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Category Archives: Self-Care + Health

Mastering the Art of Doing Nothing

For the last few weeks or months, I’ve been in a state of writer’s block.

If you’ve been following me regularly for a while now, then you may have sensed this on some level already because it’s pretty unordinary for me to not be coming out with a new blog every week.

Yes, I’ve had the podcast but, admittedly, it’s become a way to help cover up the writer’s block so I could still be bringing you weekly content.

So what’s the cause to the writer’s block, you ask?

It’s no one thing in particular, but many things.

I’ve been…

… reflecting on where I’m at and where I want to be.

… letting go of ways of being in the world that are no longer serving me nor anyone. 

… releasing old beliefs and ways of perceiving the world and my place in it. 

… processing old feelings of loss and grief that still hadn’t been fully processed.

Upon reflection, I can see how I had been focusing so much on doing that I was hardly allowing myself to simply be — and it caught up with me.

A few days ago it hit pretty hard when I found myself extremely stressed thinking about my future — where I want to go, what I want to do and how.

Being a student of A Course in Miracles, I knew intellectually that by simply trusting and allowing things to flow I will be guided exactly to where I’m meant to.  But telling myself to trust and shove those feelings of worry away simply didn’t work — and it never does.  Instead, it made me more agitated.

So I gave myself time to feel it. I literally spent the entire day stewing in my own feelings of worry, sadness, frustration, and so on.

… and, apparently, that’s all I needed to do, because the next day I found myself calmer and more peaceful.  Not relieved because I had found any answers, but simply feeling okay with where things are right now. 

It was a matter of really feeling those feelings so that I could get to a place of being okay with just being, rather than to feel guilty for not doing work to move forward.

Yesterday I went to a local farmer’s market and then a grocery store.  In my process of shopping I felt drawn to get myself some prosciutto, marinated mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.  A friend of mine had shared this amazing combination of foods with me a few weeks ago when she came back from her trip in Italy.

As I placed them all on my plate and drizzled them with balsamic vinegar for my afternoon snack, the words “Dolce far Niente” came to my mind.

If you’ve ever seen the movie or read the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert then you’ve heard this saying before.  In Italian it means: the sweetness of doing nothing.

The Italians in Eat, Pray, Love explained to Liz that Americans need to be told to take a break and relax, but Italians don’t need to be told.  If someone were to tell them to take a break, they would say, “Yes I know I deserve a break.  I know that I need to take some time to simply just be and enjoy life for what it is.”

Because, really, what is it that we’re really after?  A great job?  An amazing relationship?  A great income? 

On the surface it may appear that way, but if we never allow ourselves to simply be and enjoy life’s little moments, then we’re forever going to be unsatisfied.  We’re always going to be in the race of chasing unattained wishes and dreams.  And, as a result, we’re never actually going to be able to enjoy anything — we would’ve lived a life of stress, rather than joy.

EnjoyLifeLittleMoments

Click to Tweet: If we never allow ourselves to simply be and enjoy life’s little moments, then we’re forever going to be unsatisfied. @jenilyn8705

It’s okay to do nothing.

It’s okay to reflect.

It’s okay to enjoy life even if everything isn’t “perfect”.

It’s okay to celebrate even if there is no big event to celebrate.

And it most certainly is okay to spend an entire day feeling anxious, depressed, sad, angry, or whatever.

So wherever you are in your life — whether you’re sad, frustrated, worried, or stressed.  Even if you’ve recently gone through a breakup.  Even if you’re not sure how you’re going to pay next month’s rent.  Even if you think you’re job sucks.  Even if you’re stuck in writer’s block.  It’s time to stop, slow down, and simply enjoy life.

‘Cause life’s not meant to be lived stressed and chasing unattained dreams — it’s meant to be enjoyed… one present moment at a time.

6 Lessons I’ve Learned in Healing My Gut

This article has been featured on Elephant Journal.

Heartburn, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea, and headaches. Looking back on it now, it’s hard for me to imagine that that’s what my life was like just 2 years ago. Having low energy and having trouble sleeping each night because either the heartburn or indigestion I was having was so uncomfortable.

While I don’t think we ever get to a point where we are completely “healed” in that we’re able to go back to the old lifestyle that we had before we started our healing journey, I have managed to reach a very stable place.

In order to reach this stable place in my gut health, I had a lot of different lessons to learn — and not only from health professionals that supported me in this journey but also in learning to tune in to my own body to recognize what it wants and needs.

Here are 6 lessons I’ve learned in my journey of healing my gut:

#1 – Cutting out dairy and gluten alone may not to do magic, but it’s still worth doing

When my gut problems first started getting unmanageable, I had several people in my life come chiming in with how they started cutting out gluten and dairy from their diets and they were able to get rid of their heartburn, stop having acne breakouts, started feeling more energized, and so on.

So I started cutting out gluten and dairy from my diet for a few weeks — and eventually even a few months — and I didn’t notice any results at the time. I found myself frustrated and as if all my efforts to cut out these foods was a waste of time.

I didn’t realize it then, but I know now that while cutting out dairy and gluten is beneficial, it may not be the only thing that our bodies need to heal. Maybe you’d also need to cut out sugar or soy and eat more vegetables and less meat. It varies a lot depending on the individual.

#2 – Gluten is in a lot of processed foods

In the first week or two that I started cutting out gluten, I remember telling a friend who had suggested I eliminate gluten from my diet, “I’ve been doing it for two weeks and I’ve noticed no changes!”

He sat there and looked at me with a straight face and asked, “Have you been eating soy sauce?”

“Yes”, I replied.

“Have you been eating salad dressings?”

“Yes.”

“What about sauces?”

“Well, yeah.”

“Then you haven’t been cutting out gluten.”

It took me some time to do the research online and read all the labels at the grocery store, but eventually I figured out what to look for on the labels and get a sense for what products are typically going to have gluten in it and which isn’t.

Fortunately for me, I’m not celiac so I don’t have to be extra cautious about contamination or anything like that. However, if you’re doing an elimination diet to see what foods work for you and which don’t, you have to know if you’re consuming bits of gluten or not.

#3 – Ditch the gluten-free products

In my experience of trial and error, I’ve realized that consuming gluten free products are just has bad as consuming gluttonous products. Why? Because they’re still processed.

When I started eating mostly whole, natural foods by buying most all my food from the perimeter of the grocery store, that’s when I started to really notice shifts in my gut and overall health.

#4 – We need to rotate our probiotics and enzymes

After about 9 months of working with my acupuncturist, I noticed my digestion was feeling a bit sluggish. When I informed my acupuncturist of this, she immediately asked me, “How long have you been using your current probiotic?”

“Probably 6 months” I said.

“You should probably change it” she responded.

Currently I rotate between three different brands of probiotics and rotate different kinds of enzymes. Sometimes our bodies get used to the same formula and all it needs is something different to give it a little boost.

#5 – We need to be open to changing our diets as needed

When I was first introduced to the paleo diet through my boyfriend and his sister, I first thought it was the magical life-changing diet that I had been looking for all along. Whenever I ate paleo I felt amazing, had more energy, and my gut was in the greatest shape ever.

So last spring I went on the paleo diet and I stuck with it all through the summer. Then, November hit and the paleo diet was no longer working for me. I felt tired, started having bouts of constipation and diarrhea again, and having occasional indigestion.

I experimented with different things in my diet for about a month or so and eventually I realized that my body wanted less meat, more veggies, and grains, like rice and quinoa, again. So through the winter months I stuck with a gluten-free “flexitarian” diet, where I only had meat once a week and it was exactly what my body needed.

BodiesChange

Click to Tweet: Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. We need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. via @jenilyn8705

Just as the seasons change, so do our bodies. So we need to be open and receptive to what our bodies are asking from us. Which leads me to what was, perhaps, my biggest lesson of all:

#6 – Our minds and emotions impact our gut health

The more we are stuck in our own heads, then the more our gut is likely going to suffer — and not merely due to neglect, but due to the fact that we are not tracking our own internal experience.

It’s important to be mindful and to check in with how we are feeling in our bodies throughout the day. Doing so helps us to get out of our “monkey mind”, as the Buddhists call it, and back into our present moment experience.

When I started really tuning into my body, I started to notice some interesting things. I noticed that whenever someone would cut me off while driving on the freeway, I would get a fluttery feeling in my stomach. I would notice what situations would raise my heart rate and which would cause neck tension.

By tuning into my body periodically throughout the day, I was then able to take care of myself in those moments. I then knew that I was holding my breath and that I needed to exhale. I knew that I needed to take a few conscious breaths to get re-balanced and centered.

In implementing a mindfulness practice, that’s when I learned the most valuable lesson of them all: How to care for myself.

What lessons has your body taught you?  Share it in the comments below!

This Super Simple Tool Will Help You Calm Down and Get Balanced — Instantly!

You wake up in the morning to realize your alarm didn’t go off.  Rushing to get ready in the morning, you run up to your car only to dump your coffee on the ground. To make matters worse, you then find yourself stuck in traffic longer than usual due to an accident. 

When our lives are this chaotic and busy, it’s easily to get super stressed out and feel completely out of balance.

But I have great news…

Despite these outer circumstances, you don’t have to feel this way!

It is possible to live a joyful, fulfilling, miraculous life where you can feel calm, balanced, and peaceful.

And the secret doesn’t come in the form of some magic pill.  Despite how much the pharmaceutical companies and medical industry may want us to believe, it certainly doesn’t come from taking Xanax, Prozac, or Klonopin. 

In fact, it’s much easier, sustainable, and a heck of a lot more cost effective than taking a pill.

Want to know this super simple tool?

Breathing — yep, you read that right!  It’s breathing.

How the heck is that going to do anything? I can hear you say.

Well, allow me to explain.

Often when we get stressed and overwhelmed we tend to either breath improperly, hold our breath, or stop breathing entirely.  We start taking shallow breaths through our upper chest rather than through our diaphragm. 

This is a normal and natural response to stress.  When something stressful happens, our sympathetic nervous system gets activated.  Our heart rate than goes up, our muscles become tense, we breath improperly, and so on.  When we have this reaction, it is commonly referred to as the fight or flight response — so we’ve recognized we may be in danger, so we become activated to decide whether we should fight or flight.

Our fight or flight response is not a bad thing.  In fact, we need it for our survival in case we get into dangerous situations.  We needed it back in the day when we lived in the wild and needed to be concerned about getting attacked by bears, wolves, or whatever.

However, the problem in today’s modern world is that our fight or flight response becomes activated in situations where everything is, in fact, okay.  It may get activated due to simply being impatient with morning traffic.  It may get activated due to overly thinking about about financial issues.  It becomes an issue when we don’t just choose to either fight or flight and then let it go, but, rather, hold on to it.

When our sympathetic nervous system gets activated due to some trigger and we don’t just feel the experience and let it go, that’s when we can feel stressed out, overwhelmed, and drained.  When we’ve spent out entire day ready to either fight or flight, it takes a lot of energy and can get pretty darn exhausting.

This is why breathing is so incredibly important.  Through the power of our breath, we can easily get ourselves out of a fight or flight mode and back into a normal level of function where we can feel calm and relaxed, think clearly, and, ultimately, experience happiness.  This is why I teach some kind of breath work or meditation to all of my coaching clients — because it is pivotal to creating a solid foundation so we can create lives filled with happiness, joy, and love.

So how exactly can we use breath to calm ourselves down and get balanced?  Here’s a super easy breathing technique to use:

Sit up with your back straight and place your hand on your abdomen.  When you breath in through your nose, make sure that your abdomen is expanding outward.  When you exhale, your abdomen should contract towards your spine.

Now, breathe in for three counts, and then exhale for six counts.  Do this cycle of breath a few times.

If you want to go deeper into this, breathe in for four counts and then exhale for eight counts.  Do this cycle of breath anywhere from 20 seconds to two minutes.

This is a great breathing exercise to do because it helps calm down our variable heart rate, which will lead us to feeling much more calm, relaxed, and balanced in our mind and body.

In some cases, particularly individuals who have experienced past trauma, doing any kind of breath work can be triggering.  Old emotions of sadness, anger, and fear may come up.  If this happens, it’s important to reach out to a local psychotherapist to get support and care in processing these emotions.

Otherwise, practice this breathing exercise at least once a day for 30 days.  This super simple tool can easily help you create a solid foundation in creating a life of peace, balance, happiness, and joy.

This breathing exercise is one of the meditations I give in my meditation album Ignite Love from Within.  To learn more about my meditation album, click here.  To grab a copy of my free meditation from the album called Healing Blocks to Love, click here.

Remember this: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace.

BreathPeace

Click to Tweet: By connecting with our breath, we are able to find peace. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Do the breathing exercise that I shared in this article and, in the comments below, share with me what the experience was like for you.

5 Reasons Why You Need Boundaries in Your Relationships and Life

Have you been feeling drained, tired, stressed out, and exhausted?  Do you feel under appreciated, unseen, and unsupported?  If so, it may be that you need to learn how to set some boundaries in your life and relationships.

So why exactly do you need boundaries in your relationships and life?  Here are 5 reasons:

#1 – They give you a sense of self

When we don’t have boundaries in our lives it implies that we don’t have a solid sense of self.  We will tend to take on other people’s thoughts, feelings, ideas, beliefs, and values rather than to have our own.  This is commonly referred to as enmeshment.

When we are enmeshed with another person it means that there is no distinct boundary between you and another person.  There is very little sense as to where one person ends and the other begins.  One or both people will then have difficulty identifying their own unique individual experience and how it differs from the other person.

When this is present, it implies difficulty in differentiation from a parent in early childhood.  This doesn’t mean that it is “good” or “bad”, as it is quite common for most people to have experienced it at least somewhat in their development.

Being enmeshed can be very stressful, draining, and overwhelming.  Relationships can easily get “messy” and a person can feel like they have no control over themselves or anything in their lives.  As a result, a person’s natural tendency would then be to try to control other people, which is codependent.

Learning to recognize our own internal experience and then setting boundaries in a way that honors our internal experience, helps us solidify our sense of self with the external world.  It also helps create less stress and more balance in our relationships.

#2 – You are able to decide how you want to be treated by others

When we have boundaries we are able to effectively tell a bully that we will not tolerate their behavior.  We are able to leave a relationship that isn’t serving us in what we know is in our highest good.  When we have boundaries, we are able to enter into relationships that do support us in our own personal growth and healing.

#3 – You are able to make life decisions that serve and support you

When we have boundaries, we are able to say “no” to that job that is potentially wearing us out by working overtime for little pay.  We are able to say “yes” to taking new career path without getting locked into feelings of guilt or “what other people will think”. 

#4 – You are able to make choices that are better for your health and well-being

By having boundaries, we are also able to make better choices for our own health and well-being.  We are able to say “no” to smoking that cigarette or having a glass of wine and, instead, say “yes” to having some green juice and going to the gym.  We are more aware that we’re going to feel shitty after eating that brownie, so we’re able to turn away and eat something healthier.

#5 – You feel empowered

When set boundaries in our lives, we feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives.  We are able to live for ourselves, rather than through this desire to please other people.  We are able to be in relationships that are healthy, balanced, and equal.  And we have the ability to create a life for ourselves that we’ve always dreamed of.

BoundariesConnectedControl

Click to Tweet: When set boundaries, we are able to feel more connected with ourselves and more in control of our lives. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

How will learning to set boundaries in your life support you in creating a miraculous life for yourself?  Share it in the comments below!

5 Easy Morning Rituals That Will Reduce Stress and Overwhelm

In a world of 40-hour work weeks and traffic jams, mornings can be pretty hectic.  We may find ourselves rushing every morning to get to work or get kids to school.  We may even find ourselves doing our makeup in the car during rush hour because we’re just that rushed.

When we start our days with such a hectic and rushed routine, we’re making ourselves start our days stressed out and overwhelmed.  And, frankly, who really wants that?  So here are 5 easy morning rituals that will reduce stress and overwhelm:

#1 – Wake up at least 30-minutes earlier than you usually do

If you normally wake up about an hour before you need to be out the door, then maybe add on an extra half and hour.  If you normally wake up less than that, then you may want to try to add on more than a half hour.

Our weekdays can be pretty stressful as it is, so we certainly don’t want to make it more stressful for ourselves by rushing every single morning.  So try to give yourself some extra time in the morning so that you have more time to get ready and do more things for you and your own health and well-being.

And if you’re concerned about getting enough sleep, then be sure give yourself more time to at night to wind down and go to bed… it is possible!

#2 – Swap the coffee for a green smoothie

Many of us depend on coffee for our morning energy fix.  Though there can be a nice ritual around the process of brewing coffee, such as the smell of coffee beans or the flavor, coffee alone doesn’t give us the vitamins and minerals that our body really needs (and no, a morning bagel or donut doesn’t make it much better).  Eating leafy greens, fruits and veggies first thing in the morning is a much healthier option.

So grab your blender and make yourself a green smoothie.  If you’re in need of recipes, I’m currently obsessed with Kris Carr’s new book Crazy Sexy Juice for all my smoothie and juice recipes.  If you don’t want to get the book just yet, she also has a few recipes on her website.

#3 – Take a moment to really breathe some fresh air

There’s something magical about the crisp morning air that, once you stop and take a moment to appreciate it, can be extremely calming and grounding.  So before you rush out the door, take some time to open a window or step outside on to your porch and deck.  Take a few conscious breaths and allow yourself to take in and enjoy the beauty of the morning.

#4 – Write!

Our dream life is a world within us that we tend to neglect.  While we may remember a dream that was very charged for us for days later, most of the time we completely forget them.  This is unfortunate because our dreams are a bridge to our unconscious world.  When we take time to acknowledge our dreams, we allow ourselves to become more consciously aware of our thoughts, feelings and experiences that may have either repressed, forgotten about, or was never really aware of.

So upon waking, take a couple minutes to write down something that came up in your dreams.  It may be a lot of material or it may be only an image or two.  Even if you can’t write down anything about a dream, take a few minutes to free write about any thoughts that you have lingering in your mind upon waking.

Taking this time to write first thing in the morning, helps us to process our inner world.  By putting those thoughts, feelings and images out on to the paper we are making the internal experience less charged for ourselves.  Making this kind of activity a morning ritual, can be beneficial in reducing things like anxiety, depression, stress and so on in our waking lives over time.

#5 – Move your body

While those of us that are early-birds may morning jog to start our day, it doesn’t always work for everybody.  However, it is still highly beneficial to do some kind of movement first thing in the morning.

So take a few minutes to stretch and walk around.  If you’re a yogi, maybe you can do a few sun salutations.   If not, maybe you’d want to walk around your house or apartment before going to work.  Do whatever you feel called to do, but be sure to give yourself time move.

When it comes to your morning routine remember this: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day.  So if we start our mornings stressed and rushed, then we’re likely going to be stressed the rest of the day.  Remember to slow down, take a few breaths, and do things for you so that you can feel happier and healthier.

MorningRitualFoundation

Click to Tweet: How we start our mornings sets the foundation for the rest of our day. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

Out of the rituals listed, which are you going to start doing for yourself this week?  Share it in the comments below!

10 Self-Care Methods for Highly Sensitive People

Do you tend to feel overwhelmed by other people’s energy?  Do large crowds feel like too much to you?  Then you may be a highly sensitive person.

As a highly sensitive person, it’s incredibly important to learn how to set boundaries, protect your energy, and become a master of your own self-care.  Here are 10 self-care methods for highly sensitive people:

#1 – Set boundaries

In a relationship where the give-and-take never seems to be equal?  Are you around someone who consistently seems to try to get you wrapped up in their drama?  Is there someone in your life that makes critical remarks towards you?  Then set a boundary.

The boundary may be set by making a verbal statement or it may be by limiting or distancing yourself from the person.  Regardless of how you do it exactly, remember that its an important component in protecting your own energy.

#2 – Meditate daily

Meditation is an excellent tool to help increase emotional stability, happiness, and mental clarity.  You can meditate to a mantra, do visualizations or even a movement meditation.  Grab a free copy of my guided visualization meditation Healing Blocks to Love to learn more about my album Ignite Love from Within, which includes all these forms of meditations.

#3 – Do yoga

Do yoga at least twice a week in whatever form you prefer.  That could be hatha, vinyasa, kundalini, restoratives, yin, or whatever.  Regardless of the type of yoga, it is all going to help you release the energy or emotions that you’re holding onto in your muscles.

#4 – Spend time in nature

In our modern world of technology and sitting in an office most of the day, it’s not surprising to see why many of us can feel stressed, overwhelmed, or just down in the dumps — it’s not our natural way of living.

So get outside.  Go for a walk.  Walk in the grass barefoot.  Get some sunlight.  Smell the flowers.

#5 – Take a salt bath

Soaking in a bath of epsom salts for about 10 to 20 minutes will help you relax your muscles and restore your entire being.

#6 – Get massage, acupuncture, or Reiki

Schedule regular appointments for a body-work of your choosing.  It could be massage, reflexology, acupuncture, acupressure, reiki, or whatever. 

My only stipulation is that I encourage you to be mindful about who you work with.  You don’t want to work with somebody who drinks, does drugs, and doesn’t take their work seriously.  A careless practitioner can do a lot of damage — especially for a highly sensitive — so be sure that you get treatments from those who do their work well.

#7 – Eat clean

What I mean by this is eliminate (or at least minimize) processed foods and eat organic as much as you can to reduce consuming any pesticide residues.  I also encourage you to experiment to see what kind of diet works best for you and your body.  Maybe you feel best going vegan or vegetarian.  Or maybe you feel best going gluten free.  Or maybe you feel at your best cutting out grains all together with a paleo diet. 

No “one size fits all” for everyone all the time.  So experiment and try things out to see what gives you the most energy.

#8 – Journal at the end of the day

The reason many of us can feel so stressed out and overwhelmed with things is because we never really give ourselves time to process.  We never really let it all out in some way.

While talk therapy is beneficial, it is not the only way to do this.  Another way to help process all the stuff that’s going on in your life is to journal.  The simple act of just getting it all out on paper can be extremely therapeutic. 

A great practice to do put away some time in the eventing to just journal about your day.  If you’re not one to write, another option could be to draw or paint whatever you are feeling.

#9 – Breathe!

Did somebody just cut you off driving down the highway?  Breathe!  Someone come into the office all angry and stressed?  Breathe!  Can’t find your car keys?  Breathe!

When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go.

BreatheLetItGo

Click to Tweet: When we bring it back to the breath, we are able to let it all go. via @jenilyn8705

#10 – Spend time at the beach

If you’re remotely near a coast, take advantage of going to the beach.  The sand exfoliates your feet and gives you a little foot massage, the air is infused with uber-healthy ions and the sound of the ways is soothes the soul.  It’s the perfect combination to fully relax and recharge.

Take action now!

Out of the list above, which of the self-care methods are you going to plan on doing this week?  Share it in the comments below!

11 Signs You’re a Highly Sensitive Person

Has anyone ever told you that you’re sensitive or shy?  Do you have busy days and, by the end of the day, find yourself totally wiped out to the point that all you want to do is rest?

I know I totally relate.  And, fortunately, I’ve managed to learn how to care for myself a lot better all because I learned more about how to care for myself as a highly sensitive person (HSP).

Being a highly sensitive person is a totally normal trait.  In fact, somewhere between 15-20% of the population are highly sensitive.  Which, with those statistics, makes being a highly sensitive person totally normal, however, it’s still a small portion of the population.  As a result, many HSPs can feel alone and as if there are few people that can relate to their sensitivity.

Are you curious to see if you are a highly sensitive person? Here are 11 signs that you may be one:

#1 – You effortlessly pick up on other people’s emotions

Someone walks into a room and you get the sense that their stress, happy, upset, angry, worried, or whatever before you even talk to them.

#2 – You’re conscientious

You’re very in-tune with other people’s feelings and inner experiences so you want to act in a way that you perceive to be right for the environment.

#3 – You’re easily overwhelmed by sensory input

Loud noises, sirens, bright lights, strong flavors, coarse fabrics, strong smells, and chemicals bother you more than other people.

#4 – You avoid watching violent movies or TV shows

You avoid watching violent action or horror films or TV shows because can be too overwhelming for you.

#5 – You have a complex and rich inner life

You may not necessarily consider yourself to be an introvert, but you do have a complex and rich inner life.

#6 – When you were a child, others saw you as sensitive or shy

You were commonly labeled as “shy” or “sensitive” by parents, teachers, and peers.

#7 – You have a lower tolerance for pain than most people

While others may have a headache or feel sick and still be able to go to work, for you the pain is so much that you feel you have no choice but to stay home and rest.

#8 – You notice subtle change in your environment

For instance, you may a smell or sound that nobody else notices.  You may also notice that the food at a restaurant is not very fresh, while others may not notice at all.  You may also be able to sense when a person is on the verge of crying even though you’re not even looking at them or see them crying.

#9 – On busy days, you need your time to withdraw

Being constantly on the go doesn’t work well for you.  When you’re busy you need your time to withdraw from the world so you can recharge.

#10 – You get overwhelmed by other people’s emotions

Being around people who are stressed, anxious, angry, or upset can be overwhelming for you.

#11 – You’re bothered by harsh criticism more so than most people

You’re more easily hurt when someone is critical of you than most people are.

Take action now!

Do you relate to any of the traits listed above?  If so, share which traits you relate to in the comments below!

3 Tips to Find Stress Relief Daily

When many of us are working 9 to 5 jobs and doing other activities on top of that, like taking some classes, doing some extra part-time work, raising kids, or whatever, it’s pretty darn easy to get stressed out.

But, despite how busy we may be, being able to find stress relief is not something that we have no control over.  Creating and maintaining a solid self-care practice can help us go from a stressed out mess to peaceful and going with the flow. 

Here are 3 tips that you can start implementing into your life right now to help you find stress relief daily:

#1 – Meditate at least once daily.

Starting the habit of meditating every day has been such a game changer for me when it comes to managing stress.  I’ve managed to not only feel less susceptible to stress, but I’ve also found myself experiencing even more feelings of joy, gratitude, and happiness.

Making the goal to meditate every day can be quite intimidating at first, especially if you’ve never done it before (I know I was!) but it doesn’t have to be that difficult.  Just as little as 3 minutes a day (or even 1 minute!) can really make a difference.

You can start off by sitting in a chair or on the floor with your back straight and to simply focus on your breath.  You can count your breath and breath in for 3 and exhale for 5. 

Another option could be to say a mantra to yourself.  A very basic mantra could be “So hum”, meaning “I am that”.  That you can repeat to yourself as you breathe, with the “so” on the inhale and “hum” on the exhale.

When doing a mantra, you’re going to notice a lot of thoughts from your “monkey mind” popping up.  When you catch yourself getting distracted by the thoughts, then simply go back to the mantra the second you notice. 

Remember that having the thoughts is normal and part of the process.  The thoughts come up so that you can process them and let them go.  You’re still going to benefit from the meditation whether you have the thoughts or not.  This is very important to remember because I think I a lot of beginners can get hard on themselves for it (including myself), so remember that it’s normal.

Finally, if you don’t like those types of meditations you could also do a guided visualization type of meditation as well.  There are many people out there with copies of guided meditations, myself included.  So if you would like to go that route, grab a copy of my Self and Relationship Healing Meditation if you haven’t yet and get meditating!

#2 – Start each day with an intention to let it all go. 

That person that cut you off on the way to work?  Let it go.  That very traumatic story that someone told you?  Let it go.  That person who yelled at you and flipped you the bird?  Let it go.

By holding on to the things that have happened to us we create this inner distress and tension within ourselves.  This doesn’t serve us and it only causes us unnecessary suffering.

One of the keys I think in letting go regularly is to live every day remembering this one main concept: If it isn’t happening, right here, right now in this very present moment then it doesn’t matter.

StressReliefPresentMoment

Click to Tweet: If it isn’t happening, right here, right now in this present moment then it doesn’t really matter. via @jenilyn8705

It doesn’t matter that you couldn’t get out of your parking job 2 hours ago, because that was 2 hours ago.  It doesn’t matter that you dropped a jar of spaghetti sauce walking out of the grocery store because that was 20 minutes ago.  And it doesn’t even matter that you need to call your doctor about some test results on Monday because it’s currently Friday night you won’t be able to do it until then anyway.

When we shift our mindsets to focusing on present moment, we can let go of all the stuff we think we have to stress about now — but it truly doesn’t matter in this very moment.

#3 – Move it!

Sometimes stressful things happen that shift us into “fight or flight” mode and it can throw us off for the entire day if we don’t know how to deal with it.

Let me let you in on something when it comes to fight or flight: We all experience it — and I don’t mean just humans, but animals too. 

Have you ever seen two ducks get into a fight?  They’ll beat on each other.  Maybe even look like the one is going to actually kill the other.  But, eventually, they break away.  They go separate ways and fly or maybe flap their wings rigorously a few times and then they’re back to floating around on the water all peacefully, calm and content.

They don’t think about how that other duck pissed them off 2 hours after the fact or the one doesn’t try to “get back” at the other in some way.  They just let it go and get back to their own business.

If you really stop and watch sometime (which I encourage you to do), all animals do this in their own unique ways.  But there’s something you’ll notice across the board:  They all move.

So when someone upsets you, pisses you off, or gets you all worked up then be sure to move.  Take a walk.  Jump around.  Flap your arms.  Stomp your feet.  Do whatever it is that you feel can help you let go of all that tension in your body.

Take action now!

Out of the three tips I’ve listed above, which one are you going to start doing today?  Share it in the comments below!

Essential Guidelines for Introverts Living in an Extrovert’s World

The original version of this article was published on JenniferTwardowski.com on August 7, 2013 as one of my very first articles.

I’m an introvert.

Always have been and always will be. My energy drains quickly when I have to be around groups of people for a long period of time and sometimes it takes days for me to fully recharge.

Though I love teaching and leading others, I hate being the center of attention and would prefer one-on-one interaction any day over being in a group.

If you’re an introvert yourself, you know exactly where I’m coming from.

As an introvert and recovering co-dependent with this underlying desire to “please” people, there were times where I really felt unsettled and out of control. I felt like I just kept going down this assembly line of social expectation just because everybody else seemed to be doing it. Until, of course, I reached a moment where all I really wanted to do was jump off and run out of the building.

Not really the best way to handle things is it?

So here are a few general guidelines that I’ve found work for me to help maintain a balance between social connection and alone time:

1. Know that it’s OK to leave a social event early.

If you’re at a social event and you’re completely drained, tired, and all you want to do is go home and recharge, then know that it’s OK to leave early. You can say something like, “Sorry, I’m feeling tired so I’m going to head home.  I’ll catch up with you later”.

There is absolutely nothing wrong in leaving an event early! Honor yourself by acknowledging your own feelings and you’ll feel much better!

2. Set one-on-one meet times with friends.

If you’re at all like me and do so much better communicating one-on-one than in groups, then set regular times to meet one-on-one with friends. Set up regular weekly meet-up with the same friend for coffee, lunch or dinner or you may want to switch it up as you feel it’s appropriate.

If your friend happens to be an extrovert, then they may not always understand your intent for “one-on-one time.” So in order to avoid them bringing other people along, you can let them know that you only want to spend time with them. There’s nothing wrong in saying something like, “Hey I’m setting this up so only the two of us can chat cause I’d really like just spend time with you. So if you don’t bring anyone else I’d really appreciate it”.

And if they ask if they can bring someone along, then there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’d rather you not bring them” if you don’t feel comfortable with it right now.

3. Set some time in your week for your own “introvert time.” 

If you’re constantly around people at work or school and then come home to be around people again, then be sure to set some time for your own alone time. Exercise by yourself or spend some time reading or writing early in the morning or late at night. Perhaps even set time every week to paint, make crafts, play music, or some other hobby to do by yourself.

In America, it seems that the common place for introverts to hang out are at coffee shops. There is the noise of coffee makers and quiet conversation, but it can generally the introvert’s dream place to read or do some extra work without being bothered.

If, at any moment, you’re struggling to find a balance between your recharge time and social time and you’re not sure what to do, then honor your feelings in that moment. If you are feeling drained or overwhelmed, then acknowledge that you are feeling that way and do what you feel is needed to feel better. You and only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings and are able to act in accordance to them. Nobody else can or is responsible to do that for you.

AwareOfOwnFeelings

Click to Tweet: You & only you have the ability to be fully aware of your feelings & are able to act in accordance to them. via @jenilyn8705

Take action now!

If you’re an introvert, how can you adjust you day today to have more quiet time for yourself? Maybe get up earlier or stay up late? What can you do to help balance your relationships? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

10 Super Simple Self-Care Practices to Help You Live a Joyful Life

You wake up early in the morning to sit in traffic for an hour, work for about 8 hours, sit in traffic again for another hour or more to get home, cook dinner and then have just enough time to watch a TV show or two before you find yourself in bed and ready to do it all over again for another four days.

When we’re so much on the go-go-go, the last thing on our minds can be our own self-care and how we can find joy in our day to day lives. But, trust me, it’s much easier than you think. Here are 10 super simple self-care practices to help you live a joyful life:

#1 – Breathe!

So many of us get so stressed out over deadlines, places we have to be, and things that we have to do that we forget about how important it is to just breathe. When we’re stressed out, often our natural tendency is to hold our breaths or to breathe in through our chest.

So whenever you’re feeling strung out, turn your attention to the breath. Exhale. Breathe in through your diaphragm and breath out for a few counts. By consciously making deep breaths for a few minutes each day, you’ll be able to think with a more clear mind, be more resilient to stress, and feel much lighter overall.

#2 – Sing.

Who doesn’t like to jam out to one of their favorite songs? When you’re driving home from work, turn on one of your favorite songs and just start singing. And so what if people in the other cars around you see you! Clearly, they haven’t learned how to enjoy life nearly as much as you.

#3 – Dance.

You know the next best thing to singing your favorite tunes? Dancing to them! So when you get home, spend some time gettin’ your groove on. It’s not only good for a little exercise and to reduce stress, but it’s just flat out fun.

#4 – Meditate.

Have you ever had one of those days where your mind just can’t seem to “turn off”? It’s like the thoughts of your day just keep going on repeat in your mind and you just can’t get it to stop.

This is where the benefits of meditation comes in.

So every day spend a good 3-5 minutes just sitting and focusing only on your breath. If you want, you can also add in a mantra that you can say to yourself over and over again. A very basic one to do could be “so hum”.

If focusing on the breath or doing a mantra isn’t your cup of tea, you could also do a guided meditation or visualization as well. There are plenty of free ones online to try out. In fact, in case you haven’t already, you can get a free copy of my guided meditation for self and relationship healing. This is a great guided meditation to use to help send some love and healing for yourself and then send some love and healing to others in your life as well.

#5 – Eat natural foods.

When we’re running around busy all the time, the last thing our mind and body really needs is a Big Mac. We need to be mindful over what we are putting into our bodies so that we can be better able to tackle life’s challenges.

So try to eat more natural foods. Spend more time buying foods out of the produce section. Be sure to eat a good amount of fruits and vegetables every day. Drink more water and a little less coffee. Try to cut down on sweets and fatty foods. In making these little changes, you’ll have much more energy.

#6 – Be grateful.

Start keeping a gratitude list and every day identify at least one thing that you are grateful for. Once you have identified what it is that you are grateful for, then close your eyes and breathe. Visualize that person, place, or thing that you are grateful for. Visualize yourself sending that person, place or thing your love and appreciation.

#7 – Give someone a hug… or kiss.

When we give someone a hug (or a kiss) we get an instant boost of oxytocin in our brains, which is the brain chemical that creates feelings of pleasure, bonding, and intimacy. So give out some more hugs and it’ll make you and the other person feel better.

#8 – Play… literally.

When we’re so cooped up in our daily responsibilities of being an adult, we forget what it was like to be a kid and just play. Spend some time coloring or playing a game with a friend or with your partner. Dance in the rain. Play in the pool. And let go of the inner critical thoughts like, “I’m too old for this” and just do it. Just enjoy it and have fun!

JustPlay

Click to Tweet: Give yourself time every day to just play. You’ll reduce stress & bring a little more fun and joy into your life! via @jenilyn8705

#9 – Spend time outside.

For the majority of us that have desk jobs and sit in front of a computer every day, we don’t end up getting nearly as much time in the sun as we should be. So take some walks outside, spend time time regularly taking care of a garden, or simply just sit outside and enjoy the fresh air and sun. You’ll feel much better!

#10 – Create something.

In comparison to past generations, we don’t really have that many hobbies. In previous generations, more of us took up things like knitting, cooking, drawing, playing music, dancing, painting, and so on. Today it seems that most of us have exchanged this for working more hours and spending more time mindlessly checking our cell phones and watching cable.

And, frankly, there’s not a lot of joy that can come out of that.

So find a little hobby and start doing it. Start writing. Start knitting. Start learning piano. And no, you don’t have to be perfect and no, you don’t have to work towards “going pro”. Just do it. Not for money. Not for anyone else. Just for you.

Take action now!

Out of this list, which of these are you going to do for yourself today? Share it in the comments below!