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I just love the phrase, personal ritual. It elevates the importance of my practices and hints at sacred pageantry.

And sure, a personal ritual can be a full-blown ceremony performed by candlelight in the dead of night, but at its core, a personal ritual is simply a set of practices that – when practiced regularly – help us achieve the desired state.

A well-rehearsed personal ritual can focus our attention and induce an emotional state that allows us to move forward with meaning and purpose. It can help us gently shift our mind and our energy.

Some folks have daily personal rituals that revolve around the brewing and consumption of their beloved tea. In Japan, the “Way of Tea,” is a full-blown ceremony steeped in culture and history.

Others engage in personal rituals weekly like taking communion in church, attending an exercise class or preparing Sunday dinner for loved ones.

Many women celebrate the new moon by ceremonially setting intentions every 29 days. Following the lunar cycles is back in vogue and once again a popular form of personal ritual.

I can remember understanding the importance of personal rituals even as a child.

With the help of my vacation bible school teacher, I crafted a gift that I just knew my mother would love. I made a “mosaic” votive candle holder from an applesauce jar, coloured tissue paper and Mod Podge decoupage.  It was the perfect accessory for her evening bath, and even at five years old, I knew the importance of her evening bath.

Now, thirty-five years later, I have my own evening ritual. After I wash my face and change into my comfy clothes, I mindfully perform the following routine in anticipation of a good night’s sleep. ⠀

  1. I turn on my bedside lamp. It has a soft warm light diffused by a beautiful silk scarf. ⠀
  2. I make sure the bed linens and blankets are pulled up and smooth, just begging to be messed up again.
  3. I drop the thermostat a couple of degrees to cool down the room. ⠀
  4. I turn my electric blanket on the lowest setting to take the chill off the soft cotton sheets.
  5. After my bedroom is prepped, I head back downstairs for a couple hours to unwind. It’s relaxing to know that both my body and my bedroom are ready for sweet sleep.

I’ve done this routine for so long now that simply initiating the first step starts slowing down my monkey mind and signally my body that it’s OK to start winding down.

What personal rituals do you want to create?

Is there a transition period between two key parts of your day, week or month where you need a little help smoothing out the edges and changing your mindset in a healthy and purposeful way?

Try these steps: make a plan, choose a space, set an intention, take action and trust that the outcome you desire will come with practice.

Your ritual can be as simple or elaborate as you like, but make sure to create a process that you enjoy.

If you are interested in starting an evening ritual – nightly, weekly or monthly – I have a very special freebie just for you!

I’ve created an e-book of more than 100 specific items for you to choose from when curating a bath so satisfying to all five of your senses that you are sure to both anticipate your ritual and reap its rewards.

https://mailchi.mp/5d1679c4fa00/bathcuration

The post Personal Ritual for Self-Care appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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We all get caught up in our own thought process. We can overthink and over analyze every negative situation that happens to use. You know you need to stop overthinking. But somethings it becomes impossible to stop yourself. It’s a stressful place to mentally be in. I know because I’ve been there. If you find yourself caught up in your swirling thoughts, here are 5 books you need to read.

  1. Confidence Code – Katty Kay

This is by far one of my favourite reads, so much advice you can put into practice when it comes to overcoming your lack of confidence. It takes a neuroscience perspective by looking at how genetics could contribute to our lack of confidence. This book helps you take action so you can get out of your head and be the strong and assertive women you desire to be.

  1. Women Up: Overcome the 7 Deadly Sins of Self-Sabotage by Aime Cohen

This book will help beat your self-sabotaging thoughts so you can move ahead in your career and live the life you want. Author Aime Cohen shares guilty confessions. She will help you get out of your own way so you can Women Up! as the title says!

3. You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Living An Awesome Life by Jen Sinero

I mean… I think this title speaks for itself! An easy read full of how to guides, humour, easy exercises and helpful advice. Jen Sinero explains how you can identify those self-sabotaging thoughts and helps you create the life you want.

4. Enough As She Is: How To Help Girls Move From Beyond The Impossible Standard of Success To Live Healthy, Happy and Fulfilling lives by Rachel Simmons.

Do you find yourself battling with self-doubt, fear of failure, anxiousness and comparison syndrome? Overthinking can be tough to overcome but Author Rachel Simons has created this book to help you understand where these thoughts stem from and help you realize that you are enough and you are good as you are.

5. The Big Thing by Phyllis Korkki.

Have you ever had a creative entrepreneur like idea but too afraid or doubted yourself to pursue it? With real-life stories, science, and insight, the author Phyllis will help you get out of your head so you find the motivation to pursue that creative idea of yours. She looks at what drives others to success and how you can achieve it for yourself.

Stay Balanced!

The post Need to Stop Overthinking?  These are the books you need to read. appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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Life gets crazy sometimes and you can get too busy to exercise. Before you know it, the day has gone by and you’re pulling on your pajamas, ready to watch an episode (or three) of your favorite show before you crash.

When you’re this stressed, who’s got the time or the energy for fitting in a workout? Here are 3 reasons why squeezing in a few minutes for exercise can help your day run more smoothly and make a world of difference in your outlook. You’re just too busy NOT to exercise!

  1. Exercise Will Slash Your Stress Level

You may have already heard that exercise has been proven to reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) and adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone) in your body. You may also have heard that exercise will increase endorphins in your body, which reduce pain and lift your mood.

But what you may not know is that as cortisol and adrenaline are reduced, the parasympathetic part of your nervous system is better able to do its job. This is the part of your nervous system which includes digestion, immune function, detoxification, circulation, and sleep – vital tasks which start to suffer when you’re burned out by stress.

When your digestion is suffering, you’re not sleeping well, and you’re coming down with colds too frequently, that’s stressful, period. Using exercise as a tool for cutting stress and strengthening your parasympathetic nervous system will help you sleep better, digest better, and stay healthy. You’re too busy to waste your time getting every cold that goes around!

  1. Exercise Will Balance You Out

Mentally – It’s probably no surprise that the effects of long-term stress can be damaging to your mental health. Regular exercise reduces the chances of you suffering from depression or anxiety, or even just overreacting to something your coworkers said.

Research also shows that for many people, exercise can be as effective as prescription drugs in alleviating anxiety and depression. Because you’ve got things to accomplish, and you don’t deserve to be sabotaged by stress.

Hormonally – Your body keeps a delicate balance of hormones like insulin, estrogen, and many others. Anyone who has ever had a breakout while feeling extra stress about a work deadline knows what a number stress can do on your hormones.

Exercise is a wonderful way to bring your hormones into better balance. A faster metabolism, clearer skin, and easier periods are just a few of the hormonal benefits from working out.

Balanced hormones mean fewer days suffering terrible cramps and mood swings, and more days spent doing things you actually want to do! Being too busy to exercise can have the opposite effect.

  1. Exercise Will Increase Your Mental Clarity

When you’re exhausted and stressed out all the time, you’re not working at your most efficient potential. It may take you much longer to complete tasks and your ability to focus might suffer if you haven’t taken the time to exercise.

Regular exercise has been shown to increase your mental clarity, your memory, and your ability to focus and stay on task.  And in this era of distracted multitasking, who couldn’t use a little extra focus power?

When you’re setting aside time to exercise on a regular basis, you will spend less time spinning your wheels and more time making things happen. You’ll be able to truly work smarter, not harder. So you can spend your free time the way YOU want to.

3 Low-Stress Ways to Work Out

When reducing stress is your goal, intense cardio isn’t always your friend, as it can have a negative effect on adrenal function, hormonal balance, and parasympathetic nervous system activity. Here are 3 low-stress methods to use when you feel you’re too busy to exercise.

Go for a walk.

For the best stress-relieving benefits, good old walking can work wonders. Bonus points for walking out in nature. A recent Japanese study found that simply being out in nature – “forest bathing,” as they called it – has a major stress-reducing effect.

Stretch yourself.

Yoga is another amazing way to work out. While yoga may not sound like a “real” workout. The overall positive effects on your health make it equal or superior to cardio. Plus, yoga will make you feel noticeably calmer and instantly boost your well being.

TTapp into your potential.

Designed by an exercise physiologist named Teresa Tapp. Teresa was inspired by her own back injury to develop an exercise system that rehabilitates the body. TTapp is crazy effective at sculpting your body, improving lymphatic flow, and helping to balance the hormones. The workout I love is the 15 Minute Basic Workout Plus, and you can even do it on your lunch break in your office!

You’re Too Busy Not To!

If exercise isn’t already part of your daily routine, what do you have to lose but unwanted stress? You’ll soon find that exercise has so many benefits, you’re too busy not to find time for it! What’s your favorite way to fit in a workout?

Post by contributor Pris M, from Prism Well. Visit her blog at prismwell.com.

The post Too Busy to Exercise? 3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t be appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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Anxiety is a silent striker, it seeps in and causes unrest, panic and ruminating thoughts that may not be evident to outsiders. On the inside, it can feel like chaos.

So, how do you put a stop to this annoying companion and sleep destroyer? Here a few of my best techniques to manage anxiety.

You probably are very well aware of many of these strategies, but might not be implementing them into your daily life. Why? We get busy with work, family, errands, housework, paying bills…you know, the important stuff. Often times, we don’t value time spent on personal development so it falls to the bottom of our priorities.

So, let me ask you, Why is it important to you to spend time on managing your anxiety? How would your life look, feel and be different?

Use your responses as your motivation to pencil in time for self-care daily or at least a few times weekly. Treat this special appointment with yourself just as you would if it were scheduled with a client or friend.

You may need to remind yourself that you and your well being are worth this time. It IS a productive use of your time. Personally, I don’t believe there is anything more important.

Identify Anxious Thoughts

Thoughts are not facts, although we rarely question them. Anxiety can cloud and distort our thinking, so pay attention if you are you falling into a thinking trap, otherwise known as a cognitive distortion.

Catastrophizing is a common distortion when it comes to anxiety. You may start thinking, “What if..?” and then the worries begin to snowball until you’ve created an awful situation in your own mind.

Jumping to conclusions is another one that pops up with social anxiety because you assume others are judging you. Remind yourself that you are your worst critic and you don’t actually know what others are thinking about you.

Overgeneralization is when you form a belief after one incident or one piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, you expect it to happen over and over again. In reality, these thoughts may be completely false and they keep us in a state of anxiety. Time to free yourself.

Challenge Anxious Thoughts

Stop your negative thought cycle by asking yourself these questions.

Describe a triggering event…

What’s the best/worst/most likely outcome?

Will this still matter to me a week from now/a month from now/a year from now?

Take your worst case scenario and reframe it with a rational counter-argument.

What might you tell your BFF if they were in this situation? You’d probably comfort and support them. Turn that inward.

Anti-Anxiety Mantras

Subscribe to some mantras (aka words of affirmation) that really resonate with you. I find that repeating them along with some deep breaths can be self-soothing. Need some examples?

This is temporary. I can handle anything that is temporary.

This will eventually pass.

All is well. I am loved.

It’s okay to feel this way. I can get through it.

I am so much more than my anxiety and I have control over it.

These words are a helpful reminder that nothing in life is permanent, including your anxiety.

Meditation/Yoga

If you’ve been on my blog or Instagram before you probably know I’m a big advocate of meditation and yoga. Why? The research and benefits are astounding to me.

Did you know that after only 8 weeks of meditation, MRI’s show it actually changes your brain? Researchers have seen a decreased amygdala, the fight or flight response in the brain and a thicker prefrontal cortex, which helps to manage stress, concentration, making decisions.

Pretty impressive. Not to mention, it just makes me feel a sense of calm.

Breathing exercises

Get your oxygen pumping and slow your heart rate down naturally.

Body Scan

Body scans help you relax and get more in touch with what is happening inside your body, rather than your mind. You can find some great body scans on the meditation app, Insight Timer.

Take a mindful walk

Get outside and breathe in some fresh air, take in the sights, sounds, smells. Stop and smell the roses, literally. Try to be in the present moment rather than getting carried away on the anxiety thought train.

Exercise

I’m sure you already know this, but when you get moving you release feel-good chemicals. This also serves as an outlet for your anxious energy.

Journal

Free write as a freeing way to vent and get all those thoughts in your mind onto paper. Or use journal prompts to help you be more self-reflective, such as where do my fears stem from?

Schedule a Worry Break

Have a set time to process your thoughts and get them all out. Then you have to do something after your time is up to redirect yourself.

Talk it out

Process your feelings with a friend, family member or counselor.

Engage in a hobby or passion

Try to redirect your rampant mind by doing something you love and can easily get lost in. Don’t have a hobby or a passion?

Of course, you do, you just need to discover it. What did you really love doing as a child? Is there something you have always wanted to try, but have never taken the time to do? What do you easily lose track of time doing?

Join a support group

A support network is everything when you’re silently suffering. There may be a group or meetup in your local area, start researching. Or why not start one?

Medication

There are many pieces to managing the anxiety puzzle and sometimes, medication is needed to help you reach a baseline to function. If you’re not sure, research, write down your questions and concerns and talk to your Dr or a psychiatrist.

Post By Erica Portillo, LCSW. For more about wellness visit her blog and Instagram profile. 

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The post 14 Ways To Manage Your Anxiety appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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Focus, Grounding, Fulfillment, Clarity, Peace of Mind – These are the benefits of mindfulness.

Why should we bother with mindfulness and self-awareness? Initially, because it gives us the ability to see how we react to life’s circumstances.

With practice and significant adoption of mindfulness, we become galvanized to choose the ways in which we react to what life throws at us. What we are aware of, we can change, modify or ignore.


It provides us with self-power and superior functionality from within vs. bending to external forces and knee-jerk reactions, that rarely feel good.

Mindfulness really shouldn’t require much of a sales pitch.  There is no downside – only the opportunity to see things more clearly, make wiser life choices and to be a strong observer of self and other’s behaviors.

A quick hit list of the strength it provides:
  • Empowers choices
  • Provides emotional buoyancy
  • Increases emotional and intellectual intelligence
  • Exposes bad habits that can be recalibrated into good ones
  • Sheds light on mental states and reflex reactions
  • Evokes change and personal evolution
  • Creates space for being present
  • Reduces stress
  • Highlights barriers that be torn down

Just like a skincare or beauty routine, mindfulness and self-awareness are gained and maintained with practices. A list of ideas can be found here.

It is our natural human tendency to look at and hold onto the negative for some absurd reason.  To counter that default, great sources of guidance can be Deepak Chopra, Thich Nhat Han, Pema Chodron, Carolyn Myss, meditation and a dedicated asana yoga practice.

The pursuit of mindfulness is a wonderful, uplifting journey to self-actualization and peace of mind that can feel like the shedding of self-defeating weight.

Post by contributor Nina from SHE Intimate Fitness.

Stay Balanced!

The post The Benefits of Mindfulness appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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I’m going to be completely honest with you guys, I tried to write this post three different times. Every time I was trying to harness this “Mindfulness Guru” persona. As if I’m this perfect person who knows just how to mindfully go through each day and can just at the drop of a hat fall into this intense state of calm.
Seriously, that’s not me. I have anxiety, I worry a ton, and overthink EVERYTHING!
I’m sure by now you’re probably wondering: why are you writing this post? You clearly don’t know how to help us be more mindful!
You’re right, I’m probably not the most qualified person on this subject. I’ve only been making an effort in this field for a few months now. But I think sometimes the best people to learn from are those that are still on the journey, not just the ones at the end of the road.
For me, the realization that I had to get myself more or less together came when my son hit a year old. I knew I was a hot mess and that how I respond to things and him would shape how he reacted to the world, but it didn’t fully hit me that something had to change until that day.
What first got me started down this journey towards seeking a more mindful life was doing research on gentle parenting, and how to raise children to be more loving and kind individuals. One of the biggest themes just so happened to be: Mindfulness.
Mindfulness was placed in an area along with being present and conscious to your surroundings.

To me, being mindful looks like spending time outside with my son and leaving my phone inside. Or taking photos to capture memories instead of making sure I have the perfect Instagram shot.
Being mindful of the emotions I am feeling as well as the ones around me. Growing up I wasn’t really taught the importance of embracing my emotions before separating out that is useful and what is not. A point, I try to convey to my son on a daily basis.
Sometimes mindfulness is as simple as taking time for deep breathing and mediation during my morning “me time”.

Any time you are refusing to be pulled into the hustle and bustle of life and choose to stay in the present moment and make a conscious effort to wholeheartedly be in that moment, you are choosing mindfulness!
It’s not easy, and I stumble and react instead of pausing first so many times during a day. But on the few times when I do make the effort to choose mindfulness, I notice a huge difference in myself and I know I’ve made the right choice.
So don’t worry too much if you have trouble staying in a mindful place at the beginning, I’m still there 4 months later. But if you keep trying, you’ll get there and you’ll be so glad that you stuck with it!
Christy.

Post by Christy, from the locally Grown Shop. Follower her on Instagram @thelocallygrownshop or on Facebook at

Locally Grown Lifestyle.

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The post A Mindful Mess appeared first on Sincerely Balanced.

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