How many times has someone told you to “let it go”? This can seem like the most challenging thing to do at times but what if i told you it didn’t have to be? Here is an activity for you to practice letting go of tensions in your body. The more your body adjusts to feeling this release, the easier it will be to let things go in your everyday life. Invite your partner or children to do this with you daily or even multiple times a day, if you’d like.
Begin by laying down in a comfortable position. Spend a few moments paying attention to your breath. Without changing it, just listen to it’s natural rhythm and allow it to help you settle into the ground (or bed). Now you are going to bring your attention to each part of your body, starting at the tips of your toes and ending at the crown of your head. As you think of each part, tense the muscles in that body part, and then let them relax, until you have invited your full body to relax.
First bring your awareness to your toes. Scrunch them up as tight as you can, hold them there for a few seconds, and then let them rest. Now tense up both of your feet, and when you release them, imagine that they are very heavy.
Begin to tighten the muscles in your calves and around your knees. Try counting to five before letting them relax. Next squeeze all the muscles in your legs. You may squeeze so hard that your legs may lift off the ground a little bit. Relax your muscles and feel your legs settle into the ground.
How is your breath right now? You might notice that you’re holding onto it when you squeeze and exhaling as you release your muscles. Start bringing awareness to how your exhales may bring you deeper into relaxation. Next, hug your belly in towards your spine for a few seconds, and then let your belly get soft. Relax your back into the floor.
Scrunch your shoulders up to your ears, then release them down your spine, creating space in between your shoulders and ears. Make your hands into super tight fists, and squeeze all of the muscles in your arms. Just like your legs, they may lift off the ground. Release your arms and hands, letting them rest by your sides with palms up.
Close your eyes tightly and squeeze your lips together. Hold your face in this tense position for your count of five, and then let your whole face relax. Release your jaw and your tongue, like you have a mouth full of water. Take a breath in, and when you exhale, let out a sigh through your mouth
Take a minute to pay attention to your whole body. Are there any parts that still feel tense or not very relaxed? Tense that spot up, and then let go, until you’ve relaxed each part of you. Rest for as long as you’d like.
Have you ever been so busy that you ate a full meal without actually tasting it? Everyday we think about food, preparing food, spending money on food, and eating food. But sometimes, our minds are so full that we eat without fully experiencing what is going into our bodies. In this activity, we will explore all of the sensations of eating a piece of dried fruit. We’ll talk about a raisin, but you can try this with any food you’d like.
Pick up your raisin. You will eat it but not just yet. First explore the raisin with your hands. What does it feel like? Wrinkly? Sticky? Is it heavy or light? Feel the texture of it’s skin and notice it’s temperature.
After you’ve explored it with touch, start to explore it with your sense of sight. Notice the color- is it even all the way around? Is it shiny or dull? Now see if you can smell your raisin. First, just hold it up to your nose. Then slowly move it away from your nose. How strong is it’s smell? Can you still smell it a foot away?
Our next sense to explore with, is listening. To listen, hold the raisin up to your ear, and lightly move it in between your fingers. Does it make any sounds?
Now it’s time to use your sense of taste! Go ahead and put the raisin in your mouth. Try not to chew at first. Notice what the raisin feels like on your tongue and if you can taste it without even chewing it. When you are ready, start chewing slowly and notice everything- the taste, the texture, and your thoughts (maybe you can hear more sounds?). When you are finished have another raisin and notice if there is a difference between the two.
This is a great activity to do for snack time or the beginning of meal time. It will bring more connection between you and your food but also help you slow down around meal time. This also teaches children about their senses and how to use them to find presence in their day. Notice how you begin to fully experience your food and don’t be so surprised when you discover a love for a food you thought you didn’t like. Bon appetit!
Three years ago, I listened to an inspiring interview with actress Ellen Burstyn on the podcast, Death, Sex, and Money. In it, she speaks on topics like love, men, and some more controversial topics like abortion and gender equality. It’s a captivating conversation that I highly recommend giving a listen to, but there was one particular part that stood out to me. A concept I’ve adopted into my life and peacefully thanked Ellen Burstyn for, for three years now.
The Shouldless Day
Speaking about how much she enjoys working and how she manages to unwind, Burstyn introduces an intriguing concept:
“I have what I like to call ‘shouldless days’" she laughs, “A day where there’s nothing I should do, so I only do what I want to do. If it’s a nap in the afternoon and watching TV and eating ice cream, I get to do it.”
She explains that this day is important for slowing down but also helps her reshape the way she looks at herself. Burstyn goes on to say she has a wiring in her brain that calls her lazy if she’s not doing something, “You’re so lazy” it says. This sounded all too familiar to me.
“That wiring is there, I haven’t been able to get rid of it,” Burstyn continues, “but what I can do is that I can put another wire in there. I can put in the shouldless days. When that voice goes off….I can say “NO. This is a shouldless day.”
I woke up one Sunday morning unmotivated by the mental to do list I was already going over. Exhausted by the thought of even getting out of bed, I deemed that day a shouldless day. I stayed in bed till noon with my dog, watching reruns of The Office, and laughing until my stomach hurt. I ordered two smoothie bowls. Yes, I wanted two different flavors. And I loved them! The rest of the day was spent worry-free and simple. I never realized how much my “shoulds” were weighing me down. Now I make sure to write my shouldless days into my calendar, because a day of doing exactly what I want, is like a breath of fresh air.
Seriously, try it.
Pressing the soles of your feet into the grass, soil, dirt, or water is the kind of prescription that’s most available to us but often overlooked. Known as “earthing” or “grounding”, when bare skin comes into contact with the ground, the body becomes a sponge that soaks up a charge of free electrons from the Earth. A routine earthing practice promotes healing throughout the entire body.
Humans are electrical beings living on an electrical planet. Look at the Earth as a battery that grounds us, in the same way a phone rejuvenates when hooked to a charger. Humans carry an excess of positive electrons, known as free radicals. But when your body is in contact with the Earth, excess positive electrons are neutralized by Earth’s negatively charged electrons. Research shows that this charge of energy powers our vital organs and balances the systems of the body.
Here are just a few benefits of earthing:
Modern lifestyle separates humans from such contact. There are many ways that humans have lost touch with the Earth but the most common is by wearing shoes that act as a barrier to Earth’s energy. Don’t let yourself get disconnect and get grounded. Start small with a practice of 5 min and simply absorb the energy of the Earth by standing in your yard or a patch of grass outside. This will allow you pay tribute to this planet while receiving some very real, health benefits.
Why is gut health important? Your gut has a huge impact in your overall health. More and more studies are showing that the balance or imbalance of bacteria in your digestive system is linked to immunity, mental health conditions, and bodily functions. A way to start promoting a healthy balance of gut bacteria in your body is by taking probiotics. Try this simple recipe to start incorporating probiotics into your diet with a light snack or protein rich, plant-based breakfast.
All you will need is coconut milk and probiotic capsules to make your own coconut yogurt! The yogurt is creamy, gut healthy, versatile, and delicious!
1 14- ounce can full fat coconut milk (organic if possible, see notes for brand tips/recommendations)
2 capsules probiotics (I use vegan friendly/ see notes for recommendations)
Optional add ins
Agave, honey, or sweetener of your choice
Fresh fruit or jams
Hemp seed, granola, or flaxseed
Having trouble falling asleep? It is not uncommon for sleep to become a hard task after a busy day. Your mind is full of everything you did, everything you didn't do, and even things that need to be done tomorrow. Doing yoga before bed is a a great way to slow down your mind and body. Try these 5 restorative yoga poses right in the comfort of your bed! All you will need is 1-2 pillows, to use as a prop for support, and your breath to guide you. May you have sweet dreams and a restful night!
Child's Pose 3-5 breaths
Begin with setting your pillow on your bed vertically. Separate your knees as wide as you comfortably can while the tips of your toes touch behind you. Rest your chest and belly on your pillows while resting your forehead or ear down as well. You can stretch your arms forward or give your pillow a hug.
Butterfly Forward Bend 3-5 breaths
From a seated position, bring the soles of your feet together to touch and allow your knees to fall out to each side. Place your pillow in your lap, vertically, and fold forward to rest your forehead on it. You are welcome to hug your pillow or hold onto your feet like you are opening a book.
Happy Baby Pose 3-5 breaths
Laying on your back, bend your knees and grab onto the soles of your feet from the inside. Make sure your heels are stacked over your knees so they are not too wide. Begin to pull your feet down and at the same time kick your feet into your hands. This will help activate the posture and open up your hips while creating space in your lower back.
Supine Twist 3-5 breaths
Laying on your back, hug both knees into your chest. Then drop your knees over to the left as you extend your right arm out. Make sure to do both sides by dropping your knees over to the right.
Supine Butterfly Pose 3-5 breaths per side
Place your pillow on your bed vertically so you can lay back onto it comfortably. Bring the soles of your feet together to touch and drop your knees wide. Once you're there, one hand to your heart, the other to your belly. Close your eyes and feel your chest and belly rise and fall with each inhale and exhale.
Family rituals are important in creating a sense of belonging and identity in your home. You can have all kinds of rituals throughout the day that can teach your household values. They can be focused on anything from responsibility and compassion, to funny rituals that just lighten the energy in your home. See if you can incorporate any of these rituals into your home life:
Rituals that teach responsibility
Rituals that lighten family energy
Rituals that promote compassion
We all have routines and habits that structure our days. We check our phones before getting out of bed, drink coffee to start the day, feed our pets before feeding ourselves. Habits develop unconsciously, we start doing something one day and over time it turns into a part of us without even realizing it. A routine is something we do with the idea of “it needs to be done”. These routines help structure our day in a way that we feel has to happen in order to be successful. Unlike habits and routines, rituals are done with intent and purpose. This gives more meaning to the things we do and in turn connects our inner world to our outer world.
Now what do you think could happen if we turned our habits into rituals? For example, let's say you have the habit of checking your phone before getting out of bed. You could set the intention to reach for a book instead and read for 10 min each morning. You turned a habit into a ritual that will have more meaning and benefits than reaching for your phone.
The same thing goes for routines. Not every routine needs to become a ritual, but every routine has the potential to become a ritual if you desire more meaning behind it. Let's say you have a daily exercise routine- you stretch, go on a jog, then have a smoothie. This is something you have been doing everyday for months or maybe years. It’s healthy! But have you lost the intent behind it? Maybe you have done this for so long, you don’t even know why you are still stretching or jogging. Do you even like your smoothie anymore? If you turned your exercise routine into a ritual by focusing on what makes you feel strong, sustainable, and healthy, you may be surprised to see your health improve faster in a shorter amount of time then from jogging mindlessly for years.
What routines or habits will you be turning into rituals? Share in the comments below!
By Isabella Carvajal
Here are some activities for your child (and your yourself!)
1. Legs up the wall: Lay down on the floor with your bum up against the wall. Your legs will be straight up the wall. Getting your legs over your heart is very beneficial. Start with 1 to 2 min. Notice how your body feels. Start to increase the time when you are ready. This can be done for up to 10 min if you would like. This simple and restorative inversion is something you can you daily with your kids. There are many benefits to inversion therapy such as:
2. Hand and Foot Massage: your hands and feet work hard all day for you, and there are lots of small muscles in your hands and feet that get tired. Giving your body a gentle massage is a great way to relax and to thank your body for it’s hard work. This practice also creates presence and body awareness.
3. Walking Meditation: Start by rooting the soles of your feet into the ground- feel all four corners of your feet pressing into the Earth. Begin taking a slow walk. If you are using a yoga mat, a good path is just to walk from one end to the other. Another great option is to do this outside in a safe place (grass is wonderful). You can also do this in different rooms of your home each day. Start to notice who your feet feel as you walk. What is the sensation like in your heels? In your toes? After a few moments, notice the rest of your body. What happens in your legs and hips when you walk? What about your arms? Can you feel walking in your neck and face?
If your mind wanders, don’t resist any thoughts. Just bring your awareness back to how your body feels on your walk. When you are ready to finish your mindful walk, take a deep breath. Send a thank-you thought to your feet. Start with 2-5 minutes and increase to however long you’d like!
4. Sensory Bean Pool: Using a large bin or kids pool, fill it with dried beans. Allow your child to climb in and you can use any household scooping tool to scoop the beans with your child. This is a great sensory entertainment tool for your child! Especially during this time that we are not able to leave our homes much.
"If your mind starts to wander, don't resist any thoughts. Just Bring your awareness back..."
By Isabella Carvajal
We have been blessed with the gift of time right now. When we are so busy, we spend a lot of time in our heads and not in our bodies. Here are some ways I have been able to get out of my head and feel more in union with the world around me.
By Isabella Carvajal
At Orchid Behavioral care, we care about children and their families!