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The list is simple. Basically, whenever I have a little quiet time so I can reflect on the present moment.
1. Doctors offices, lines, or waiting rooms
Mentally scan your body, think about why you’re there in the first place. Be present and in-tune with your body so you can give them a full, truthful report.
2. Walking to the office or in between errands
I love walking mindfulness practices! It’s so simple and makes your walk more enjoyable. All you have to do is open your eyes and observe your surroundings. What do you see, what do you hear, what do you feel? Is it hot, windy, are your shoes loud on the ground? Use your different senses to be present.
3. Picking up groceries
Think about all the food you’re waiting on to be loaded into your car and how you’ll use it to nourish your body. Did you buy some of your favorite foods that you’re looking forward to, or did you buy some new foods for recipes you’re going to try out? Similar to mindful eating, think about you food, where it comes from, and how you’ll use it in your life.
4. Folding laundry
Look at each piece of clothing while you’re folding. And recall memories of when you’re worn them, or how confident or comfy you feel when you wear them. Notice and appreciate the clothes and how they represent you, or a family member, and add some fun flair to your life. Laundry doesn’t have to be a boring chore! Add some mindfulness to it and be present.
5. In the shower
Here’s another opportunity for a body scan, but this time think about how the water feels when it hits each part of your body. Is a hot shower helping to relax your muscles, or is a cold shower helping to wake you up and energize you? What if you treated your shower like a relaxing spa experience instead of rehashing conversations you wish had gone differently.
Blocking out time for meditation is great, and I highly recommend it, but practicing mindfulness throughout the day is just as important. What are you most likely doing during all those above tasks? My guess is looking at your phone, multi-tasking, or letting your mind wander thinking through the bazillion things you need to get done. How about next time you’re doing something where you have a moment to yourself, stop your mind from wandering and focus on exactly what you’re experiencing then and there.
These are simple ways to practice self-care and mindfulness, and again, it doesn’t add any more time to your already busy schedule. You’re not blocking separate time out to think about things, you’re just using the time you already have in a different manner.
What are some other places you can practice mindfulness while you’re on-the-go?
You have good intentions to work out, but you’re a working mom so your morning workout is never guaranteed. Or your afternoon workout. Or your evening workout. I talk about fitting in spurts of activity throughout the day in my post How to Workout When you don’t have Time to Workout, but today we’re going to talk about physical activity at work and in the office.
I work in higher education, and pre-Covid, one of the easiest ways for me to get in activity during the work day was simply walking to meetings around campus. I could easily walk 1 mile round trip just to a single meeting, or to grab lunch. Do that multiple times in a day, and you’re all set! But now that I’m working from home, I go from one meeting to another in 10 seconds via the click of a mouse. It’s so much easier to schedule back-to-back meetings now, and it’s not in favor of our physical or mental health. I’m sure if you work somewhere where all of your meetings are in the same building, or even on the same floor, you have a similar issue.
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My solution is to keep some workout gear at my desk. I have a resistance band and some light weights. If I have a few minutes between meetings, I’ll do a few quick reps just to get my heart pumping and my legs stretched. But I also am lucky enough to have a few audio only conference calls, so if my camera is off and it’s more of a discussion instead of me needing to type or take notes, I will stand up and just do easy, slow, muscle-toning reps that won’t make me go out of breath so I can still participate in the conversation. I know once I’m back in the office, these are things I will still be able to do.
Now let’s talk about posture. Have you gotten yourself a simple standing desk yet? I’ve had this Amazon Basics Laptop Table for years and it’s served me well. I use it all the time, no matter if I’m sitting or standing. If I’m sitting, my posture is so much better because my screen is eye-level and my back and neck aren’t hunched over (not to mention the camera angle is much better for Zoom calls!). I also have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse that fit nicely under the stand to use if I’m sitting down.
To check on my posture throughout the day, I use my smartwatch movement reminder. If I’m in a meeting and not able to get in steps, I’ll make simple body adjustments. Are my feet flat on the floor, am I sitting up straight, are my shoulders down, is my neck and jaw relaxed instead of tense? These are all things you can easily adjust without drawing attention to yourself, and bonus, you’ll look much more attentive in your meeting.
What are other ways you like to stay active at the office?
I have another hydration hack for you that I’m super excited to share.
Problem: You know a glass of lemon water is one of the best things for you first thing in the morning but you don’t have the time, energy, or brain function to cut and squeeze a lemon before your coffee. You’ve also tried pre-cutting the lemons and storing the slices in the fridge, but they never stay good long enough so you ended up tossing them anyway.
Sound familiar? Good, glad it’s not just me.
Solution: Lemon ice cubes! This has been a total game changer for me. I buy 6 lemons, squeeze them, pour the juice into my old baby food puree silicone molds (I get about 16 small ice cubes from 6 lemons), and pop them into the freezer overnight. Then voila! The first thing I do every morning is grab a glass of warm water, pop in an ice cube, it melts and cools the while I’m going to the bathroom, and then I’ve got myself a refreshing glass of lemon H2O with absolutely no effort at all. I drink this while the coffee is brewing, and it’s magical.
I’m not a nutritionist, doctor, or health expert, but I’d like to note the actual change I feel, personally in my body, now that I have a daily glass of room-temp lemon water. I know it’s waking up and energizing my system and flushing out the crud. The only way I can attempt to describe it is that I am going to the bathroom twice as often and I’m not drinking any more than I used to. The only thing I’ve changed about my morning routine is adding the lemon. Now I pee 3-4 times by 10AM, whereas I used to only go about 2 times by then. And I’m normally a well-hydrated person! So something is definitely different, besides the fact that I just feel good in a way that I can’t explain and my skin has never been better.
Based on my basic knowledge around hydration and lemon water, what I understand is that my body doesn’t have to use up as much h2o to replenish and wake-up from the previous night because it’s using nutrients differently, resulting in faster digestion. I’ve actually often wondered why I didn’t go to the bathroom more since I drink a lot of water. I assumed I had large bladder, but in reality, perhaps it was that my body needed to use more of the water to get my body going every day.
The power of water, fresh food, and the human body is amazing! Right? So next time you’re at the grocery store, grab a handful of lemons and try making lemon ice cubes. Let me know what you think! I hope it’s the life hack you’ve been needing in your life.
Wishing you a well-hydrated, healthy day.
- 7 Reasons to Start Your Day With Lemon Water: Cleveland Clinic
- 7 Ways Your Body Benefits from Lemon Water: Healthline
- What Happens To Your Body When You Drink Lemon Water Every Day: Eat This, Not That!
Unpopular opinion: I started the “Go Dry In July” challenge. I follow a few heart health organizations on social media who have been promoting this, and I’m hopping on board. For on thing, I am so over the “mom needs a drink” culture. Mom doesn’t need a drink. Mom needs to hydrate and eat healthy so that we’re the best we can be for ourselves, our kids, and our jobs. Alcohol will not help us in any of those aspects.
Plus, I’ve pretty much had no interest in drinking since having children. Alcohol just doesn’t have the same taste to me as it did pre-pregnancy. So luckily all I really need to attempt is to cut out my 1 lite beer a week. I’m a badass working mom who survived a pandemic baby wearing a mask during birth, I’m pretty sure I can handle this. With that said, though, an ice cold summertime drink just hits differently. You never know when that craving will hit while you’re poolside or at a backyard BBQ. Ya, know? But I got this. We’ve all got this.
As with most of my decisions lately, it’s also for health reasons and focusing on self-care. In the rare occasion that I’ve indulged in drinks with friends, it’s left me feeling absolutely horrible. Alcohol affects are no joke after 35. Similar to how I was feeling last week with my sinus infection, or when I’m dehydrated, I 100% hated the way alcohol raised my heart rate and blood pressure. If blood pressure is a concern of mine, how can I knowingly do something that is reversing all of the progress I’ve made?!? Alcohol was putting an unnecessary stress on my body, and there was really no reason for it.
So I challenge you to join me in a dry July. Your mind and body deserve a refresh in this summer heat. Go grab some ice cold fruit-infused water, nosh on some watermelon and pineapple, and we’ll check-in with each other to see how it’s going.
Too much of a good thing can still be unhealthy. Just like obsessing over food, nutrition, or fitness can cause burnout, so can the little things we think are helping us. I was sick recently with a sinus infection, and I knew my body was working extra hard to kick the cold to the curb. I could physically feel my heart racing, and I told myself not to, but I couldn’t stop checking my heart rate and stress levels on my watch. I knew my body was stressed, I knew why it was stressed, but I still looked at my stats and panicked every time. Classic self-sabotage right there.
This week, I’m feeling back to my old self. All my stats (including blood pressure) went back to normal, and I just can’t stop thinking about why I put myself through that. I should have given myself a break. I should have given my body the space and grace it needed to get better.
Mental health doesn’t always need to be focused on how you’re feeling right here and now. It can also be simply acknowledging a worry or feeling that you already had, taking note of what happened, and being aware of how you can make adjustments. You don’t have to fix everything immediately.
So it’s a bit retroactive, but I’m giving myself that mental health break now. No smartwatch this week. Let’s face it, we all know that 90% of the time we look at our smartwatches it’s not to see what time it is. A health coach once told me that we’re guaranteed 5,000 steps a day, and you have to work for the rest. As a parent of excited toddlers, I’m pretty sure I’m guaranteed at least 7,000 steps. I’ve also worked really hard at being in-tune with my body along my health journey the past few years. I know when something feels off and I don’t need a watch to tell me so.
You’ll see this theme often in my self-care messaging and it’s to trust yourself. Let your own mind and body drive your decisions. Do not let external people, things, or ads influence how you think you should feel. You are doing a great job keeping yourself and your little ones healthy, so keep on going and take that mental health break from whatever stressor is causing you doubt.
We drink a lot of water over here. But even so, it’s still not enough to keep up with the summer heat. In our house, we call this the sunshine hangover.
Last weekend we spent most of the time outside playing hard. We lathered up the sunscreen multiple times, made sure to drink our water (I had 10 glasses!), and indulged in lots of fresh, juicy fruit. And yet, I still woke up totally parched, headachy, elevated heart rate, and hot. Dude, what’s the deal, sun?!? I just want to hang out with my kids outdoors and not feel like I partied all night long!
There are a few “hangover” electrolyte drinks that I swear by to get me through the after-sun post-party feeling without all the sugar. I’m usually feeling good an hour or two after waking up if I drink one of these first thing, before my coffee.
You can’t buy this one at the store or on Amazon, but it’s my absolute favorite and the one I swear by. I can hook you up with one of my good friends, and Beachbody Coach, if you want it. I add double the amount of water it calls for to maximize my water intake while still getting the flavor and nutrients to fend off the hangover feeling.
My favorite local pharmacy carries this (check out yours too — shoutout to shopping small!!!), and I like to keep a few in the back of my fridge for when they’re needed most and I need an ice cold drink to feel better. There are a bunch of flavors, fun seasonal ones too, and I do the same here where I tend to water it down just so I get more water.
Last but not least, we have coconut water. This one isn’t my favorite, but will work in a pinch if you don’t have access to the other two that can sometimes be hard to find. It has the hydration factor, antioxidants, minerals, and natural electrolytes that fend off the unwanted hangover when your kids wake you up at 5:30 and are ready to play. We all need that saving grace sometimes.
What are your post-sun (or hangover) self-care tips? Please share! I’m always looking for new life hacks.
You know that feeling when you realize you’re doing a task with ease that used to be extremely hard for you? I had that experience this week while working out. I used to hate planks. I always felt weak and shaky, and there was no way I could even attempt plank jacks or other variations the badass coaches were doing in the videos. I assumed it would just be a move I would never be very good at, and accepted it.
Cut to this week during a yoga session. I was just chillin’ in down dog and then slowly moved into plank. I was focusing on my breath and core, and before I knew it, I was in a strong, solid plank for longer than I’ve ever done before. And I wasn’t hating it!
It took a long time to get to this point. Years, in fact. I’ve learned a lot about myself and my body through this newfound heart-health journey. I know that if I go all-in on a hardcore workout or diet program right off the bat, I will quit. I know that I hate cardio and get more out of slow and steady workouts. I know that the numbers on the scale and my pant size don’t actually reflect my health. These are not things I knew about myself years ago. I even tortured myself for 2 whole years trying to tell myself I was a runner and absolutely hated every single run and felt like I was dying with every step. Was it worth it? Well, it’s cool I can say I once ran 8 whole miles (ha!). Was I healthy physically and mentally? No. Not in the slightest.
This is growth, my friends, and I am damn proud of it! Now give me a yoga mat and resistance band and I’ll happily be on my way.
Listen to the podcast and meditate with me as I go on this personal growth journey to find happiness through mindfulness.
I am constantly learning new life skills/hacks from my kids’ daycare. One thing in particular from this year are the snacking requirements that I’ve now adapted into my own life too.
Protein + Veggie + Fruit + Grain
At daycare, meals and snacks must include a protein, veggie, fruit, and grain. In other words, I call it the PVFG plan. I have PVFG written on the fridge whiteboard that I’m always considering when meal and snack planning. And let me tell you, my fruit and veggie intake has wildly increased over time because of this, with almost no effort.
What I like is that it’s completely unrestrictive. It’s not saying “no, don’t eat that food”, it’s saying, “hey, think about including this if you’re going to eat that”. So if I’m craving something salty and want a handful of pretzels, I’ll also include sunflower butter and carrots. Think of it as a mini charcuterie board, every day, if you will. I know for a fact I’m eating less pretzels now than I would have if I grabbed “just a handful” of them….every time I walked past the kitchen. Now I have a satisfying, nutritious plateful and won’t be reaching for more snacks the rest of the afternoon.
My kids have subconsciously adopted these habits as well. My toddler often asks for a fruit and grain for her post-nap snack. She likes to pick her own food, so as long as the healthy options are visible to her, she will likely pick them. But that’s not to say she won’t try to consume an entire bag of BBQ chips in one sitting either. We all have our moments.
What are your healthy snack hacks?
Legs up the wall — the easiest way to relax and replenish, even with the kids running around. My heart rate and blood pressure immediately lower whenever I get into position, and I can just feel the tension melt away.
This position originates from a yoga pose called Viparita Karan. I love restorative yoga and practice it regularly to strengthen my mind and heart. You can view instructions on how to perform the position on Healthline or Yoga Journal. But I’m just here to rave about its awesomeness.
So how do I accomplish maximum relaxation with kids in tow? Easy, get them involved! Whenever I feel the tension rising, my blood pressure increasing, or just all-around stress, I yell “tunnel time” and the kids cheer and make a space on the floor for me to lie down. Then I get into legs-up-the-wall position, but leave enough space between my butt and the wall for the kids to climb through, like a tunnel. They are entertained for at least 5-10 minutes of solid running, jumping, giggling, etc. And, no, I don’t get peace and quiet zen time, but I do get to give my heart a break and be mindful and peaceful for a few minutes while also being present in my kids play time. Note: only a few times have I been injured during this activity because a kid trips and falls on my face. Ha. But the benefits outweigh the risks.
If someone were to ask me my favorite way to lower blood pressure quickly, this would be it. Try it, and let me know what you think!
Drinking water was engrained in my life at an early age. From ages 14-19, the only beverages I drank were water and diet peach Snapple. Where are my fellow people who used to think drinking diet sweetened “tea” was healthy?!?!? Ditto. My drinks of choice have expanded over the past 20 years (re: coffee, beer & wine!), but my hydration motivation dwindled.
Since becoming pregnant with my 2nd in 2019, I worked really hard to bring my water consumption back up. I drink my 8-9 cups every single day now. I’ll be honest that it’s been a lot easier working from home because I always have water available. There’s no planning ahead to make sure I have accessible refills like at the office. But there are two really noticeable differences in my body since improving this habit.
My Heart Rate Decreases
Thanks to smartwatches and being in-tune with my body, I know exactly when I haven’t had enough water. My heart rate is increased. I know my norm rate for the average daily routine, and if I feel a little off, the first thing I check is how much water I’ve had that day. 9 times out of 10, that’s the case, and it almost immediately goes back to normal after I sit and half a glass or two.
I Start the Day off Right
I feel so much better in the mornings! My mind and body have done a complete 180. I used to often get headachy and nauseous if I didn’t eat anything, and it would stick around most of the morning. But now, I wake up feeling good, focused, and as energized as possible (from interrupted sleep with a teething 12-month-old). This has been a game changer for setting the tone for the rest of my day, and I am here for it.
Being a morning person is not in my blood, but it’s becoming more enjoyable the more I focus on myself and my health. I’m also more present and patient with my 1-year-old on the days she wakes me up before my alarm. Gone are the days that I give my child the side-eye while wishing I was still in bed, and instead, I have a simple glass of water to thank for me being a better mom.
What do you notice about how you feel when you’re properly hydrated?
This is a habit that has been hard for me to break. It’s a well-known fact that parenting and work schedules don’t always allow us to eat when we want to, but there are always a few adjustments we have the freedom to make. You don’t have to eat at 12:00 just because that’s what society tells us when lunchtime is. Listen to your body and eat when it feels best for you.
The first thing I adapted was breakfast and everything else followed suit. I used to have to eat breakfast first thing in the morning, but now that I’m more hydrated, I don’t NEED to eat until later. Bumping a balanced breakfast until after 8:30 has been eye opening. I don’t need a mid-morning snack anymore, and I make better choices at lunch because I didn’t just scarf a bowl of cereal before heading out the door. Now I can be thoughtful and prepare (or pack) a meal that I enjoy after dropping off the kids or in between work meetings.
Fast forward to dinner and even my kids have become more adaptable. They are usually famished when I pick them up, so I used to think I had to hold them off and scramble to get whatever I could on the table by 5:30 to stop the screaming. Wrong. Now I provide a snack while I’m getting us settled in the house for the evening and then they play until dinner is ready. It’s been a life-changer for our evenings. No more hangry temper tantrums (from them or me). Pushing dinner back has made the dinner-bath-bed routine a little more crammed, but now we’re also not scanning the pantry for post-dinner snacks. A win-win-win!
So sometimes just one small altered habit can create a domino effect of healthy choices the rest of the day.