I don’t know about you, but I love the seasons; well NOW I do. I used to go into fall and winter kicking and screaming, because the joy and warmth of summer was gone, and all there was to look forward to was long months of cold, dead, nothingness.
(cue the emo music) 😔
BUT I started to tune into my natural inclination to slow down and go inward this time of year. I let myself retreat without feeling like a total waste of life. Okay I couldn’t completely hibernate, because you know jobs and stuff. However, I leaned into taking some stuff off my plate, staying in more, journaling, dreaming, taking more bubble baths.
It was there I learned a great lesson: When I stoped resisting and leaned into what my natural instinct was telling me to do, I learned that there is actually a productive purpose in slowing down.
Yes, my friends, Winter actually has a purpose! I’ll get to that in a minute.
From there I began to tune into the energy of all seasons, so that I may better align my self-care with what I needed during a specific time of year. This is when I first created the Seasonal Self-Care Guides.
Everything has a cycle; the seasons, the moon, our bodies, and our lives as a whole.
Let me illustrate.
Everything has its Winter; a period of no growth, dormancy, where it feels like things are going nowhere, and we may feel even a bit depressed. Following periods of Winter we have our Spring, where we finally feel like we’re coming out of the darkness, and begin to take small actions with intention to create new growth in our lives. Then we experience the fruits of planting those seeds and we get results. This is our Summer. Where we are energized from the rest we took in our Winter, and reap the benefits of the seeds we planted in our Spring. Naturally following any arch of expansion is the turn downward, finishing projects, having chapters come to a close, and preparing to take a rest. This is our Fall.
Without each cycle the next one wouldn’t be able to follow, and something would get stuck.
Now nature is smart. It doesn’t get stuck. Nature always spends the right amount of time in each phase, in preparation for the next, without rushing things along. *Can you imagine mother nature being like “Come on Winter, WON’T YOU JUST END ALREADY, WTF!?”*
So when we are out of tune with the phases playing out in our own lives, and trying to be perfect and productive 100% of the time, we may start to feel a bit stuck, or just burnt out AF.
I see these cycles play out with the phases of the moon. If you follow lunar rituals you know that we set release things that are no longer serving us and set intentions for growth on the new moon, watch them slowly come to fruition as we take intuitive action, finally experiencing the manifestation and high energy during the full moon, which winds down again as we approach the next new moon.
Our bodies play out this same cycle. When we ladies have our period we kinda want to hide away from the world and just be alone. You tune inward, and experience the darker aspects of yourself, which is actually a good thing because it allows your shadows to be exposed so they can be healed and make room for the new things that we are cultivating in our lives. Following that, the cycles of our hormones take us into a phase of high energy, creation, and inspiration during ovulation, and then back down again, in preparation for the next cycle.
Lastly, the grand arc of our lives mimic these cycles. Childhood and adolescence are like our Spring, where we are learning, growing into ourselves, and planting the seeds for who we will become. Adulthood is our Summer, where we are out in the world making things happen, doing the jobs, raising the kids, always going. Later adulthood imitates the energy of Fall, where we begin to wind down, sell the house, retire, take afternoon naps with golf on in the background. Then finally the elderly years are like Winter. No expansive growth is taking place, and things are beginning to shut down. I don’t mean to make it sad because there’s something so beautiful in the energy of being still and slow, preparing for the next phase, whatever that will be. And though we don’t know for sure what comes next, by looking at every cycle in nature there’s always rebirth after death. I find comfort in that, and use it almost as evidence that we don’t just evaporate when we die.
When I realized that not only do all these aspects of our lives have a beautiful synchronicity to them, mirroring each other, but they can also be USED TO OUR BENEFIT!
Instead of living this linear existence, where every day we are expected to feel, think, and perform exactly the same way, what if we used the downward cycles to rest up, look at our lives, and clear out what’s not serving us? That way we could harness the energy already present in the earth and in our bodies to ride the upward cycles toward greater health, clarity, abundance, and productivity?
Would you like to learn about how the cycles of nature impact your performance, and how you can use them to your benefit to get more satisfaction and peace in all aspects of your life?
I’ll be doing a live training on this topic on December 21st 2017, so bring your cozy slippers and a pen, because you don’t want to go into the new year without this information. It has changed my life! Click here to get access to the FREE live training.
Getting enough sleep is important, but you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of getting QUALITY sleep. It’s not just the quantity, but the quality of the hours you’re sleeping each night that can make the difference in your energy and stamina the next day. With good sleep hygiene, you can improve the quality of your sleep. Sleeping better ensures that you get the restorative rest you need to perform your best each day.
Sleep hygiene means practicing good sleep habits. Important elements include maintaining a comfortable temperature, darkness and quiet in your bedroom, and comfortable bedding. You should go to bed at the same time each night, and avoid screen time, caffeine, and late naps. Sleep hygiene can also include incorporating relaxing exercises into your pre-bedtime routine, such as yoga and meditation.
Just like how you take care of your personal hygiene by brushing your teeth, your sleep hygiene should become a non-negotihtble part of your routine.
Yoga and Sleep
Practicing yoga poses an help you calm your mind and body. This makes it easier to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep through the night. You can practice some yoga poses in bed including:
- Legs up the wall
- Forward bend
- Happy baby pose
- Child’s pose
- Corpse pose
- Reclining Goddess pose
When you practice yoga in bed it’s a good idea to move pillows and comforters to that you have a large flat surface. You hold choose a mattress with a good support core so you’ll have a comfortable sleeping environment as well as a good place to stretch and do seated poses.
Meditation and Sleep
Meditation can be helpful for sleep, practiced with or without yoga. It can relieve stress, and can calm your mind so you can get to sleep quickly and experience restful, restorative sleep.
Meditation has been proven to:
- Reduce fatigue
- Diminish Anxiety and depression
- Rewire Brains
- Repair genes
Meditation can help you get good quality sleep by triggering a relaxation response, and it can hep yo if you’re short on sleep. it shifts your focus, helping you focus on the preset moment.
We can practice meditation for better sleep and daytime focus with:
- Progressive muscle relaxation
- mindful breathing
- counting meditation
- guided meditation
How You Can Improve Sleep Hygiene for Better Sleep
Improving your sleep habits can improve your sleep. Get better sleep by following thee sleep hygiene tips:
Maintain a comfortable temperature. Your bedroom shouldn’t be too hot or too cold. Most people tend to sleep best in a cool room. Make sure your mattress, bedding, and pajamas are breathable and appropriate for the season.
Keep your bedroom dark. Bright lights can interfere with your circadian rhythm, telling your brain it’s time to wake up even when you’re trying to go to sleep. Consider blackout curtains if your bedroom isn’t dark enough.
Keep your bedroom quiet. Loud noises can keep you up or jar you awake. Limit nighttime noise and consider using a white noise machine if you’re bothered by noises at night.
Invest in comfortable bedding. The right mattress can help you stay comfortable at night, aligning your spine and offering the support you need for restorative sleep.
Limit screen time before bed. Just as bright lights can interfere with your brain’s sleep signals, screen time can be confusing as well. Avoid using screens in the hour (or more) before bed to avoid sending your brain a signal that it’s daytime and time to stay awake.
Avoid large meals, caffeine, and alcohol before bed. Consuming these items can interfere with sleep quality, or make it difficult to fall asleep.
Go to bed at the same time each night. Setting a consistent sleep time can train your brain and body to get sleepy at a regular time. This will make it easier to drift off to sleep each night.
Nap wisely. Avoid naps late in the day, or napping for too long, as they can interfere with sleeping well at night.
Use your bed as a dedicated place for sleep and rest. Your bed should only be used for sleep, sex, and restful activities, such as yoga and meditation. Avoid working, eating, and other activities in bed.
This post was graciously submitted to Bloom & Spark by Sara Westgreen. Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.
‘Tis the season of plaid, apple picking, and pumpkin flavored everything! All the basic bitches are out in their scarves, uggs, and Starbucks pumpkin spice lattes, even if it’s still warm and sunny. Personally, I never jumped on the pumpkin spice latte band wagon. If you’ve ever googled in the ingredients you might know what I am talking about. The Food Babe, one of my favorite bloggers, was one of the first people to call out the health and safety of the ingredients used to make this addicting and trendy drink. I want to share this great infographic she made that shows you really what is in that drink. I won’t go into all of that here, but as someone who prefers to be in control of her health, this is something I feel very strongly about.
So Where Can You Get a Healthy Pumpkin Spice Latte?
Make make own version of course! And on that note, my fierce health warrior sister, you can make your own healthier versions of ANYTHING. I give you permission to experiment. Just try things out, and make shit up in the kitchen. Don’t worry about failure. If there’s one thing I can give you here (besides this recipe) it’s the power to know that you can do this too.
I used ingredients I already had in my house to come up with my own healthier version of the pumpkin spice late. I have to say I kinda like it!!! I’m not a coffee person but this is light and creamy, with just the right amount of spice and sweetness. I’m going to keep this simple and sweet, just like this recipe.
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 1.4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2-1 tsp pumpkin pie spice.
- 1/2 cup black coffee
- *Optional* Honey or stevia to taste
- Whisk or blend: coconut milk, cinnamon, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice so the mixture is even and a little frothy
- Heat on a stove over medium heat to a simmer.
- Pour in 3/4 cup of black coffee
- Add any additional sweetener you desire.
- *Optional* To make it extra frothy use a whisk or put it back in the blender for a few seconds.
Serve or drink in your favorite Starbucks cup and body will know the difference!
P.S. Please feel free to use this recipe as a place to start, then jazz it up or modify it any way you want. Use almond milk, or real milk if that’s your jam. Throw in some pumpkin puree- I bet that would be SOOO good. Make it your own!