Managing stress with mindful eating

Mindful Break @ Muffin House Cafe, Medway, MA
Photo: ~Sofia Reddy

Quote of the Day:

“When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”

~ rashaski · Zen Proverb

Reflection:

One of our major struggles in modern day life is trying to do too much in a short amount of time. Often what is sacrificed is the purely enjoyable experience of a eating a meal slowly, intentionally – with our full attention and awareness. One area that eating becomes another chore on the to do list is at work. When I facilitate self-care workshops I often hear employees saying, “I don’t have time to eat lunch,” “I often run out the door in the morning with a cup of coffee but skip breakfast,” or “my lunch is interrupted by phone calls and colleagues stopping by to make requests.”

Sound familiar?

The problem with skipping meals or rushing through them is that we tend to either under or overeat. Ultimately we are not getting the nutrients we need to maintain our energy levels and our productivity is more drastically compromised. If we give ourselves permission to take 10-15 minutes to enjoy our meal, not only do we end up feeling more satisfied, we have the energy needed to stay focused and accomplish our goals for the day.

Today’s practice:

Today, try eating a mindful breakfast, lunch and dinner, alone or with family, a friend or colleague. For breakfast, get up 10 minutes earlier so you have time to eat something with your full attention and awareness. Savor each bite of your favorite fruit, cereal or other morning meal preference. I can’t leave the house without eggs for breakfast. They pack protein and keep me full throughout the morning. Often we boil eggs and keep them refrigerated, which is a quick meal that is healthy and tasty.

For lunch, turn off the computer and telephone ringer and set your timer for at least 10 minutes. Clear the desk. Or better yet if it’s a nice day out take lunch to a picnic table or bench. Smell the aroma of the food you are about to enjoy. Notice its texture, taste, smell and really savor it. Allow your senses to experience every aspect of this meal.

At dinner, turn off the tv or other electronics. If you live with family make it a rule to turn off electronics and the telephone during dinner. Spend at least 30 minutes together enjoying each other’s company and the meal. Look at each other. Talk to each other. Spend some time in silence too. If you feel moved perhaps say a prayer (or meditate) about feeling thankful to have this food to eat and reflect on how the food got to the table. Think of all the people and processes involved to bring this food here. Savor every minute.

How did your practice go? What did you notice? 

Were there any difficulties, and if so how did you manage them? Do you have any other ideas or questions about this practice? 

Would love to hear from you! Share with us by commenting below or through my Facebook page @Sofiasanctuary

Today’s Book Recommendations:

 

Please note: Sofia Reddy (sofias-sanctuary.com) is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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Self-care strategy #23: 3 tips to create a sanctuary from the work week

A pink lady slipper at Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA
A pink lady slipper at Noanet Woodlands, Dover, MA photo by Sofia Reddy

Amazing things start to happen when you mentally and emotionally separate yourself from the stress of daily work life. If you’re like me, you probably spend an average of 40-50 hours per week working. Now add an average of 10 hours per week commuting, and you’ve spent about 60 hours out of your 112 wake hours per week working. You now have 52 hours left for the week. How do you use this time? After running errands, taking care of the house and kids, or any other obligations you have that doesn’t leave much time for decompressing or relaxing, does it? Every hour you commit to something is precious time and uses up your valuable resources (time and energy). No wonder many people I know, including myself, often feel tired and drained! We go back to work on Mondays wondering where the weekend went.

Your time is valuable. Use it wisely. Make every moment away from work and other obligations matter. Giver yourself the gift of time. Here are 3 tips to set healthy work/life boundaries:

  1. Set aside time on the weekend for yourself to do what you WANT to do, not just things you HAVE to do to. My favorite part of the weekend is going to my weekly acupuncture or yoga class, walking with a friend, or just getting up before everyone else does so I can work on my writing or read something fun. 
  2. Go on a day trip with your family and take lots of pictures. You don’t have to go far and you don’t have to spend a lot of money either. We love this time of year in New England. We find there’s always somewhere new to explore that’s just within driving distance. I always bring my camera so I can capture some of our finds, like the beautiful orchid featured here. This photo is from our hike at Noanet Woodlands in Dover, MA. It was a great day spent with good friends. We later had a picnic under the shade of a tree. It’s one of the highlights of my spring so far! Note: try to focus being fully present in the here and now when you’re on these excursions. Don’t think about the to do list waiting for you on Monday. It will get done!
  3. Think of an end of the day or work week ritual that will help you transition from work mode to personal life mode. After work I mentally tell myself I’ve “clocked” out and therefore I’m no longer being paid to think about work. If there’s something on my mind I write it down and note what action I want to take the next day or week about it. When I get in the car I leave work behind. There are some days that’s harder to do, but the more I practice, the better I get at it. My favorite thing to do now is listen to audio books. Friday night there’s a free wine tasting at our local wine shop with appetizers and good company. Think of something you can do that you look forward to at the end of the day or week.

What are some end of day/week rituals that you do? What’s the highlight of your weekend or time off from work? How are you with work/life boundaries? Would love to hear…

 

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Positive Challenge #1: Lift the FOG, lighten the load

A moment to reflect * Wolfeboro, NH * Photo by Sofia Reddy

Life is stressful. We can acknowledge this truth and learn to respond from a place that is centered and grounded. On a trip to New Hampshire, I discovered this cozy corner and sat to reflect on how we can achieve long lasting happiness, despite life’s stresses. Several realizations emerged: 1. We are capable of overcoming any stress life throws our way. 2. We are resilient and adaptable. 3. We have choices. 4. We can choose happiness. How?

First we must lift the FOG: Fear, obligation, and guilt. Many of us operate under one of these three conditions in relationship to others, ourselves and the world. Sometimes we get caught up in beliefs that keep us unnecessarily stuck in situations that are unhealthy. We might fear change, though we know it’s ultimately what’s best for us. We might feel obligated to someone, even though it might be an unhealthy relationship. We might feel guilt about something that is not our fault.

We need to step out of this FOG that clouds our judgment and interferes with our ability to truly be happy. We can “lighten the load” by practicing self-care on a daily basis. We can say no when something isn’t right. We can nurture ourselves. We can spend time with loving others. We can move on to healthier situations. We can create change in our lives to make it better. We can make our dreams come true. We have this power. We just to have to believe in ourselves and take action to move us forward. We must never, ever, give up.

Positive challenge # 1: Take a moment to sit and reflect on what is preventing you from making a positive change in your life. Is FOG clouding your vision? Are you stuck in an old belief that is no longer serving you? Decide how you will lighten the load today. Replace the old belief with one that is current and realistic. Take one step forward in the direction you want to head. What will you do differently today?

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