31 Days of Health. Day 12: Meditate

Welcome to Day 12!!! Today is a good one. Oh, who am I kidding? They’re all good!!

Meditation is training for your brain just as lifting weights is training for your body. And this training for your brain is not just a teaching method for remaining calm, it causes chemical reactions throughout your body that place you in a better physical state.

Meditating can reduce stress, thereby keeping stress-related hormones in check. Your body responds to stress in a way that is meant to provide us physical balance. Stress sets off an inflammatory response that raises adrenaline and cortisol, two stress-related hormones. In a fight-or-flight scenario, adrenaline gets your heart pumping to increase blood flow throughout your body, and cortisol raises your blood sugars…because who knows when you’ll get your next meal. These raised blood sugars are meant to provide you with the energy, strength, and mental stamina to get you through a crisis.

And your body can’t tell whether you are fighting a bear, or worried about finishing a project for work on time, so this inflammatory response is there to protect you. Cortisol, however, will shut down other processes that are not needed during a period of stress, affecting the reproductive, immune and digestive systems. This can result in irregular cycles for women, increased illness, reduced metabolism and constipation or diarrhea. Inflammation throughout the body can also result in cognitive decline resulting in poor concentration or memory.

As I have researched stress, I have found it is often at the heart of most preventable, chronic diseases including obesity, depression, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart attack and stroke.

Find time during your day to include meditation. It is often ideal right at the beginning of the morning when it is quiet and the frequency of distractions is low. As with most new things, meditating for the first time is often difficult, but with practice, you improve.

Meditation is not always sitting in one place with your eyes closed and your index fingers and thumbs touching together in a mudra (pronounced “moo-dra”). Some forms of meditation can include focusing on a candle flame, walking, yoga, tai chi, creating artwork, playing an instrument or listening to music. To put it simply, meditation is being fully submerged in the moment without focus on outside stimuli.

Here is a common form of meditation you may incorporate into your morning routine:

  1. Sit upright. You may do this on a pillow on the floor, or on the couch or in a chair.
  2. Close your eyes or focus on one single point in the room.
  3. Take a deep breath in through your nose from your belly, for a slow count of four.
  4. Hold your breath for a slow count of four.
  5. Exhale through your nose or mouth for a slow count of eight.

You can repeat this breathing exercise as many times as you like. If you have an untamed go-big-or-go-home mindset like mine, four times is enough. Do practice this exercise daily, however. With time, you will begin to reap the benefits of this beautiful, self-care activity.

With love,
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 6: Practice Gratitude

Today, I want you to practice gratitude. This is a special action to take during these 31 Days of Health because it is your secret weapon to arm you against struggles that are guaranteed to stand in your way. When you feel grateful for the things you have, you begin to recognize that you actually have quite a bit, and that can bring fulfillment. During a difficult time, it is difficult to feel hopeless when using this tool.

Try it now. Just think of a couple people, things, or experiences that you can thank for being part of your life. There is absolutely no wrong answer! Be grateful for everything, big or small: that you can hear, see, taste, touch or smell; that you have clean water, a loved one’s company, a spoon to eat soup with, or that really tough experience that made you stronger. You will find that with daily practice, you discover more and more that you can appreciate. And the more you practice appreciation, the more successful you will be in anything you do.

I like to practice gratitude first thing in the morning. I jot down just two things. It may not seem like a lot, but each day is something different, and it causes me to give a lot more thought to those two things than if I was trying to come up with a list of everything at one time. I have to give credit to Dean Graziosi for this method. In his Better Life Challenge, he suggests writing down just two things to be grateful for. I LOVED that he gave a number to this because it really tames the go-big-or-go-home mindset. It is easy to do, and it blossoms into something magical!

I’m grateful you’re here,
Alyssa

31 Days of Health. Day 1: Establish a Morning Routine

Happy New Year!!

Welcome to the first day of 31 Days of Health, where each day throughout January, I will provide you with actions to implement into your daily life to assist you in achieving a healthy lifestyle.  I am so excited to roll out 2019 with a month full of healthy suggestions for you!!! My hope is that you will fall in love with at least ONE action that will enrich the quality of your life.

I can’t think of a better way to kick off Day One than with Establishing a Morning Routine. Starting the day focused on yourself is the cornerstone of healthy success. This is a guaranteed chunk of time when you can focus entirely on yourself with minimal distractions! It isn’t always easy, but it comes with great benefits: reduced overall stress, and increased happiness, health and success.

Rather than hitting the snooze ten times before rolling out of bed at the last minute to rush out the door, try this instead: head up to bed at least six hours before your alarm, and keep your phone a distance from where you sleep. This will force you to actually get out of bed at the time of your alarm. And, it will even encourage you to go to sleep at night since you won’t be tempted to indulge in low priority distractions! At the time of your alarm, in addition to getting out of bed, you may even try turning on some lights.

If you got at least six hours of sleep, you should be able to do this. With seven or eight hours, you will have a much easier time and after a few minutes, you should feel awake. Get excited to live today!! For an extra challenge, set your alarm a half hour to an hour earlier than normal.

Include any one of these items in your new morning routine:

*Have a glass of water as you sit in a comfortable place*
*Read something you are interested in*
*Journal some productive intentions for the day, or, given the timing: the year*
*Think of 3 things you are grateful for*
*Listen to something inspiring, or funny*
*Exercise*
*Remind yourself you’re awesome, even if you don’t believe it*

Today is your easiest challenge, because it is New Year’s Day and starting this on NYE would have been ignorant! It is okay to sleep in on some days, and January 1 is one of those exceptions. In preparation for your new morning routine tomorrow, spend today relaxed. Reflect on the previous year, as well as what your intentions include for 2019…dream a little.

So, make sure you get to bed nice and early tonight, and I’ll see you tomorrow bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, with another suggestion to add on!

Alyssa

PS – do this on weekends too? Oh Yeah!!!