Five Things Relaxation Exercise

Have you ever felt like your attention span was completely out of whack?

Let me shed some light on this, as someone has recently enlightened me.

Too much attention inward…

Often times when we have too much to do (guilty as charged), it can be challenging to focus on one thing at a time because we can only think about how we feel internally.  How we feel worried.  How we feel stressed.  How we feel like we’ll never get to all those “things” that need to get done.  It’s really just internal chaos, right?  And because of it, none of those things actually end up getting done anyways!

worrying

Too much attention outward…

On the flip side, sometimes being too focused on external things can cause us to neglect our internal feelings.  Example.  Today I was SO focused on completing the mock ups for our health and wellness portal at work that I literally forgot to pee.  No, I didn’t pee my pants, but I realized after I was done with the mockups that I hadn’t gone to the bathroom for hours.

Attention in alpha…

When it comes to attention and feeling present, the ideal state to shoot for is called “alpha.”  This is where 50% of your attention is focused on your internal feelings and 50% of your attention is focused on the other stuff.  But it’s hard to get there!  Take another example of being in a fight with someone.  Maybe you are so worked up about something that you can’t resolve the external issue because all you can focus on is how that person is making you feel at the time.  Or maybe you are harping so much on the issue, that you neglect the fact that you need sleep, or are thirsty, or what have you.  So what can you do about it?

How to get there…

The “5 Things Relaxation Exercise” can help with this, as it is a technique that simply helps you feel more present.  It can redirect your focus and is useful for when you are feeling overwhelmed, out of control, and need something to calm you down on the spot.  It’s also helpful for reducing tension, anger, and relaxing the body to fall asleep.

How it’s done…

5 things relaxation exercise

For example, if I was feeling overwhelmed now at my desk, I could say out loud (or think to myself):

  1. I see my computer.
  2. I see my water bottle.
  3. I see my cell phone.
  4. I see the windows.
  5. I see my calendar.

Then after saying those 5 things I see, I would say:

  1. I hear the heater rustling.
  2. I hear a car driving by outside.
  3. I hear the sound of my fingers typing.
  4. I hear the music I have on in the background.
  5. I hear the heater rustling.  (It’s OK to repeat items).

Finally, I would say 5 things I feel, keeping in mind that the “feeling” part does not refer to emotions such as “I feel stressed” or “I feel overwhelmed,” but actual physical sensations:

  1. I feel my feet on the floor.
  2. I feel my hands typing on the computer.
  3. I feel my feet crossed over one another.
  4. I feel myself sitting in this chair.
  5. I feel my tongue against the roof of my mouth.

Then repeat again with 4 things, with 3 things, with 2 things, and finally with 1 thing in each category.  At the end, notice how you feel.  If you feel more relaxed, you can stop.  If not, go through it another time.  You may lose your place and get distracted.  That is okay, just start again anywhere.  The point is that by the end, however many times it takes, this exercise should help you feel more present and focused.

What do you guys think about this technique?

It may sound a little silly or basic, but it actually really works.  I have used it many times and have found that it just brings me back to a state of calm when my thoughts are all over the place.  I urge you all to try it!  It’s good for your mental health.  I know I don’t write about mental health all that much, probably because it is a topic so near and (not so) dear to my family, but I want to start writing more about it.  You can do burpees until the cows come home, but what does it really matter if your brain isn’t feeling at its best?

jump

Does anyone else have any relaxation techniques that you want to share?

P.S.  If you are looking for something to read tonight, check out this article in Time.  And then be thankful, because whatever you are complaining about today could probably be a lot worse.  Right?

On Finding Balance

Usually when it comes to thinking of new blog content, I list out different topics I want to write about in any given week.  This “list” includes an ongoing section of recipes that I want to make sure I don’t forget about.  Same with workouts.  Sometimes the list includes things I want to make sure I mention by a certain date, and I always have ideas floating around for future posts that don’t necessarily have any kind of “timeline” on them.

However, I’ve noticed that one topic I added to my list… at the beginning of the year… to write about at the beginning of the year… is still on the list.  And I keep asking myself, WHY haven’t I written about what my goals are for 2013 yet?

C.S. Lewis Goals Quote

I am notorious for being a New Year’s sucker.  Over-committing to a ridiculous amounts of goals.  Making an enormous bucket list that starts out as something fun, but turns into self-ridicule for never crossing out everything on it.  I mean, look at my 2012 New Year’s goals post… it’s full of goals galore!  And that was great… for 2012.  At that point in my life, I was in SUCH a career/life rut that I needed to set those goals for myself to feel motivated at changing my situation.  And I accomplished a lot, don’t get me wrong.  A whole lot.  I’m proud of myself for doing everything I did, and I know that starting the year with intention had a lot to do with my successes.

So why haven’t I felt as motivated to set goals for 2013? 

While I do have things I want to do this year (grow the wellness program at work, finalize my plans for the Wellcoaches certification, run another 5k, get out of my comfort zone, focus on one thing at a time, grow my name and this blog), I honestly just feel tired.  And while I can certainly still have all these intentions in the back of my mind, I think feeling this way is pretty telling about what my real focus should be this year.

find balance

If you are someone like me, the only speed you know is “go.”  I’m always running from one job to the other, only to come home and tackle all the things on my to do lists (yes, lists) that “have to get done.”  My “me time” is cleaning or blogging.  I never just stop.  And if I do, I can’t stop for more than a few minutes without getting up to organize something that “should” get organized.  If I take a vacation day just because, I run a billion errands instead of just sit around the house with a cup of coffee and a good book.  Now that I think about it, I can’t even tell you the last time I read a good book!

Am I on this never-ending hunt for the perfect balance between everything I do?  I love everything I do, but I’m always looking for new ways to keep up with both jobs while maintaining a healthy diet, getting the right amount of exercise, having enough downtime to spend with friends/family, and so on.  Maybe if I just stop worrying about trying to do everything so perfectly all the time, balance might come a little more naturally.  Maybe I’ll get more sleep and feel less overwhelmed.  I mean, here I am trying to motivate all of you day in and day out to live a healthy lifestyle, but how healthy can I really be when I feel stressed so often? 

you can do anything but not everything

It’s obvious that slowing down is the answer to my issues.  Maybe then I’ll find stability, which I think is the answer to finding real balance.  Doing things perfectly and productively 100% of the time is unattainable and unreasonable.  It leaves me feeling like I can barely keep my head above water, and it’s just not healthy.  I don’t HAVE to get through every email every day, or fold every bit of laundry the second it comes out of the dryer.  That’s not what is going to matter down the line.  What will matter in five years are all the little things.  Whether that be a little extra sleep, an extra glass of wine, an extra hug, or maybe just that hour spent laughing over nothing. 

war with yourself

Slowing down doesn’t come easily to me, but someone recently suggested comparing this to exercising.  As you all know, I’m very self-driven in ensuring I get to the gym and exercise enough.  I know that to keep my body looking how it does and at its healthiest, I need to put in the work and concentration and time.  But the same goes for mental health too.  In order to keep my MIND at its healthiest, I need to put in the same work and concentration and time.  Most of my goals for this round of Best Body Bootcamp have revolved around this.  I’m learning to delegate.  I’m learning to say no.  But I have a long way to go.  And that’s why this year, in 2013, I have resolved to take a step (or a few) back and commit to simply finding balance.

Does anyone else struggle with finding balance in their lives?  I would love to hear your stories.  Please share any advice or tips you have in the comments!

Guest Post! Carrying Yourself With Confidence

My name is Ashley, and I consider myself to be an avid Athena-supporter in basically all aspects of her life.  I have been a loyal Fitness and Feta reader from the beginning.

I am now a loyal attendee of Athena’s Thursday morning Circuit Training class as well, although I can’t say I loved it from the very beginning.  Man, that class is HARD.  It took me a little while to convince myself that the hard work was worth it!

Athena was kind enough to give me the opportunity to write a guest entry about whatever I wanted (she must really trust me) and to promote a fundraiser that I’m doing very soon!  I wanted to tie my topic into the fundraiser and also have it tie into the theme of Fitness and Feta.
I’m going to discuss a topic of health that Athena has only touched on a few times, mental health, or more specifically, how you feel about yourself.

In high school, I had a tendency to be friends with more men than women.  Through college and beyond, I was fortunate enough to meet strong, awesome women that have become my best friends.  One thing I’ve noticed, however, is that these, strong, awesome women don’t often seem to realize how awesome they truly are.  There seems to be a double standard this way between men and women – when a man acknowledges how great he is (think of Barney Stinson from How I Met Your Mother), he tends to be looked at as a funny, lovable person.  Many women, however, can’t often acknowledge their best attributes without it being looked at as “she’s too full of herself.”

Well, I have a challenge for all of you (whether you’re a man or a woman).  If you are sitting there thinking negatively about yourself in any way, go out and do something about it.  Confidence is not something you’re born with; you have to work for it.  I believe that you gain confidence by doing things that challenge you – physically, mentally, etc.  I’ll give you some extreme examples of things I’ve done that I’m proud of (but was scared to do at the time):

Getting SCUBA certified

I’m not a great swimmer and terrified of drowning!

Jumping off a bridge in Ecuador

It’s called “puenting” – sort of like bungee jumping!

Swimming with sharks

Multiple times – no cage or other type of barrier!

Working out regularly

Okay, this isn’t really extreme, but I am proud of myself every week for doing it.

Future things that I’m scared of but am doing anyways:

  • A Warrior Dash in September
  • Shaving my head to raise money for pediatric cancer (i.e. the main point of this post)

So, if you think any of these things are crazy, they sort of are, but the feeling you get after doing them is unmatched by anything else.  If you want to make yourself feel good today by doing something quick and easy, you can donate to the fundraiser that I’m shaving my head for!  Please check out my personal fundraising page below where it’s really easy to make a donation using a credit or debit card!  Thanks!

http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/ashleypratte/kidscancerbuzz-off

What is something you are proud of yourself for doing?  How do you carry yourself with confidence?  When’s the last time you did something that challenged you?

Don’t forget to contribute to Ashley’s admirable cause!