Saturday, 30 April 2016

Wellness at work - Looking after YOU

The workplace can be a harsh environment, it is filled with different stressors that affect all of us in different ways including; physically, emotionally and mentally. I am honouring all office workers in this blog and how you can look after yourself while you are at work. No matter where you sit on the company ladder you are important and your wellbeing is important so I have put together a few of my own hacks to help you stay well at work and focus more on number one.

Work, for most of us is the reality of our lives and we have to work to earn money and live the lifestyle that we want to live. I have been in corporate roles for 15 years and I know the toll that the workplace has taken on my wellbeing which is why it is now a priority for me. I find that being in an office environment for 40 hours (if not more) per week can be really challenging; the air-conditioning, the lights, the computer screens together with workload expectations impact our wellbeing.

Here are some things that I do to maintain my own wellbeing (both physically and mentally) in an office environment.

      1) Water is so important, stay hydrated and it will help you stay focused and well at work. Sometimes I can't drink that much water myself (especially in winter months), so I have a lot herbal tea. It is also a good excuse to get up from your desk and make a cup of tea.  I also use eye drops as i find my eyes get really dry from air-conditioning and looking at a computer screen. I put eye drops in almost every day to help hydrate my eyes and it has made a huge difference.

2)   Use flexible work options. Most companies now offer a range of flexible work options, ask questions to find out what your workplace offers and take advantage of flexibility at work. This is also important if you are looking for a job ask about the company flexibility practices as it will help your wellness at work. I use flexible work practices (such as working from home) all the time and I still deliver above and beyond in my role. If anything it makes me a better performer.
3) Take regular breaks and I don't just mean to go for a walk (which is also important). But take regular holidays or days off so that you can have a break from the office environment. Don't wait until you are too exhausted and overworked till you organise a holiday. Stay on top of it and plan for your wellbeing. Make sure you understand your company cycle and busy periods and organise breaks early so that you can also give your best at work. You need to look after yourself first otherwise no one benefits.

Give your mind a break and ensure you are getting plenty of rest. Meditate when you can to rest and clear your mind and ensure you are getting plenty of sleep so that you can prepare for the next day. My yoga teacher says that 'your day starts the night before', so your wellness depends on quality rest.  

4) Move. Just move as much as you can after slitting in a chair all day long. Whether it is exercise classes, yoga, pilates or walking. Make sure you spend some time each day moving. I do yoga every night (and I am time poor like everyone else), I do 3-5 yoga poses everyday to stretch out my hips, back, legs and arms. My body feels amazing and it prepares me for sleep, it is also realistic for me as it takes 10-15 minutes to do.

You can manage you own wellbeing at work with some planning and focusing more on yourself. You need to make your wellbeing a priority in your life and put yourself first. There is only so much you can do before you reach breaking point physically and mentally so please honour yourself and look after YOU at work and everyone will benefit.          

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Planted in the present, how mindful are you?

Before I became a yoga teacher and before I started to focus on being more conscious about my life, I would have rated my mindfulness a three out of ten. I have always been quite intuitive and aware of myself but I don't think I was very mindful or present.

When I started on my yogic journey, I was blown away by the power of mindfulness and its ability to increase your focus, clarity, decision making skills, calmness and empowerment. Living in the present and being mindful radically reduced my stress and created a space within myself where I could flourish as my body, mind and spirit was firmly planted in the present.

I quickly went from rating myself three out of ten on the mindfulness scale to a seven out of ten. This was just after six months of intensive training to become a yoga teacher, together with a lot of meditation practice and self development. I found that I was a lot clearer with what I wanted out of life, I became extremely conscious about my thoughts and what I 'choose' to think about, and more than anything I felt empowered to be kind to myself.

Mindfulness to me means 'being present', and it can help you in all aspects of your life; relationships, home, career, finances and health. The ability to remain present and mindful will help with any situation you are going through.  

Below are two things that you can start to do RIGHT NOW to bring mindfulness into your life: 

Firstly, be more aware of your thoughts. You may not like your thoughts and your mind might be going at a million miles per hour but just start to be more conscious of your thoughts. Modern living can disconnect us from the power of our minds and we need to remember that WE ARE POWERFUL and what goes on in our heads creates the world around us. I believe that thoughts are energy and what you think about, you attract. 

One of my wise yoga teachers use to say 'you wouldn't let an unwanted guest stay in your house, so why do you let unwanted thoughts stay in your head?'.  From this moment right now, start to observe your thoughts and be more mindful about what is going on upstairs. Start journaling if you want to take notes and notice the magic of your mind. 

Secondly, do something for yourself everyday. No matter how big or small, just do something for you everyday and make sure that while you are doing it you remain mindful that this is something you are doing for you. For example, I was working in a stressful role and to get me through a challenging phase I would get a hot chocolate every afternoon. It made me feel really good as I would give myself a small treat and at the same time it reminded me of my mindfulness time; I was being kind to myself. It could be 5 minutes of meditation, a long hot shower or going for a walk around the block, but the important fact to remember is that you need to be mindful of this act everyday. The best thing about this action is that it makes you focus on yourself and empowers you to be good to yourself everyday. The world will treat you the way you treat yourself, so ensure that it is kind. 

These two actions together with a regular yoga and meditation practice have taken me up the mindfulness scale and able to live a life more firmly planted in the present. If you had to rate your own mindfulness, how mindful are you?



Sunday, 17 April 2016

Staying Grounded

I, like most people get very caught up in my head and find it very difficult to remain grounded. Even as a yoga teacher and with a regular meditation practice, I really have to focus on being balanced and this has made me more aware of the importance of staying grounded. 

To me, being grounded means drawing the energy from my head down to my feet and to better connect with the earth element. I am head strong and a thinker, therefore I naturally have a lot more energy flowing around my head and I actively need to work on drawing the energy down through my body to my feet to stay grounded. 

Too much thinking, stress, overall modern pressures and what I call lower energies (fear, guilt, insecurity) use a lot of energy and create energy blocks in your body as it restricts the flow of energy. The impact for me is that I get caught up overthinking, over planning, stressing about the past or the future (which as we know is not being present and a yogic faux-par) resulting in stress and anxiety. Most people can relate to this as many of us work in roles where we need to think a lot. Therefore it is even more important for us to stay grounded. 

When we ground ourselves we stay balanced as we are increasing the flow of energy from our head down to our toes and will naturally feel more balanced. My love for meditation means that I am able to give my mind a break and release excess mental energy. 

Do you get headaches, sore head, tired, can’t sleep or are restless, sore neck/shoulders, circulation issues, leg and foot cramps, pins and needles? These are all signs that you need to ground yourself.

So what can you do to help yourself? There are numerous ways to ground yourself, below are a few of my favourites to get your started. 

I use meditation and yoga to help ground myself. The best way I have found to ground myself is through deep breathing. In yoga we call this pranayama which is a breathing practice to increase the flow of breath in your body. If there is one message to take away from this post is to start a regular deep breathing practice. Just being conscious of your breath for 5 minutes a day will change your life. We take our breath completely for granted and without it we wouldn’t exist. Get into the practice of breathing into your diaphragm and down into the base of your belly.  Your whole energy will change once you know how important your breath is.

I have found that sand, salt water, grass and virtually anything earthy helps ground yourself. Sit on the floor at home (I do this all the time!). 

Massage, especially reflexology is amazing, it is all about the feet and helps the flow and circulation in the body. 

Energy healing has had one of the biggest impacts on my life and has helped me draw energy down to my feet and clear blockages in my body. 

PLAYTIME is so important, children do this naturally and as adults we can learn so much from children, so take the time to play. Think about the things that you love to do and make sure you do these more often.  Not only will this help with creating balance in your life but it will make you happier too. 

Once you become more aware of how important staying grounded is in your life you will notice a difference to your overall wellbeing. 

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Five ways to start meditating

Five ways to start meditating 

When I tell people that I am a yoga and meditation teacher, the most common question I get asked is ‘how do you start meditating?' Therefore I thought that this should be my first blog. I work in the corporate environment and I see people everyday that would benefit from meditation. 

Meditation to me is quieting the mind or slowly letting your thoughts drift away so that you can actively rest your mind. For many meditation is really difficult, we live in a face paced and energetic world where we need to be ‘on’ all the time. I often find myself telling people that it is ok to take a break, it is ok to put yourself first and you will be much more productive once you give yourself some mental space. I have put together five practical ways to help you start meditating, these are simple techniques for beginners or anyone wanting to explore different ways of meditation.

 Five different ways to start meditating:

1. Use a guided meditation, this is really good for beginners and there are heaps of meditations available on Youtube, just search for guided meditation and thousands will come up. Youtube is a great resource and easily available. To assist in finding a good guided meditation I use; 
  • Lisa Beachy 
  • Louise Hay 
  • Doreen Virtue 
These are my guided meditations. However, there are so many to choose from, try a few and I guarantee you will find one you like. There are also heaps of meditation apps available through the app store.  

2. Listening to music is a favourite way to meditate. I use Om music, bells or soft music to create a relaxed environment. You can also purchase specific meditation music from iTunes if you want to save it on your phone. Otherwise Youtube is another resource.   

3. A Yoga Nidra is a an excellent relaxation technique and again is readily available on Youtube or apps. I find Yoga Nidra one of the best ways to meditate especially for people that are very tired and time poor as a Yoga Nidra is a great way to re-energise yourself. Yoga Nidra is a great meditation to do during the day (early afternoon) as a pick me up.

4. Breath awareness. Again Youtube is a great reference guide. Just focusing on your breath is really powerful, as humans our breath is our pathway to life and I know that I often forget this. Therefore we need to focus on deep breathing into our diaphragm and belly. When we are stressed we breath only into the upper chest therefore we need to deepen our breath to increase the flow of energy through our bodies. Deep breathing is relaxing and helps with stress and anxiety. 

5. Attend a meditation or yoga class. As obvious as this sounds, there are local classes everywhere that offer different types of yoga and meditation.  Look for a beginners class and please don’t be put off because everyone looks really flexible. Yoga is an inside job so just do it to the best of your own ability. This is one of the main reasons why I became a teacher as it is your own individual practice that matters. Many teachers also offer private yoga or meditation classes if you want to get your own teacher.            

Remember that meditation is a personal experience and many people find it extremely difficult as there their minds are very active. I have found that meditation is a process and you do get better at it over time. Even if you just sit down, close your eyes and observe your thoughts you are making huge headway.  Please don't get frustrated just try it for 5 or 10 minutes to begin with and you can progress in your own time and in your own style.