meditate. Meditation is quite simply sustained and focused concentration. You can meditate by feeling your breath flow, gazing at a picture, repeating a mantra or word, or by doing any other activity that relaxes and focuses your mind. If you’re new to meditation, start with doing 2 minutes and slowly work your way to meditating longer.

 

  • Go outside. Nature, Mother Earth, is a natural healer. Go for a walk outdoors. Sit under a tree. Lay down on the grass and cloud gaze. Walk around barefoot. (Read the tip on the Benefits of Earthing.) For many people, being outside in nature brings a sense of peacefulness that rejuvenates the body, mind and soul.

 

  • Spend quality time with loved ones. Make time to be around others who lift you up, make you laugh and allow you to be yourself. Give yourself the time and space to take the pressure off and just chill.

 

 

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The importance of giving thanks

 

These days you hear a lot about the importance of having an “attitude of gratitude.” But why?

 

New studies are starting to show that being grateful, or thankful, has numerous health benefits. Gratitude boosts the immune system, lowers stress and blood pressure, and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety. It is also shown to help reduce the effects of aging by increasing the production of healthy biochemicals in the body. Giving thanks strengthens our relationships by creating a sense of bonding with others and helps us maintain a more positive perspective of the good things in our life.

 

Thanksgiving is not the only time to experience gratitude. To have lasting health benefits, giving thanks is something that needs to be done on a daily basis. Reviewing your day every evening and keeping a “gratitude journal” is a great place to start, but really, it’s about embracing gratitude as a way of life and taking the time to experience thankfulness in the moment as life occurs.

 

To live a life of thankfulness:

 

  • Remember that you are the director, screenwriter and lead actor in the story of your life
  • Take stock of what’s good in your life; make a list and keep it with you… review it often
  • Give to others generously
  • Allow yourself to receive from others

 

Christie is thankful for your continued support and would like to help you on your own wellness journey. Are you ready to incorporate gratitude in your life or enhance your own wellness routine? Contact Christie for your free 90-minute consultation to see if either of her directed wellness programs are right for you.

 

 

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Increase your energy levels this Autumn

 

Many people experience increased fatigue as Autumn sets in. Though the cooler weather and the time change are often blamed, another factor at play is sunlight.

 

The transition into Fall means shorter days, which leads to shorter access to sunlight. Changes in the level of sunlight exposure has a direct impact on our body’s natural bio-chemical rhythm creating increased fatigue and a lower sense of overall energy.

 

Our brain is designed to register sunlight first thing in the morning as a signal that it’s time to wake up and be awake and alert for the day. As the days get shorter, getting up and going to work in the dark, working indoors under fluorescent lights, and coming home from work in the dark mean we have less access to natural sunlight, impacting our energy and alertness levels.

 

A few things you can do to increase your energy levels during the Fall and Winter months:

 

  • Get a full 8 hours of sleep every night
  • Go outside during the day to get some sunlight (even on a cloudy day)
  • Eat well/regularly and drink lots of water
  • Move your body (going for a walk outdoors or doing yoga are great options)

 

If you need support transitioning through the change of seasons, contact Christie to create a customized approach to address your particular needs.

 

 

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Care for yourself, too, this holiday season

The holiday season is a lovely time of year, but getting ready for the holidays can be very stressful. From the over-crowded stores and impatient drivers, to the financial strain of gift-giving when your budget is already tight, to the drama of family gatherings, the holidays can create feelings of anxiety, overwhelm, and even depression.

 

Here are a few ways you can experience the joys of the season while alleviating some of the stress:

 

  • Be sure to make time for yourself, even if it’s just for a bath or to read. Self-care is key to remaining rejuvenated during the holidays.

 

  • Stick to your routine as much as possible, especially your bedtime! It’s easy to get caught up in the late-night festivities, but then you’ll wake up tired the next day. You won’t feel at your best, nor will you be able to give the best of yourself to your loved ones.

 

  • Give yourself permission to eat some holiday goodies, while still getting your fruits and veggies, and drinking lots of water. Fruits and vegetables have fibre (not to mention other nutrients!) that, with water, will help digest and flush out the not-so-healthy-but-ohhhh-soooo-yummy treats.

 

  • Don’t over-commit yourself. Choose which parties you want to attend and send your regrets to the others. Figure out your budget for gifts, gatherings/parties and other obligations, and then stick to that budget. Or share the responsibility of the holidays with others by suggesting a pot-luck meal.

 

Decide on what (or who) is truly important to you this season and do your best to let go of others’ expectations or the obligations you feel toward others. Release stress by letting go of unrealistic expectations and what isn’t important to you. The true meaning of the holidays is feeling joyful and sharing that joy with those you love.

 

Yuletide Greetings and Joy to All!

 

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Wheel of Life Wellness

Ottawa, ON

 

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christie at wheeloflifewellness dot ca