How to maintain high energy throughout the day

Maintain Energy Meditation
 

I get overwhelmed. I get stressed. I have a massive to-do-list and don’t know where to start most days. I am sure you have days like that or maybe weeks. We could blame bad planning or even hormones, but still, these days happen. Meditation is lovely. It definitely helps to have a regular practise. However, there are these times during the day where you just want to scream. Or maybe you do scream, and maybe at someone else.

Revelation

At the beginning of this year, I listened to a podcast by Brendon Burchard. He explains that to keep our energy high throughout the day, we need to take regular breaks every 45 to 60 minutes or when we transition between tasks, whichever comes first. When changing between tasks our mind continues to mull over the old effort and we are expending an un-necessary amount of energy to transfer to the new project. That is one of the reasons why multi-tasking doesn’t work. Some research says that we need up to 20 minutes to arrive in the new state of mind when transferring between tasks.

A transition between tasks can be for instance when you leave the house to get on the bus to go to work. You transition from home to public and then to work.

When doing the exercise below we are letting go of whatever we have just done and focus on the new. It is like a mini-meditation.

Just imagine yourself sitting on a desk for three hours straight, you are not going to be as energised or focussed as you were at the beginning of that task. You are sitting bend forward, shoulders up to your ears, your whole body rounding and tensing, and brain fog has probably set in long ago. The same thing happens after a meeting, during physical work, studying, driving a bus. A few minutes of deep breathing, moving and re-energising can keep your energy levels high for longer.

Set yourself a reminder every hour and do this little

Mini-meditation:

1) Get up and about. Change the scene. Grab some water. Go to the toilet. Do some yoga. Or just stand up from your desk and look into the distance.
2) Do some deep breathing. Fill your lungs with air. Long deep smooth breath in and then a long deep smooth breath out. Repeat that for a minute or so.
3) Then start saying the word ‘Release’ over and over again, silently to yourself.
4) After you have done that for a minute or so, set yourself an intention. An intention of how you want to feel like for the next hour or task.
5) Then continue with your new task.

Give it a try and let me know how it goes.

Recorded Relaxation

recorded relaxation recording of relaxationBelow you can find a recording of the relaxation I sometimes finish my yoga classes with. My regular students find it very relaxing and have mentioned they would like to have a recording of it. For instance, the recorded relaxation could help you (or your loved ones) to get to sleep. And remember rest is almost as good as sleep. If you are waking up during the night, instead of worrying about being tired the next day, a big meeting or similar, you could listen to this relaxation instead. At least you will find some rest.

So here it is! If you have any comments or suggestions please let me know. You can reach me under my email address yoga.carolin@gmail.com

You can also subscribe below to my newsletter to hear more from me.

 

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How to tackle stress

How to tackle stress

Stress is attributed to most GP visits and can be associated with the biggest health problems we face these days. Starting with cardiac diseases but also mental health issues such as depression and anxiety.

How do we get stressed?

In his book Why Zebra’s Don’t Get Ulcers Robert M. Sapolsky explains why we get frazzled by small things and animals seem to be able to brush off the anxieties of being hunted all day every day. Of course, zebras can get stressed, they are a prime target of crocodiles, hyenas, and leopards after all. Animals react with the fight, flight or freeze response when stressed and when the incident is over they move on and forget about it.

However, as humans, we can keep a stressful experience alive purely as a function of our minds. Our bodies can’t determine whether a threat is real or whether we are creating an incident in our minds. By repeating worrying stories to ourselves we can create a panic response, which creates a downward spiral and we can end up for instance with digestive issues, sleep problems, or depression.

How can you tackle stress?

Mindfulness and yoga can help with reducing stress and associated problems. For instance, slow and deep breathing tells your body that the stressful situation has passed and that it’s time to relax. How often do you actually relax during the day? There is usually something going on. Our work is stressful, family life can be frantic, and usually, we fill every minute of our days with something to do, like our phones or television. By merely being still and breathing deeply and slowly five times, we can change your bodies perception of your environment and calm you down.

I find breathing techniques one of the most important tools in yoga. In my classes, I teach the three-part yogic breath which takes advantage of the full capacity of the lungs. This involves breathing into your belly, chest, and ribs. Filling all parts of your lungs with air and breathing out from your ribs, chest, and belly. Doing this regularly can make breathing fully a habit.

I am starting a new 4-week course on Wednesday 21st November 2018 called Gentle Yoga for Stressful Lifes where we will learn how to breathe fully and gently release tension.

 

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You can’t release tension against resistance

Have you ever told an angry person to calm down? How did that go? My guess is, the best it went was they looked at you in disbelieve and the worse was they became even angrier. That’s exactly how it works for muscles. An angry, aggravated muscle will not let you stretch and lengthen it.

You could visualise this by making a tight fist and then try to gently move your fingers away from the fist. Not that easy right? Especially if you don’t want to damage your fingers. Then make your hand into a relaxed fist and, magic, your fingers move away quite easily.

Muscles tense for a reason. Most of the time it’s a good thing otherwise you wouldn’t be able to move. And sometimes they try to protect themselves and their surrounding area. And when they get tight and can’t release anymore they will most likely to start hurting.

How to release tension?

To release tension you could come into a position where you don’t use those muscles anymore. Do you have lower back pain? You could lay on your back, feet wider then your hips, knees pointing up and relaxing towards each other. That position hurts you? Turn around into child’s pose. Hips towards your heels, head relaxes down. You see, it is very difficult to relax when you are in pain. Rambo may have been able to breathe through the pain, but that took him a long while to learn.

When you found your relaxed pose, start to breathe. Fill the belly with air, the chest, the ribs and then visualise the area where you can feel tension filling with air. That rhythmic movement will calm your muscles and your mind. When the body notices there is no harm coming from you breathing it might even relax more.

And when you have found a relaxed state of long, deep, slow breathing, you might want to start adding some movement. Slowly. If you are lying on your back you could start shifting your pelvis from left to right, tilt it forward and backward, lift the hips up for an inhale and lower them down for an exhale. Slowly and mindfully. In child’s pose you could take both hands over to one side for a side stretch or shift the hips from side to side. Whatever tickles your fancy. Notice how it feels.

Just remember, if you can’t take full deep breaths because you are feeling the tension, back off.

 

Why can’t I sleep?

autumn equinox
Better Sleep

Some days you wake up in the middle of the night and can’t fall asleep again. Your mind goes round and round in circles. Finally, you might fall asleep again at 5 am with one more hour to go until you have to get up.

Why do you have problems going back to sleep?

There are two ways of reacting to waking up during the night. If a ‘normal’ sleeper sets her alarm for 6 am, but wakes up at 3 am she probably just turns over and goes back to sleep. She might even think “Excellent, 3 more hours of sleep left!”.

If an insomniac wakes up at 3 am instead of 6 am her thought process may go “Oh no, I won’t be able to go back to sleep!”. She will start worrying about how tired she will look and feel the next day, that she has an important meeting or exam coming up and she may even have read up on the detrimental health impact little sleep has. From here it spirals downwards.

Waking up during the night is normal

We sleep in cycles. These cycles last 90-120 minutes in total. There are deep resting phases and then there are more alert phases (REM sleep) which are linked with memory and learning. It is very difficult to wake somebody during the deep resting phase, however, it is easy during REM. One explanation for this may be, that back in the cave days you wouldn’t have survived the night if you would have slept for a solid 6-8 hours. That’s why we ‘wake up’ every two hours or so to check everything is still fine and nobody is trying to get us.

What lifestyle changes can you implement

These days our circadian rhythms (our sleep and wake cycles) are being messed around by spending our days inside with bright lights, computer monitors and televisions. Our body doesn’t know when the day is finished and the night starts. To help your brain get back into its natural sleep pattern go for a walk outside at lunch time, get some sun or at least natural light. Dim or reduce your lighting from 8 pm onwards, so your brain starts to register a change. No more screens after 9 pm and how about trying to go to bed for 10 pm?

Having a consistent evening routine can help your body start winding down. Every night I drink a cup of chamomile tea (yes I used to hate it and now I love it) and when lying in bed I do a couple of stretches. Sometimes I read my book while I am doing them and sometimes I focus on my breath. Stretching can be a great way of releasing tension you are storing in your body. Try to find an evening routine that suits you. You could write in your journal, meditate or read.

What are other factors that can have an impact

Other factors which can have an impact on your sleep may be medical issues, pain, alcohol, drugs etc. For instance, a glass of alcohol can make you feel drowsy before going to sleep. However when the alcohol wears off your body actually asks for more.

Similar with caffeine. Caffeine has a half-life of 5-6 hours. Which means after 5 or 6 hours half of the caffeine is still in our system. It is only eliminated from our bodies after 10-12 hours. Please remember, even the doses aren’t as high, non-herbal teas, like green or black tea, contain caffeine as well. (By the way chocolate also contains caffeine. Sorry!)

Age can have an impact too. We may have been able to drink 3 coffees a day in our twenties, but as our bodies get older they just aren’t as efficient in eliminating these substances. Also, we may suffer from pain more regularly or have to go to the toilet during the night. Just remember waking up is normal and don’t start to stress.

These are a few things you can experiment with and see how changing them impacts your sleep. Usually, it takes about 40 days to assimilate a change. If one doesn’t work for you try another one.

 

You may also be interested in my upcoming course Yoga for Better Sleep

 

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Autumn Equinox

autumn equinox
autumn season harvest equinox

Summer is drawing to an end, with days shortening, temperatures slowly dropping and some trees already losing their leaves. As much as we enjoyed the summer, autumn isn’t far.

Autumn Equinox is the astrological start of autumn when day and night are the same lengths of time. This is one of only two days (spring equinox being the other one) on which the sun is rising precisely due east and sets due west. After that day our days are shorter than the nights and you could get the feeling that we get up when it’s dark and come home when its dark.

I have always loved the changing seasons. After all, you can only enjoy the light and warm days of spring and summer when you had a dark and cold winter. Lighter days are for being bright and airy, to do things outside and to be active. Longer nights are to regain energy, nourish yourself, read a book, reflect on what has happened and plan for things to come.

The Autumn Equinox is a chance to celebrate a new season, to contemplate on what has passed and look forward what is to come.

As the days become shorter I am stocking up on herbal teas and scented candles. We have been blackberry picking and I have made some crumble in my slow cooker. And on Sunday, which is the actual day of the Equinox, I will get out my journal and reflect on my hopes and fears and celebrate everything I am proud and grateful for.

This year the Autumn Equinox will be on Sunday, 23rd September.  Perfect timing to meet up with some friends for a walk and enjoy the changing colours of the season.

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