Category Archives: Wellness

The Pursuit of Mindfulness: How to Get Out of Your Head and Into the Present

Today it’s increasingly viewed as normal to have a mind that’s always “on.” Our lives are busy, we face plenty of stress, and many of us spend our days in a bearable but unpleasant state of inner turmoil. When your mind is working overtime to deal with these factors, it’s very easy to slip out of a healthy and present state. Unfortunately, most of us are unable to retire to a remote mountaintop or a deserted beach in order to escape from the pressures of the modern world. Instead, we must maintain a healthy inner sanctuary by dwelling in the present instead of worrying about the future and the past. Tapping into mindfulness is a great way to re-center yourself when you’re coping with stress, uncertainty, conflict, and chaos.

Mindfulness is the state of paying attention to the present so you can truly live in the moment. Though it may seem elusive right now, mindfulness is easily accessible and allows you to experience, enjoy, and co-create a better life for yourself. In fact, you can slip into mindfulness in just a few seconds and continue reaping the benefits for the rest of your day.

Ready to give mindfulness a try and reap its many benefits? Here are six of my favorite techniques to help you get “out of your head” and access mindfulness easily and quickly.

Take 60 seconds just to breathe. You don’t have to adopt an extensive meditation practice to get real results in your life (although you certainly can if you wish!). Mindfulness can be achieved in just a few seconds with my favorite breathing exercise. You can practice this anywhere, like a busy restaurant, an elevator, or even in a bathroom stall. Give yourself 60 seconds of silence and during this time focus on your breathing. In this brief amount of time, you can actually stop negative thoughts and calm yourself down when your thoughts start racing. You can do this exercise several times a day to instantly get back into the present.

Get off the worry wheel. If you are a habitual worrier, like so many people are, you may not initially notice when your thoughts and fears begin spiraling out of control. And before you know it, anxiety takes over and starts running the show. In order to break a worry cycle, you must first realize that you are in one! Throughout the day, take a moment to assess your inner state. Ask yourself, What am I really feeling right now? Does it feel good or am I coming from a place of fear? If you discover you are feeling anxious or fretful, take a deep breath and pause. Remind yourself that you are in control of your thoughts and that you have the power to calm yourself down and reset your mind to dwell in a place of peace. Then create the intention to carry on in the present.

Put a positive affirmation on “repeat.” Whenever a worrisome thought (or a whole collection of them!) creeps in, be ready to counteract it with a positive affirmation. Affirmations really work to help you stop negative thoughts in their tracks. Disrupt negative thoughts and feelings of self-doubt with a grounding phrase you can repeat to yourself anytime you need centering. Some examples I like include I am a kind and loving person and I am capable and strong.

 Simplify your life. Sometimes a simpler approach is best for helping you tune in to the present. Take a look at your calendar—and your life in general—to determine if you need to audit and reduce your daily activities. Have you taken on too many obligations? Do any of your commitments give you an unpleasant gut reaction? Ask yourself if there are any simplifications that you can make that will give you more time to tune into your needs. When you do cut out unnecessary activities, take the time you have gained and spend it on improving your inner state.

Eat a mindful meal. Think back to the last time you really tasted and savored your food. Has it been far too long? Many people rush to eat every meal so they can get back to work or on to the next task. But mindful eating is much better for your digestion and your mental state. Try to have at least one mindful meal a day, or if that simply isn’t possible, aim for a few mindful meals a week. To eat a mindful meal, take time to really experience your food. Chew each bite carefully and focus on the beautiful flavors on your plate. You will enjoy your food more and may even find that you don’t need to eat as much to feel satisfied. And to be fully present for your meal, be sure to put aside any newspapers, magazines, iPads, and iPhones until after you have finished eating.

Get some fresh air and sunlight. I believe we are designed to spend time in nature and that doing so is restorative and helps us stay peaceful and clear-minded. Make sure that you are getting enough outdoor time in natural settings to help you calm your inner noise and become more mindful overall. Head outdoors for a dose of Mother Nature every day, if possible. Visit parks, ocean or lake shorelines, grassy fields, and forest trails to connect to the earth and gain some much-needed calm and presence.

Remember that when life feels overwhelming, you will be okay the moment you find your way back to the present through mindfulness. You don’t have to stay in a place of suffering; a healthier and happier version of you is always just a few deep breaths away. By practicing these steps daily, you will learn to recognize the triggers that pull you out of the now and can take gentle action to become present once again. In time, you will quickly be able to return to your center and dwell in a place of peace and awareness.

 

Seven Tips to Help You Find Peace in an Unpredictable World

We live in times of great uncertainty, and it is taking a toll on all of us. For many people, not knowing exactly what the future holds creates fear and anxiety and leaves them feeling depressed, desperate, and worried. I believe we weren’t meant to live life this way.

While we all must live with a certain amount of uncertainty, it is unhealthy to become so enmeshed in circumstances beyond our control that we lose ourselves in the grips of despair. It’s true that we can’t know what the future will hold, but I believe we can find peace and joy in the present moment by learning to tune into our own needs, by being generous and kind to our fellow man, and by—in our own small way—making the world a better and more beautiful place.

If uncertainty is undermining your sense of well-being, I promise that you can restore balance to your life and find happiness once again. Below are some of my favorite tips to help you face moments of uncertainty and find your way to a place of personal peace.

First, get comfortable with uncertainty. Change truly is the only constant we can rely upon. Therefore, make peace with uncertainty and the role it will inevitably play in your life. Practice managing your expectations so you’re not on a constant roller coaster ride of emotions with each new disappointment. And remind yourself that you have a choice in how you react to anything that happens to you.

Focus on what you can control. Sure, plenty of factors are out of your control, but you’ll go crazy if you constantly fixate on them. Instead, focus on things that are actually in your control. For example, you can’t control whether or not you will get that big promotion at work, but you CAN control how well you prepare for the interview. Apply this philosophy any time you find yourself worrying about the future. Ask, Can I directly control the outcome of this situation? If not, take a deep breath, and try to release the incessant thoughts of worry you are feeling.

Create a “best-odds” plan for managing your stress. Constant stress, fear, and anxiety are destructive to your health and distract you from living your best life. Therefore, it’s a good idea to make a realistic plan for dealing with these unhealthy emotions. Aim to get plenty of sleep each night, stay hydrated, and eat a balanced diet of healthy foods, including plenty of nutritious vegetables. Be mindful of your alcohol intake, and don’t overindulge in sugary drinks and sweets; they may temporarily make you feel good, but are destructive to your long-term health. Additionally, use all that nervous energy for good by exercising each day! Exercise diminishes stress like nothing else. So be sure to go for a walk, hit the gym, or attend a fun class to get active. You’ll be doing your body a favor, and working out those nervous jitters in a productive way.

Get present with meditation. When you worry about the past and future, you are living in uncertainty instead of focusing on the now. But practicing mindfulness gets you “out of your head” and guides your consciousness to the moment at hand. Consider adopting a meditation routine to help you gently reorient your focus to the present moment.

You don’t have to be an “expert” to meditate. Anyone can practice meditation and reap the benefits. Here is an easy routine that I like to do. If you are able, go somewhere quiet like a bathroom stall, and for sixty seconds, follow the breath in and out of your nose. That’s it. The best thing about this practice is that you can do it anywhere from the back of a cab to a crowded café. It’s a fast way to calm down when you feel uncertainty steering you toward unpleasant feelings. Try it whenever you sense your attention slipping to the past and the future—or any time you feel fear or worry creeping in. If you’d like a little more structure to your meditation routine, I recommend the Headspace app for guided meditation sequences.

Take social media breaks and curtail cable TV. If you give it your undivided attention, a constant stream of information about the state of the world will make you mad with worry. Therefore, take breaks from all the noise on your social media accounts and focus on your real life any time you need a mental health break. And if they upset you, turn off cable news shows and get out into the world to spend time with friends and family.

Avoid negative obsessors and overly anxious people: They really do affect your psyche! Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” Think long and hard about who is in your inner circle. Are you surrounding yourself with positive, life-affirming people or with fearful pessimists? Try to spend most of your time with the former group—and you may just notice their sunny dispositions rubbing off on you.

Find a special way to make a difference. While you can’t solve all the problems in the world, you can do meaningful work to help others. I guarantee that you don’t have to look far to find someone or something in need. Serve meals at a soup kitchen, collect clothes and coats for underprivileged children, or raise money for a cause you believe in. Your service will give you the peace of knowing you can make an impact and be a force of positive change and progress. Just try it, and you will be amazed by how wonderful your meaningful contribution makes you feel.

Remember that while none of us can see into the future, you don’t have to let uncertainty overwhelm you or make you feel despair. If you can learn to embrace uncertainty as just another mystery in this journey called life, you may be surprised by the positive outcomes you never did foresee. For this reason, I believe in remaining optimistic about life and the future. You never know what new blessings could be just around the corner.

Thanks for the Tip! 11 Pieces of Timeless Advice My Clients Rave About

Style is a very personal thing. Your “look” is yours alone and ultimately serves as the image you broadcast to the world. That’s what makes the subject so intimidating, and yet so important for many people. Everyone wants to accentuate their best features and let their authentic selves shine through, but they don’t always know how to get started.

Fortunately, after being a style and image consultant for 25 years, I’ve come to know a thing or two about putting my best foot forward and helping others do the same. The truth is, a trusted advisor can give you the perspective you need to help you see your closet, your clothes, and your habits a little clearer.

I feel grateful that I am able to do what I love every day, by helping my clients hone their style, and find confidence and joy. Of all the advice I’ve shared over my career, there are several key pieces of advice that apply to nearly everyone. These style and life rules never go out of fashion, and they are as true today as they ever were.

Below are 11 of the most useful “client-approved” pieces of advice I have had the pleasure to share over the years.

 Remember that column dressing is your best friend. When in doubt, wear a matching column of color to make you look taller and leaner. You can either wear a skirt and top, or a top and pants in the same color to look pulled together and great. Then top with an accent jacket—or the column can be a matching jacket or top with a skirt or pant.

Figure out your best colors (and the colors that don’t work). Wearing the right colors for your skin tone is one of the simplest improvements you could ever make—and it can make a big difference! Figure out which colors make you look best, then remove the non-flattering colors from your closet and refrain from buying more of those colors. Once you’ve got a closet full of flattering colors, your outfits will come together more easily and your accessories will match your clothing.

 When you are stressed, take a minute to adjust your body chemistry. It takes only 60 seconds of focused breathing to help you calm down when you feel stressed or anxious. Take several moments to breathe steadily and concentrate on your breath flowing in and out of your nose. You can do this anywhere—in a car, your office, or a bathroom stall—and it will instantly give you the presence you need to stay focused and calm in any situation.

 Don’t rely solely on elastic waist pants. It can be all too easy to slip into leggings or pants with an elastic waistband each day. But it’s important to resist this urge because elasticized pants are so forgiving that they allow you to gain weight without the telltale snugness that accompanies regular pants. Instead, choose to primarily wear pants that feature a zipper and waistband. Jeans and slacks with this design style keep you in check by giving you an accurate reading of your size and weight. So save stretchy pants for your yoga class or the gym.

 Know that organizing your closet can change your life! Having the right hangers and organizing your clothes by color and classification will make getting dressed in exciting and well-accessorized outfits easy. And it makes getting out the door a breeze. Take the time to organize your closet from top to bottom, and get rid of any clothes that no longer fit, flatter, or represent you. You will be amazed at how much calmer you feel when you see a neat and tidy closet of clothes waiting to be worn!

Photograph your favorite outfits. Take photos of totally accessorized outfits that you love and would like to remember to wear again. Then refer back to them anytime you need a great outfit fast. This is so helpful for everyday dressing, last-minute parties or events, and organizing for travel. You can create an album on your smartphone full of these ready-to-go outfits. Or print out a handy catalog of photos and keep them on a shelf in your closet for easy, fast access.

Create boundaries and stick to them. It can be very hard to put yourself first in your life, but doing so will bring you much more joy and ease—and remember that you can’t help others if you are too frazzled from overextending yourself. So make time for you and learn to say no to invitations and commitments that don’t resonate. It’s also smart to be upfront with your employer, friends, and family about your limits and priorities. If you don’t establish boundaries, no one will do it for you.

Have your garments tailored to fit properly. When your clothes fit you well, you will look and feel better than ever. It is a wonder what a difference a few strategic seams, hems, and tucks can make on how you wear a garment. Tailoring your clothes takes them from looking okay or good to amazing. Even if you can usually find clothing that fits, having those clothes professionally altered will give you impressive results. The extra expense of a tailor will pay for itself when you have a closet full of clothes that look great and fit you perfectly.

 Pack light and smart. When traveling, the last thing you want is to be burdened by an enormous, overstuffed suitcase. That’s why it is so important to pack efficiently and carefully select the clothing you want to bring along. Choose versatile pieces that you can mix and match for a variety of outfits and focus on high-quality fabrics that travel well. Be sure to include a couple of accessories to accent your looks and don’t forget to pack appropriate footwear. Finally, wear your bulkiest outfit on the plane instead of taking up valuable space inside your bag.

Hydrate for health and happiness! You should be drinking eight to ten glasses of water daily. This helps your organs function properly, makes your skin and hair look great, and energizes your whole body. When you think you are hungry, drink water first as you may actually be thirsty. Drinking the proper amount of water daily can help you to lose weight. Water helps fill you up and flushes toxins out of your body. And remember that when you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

 If you’ve outgrown it, let it go (that goes for clothes and people too). We often keep people and “stuff” in our lives that no longer enrich us, but it is advisable to let go of the old and make room for the new. Whether you need to release a stagnant friendship or remove yourself from a toxic relationship, respect yourself enough to politely cut ties and move on. The same goes for old clothing and even old habits. You don’t need that old sweater from the ’90s any more than you need to cling to old hurts and fears. Take a deep breath and purge the things that no longer serve you.

If you’re lucky enough to be given good advice when you need it—whether we’re talking about fashion tips or wellness guidance—you are much more likely to succeed and feel good about making informed decisions. Sometimes all it takes is a nudge in the right direction to help change someone’s life for the better.