Your Freedom: Between Stimulus and Response

This past week was unique for me. The last blog post I wrote talked about the balance between sthira and sukha (strength and ease), and in honor of that awareness, I chose to take a step back from my go-go-go lifestyle. I made sure to meditate every day, attended yoga and relax with a book at least once a day. On the weekend, I focused mostly on having fun, enjoying the company of my husband and friends, and yes, drinking wine.

But here’s the ironic part. There wasn’t actually that much that changed externally. The activities I just described are pretty common occurrences for me. But what did change was my reaction and response to the activities.

Because of my new awareness to make sure to find “ease” in my day-to-day, I responded to the ease differently. Which made it that much more enjoyable. Instead of relaxing with a heavy feeling of stress because I was thinking about the next project or the thing I had to get done, I chose to react differently and instead responded with tenderness and love for my body and mind.

If you don’t know about Victor Frankl, he was an Austrian psychiatrist and a Holocaust survivor. A Holocaust survivor, YES. He recognized that when the external world appears in front of us, it is not necessarily what is in front of us, but how we react to it that makes it what it is.

Think about that the next time a car cuts you off in the fast lane. Or what about when a friend or partner says something mean to you? Is there another response, another reaction you could see yourself choosing? That is our power. That is what makes humans unique. The ability to choose how we react to our external world.

I most certainly will never say there is not external stimuli in this world that doesn’t affect people negatively. I see the discrimination on the news, I hear about the violence happening, and my reaction is often sadness. At the same time, I must accept that I have the freedom to react differently; you have the freedom to react differently. Yes, you can choose sadness and you can choose hate, but you can also choose compassion and love. ​

How to Have a Successful Work from Home Day

“Working from home, I’ve got ideas in my head and a desire to succeed. But well, I also have Netflix.”

When I had my corporate Monday thru Friday 9 to 5 job, my favorite day of the week was Wednesday. Why, you ask? Because it was my work from home day!I loved every minute of it. I would sit on the couch in my pajamas, play Netflix in the background, and answer e-mails and generally be as lazy (physically, not mentally!) as possible.

When I quit my job in April 2016, I couldn’t believe that I got to make every day a work from home day. It was like a dream come true!

Little did I know working from home five days a week is a lot different than working from home one day a week. After just one week of designing from the couch, my back was in knots, my hand was getting arthritis, and I felt like the laziest bum on the planet.

If anything, this past year of being self-employed has taught me about how to work from home in a mindful and healthy way. In a culture where it is becoming more common to have work from home days, it is important to understand how you can make the most of these days, so that you are not only productive in your responsibilities but also taking care of yourself.

And no, I will not be suggesting naptime. Sorry. 🙂

Here are some tips and tricks I would recommend to anyone who has the opportunity to work from home. You could be self-employed, employed by a company, or even Moms and Dads who stay at home could perhaps learn some tips here!

Decide on a habitual schedule and stick to it

You don’t have to have a mundane same schedule every day. However, in general, I recommend choosing a morning ritual, as well as an active ritual.

  • Morning Ritual: For my own morning ritual, the first thing I do when I wake up is drink a glass of water. This is a great way to hydrate and give you energy first thing in the morning. I then brush my teeth, wash my face, and moisturize my skin. I eat a protein bar, change into my active clothes and head out the door for either yoga or running or [fill-in-the-blank] activity. When I return, I shower, get dressed and boil a cup of tea with honey to get my workday off to a great start.
  • Active Ritual: Getting active and sweaty helps you get out of the house at least once a day, and not to mention all of the other benefits of being active! I recommend choosing a few fitness classes a week that you like to go to. If you choose M, W, and F at 7:30am, then hold yourself accountable to those times.

Shower Everyday

This can be more important than you even realize. Showering gives you a fresh (pun intended) perspective on your day. Being clean makes you feel more presentable. One big callout: waiting until 4pm so you shower before your partner comes home is not technically the same thing. 😉

Change out of your PJs

Believe me, I know how comfortable they are! Sometimes I still wear my PJs because they just feel so much better! However, I find that I always feel “less productive” on the days I wear PJs. It is a psychological shift from feeling cozy and introverted (ready for bed) versus feeling productive for your day.

Work from a Desk or Table

Again, I know how comfortable the couch is! However, there is a couple good reasons why this lowers your productivity and in general is tough on your health. First and foremost, most couches are not set up for you to have proper alignment in the spine. This leads to back, neck and shoulder pain. Also, if your computer, keyboard and mouse are sitting on/next to your lap, they are not set up for correct alignment. This can lead to wrist, hand and shoulder pain quite quickly. Boo! On top of that, if you are listening to background TV noise, I would argue that typing an e-mail is never worse than when you are listening to something else. I have gone back and read e-mails I wrote when I had Netflix on and, you would be amazed at the typos!

Drink Water

I am a firm believer in drinking water. That said, I always forget to drink water. Does this ever happen to you?! What I do to counteract this is, I have a 16 oz mug that I keep next to my computer (and me) at all times. When it is empty, I know that is the time to get up and fill it. No excuses. No e-mail or phone call is more important than water. I bet I have 30 more ounces of water per day just because of this simple habit.

Set your Alarm

This is sort of silly but, it works. Set your alarm or calendar to go off every 1-2 hours (depending on what feels best for you), and let it be a gentle reminder to get up and do something else. Even if it’s just to walk to the other end of the house, or step outside for a quick jaunt around the neighborhood or grab a cup of coffee. I find that the best ideas I have are when I am away from my desk. When I come back to my desk, I have more clarity on what I want to accomplish in the next couple of hours. Works like a charm!

Keep in mind, I have many times rearranged my habitual schedule to accommodate a special occasion or appointment. Don’t worry about changing it up; just as long as in general you are sticking to a schedule. Remember, it’s all about balance.

Working from home is a pleasure, and we are so lucky to live in a day and age in which working from home is even a possibility. Above all else, I recommend you look at it as a way to balance a healthy lifestyle: get your work done, and turn Netflix off. Or at least on low. 🙂

Life is about Balance, in all that you do

Life is about balance, in all that you do.

I am a firm believer that true happiness is less about the high you get from one elated moment (feeling “happy”), but rather a constant contentedness with a balanced lifestyle (feeling “content”).

​I have had those amazing moments of feeling happy. Elated. When your endorphins are turned up to 110%, your mind is racing, and you feel like you can do anything because you’re so ridiculously happy.

​I have also had those moments when I feel unhappy. The sadness takes over, your mind is tormented with negative thoughts, and all you can think of worse case scenarios.

I’ve realized that both emotions are most always triggered by exterior reactors, and neither of them are steady and sustainable in a healthy lifestyle.

​Most certainly, neither of them are perfect.

Where there is contentment, and what I now call my happiness standard, is when I allow room for both, without letting either take over completely.

The true happiness standard, in my book, is when I feel contentment. It is when my lifestyle is balanced; living between the highs, and recognizing that I am most content in the in-between balance.

Although happiness may not be as exciting or emotional as our culture has led us to believe, between the highs and lows is where true happiness awaits you.  ​

How To Travel in a Healthy and Mindful Way

Recent life experiences required me to research deeply into the concept of traveling in a healthy and mindful way. An impending 16-hour flight will do that to a person.

During this research, I found out some enlightening tips and thought I would share them with you, too! This is not only for airplane travel but, also for you if you travel for work often, or are going on a long road trip.

Bring Protein and Nutrient rich snacks

Baby Puree: I know, I know. But these are wonderful, nutritious and low in calories!

Bring Water

Bring a Water Bottle with you, and be sure to fill it up and most importantly, DRINK it. Being out of your element can get you out of the habit of hydrating. Planes and travels can cause dehydration, so don’t be afraid to guzzle from that bottle. Wine also dehydrates. Sorry to say!

I recommend a glass water bottle such as this one. Because it’s glass, it won’t add a plastic or metallic taste. Also, whatever you do, don’t bring a water bottle with a straw (unless you can fold it in). I brought my Starbucks cup, and we kept forgetting that it will spill if the backpack wasn’t upright! Big no-no.

Stay moisturized

Bring chapstick. Another side effect is dehydration is dry lips. You don’t want no flakeys on your upper lip!

Soft Lips is my go to. It is super light feeling on the lips. It has the benefit of SPF, too!

Moisturizer. Don’t forget to moisturize that pretty face of yours.

Cerave is my absolutely favorite! I use their face wash, sunscreen, and night moisturizer. It has the best ingredients, and is great for sensitive skin.

Travel Pillow

But not just any travel pillow. We discovered the wonder of the J Pillow on our travels, and sleeping is forever changed. Sleep in any position! Bonus? It works at home on the couch, as well!

Blanket Scarf

Seriously, amazing. Get a big square scarf that is soft and cozy (like this one), use it a scarf or use it as a blanket. Perfect for plane travel, and stylish to boot.

Stretches and Strengthening

Practice stretching and strengthening while traveling. Get up, walk around, make a pitstop and MOVE. Your body is not meant to sit all day long. Walking, stretching and strengthening burns calories. You can stretch and strengthen even sitting! Here’s a great article; check it out!

Spotify

Set up some playlists before you travel. On a Red Eye flight? Download some Sleep and Relaxation playlists before boarding. On a Road Trip? Hello, get some tunes to make it that much more fun!

Leggings

Because you can wear them to sleep, to workout, to hang out, you name it. ALO Leggings (see here) are some of my favorite. They are on the pricier side but, worth every penny.

Pack light

Pack what you need within easy access of you. I cannot stress this enough. On our flight, I had so many items in my carry-on that I never used because we tucked it in the overhead compartment and it was too much work in the dark to pull down. Everything you want to use should easily fit below the seat in front of you.

Traveling and exploring is such a beautiful way to be human. Sometimes, though, we can forget what it means to be healthy and happy on the road. I hope the above suggestions will help you on your own journeys!

If I could offer just one piece of advice, it would be to take care of yourself, in everything that you do.