Establishing a mindful morning routine is just as challenging as it is important. (And living mindfully shouldn’t add to your stress…obviously!)
Weekday mornings tend to be crazed, as you attempt to get yourself (and maybe your kids) out the door on time. They also set the tone for the hours to come.
“I’ve found if I wake up anxious over all the things I need to do and don’t take a few moments to center and feel calm, I feel like I’m running on a hamster wheel all day,” says mindfulness coach and Kundalini yoga and meditation teacher Tejal V. Patel. “I truly believe how you start your day lays the foundation for the rest of your day.”
Patel is the creator of The Mindful Mama Experience (open for enrollment between April 3 and 11), a six-week online course that teaches women how to easily infuse mindful resets into their lives, be present and patient in the midst of chaos, and even teach their kids how to practice mindfulness.
In other words, she knows that telling you the solution to your morning woes is not to try to fit in a 20-minute seated meditation. It just. won’t. happen. Instead, we asked her to share a few ways you can easily incorporate meditative techniques into the routine you already have, to set you up for a less stressful day overall.
The pressure’s on as soon as you reach for your phone on the bedside table. So, take one minute to set a daily intention before checking your email or placing those feet on the floor. “I do a few deep breaths right in bed with my hands on my heart to connect with myself. I say this: ‘Universe, please allow me to be the best version of myself. What would you have me say? Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? Allow me to be safe, be patient, and have fun,’” Patel says.
Adjust the intention so that it speaks to you, personally, and then make it a habit. “It takes a minute and then I step out of bed knowing that whatever I do that day it’s with the intention that I will do my best, be my best, and let go of whomever I was yesterday.”
Okay, you don’t have time to sit on a pillow and Om, but you can practice meditative techniques while doing the things you have to do, like brushing your teeth or blowdrying your hair. “When I’m brushing, I make it a point to look deeply into my left eye, take deep breaths in and out through my nose and say ‘I love you’ to myself,” Patel says. “So many of us look in the mirror but never gaze deeply into our eyes. This took me awhile to feel comfortable with, but it transformed the relationship I have with myself. If you feel really gutsy after you’re done brushing, keep looking into your eyes and say ‘I love you’ out loud like you are saying it to your lover, child, or best friend. It’s super powerful stuff!”
Once your mindful morning routine starts to take shape, you can also involve your little ones. Patel recommends teaching the above “I love you” exercise to kids five or older, and even putting a note on the bathroom mirror to remind them to practice. “This will get them breathing and saying positive affirmations and help them start connecting to themselves,” she says. “For younger children, you could engage them in mindful conversation during breakfast or the car ride by asking them questions like ‘What colors do you see? What do you feel today? What do you hear today?”
You know, in between repeating, “Hurry up, let’s go!” over and over. Maybe in time, they’ll be calm, collected, and ready to go before you even ask. You can dream, right?
Sometimes it can feel like stressful scenarios are waiting on every corner (and in every email), and mastering a calming meditation (or two) is a great way to prepare to meet them.
“Meditation allows us to respond to certain situations appropriately and consciously, using our judgment with more calm and clarity rather than reacting harshly,” says Lynne Goldberg, the founder of OMG. I Can Meditate!, a lifestyle app filled with guided meditations that address all kinds of specific life challenges.
“Additionally, meditation helps us take a step back and see the bigger picture, so we can better understand others’ perspectives and opinions.”
I feel calmer already.
That sense of perspective is key, because it will allow you to deal with whatever hurdle you’re confronting so you can get back to what’s important, like enjoying time with the people you love and crushing your career goals. (There’s a reason wellness pros like Mandy Ingber and McKel Hill all seem to meditate regularly.)
Don’t worry, Goldberg is not saying you need to develop the silent focus of a monk. Spending just a couple of minutes being mindful of your breath, she promises, can work wonders.
Start with the two-minute meditation for calm Goldberg provided, below, and download OMG. I Can Meditate! for meditations that can help you with all of life’s tricky moments. You can also learn from Goldberg and other top experts like her via The Nutrition School.
A 2-Minute Calming Meditation
—Take 2 deep cleansing breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth.
—Now allow your breath to return to normal, in and out through the nose. Follow your breath with your full attention. Notice the sensation as the air touches your nostrils.
—Follow the breath for its full journey all the way from your nasal passage into your lungs and down to your belly, feeling your belly rise. And reversing that breath, feeling your belly fall as the breath leaves your body.
—Notice everything you can about each breath—the temperature of the air, how it feels at the tip of your nose and the back of your throat.
—Take 8 to 10 of these fully conscious breaths and notice the change in how you feel when you’re done.
Top Photo: Dingzeyu Li via UnsplashHow Does Lauren Roxburgh Live a Nutritious Life?
Lauren Roxburgh is an international best-selling author of ‘Taller, Slimmer, Younger – 21 Days to a Foam Roller Physique’, and creator of the Lo Rox Aligned Rollers and the Aligned Life video series. Certified in the fields of Structural Integration, classical Pilates, nutrition and pre/post-natal yoga, Lauren is a body alignment, fascia and movement healer, and has been fortunate enough to work with some of the world’s top athletes and celebrities. She is the go-to writer and expert on all things fascia, alignment and foam rolling and regularly works with some of the country’s top orthopedic surgeons.
Currently, she is working on making me two inches taller. Perhaps I won’t get two inches, but she can, for real, make you taller (and calmer at the same time.) Named “Body Alignment Pro” by Vogue and dubbed “The Body Whisperer” by Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.com, Lauren has also been listed as one of the “Hottest Trainers in America” by Shape magazine.
I love every minute I spend with Lauren as she truly radiates all things Nutritious Life in her calm, positive, beautiful inside and out way. Read on to learn how this gorgeous mama lives her most Nutritious Life:
(PS: I know you’re going to want to lie down on the ground and start rolling the minute you read this and lucky for us, you’ll be learning more from Lauren in the blog here soon. So, keep checking back.)
I stay hydrated with Alkaline water, Rosemary Lemon Water, Chlorophyll Water, loose-leaf green tea and a bit of Italian or French red wine and organic coffee.
Nourish and live with the 80/20 Rule! Go Alkaline 80% of your life and go ahead and allow yourself to indulge a bit for the other 20%. Start your day with an 8oz glass of water and a squeeze of lemon before you have coffee or breakfast. Reduce red meat, wheat, dairy, processed foods, refined sugar and alcohol in your diet.
My whole philosophy is about empowerment and connecting with our true strength and authentic selves. Finding alignment in your physical body is the first step to aligning your life, connecting to your gifts, attracting your deepest desires and feeling like you are on your true path. It’s not about what you think the world wants you to have, but actually digging deeper into what your own true desires, passions and loves truly are.
Over the years as I was so deeply studying the body, I realized many other things in my life and self were also coming into ‘alignment’. I’ve seen it with hundreds of my clients too. People who have struggled with weight issues, stress, toxic relationships, addictions or other personal issues often find they finally get resolved once their body is correctly aligned, connected and stronger and they start to feel empowered. When we take time to really BE in our bodies and out of our heads, magic happens, light bulbs go off and your true inner self can start leading the way. Hence my motto: Aligned body, aligned life! I also practice TM meditation to help me connect to my higher self.
Practice gratitude, soulful self-love and acceptance, not just saying it in our heads, but feeling the love for self and acceptance of self in our bodies and at a cellular level…That’s when we change our vibrations and we start connecting to what and who we truly desire.
When people focus on the positive, life becomes better, you glow more and you attract more positive in your life. Even when we go through awful things in life like break-ups, losses, deaths, illnesses and betrayal we can choose how we view the experience. We can choose to be a victim or look at lesson. Ultimately, finding balance in life, letting go of the small stuff, prioritizing love, health, laughter and nurturing your body and emotional wellbeing.
Roll, bounce, sauna, mineral bathes. Surround myself in scent. Rub 2-3 drops of skin suitable lavender oil into your palms and rub together, then inhale 4 times to relax my mind and body. Then rub on my temples and neck and feel the tension flow away! Another great way to nurture myself is to take hot salt bath. Salt baths and saunas helps release unwanted tension, flush the body of toxins, hydrate connective tissue, reduce soreness, help you sleep better and fully relax your entire body and mind.
Natural CALM Magnesium drink helps relax my body so much.
Be here and now. Remember to breathe…in just a few minutes a day you can dramatically increase your lung capacity, improve posture and reduce stress by doing what I call “Umbrella Breathing”: Visualize your lungs as a 3-dimensional umbrella. Imagine you are opening the umbrella by taking a full inhale to expand your lungs as much as possible. Pause at the top of the breath, then take a full calm exhale (as if you were sighing in relief). Pause again at the bottom of your breath and repeat. Decide which way is easier for you: the inhale or the exhale? Then focus on the weaker direction to help increase the absorption of oxygen. It’s so simple but the benefits are increased metabolism, better posture, decreased stress, more energy and even feeling more inspired.
Get on my Bellicon rebounder and do my Total Body foam roller Workout Aligned Life video series Foam rolling increases circulation, smoothes out fascia and helps ‘wring’ out your organs all of which can help regenerate and restructure your connective tissue, reduce stress and inflammation, detoxify your body, and even beat cellulite once and for all.
Cellulite occurs when underlying fat pushes through weakened, dry, or brittle connective tissue (or fascia). This weakened or imbalanced connective tissue structure can be caused by gravity, aging, dehydration, and lack of movement and poor muscle tone and/or circulation. But 10 minutes a day on your roller can rejuvenate this connective tissue as well as giving your lymphatic system a boost so that it is more efficient in flushing toxins from the body.
The rebounder is another great way to boost lymphatic drainage and rid your the body of waste and toxins. Getting rid of the waste helps reduce cellulite, keep skin clear, hydrated, supple and glowing, which helps you look and feel younger. Plus it’s fun, helps build bone density and is the perfect way to get a low impact cardio workout as well. Combine it with 10 minutes of rolling for an incredibly effective de-stressing and slimming combo.
McKel Hill, MS, RD is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Stripped, a healthy living website dedicated to optimizing the wellbeing of women over the globe through recipes, nutrition advice, fitness and much more. It’s not hard to understand why the first time I chatted with McKel we could have talked for HOURS! And, by now we have! McKel is crushing it in the world of nutrition and as someone who’s been doing my nutrition thing for a long time, I love seeing this happen. McKel recently launched The Nutrition Stripped Society an exclusive meal planning membership site with reset/detox guides aimed to take your health to the next level, grocery shopping lists, cooking how-to’s, batch cooking guide, cooking videos, fitness videos, workout tips, tips on wellbeing and ongoing support. Check it out and keep an eye out for the The Nutrition Stripped Cookbook which will be published in the fall 2016 with William Morrow. For a peak into this healthy girl’s life, check out here how McKel lives her most Nutritious Life:
Plenty of water with lemon and lime first thing in the morning, followed by my Matcha Tea Latte or Coffee, Elevated if I need a little pre-workout boost. Also I’m a huge tea drinking all day long whether it’s green tea, liver supportive tea, peppermint, or ginger. #gimmiealltheteas
Whole foods as much as possible, but I’m all about flexibility! I try to listen to my body and focus on nourishing from the inside out to be able to carry out my work and passions in life- it’s an added bonus that it gives me energy, clearer skin, stronger hair, and weight maintenance.
Meditation. Meditating each morning and setting up a morning ritual that is non-negotiable is, well, non-negotiable! It keeps me feeling energetic and spiritually centered which is a driving force during my days. If I don’t meditate I feel I have less space for clarity and focus.
This is something I’m learning more, especially this past year finding balance in my professional and personal life, going through a break up, you know- life. Loving more in the present moment means self-love, love and support with friends, family, and the beautiful NS community that makes my heart smile.
Meditation, taking the time to find balance and set boundaries with work, getting a monthly massage, routine acupuncture, taking a walk outside (daily), talking to friends and family on the phone, girls nights, alone time reading a book and drinking tea, helping others, eating well, and sleeping at least 8 hours.
I’m routine about it and make sleep a priority- I always try to get 8 hours a sleep a night and do pretty well at that, but it takes discipline! 98% of the time I wake up around 4:30-5am each morning so going to bed early enough to match that takes willpower but also knowing when to let loose and pull those 2am bedtimes after a night out in the city. I share my favorite tips on sleep for a nighttime routine on the Nutrition Stripped Blog.
Acupuncture, meditation, and journaling are my favorite ways to stress less and manage stress- acupuncture has really changed my life and wellbeing this past year. It’s been another tool to use in my “toolkit” for stress management and I’m a huge advocate for finding those tools so you can rule stress and not let it rule you.
I workout about 6 days a week in the gym, a combination of heavy weight lifting, sprinting, running, walking, swimming, all the things. I love working out and have since high school—it’s my happy place and part of my morning routine that’s non-negotiable! Other than that I love doing anything outdoors where I can both get in some exercise, breathe in fresh air and be in nature. I also started to incorporate more yoga for balance and posture, both of these things I cover and share with the members of the Nutrition Stripped Society because EVERYONE can do it- no yogi-skill needed.
Learn more about McKel at nutritionstripped.com.
How Does Candice Kumai Live a Nutritious Life?
CANDICE KUMAI is a classically trained chef, wellness journalist and best-selling author of Clean Green Drinks, Pretty Delicious, Cook Yourself Sexy and Cook Yourself Thin. She is a regular contributor on E! News and The Dr. Oz Show and has appeared as a regular judge on Iron Chef America and Beat Bobby Flay.
She contributes to food and lifestyle publications such as Cosmopolitan, Shape, Men’s Health, Clean Eating and Prevention and volunteers at dozens of charitable organizations. She is a Top Chef alumni, and is obsessed with avocados, coconut and her cat, Sisi.
One funny thing you may not know about her, “I do a killer impression of my Japanese mom. I’ve been told, if all else fails, stand up comedy is right around the corner. Hell yeah!”
Her latest book Clean Green Eats is filled with recipes I promise you are going to want to chow down on! I recently had the chance to do just that cooked by the lady herself (the benefits of healthy friends!) When Candice and I chat health, we usually can’t stop. Read on to learn what she told me about how she lives her most Nutritious Life.
With my Clean Green Drinks, of course! 😉
Clean Clean Clean & Green. Donnatella Arpia coined me as the “queen of clean green”, so I’ll have to live by that line.
Meditation, yoga, I dig green beauty products only, I clean with safe, green household cleaners and I love my DIY recipes for beauty, cleaning and life! No need to over-consume! I try to be as mindful as ever of others and their lifestyle. I respect differences and keep my heart open to change.
With my sweet man, we love making delish dinners together, spending time together reading mags, relaxing in the park or the beach in the summer, traveling all over, opening our hearts and minds to new cultures and foods all over New York and the world. We are obsessed with watching Mister Wonderful on Shark Tank. Sharing, being mindful & laughter together are key!
I’m a big fan of long-time friends (I’m still friends with all of my girls from elementary school, high school, and college in California!). I love them all to pieces and would not have the depth of life I possess now, had it not been for these life-long girlfriends. They are incredible women and they accept me for me, and I do the same for them.
I love laughter and a lot of phone calls with Mom. My Mom (back home in San Diego) is one of my favorite people in the whole world, we chat about food, recipes, Japan, Japanese food, how the cats are doing, Dad and my Sis. She truly feeds my soul!
No electronic devices in our bedroom, no tv in the house, only reading, art, vision boards and photography on our walls. Lots of plants in the house for oxygen. Lavender tea, yoga class, valerian root drops can help naturally on those long, stressful work nights, and I try to meditate as much as possible!
I love my Young Living essential oils, my diffuser with lavender oil, yoga with a girlfriend and green matcha tea. I am totally cool with aging, and who I have become today. I feel we get calmer, more graceful and wiser with age… plus you stop giving a damn about what everyone else thinks!!
Lots of workouts! I am constantly at Bar Method, Soul Cycle, yoga and doing long runs with my man! Anything to get my ass moving 30 minutes a day, minimum.
Check out Candice’s new book, Clean Green Eats available to purchase now!
Why Managing Stress is So Important
The disconnect between the advances of the human mind and physical body are never more apparent than when we look at stress.
Our bodies are equipped to manage the stressors of a life lived hundreds of years ago (see bear, flee).
They have not adapted their reactions to modern day stresses – work deadlines elicit the same physiological responses as seeing a bear – but the stress reactions are chronic reactions, not fleeting, and they are wreaking havoc on our health and wellness.
Acknowledging that we are stressed is the most basic foundation to managing stress. In effort to empower you, here are some thoughts to reconnect our mind and bodies over the subject of stress:
You may not experience all of the symptoms of stress, but more likely than not, you are familiar with a few of the following: headaches, muscle tension/pain, chest pain, fatigue, lowered libido, stomach issues, disrupted sleep, anxiety, lack of motivation, irritability, depression, overeating, under-eating, substance abuse, social isolation.
While the two major stress hormones – adrenaline and cortisol – are phenomenal in situations when you meet a bear, they are less helpful when chronically circulating in the blood. Adrenaline makes your heart race, raises blood pressure and stresses the cardiovascular system. Cortisol increases blood sugar, and enhances the brain’s use of glucose, which is also not ideal in a chronic state.
Stress is subjective and somewhat qualitative. While we cannot say that a certain amount of adrenaline is linked to heart disease, we do know that stress has a direct relationship with: cardiovascular disease, sleep disorders, digestive problems, psychological issues such as depression and memory loss, weight management and skin disorders.
We may visit our physician for something to manage any of the above conditions, but it is important to treat the illness as well as the symptoms. Taking control of being a less-stressed person is a proactive way to help manage your health. Try one of these 5 things daily to reduce your stress: meditation, yoga, exercise, taking a walk, journaling, socializing or taking a bath. Acknowledge that you are doing these activities to manage your stress and care for your wellness.
While it takes work to get the stress out, it is time well spent . . . a less stressed you is a happier, more productive and healthier you!