It was a pretty low key weekend here. Friday I met friends for drinks at South Street and then Friday I went to yoga and got coffee with a friend who’s one of the wisest and sweetest women I know. Really though, she just listened and gave all kinds of great advice while I spilled all my craziness. Then Sunday I was volunteering at church all morning, did some errands and went on a gorgeous walk/run with Whitney because it was 54 degrees and sunny here!!
Now that we’re 2 weeks into the New Year, the gym is freaking packed. People are super excited about their New Years resolutions and the momentum is going strong. But I find myself overhearing lots of New Years resolutions that are all about taking away something. Cutting calories, cutting coffee, cutting out sugar, cutting out alcohol, stop sleeping in or stop spending money, etc, etc.
I’m more about intentions than resolutions. And I’m all about adding things in instead of taking anything away. Because why subtract when you can add? It’s so much better. And instead of wanting to do more, what about doing less? Slowing down instead of speeding up. And finding out what is life giving and fills you up instead of diving into all the things and then finding yourself exhausted.
So five things to add to your life for more rest, less stress, and perhaps more happiness.
Because if I’ve learned one thing in these 24 years, it’s that we have one body we’ve be given and we ought to care for it well.
1. Sleep Stop sacrificing sleep to squeeze too many things into your day. If you’re up late, sleep in. If you’re staying up too late too often, figure out why and prioritize what really needs to get done. Sleep is when our bodies repair and heal themselves. If we aren’t getting enough, hormones get all whacky, cortisol rises, insulin sensitivity decreases, and we don’t think as clearly. I use to feel guilty for sleeping in past 7:30 [crazy, I know] but now if I sleep till 9:30 or even 10 on Saturday, that’s okay. It’s a really good thing. Getting 5 or 6 hous of sleep is not okay, I’ve learned this the hard way. Sleep more, it’s the best thing you can do for yourself.
2. Fat It’s my favorite food group and healthy fats are a critical part of our diet. We need them to maintain our menstrual cycle, make hormones, and they make our hair, skin, and nails super shiny and strong. Forget about low fat mumbo jumbo, fat is where it’s at ya’ll. Avocado, coconut oil, almonds, walnuts, nut butters, olive oil, coconut milk, chia and flax seeds are all awesome sources of healthy fats. Aim for at least fats in every meal.
3. Yoga, Pilates, or Barre As a marathoner and someone who loves loves loves cardio, I’m a self admitted cardio and running addict. But over time it’s not a good thing. Our bodies need time to rest, heal, and reset themselves. After the Richmond marathon I realized my body was way too stressed and exercise played a big part in that…along with sleep. Chronic cardio can raise cortisol levels and actually make you store energy instead of burn it like our bodies are suppose to. Yoga, pilates and Barre are my favorite ways to move lately, in addition to walking. They are low intensity and so don’t raise cortisol levels. I’m not saying running and cardio are always a bad thing, I’m planning on running another marathon again someday, but too much is not good. Add in some yoga or pilates more instead of all the cardio and your body and mind will thank you.
4. A Book Being on the computer or iPad at night, not only keeps you up later, but all that light stimulation can make it harder for your body to fall asleep and get into it’s REM cycle. I’m super guilty of staying up googling or emailing or blog reading, but I’m changing that. Pick up a good book to read before bed that will relax you. I’m reading this one right now. I could be online for hours, but I know I won’t stay up reading for hours which makes getting to sleep earlier much easier.
5. Spontaneity Structure and organization and routine have their place in our lives and can be good things, but let go of your routine and how you do things and just go with the flow more. Do something unexpected. Break your routine to do something fun. Letting go of all the structure and the “I should do this” is freeing. You’ll find more joy in life. And you’ll feel like you’re actually living when you’re spontaneous and hey, you never know where the next adventure will lead you.
Less stress, less stuff, add more.