Overcoming Obstacles to Happiness

Having high and often unrealistic expectations of yourself is a common human experience, and is something that can be difficult to overcome. Placing this level of expectation upon yourself is especially easily done when you are seeking genuine happiness and positivity. Continue reading Overcoming Obstacles to Happiness

Yoga Flow at Dusk

Practicing yoga in the evening is a fantastic way to reset your stress levels and invite some peace and relaxation into your mind.

Any of us may have a bad day for any number of reasons and it is important to accept that this is going to happen from time to time. The important thing is how you choose to deal with this negativity, and whether you allow it to follow you into the next day.

Ending each day by hitting the yoga mat is an incredible way to release negativity. Doing so can set you up for a good night’s sleep followed by a peaceful and positive morning.

Yoga for Relaxation

When you engage in a regular yoga practice you are likely to notice that your stress levels decrease, anxiety is experienced less frequently (or to a lesser degree) and also that you generally feel more at peace during your days. But, why is this?

As you flow through a yoga session you are going to naturally clear your mind of worries and concerns as you concentrate on the activity at hand. Also, as you move through the poses, you will be encouraging the flow of blood around your body and releasing tension from the muscles.

The deliberate and conscious way in which you breathe whilst practicing yoga is key to the relaxation benefits that you will enjoy! So, be sure to pay attention to your breath, especially during the moments when you are holding each pose.

Meditation

A normal yoga session will often involve periods of meditation, which has been shown to seriously aid stress release and support a positive frame of mind. When you make time to meditate daily – even for a short amount of time – then you are giving yourself permission to solely focus on yourself and your emotions. This is an incredibly powerful thing to do and can help you to connect to yourself.

The following video demonstrates a sequence I created to guide you through a 30 minute daily flow. You can really practice this at any time of the day, but I believe it is especially useful in the evenings! If you enjoy this video then be sure to head over to my YouTube channel for more!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we move towards the end of 2017!

Self-Care Sunday – Managing Stress

As I shared with you last week, self-care is one of my favourite things to talk about AND is also something that I consistently work to make a part of my own life. In fact, I’m so sure about the power of self-care that it’s the focus of my upcoming book – Recharge: A Year of Self-Care to Focus on You.

In order to celebrate the launch of my book I am going to be sharing one topic from the book every Sunday for 12 weeks. This is something that I got started with two weeks ago, and you may have caught the first video on YouTube!

Last week as part of my Self-Care Sunday series I was talking about Managing Stress.

Managing your stress levels is an imperative part of living a happy and healthy life. When you let stress get the better of you then your health can suffer the knock on effect and your happiness will also be harder to maintain. You may find that your ability to focus and concentrate is impeded, and that your relationships with other people become more difficult to manage. It is also normal that your anxiety levels will increase!

An important part of overcoming your stress is to create the positive mindset that you want for yourself. So, instead of telling yourself and everyone else that you are stressed out, try to say that you are powering through and that you are getting on top of all that you need to do!

In the following video I share some of my insights into living a stress-free life and also talk you through a super simple breathing technique that you can do to combat present moment stress! You can do this anytime, anywhere AND nobody around you even needs to know that you are doing it! This means that you can bring back some calm into your mind and into your day regardless of the situation that you are currently in.

I have put together a downloadable PDF for you to look at alongside this video, and you can click here to enter your email address and receive this download!

Also, if you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we move towards the end of 2017!

Alternatives to Meditation

The benefits of regular meditation are seriously not to be overlooked! It can help to combat stress, soothe anxieties and aid your mind in the process of dealing with emotions and past experiences – to name just a few great benefits. But it is true to say that traditional meditation isn’t everyone’s cup of tea…

If you find it hard to partake in meditation then there is no reason that you need to miss out on the benefits of this mood enhancing activity. Maybe you find it difficult to sit still for extended periods of time, or perhaps you struggle to create or find an environment that is conducive to this peaceful practice.

The key to enjoying the benefits of meditation, without necessarily engaging in a seated, eyes closed meditative practice, is to quieten your mind, focus on your breathing and simplify your thought process. This is something that you can do absolutely everywhere, and in any moment – you do not need to put time aside to spend a few moments doing these things.

Incorporating basic meditation concepts into your day is an easy way to enjoy the benefits without engaging in the actual practice. For example, when you are walking to work, take a few minutes to clear your mind, breathe deeply in and out, and bring your focus to concentrate solely on your breathing. As thoughts about your day try to invade this process, acknowledge them and then release them from your mind to bring your attention back to your breathing. Doing this each morning before you reach the office can help you to start your day with a relaxed and peaceful mindset.

Paying attention to your breathing throughout your day helps to settle the mind similarly to how meditation would. Breathing deeply from the very bottom of your lungs is the way to enjoy this – in through your nose and then out through your mouth. Try to keep your shoulders loose and do not let any tension build up in any part of your body while you are doing this. This is something that you can do regularly during your day for between two and ten minutes each time. You will soon notice that you are more prone to breathe in a deep way naturally, thereby better enabling your mind to tackle anxiety and keep stress at bay!

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Yoga and Mental Health

It is an unfortunate fact that the importance of your physical health is often placed above your mental health. This is a damaging attitude that is sadly quite prevalent in our society today! Taking the time to care for yourself in emotional and spiritual ways can often bring more benefits to your life then that gym session that you always prioritise!

The great thing about practicing yoga is that doing so can boost both your physical and mental health, strengthening the body whilst it also soothes the mind. With a regular yoga practice, especially one that incorporates aspects of meditation, you will soon notice that you are better equipped to heal yourself emotionally and to enhance your self-esteem and confidence.

Alleviating Anxiety

One of the most exciting ways that yoga can benefit your mental health is by helping to alleviate anxiety. When you practice yoga regularly you will notice that you are in a more relaxed state during your day to day activities. This will make you less prone to anxiety, and will also enable you to deal with it better in the moments when it does present itself. This is largely concerned with the breathing techniques that you will engage with during each yoga session.

Love Yourself

Your relationship with yourself is the most important relationship you will ever be a part of. When you embrace yoga as a regular feature in your life, you will naturally pay greater attention to this relationship, and begin to address any issues that may be present. As yoga goes hand in hand with healthy eating and additional exercise and relaxation practices, you will also naturally begin to place a greater emphasis on treating your body with more love and respect.

Become Aware of Yourself

During a relaxing yoga practice you will be guided through the process of becoming more aware of your physical presence. This can quickly help you to recognise areas of tension where energy may be blocked in your body. Only when you are aware of this can you truly work to resolve it and allow the flow of energy through your body to improve. As well as benefiting your emotional well-being, this can also help your body to function better, thereby improving your physical health.

This month on my wellness for women community website we are talking about the best ways to avert anxiety! You can click here to join us now and start on your journey to a happier, healthier version of yourself!

Simple Self-Care

We all know that our own self-care and wellness should be at the top of our priority list. However, how often is this actually the case? Many of us seem to believe that we have to seriously set time aside from our normal daily routine to embrace wellness practices – but this is simply not true!

It actually takes minimal effort to incorporate certain self-care activities into your schedule, and they will soon become second nature – requiring no forethought at all! When you reach this point you will notice that you are more likely to feel relaxed and focused during your days.

Breathing

Breathing is seriously under-rated as a tool for stress relief and can be used anywhere at any time to rebalance your thoughts and your emotions. A simple technique to start is to stop whatever it is that you are doing, close your eyes and begin breathing deeply and slowly. Count each breath in and try not to allow any thoughts, anxieties or feelings to enter your mind. At this moment, counting your breaths is the only thing that you need to concern yourself with and everything else can take a back seat. Try to reach at least 20 breaths each time you do this, and if you have the time then go on for longer! Even if you do not feel particularly stressed out then I suggest you do this several times a day.

Detox Digitally

You are probably already aware of how much stress your digital devices cause you. Constantly checking messages and scrolling through your various social media feeds can not only be quite time consuming, but also emotionally draining. If it’s not possible for you to go the day without your smart phone, then at least try to have extended periods away from it. Make sure you always turn it off before bedtime and do not take it to bed with you!

Ritual Teatime

Having a time set aside for drinking herbal tea and reflecting on your day is a great way to unwind and care for yourself in the evening. You can use this time to enjoy your favourite brew whilst you process the events of the day just passed. Turning this into a mini ceremony by yourself helps your mind to appreciate the importance of this time spent alone caring for yourself.

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey as we keep moving through 2017!

How to Have a Calm Christmas

Christmas can be a particularly chaotic and stressful time of year for many people. With families to prepare gifts and meals for, social engagements to attend, plus the usual work and life commitments that still have to be met, the pressures can soon add up. The added duties that many of us take on at this time of year can sometimes make the festivities seem more of a burden than a pleasure – and this is the opposite of what our Christmas celebrations should be about!

December is a wonderful time to come together with your friends and family and shouldn’t be a source of stress for anyone! If you are beginning to lose sight of that already this year then there are a few things you can do to bring the enjoyment back and have a peaceful and happy Christmas!

First of all, do not over-exert yourself. It is always nice to be invited to parties and Christmas dinners, however you are not obliged to go to all of them if you simply don’t have the time or energy. With so much to do at this time of year, nobody is going to be offended if you politely decline an invitation.

Secondly, adequately planning ahead for any get-togethers that you may be organising or contributing to will help to alleviate any last minute panic. If you do not have the time to cook then it’s of course completely fine to buy pre-made food for your guests. Alternatively, you can go to a restaurant or cafe, which will also help you to avoid any clean-up at home.

Making the time to care for yourself at this time of year is especially important if you know that you are prone to stress and anxiety. It may be extra hard to find the time to check in with yourself but it is important that you do so in order to stay on top of your feelings. Aim to include at least ten minutes of meditation and deep breathing once a day in a quiet and solitary space.

If you do not have many people to share the festive season with, or many events to attend, then Christmas can still become quite stressful. Many people feel as though there is an expectation of what Christmas should be like, and if your experience doesn’t meet this expectation then your mood may suffer as a result. If this sounds like you, then it is extra important to care for yourself and also to reach out to anybody that you do feel you are close to. Make an extra effort to eat well, exercise often and to keep your mind occupied throughout the day with positivity. Utilising positive affirmations can be particularly effective here as you work to affirm your happiness, confidence and sense of self!

If you have seen my new wellness for women membership site – Truly Julie – then you will know that I am on a mission to inspire and motivate women to become healthier and happier – and I would love it if you would join me on this journey this Christmas!

Simple Suggestions to Beat Stress

Stress is something that I talk about quite regularly on my blog as I feel it is such an important thing to avoid if we are to maintain optimum health! The statistics as to how many people are seriously stressed out are pretty shocking, with a recent survey suggesting that as much as 80% of America is experiencing stress of some sort! Experts will now tell you that stress, especially stress caused by the workplace, is as bad for your health as second hand smoke is!

The detrimental effect that stress has on your long term mental health is quite serious but it can also extend to your physical health. The most common mental impacts are depression and anxiety whereas common physical complaints associated with stress include heart disease, digestive trouble and autoimmune problems.

If stress is something that you are all too familiar with then the idea of eradicating it or lessening its impact might sound absurd to you. However, before you resign yourself to this way of life forever, check out my following tips for finding some relief!

First of all, create a very practical yet reasonable to-do list for yourself. This should consist of just main tasks that you aim to achieve in the next few weeks. Don’t worry yourself more with long term plans that you want to work towards and similarly don’t concern yourself with the small things that don’t really matter. At the end of every day, take a moment to relax and consider the points on your list. If you find that they are no longer relevant then strike them off as not all of your plans need to be met! Also, of course, if you have achieved any tasks during the day then cross them off also. Try to keep the same list, with any additions, for a few weeks so that you can look back over time and see all that you have accomplished.

Secondly, the way you start your morning sets the tone for the rest of the day. So instead of setting your alarm to get you up right before you have to be at work, set it a little earlier and give yourself time to enter the day slowly. As soon as you start to feel awake, stretch your arms and legs and think of three things that you are grateful for. This will help you to get going on a positive note and will also encourage you to show gratitude for those things during the day!

Mindful breathing is a great way to bring some focus back to your day and can be done in any place for any amount of time! When you start to feel the stress seeping in, take yourself to a quiet spot and do some deep breathing exercises with your eyes closed. Allow the calm to regain control and then attempt to continue with your day. If you find that this wasn’t enough to clear your mind then try taking a short walk outside away from other people.

Finally, a huge point of stress in the modern day world is the constant bombardment of technology and social media. If one of the first things you do in the morning is check your Facebook or Twitter feed then you are more than likely to see a scrolling list of other people’s ambitions and achievements. Looking at pictures of your friend’s babies and posts about their job promotions might be a great experience when you are in the right mood but it can also cause feelings of inadequacy to appear. Try to limit your social media use and focus on your own life away from the computer!

How to Get a Good Nights Sleep

We all know that getting between seven and eight  hours of uninterrupted sleep every night is best for optimum health but we also know that it isn’t always easy! For some people getting this much sleep might sound like a luxury as opposed to a necessity but it is essential if you want to maintain optimum health and look and feel your best. If you are one of these people who understands the importance of sleep but does not always manage an adequate amount then the following tips could help you to remedy the problem.

The first thing you should do is turn your bedroom, or at least your sleeping area, into a sanctuary. Make sure it is always clean, comfortable and free of distractions. It is also a good idea to make sure that any outside light is blocked and also that the room is neither too hot nor too cold.

Setting yourself a bedtime might be an amusing concept and something that you haven’t been subject to since childhood but it can really help to organise your sleep. If you know that you have to be up for work at 6 a.m then make sure you are on your way to bed at 21:30. This gives you plenty of time to wind down, get comfortable and fall into an eight hour sleep.

Your actions prior to bedtime can also determine if you get a good sleep or not. Most importantly, do not consume any alcohol, refined sugar or caffeine in the hours before you go to bed. Even if it does not keep you awake to begin with, it is likely to cause you to wake in the early hours. Choosing herbal tea or a warm plant-based milk drink will help relax your body and ease you into sleep. You might also find that a warm bath with lavender oil will also help to relax you.

Meditation and mindful breathing are the perfect pre-bedtime activity. Your sleep sanctuary can also become your space for meditation. You can even try meditating lying down in bed in order to wind down from your day and eradicate any negative thoughts. You simply have to lie back, breathe through your nose and concentrate on your breathing while you imagine all negativity and stress leaving your body. Do this for between five and ten minutes and you will find that your mind is much clearer as you fall asleep.

Once you are sleeping properly you will quickly notice that your energy levels increase, your mind is more balanced and you may also find that your weight is more stable. You will soon adjust to your new routine and this positivity will follow you into other areas of your life!

How to Make the Most of Meditation

In my previous blog post, How to Make Time for Meditation, I discussed the best ways to begin on your journey of meditation and how to avoid some of the common excuses people find to avoid meditation. If you followed my advice and are now incorporating this relaxing practice into your everyday life then congratulations! I am absolutely positive that you will have already begun to experience the many benefits of doing so. Even though getting started is usually the hardest part, it can also be tricky to continue with your practice, especially when our stressful modern day lives get in the way.

To help you continue to get the most out of your meditation time, I have compiled the following tips! These are things that I always keep in mind when I am meditating and find that they help me to stay focused on my goals!

Your posture is incredibly important. Your spine should always be straight with your head up and facing forwards. When you start to slump you will soon notice that your mind starts to wander. A good way to achieve proper posture is to imagine your head is connected with the sky and aim to keep it there!

Some people prefer to meditate with their eyes closed, however, it is often a good idea to keep them open. When your eyes are closed, your thoughts are more likely to drift to other things. Instead of trying to focus your gaze on a specific place in the room, just let your eyes settle naturally and try not to pay too much attention to whatever happens to be in your line of sight.

Similarly to yoga, it is important to pay attention to your breathing when you are meditating. When you are focusing on your breathing you will find yourself anchored in the present and your mind will be easier to settle. There’s no need to force your breath to be a certain pace, just let it come in and out naturally! When rogue thoughts enter your mind, bring your focus back to your breathing and these thoughts will soon evaporate from your conscious.

Finally, although there is an abundance of amazing music to meditate to, choosing to do so in silence is best for being fully focused on your meditation. Silence can be incredibly healing whereas music can often be quite distracting. Even just 10 – 20 minutes of silent meditation everyday will help you to get in touch with your emotions and better equip you to deal with the day. Regular practice of this kind for an extended period of time will help you to build a solid foundation for more intense meditation in the future!