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.
I am so excited to have guest bloggers Lily and Rachel from www.thedaisylifeblog.com here to share their thoughts and tips on failing forward. These Toronto based bloggers focus on wellness, self-care, and positivity (so CLEARLY we connected immediately thanks to Instagram). Their blog also includes posts about finance, career, and relationships. Their goal is to make the world a brighter place, one blog post at a time.
You will fail. Read that again because the reality is at some point in life, you will fail. This failure may be because you didn’t put in enough effort or because you gave up too soon or it may even be due to variables that we out of your control. Regardless of the reason why, the result remains the same: you failed.
I know you’re probably thinking right now that this post is sounding a little harsh and not really a typical Daisy Life post. But that’s the problem. You see failure as a bad thing. I never once said failure was bad. Read the first paragraph again. See? All I said is that you failed. We’ve been taught to see failure as a negative thing. Think way back to elementary school spelling quizzes. Failure meant extra practice and no one wants extra spelling homework.
Are all failures good? Probably not. But is anything ever truly totally good or totally bad for you? The point is, we need to change our thinking. Yes, failure sucks in the moment. Yes, you are entitled to your feelings of frustration, anger, and defeat. But you also have the power to fail forward.
To fail forward means to view failure as an opportunity to identify what went wrong and do better next times. To fail forward means you see failure as a stepping stone to future success rather than a permanent road block standing in the way. Here are four simple steps to help you fail forward:
Identify what went wrong
Did you skip all of your workouts this week? Did you have that piece of cake even though you’re trying to limit refined carbs? Did you not get chosen for that promotion at work? Whatever happened, ask yourself why? Again, sometimes the reason may be beyond your control. And sometimes it may seem as if there is no reason at all. If this is the case, revisit the failure a few weeks from now and see if you can figure it out. Failure can be emotionally taxing and sometimes we need time and space away from the event to allow us the necessary distance to critically analyze the failure.
Develop an action plan for the future
Okay, great. You’ve identified what went wrong. Now, how are you going to use this knowledge to identify what went wrong to make sure the same failure does not happen again. Try to use if/then statements to help you see the cause and effect.
Here are some examples of if/then statements from our aforementioned scenarios:
If I am too busy to do my regular workout, then I will do a shorter, modified workout that I will have time for.
If I really want that piece of cake then I will ask someone to split it with me so that I don’t have to eat the whole thing.
If I ask my boss for feedback on my interview then I can use that feedback to identify my areas of growth and prepare myself to interview for the next position.
Be realistic about your goals
Awesome! You’ve developed an action plan! Now you’re ready to failure forward right? Well, almost. Take a second to re-evaluate your goals. Are they realistic or are they too harsh? Yes, it is important to be disciplined, but it is even more important to set attainable goals so that you can actually achieve success. Take a look at the goals we’ve made, they are all achievable and thus we are setting ourselves up for success.
Be thankful for the failure
Look at you! You’ve taken a failure and figured out a way to fail forward. Pretty amazing right? But have you truly failed forward? You will know that you are failing forward when you are actually thankful for the failure you experienced because it is an opportunity to learn and grow.
Remember, failure is inevitable. We all fail at some point so you might as well fail forward!
When was the last time you chose to fail forward?
If I’ve learned anything in recent years is that more people experience stress and anxiety than almost any other condition. The fast pace of our daily lives, and the pressure of our jobs and families can add up over time. I’ve spent a lot of time learning different ways to relieve my stress and anxiety. Many of these seem simple but all new habits take time to implement so give yourself a break, and try out one or two of these daily hacks for stress relief.
Keep cell phones out of the bedroom– I know this one is so hard!!! I am a total hypocrite for even writing this because I fall back into this habit all the time. I like to fall asleep to Gilmore Girls what can I say! It really does make a difference to take your phones out of the bedroom for many reasons. For one, blue light from screens has been known to disrupt melatonin in the brain which helps us wind down for sleep. This causes us to not only lose sleep but also lose quality sleep because our brains remain more active even when we are sleeping. They do make glasses that block blue light from screens like these (which I totally have by the way cuz I’m cool like that) that are supposed to help. I can honestly say that I have a harder time waking up in the morning after nights when I use my phone before falling asleep- and since Instagram stories became a thing it’s been a major problem in my life.
Exercise or Yoga– One word…Endorphins!!!! Movement releases stress-relieving hormones, duh. This is not breaking news people. But here’s where you can take it to the next level. Instead of just pushing through your workout, try turning down the volume on the workout video or stop watching f*cking CNN at the gym and listen to a motivational or personal development podcast while you workout. I seriously push myself so much harder when listening to this type of stuff. I get a better workout, and my mind gets a boost too!
Establish morning and evening routines– Stress relief is often cumulative. When you do stress reliving activities on a regular basis you experience far less stress than if you only engaged in stress relief when you were really stressed out. Therefore, establishing a regular morning and evening routine that you do every day will help maintain your happy relaxed state over the long term. A typical morning routine may include exercise, yoga, meditation/prayer, journaling, gratitude, and a quiet meal free of distractions.
Sleep Hygiene– Sleep hygiene refers to how well you take care of yourself and your environment in preparation for optimal sleep. Some of the fundamentals of sleep hygiene include a dark space and limiting noises and light from phones, tv’s, and digital alarm clocks. Maintaining an environment that promotes optimal sleep is key in sleep hygiene. Also very important are how we treat our bodies before bed. That includes limiting alcohol (oops, sipping wine as I write this no joke), caffeine, sugar, and any other stimulants several hours before bedtime, as well as turning off all screens at least an hour before turning in.
Guided Meditation or Deep Breathing- Yes I am a yoga instructor. Yes I tell people all the time how important the breath is. Does it ever get old? HELL to the NO! Breathing is LITERALLY something you do every second of your life, yet so many of us actually breathe wrong. Yes you read that correctly. There’s a good chance you’re breathing wrong right now. No need to freak out though! Guided meditations are everywhere these days, and most of the time you can find great ones for free on youtube and spotify.
I have the privilege of calling this wellness leader my friend. Erica Velasquez is the creator of Yoga in the Vines- my favorite summer tradition, and founder of Evolve East– a wellness based business in the Hamptons, specializing in yoga, meditation, and Thai massage. We met when she was working at Wolffer Estate Vineyard (home to my favorite rosé of all time) and we quickly realized we both had a passion for wellness. So there is something good that can come out of hanging out at the winery all the time!!
I interviewed Erica for Bloom & Spark because I felt that her mission and work are incredibly aligned with the values of this blog. I’m also super excited about sharing the inspiring work that women in the wellness field are doing. I feel very lucky to know so many phenomenal women and want to support and honor their beautiful work.
How did you get started in yoga and wellness?
I’ve always loved to dance and move. I remember looking into a yoga studio window as a teenager and seeing students all in headstand. I remember thinking what in the world are those people doing?!!! I have to learn more.
Tell me about the business you run and how you are helping women with their wellness?
My business is Yoga in the Vines which is an outdoor yoga studio based at Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack. I also own Evolveast which offers services such as retreats, private yoga and health related investments. I am on a mission to provide women (and men) the opportunity to reap the health benefits of spending time in nature. I believe time spent outdoors can heal, cure and rejuvenate a person. Taking a time out from technology, cellphones and computers is a must for wellness.
What are your favorite resources (books, industry leaders, podcasts) for living a healthy and happy lifestyle?
My favorite resources for living a healthy and happy lifestyle are the yoga teachers and leaders of the Hamptons. I am so thankful we are surrounded by a community full of the very best instructors.
What are your favorite types of yoga/movement and why?
Favorite type of yoga is a strong vinyasa class with restorative poses towards the end of class. It allows me to get my heart to beat, release stress and enjoy the art of relaxation.
What are the biggest rewards in the work you do?
The thank you’s from the students and teachers at Yoga in the Vines at Wolffer. I feel like I am serving my community. I enjoy seeing everyone smile after class. I enjoy seeing people gaze at the Vineyard my cousin Richie and his crew work so hard on. I’m so proud of this program and all the supporters.
What do you tell people who want to feel better in mind and body but don’t know where to start?
The hardest part is getting started. Just start. Try something new. Have fun with it. Try a guided meditation. Try a gentle or beginner yoga class and work your way up to something more challenging. Visit a local studio or travel to a studio you have never been to before. Experience a live class in person with a group and have fun! Explore new teachers.
Take me through your perfect Hamptons day!
Truth Training East Hampton with Natalia Poggi. Enjoy making breakfast for my boyfriend and I; smoothie and eggs please! Then Yoga in the Vines at Wolffer, followed by a boat ride out of waterfront marina around Sag Harbor. Enjoy some lunch at home on my porch sitting in the sunshine. A big yummy salad please! Take walk around Sag Harbor Village then have dinner at Sen sushi in Sag Harbor. Finally watch sunset at Long Beach with my wonderful boyfriend Chris and go to sleep! I’ll admit it. I love early bedtime !!!!
What do you think are the keys to living a balanced lifestyle?
A good night sleep! Turn off the lights, the computers, the phones, everything at least 1 hour before bed. Use lavender room spray from the Lavender Farm on the North Fork. Put on cozy pajamas. Read an inspirational book before bed. Say what your thankful for and enjoy a good night sleep. Wake up early and smile.