I have been on a really good run recently keeping calm and getting most things achieved in my daily world, until the last week; I felt my old enemy stress creeping back up on me. Suddenly there was a tightness in my shoulders as I realised they were literally up around my ears and a shortness of breath in panic – how would I get everything done?
After being involved in a “start-up” for the past year and a half and not earning, I found myself for the first time in my life working out how to pay for groceries amongst other things. That dreaded moment when all your cards are declined and you have to slink off leaving your food behind you hoping no one will notice. This is when I had to really pull out all my resources, especially so I could fund my passion for Alzheimer’s prevention and awareness. Next thing I knew I found myself with 5 jobs as well as running a very busy family. I felt like this character from my daughter India’s book – Perfect Prudence. Even though she’s a one-girl show in the school play – singing, dancing, working the lights, and playing both ends of a cow for Jack and the Beanstalk , she doesn’t do the one most important thing, she forgets to open up the curtain! I have been forgetting more than opening up the curtain so it was time to bring my stress levels down and start managing my time better.
Perfect timing! I was well in truly due for a tune up as stress is such a big factor in possibly causing Alzheimer’s, so here is my week on De-stressing for a Beautiful Mind.
Day 1. Meditation
I have been a big fan of mediation forever, but do slip out of the habit every now and again. When I find my practice again I am reminded of how beneficial it is for myself and my family particularly when it comes to stress prevention.
I covered in my blog a few weeks on how to do Kirtan Kriya – a meditation I have started doing to help prevent Alzheimer’s. My other go to meditation that is especially good when my focus is all over the place is Headspace. As it is “guided meditation” it works particularly well for me and you can set your time so if you just have 10 minutes – easy. You can also choose what you want the mediation for and you will then be guided accordingly. I chose of course to do the meditation for stress and I have to say it got me through a pretty tough week. You can sign up for free to get the basic guided mediation and if you want more you can pay for it which I see is a very good return for keeping you calm and happy. If the whole world meditated I am sure there would be far less war and violence.
Day 2. Time Management App
My biggest problem is I can get caught up spending half a day answering emails. Now with 5 jobs I needed to allocate my time in the best way possible. I went in search of the best time management app; after trialling several and getting more confused; which lead the old stress meter to rise I came back to my iCalender. It has worked well in the past, but I just put in appointments, now I have entered every minute of my day; from waking up to when I go to sleep. I even schedule in my meditation in at 6.30am. For me I just needed to keep it simple and did not require all the bells and whistles for my very basic non-technical mind. The good thing is that ical tracks events and appointments, allowing for multiple calendar views so I could set up different colour tabs for family and my two main jobs Girl Undiscovered and Beautiful Mind and then the rest under a work tab which helps me to quickly identify conflicts and free time (which there is not a lot of but the good news is I have allocated between 8pm and 9pm for me time to watch my fav Netflix programme). My calendar is integrated with icloud, so my calendars can be shared and synced with my laptop, ipad and iPhones over the internet. I have set up alerts for everything to keep me on schedule. I can also subscribe to other calendars so I can keep up with friends, colleagues and my husband. If you need more functionality there are plenty of apps that clip onto your calendar like Fanatastical or Calengoo
If you don’t have ical calendar try Microsoft’s Outlook Calendar which is great too.
Day 3. Stress Relief Tonic
I have been busy concocting herb, fruit and vegetable extracts into a blend I have called Temple Powders that I craft to what the body needs. I have based my blends on a fascination with Korean Temple Food where fermenting is key. I really love the philosophy of temple food prepared by buddhist monks that comes from the heart with love and awakens your mind. By tailor-making a wellbeing powder to suit allows me to put my heart and soul into it, getting to the essence of what your body requires.
So with that in mind I created a blend for stress.
Charlotte’s “Let the Sunshine In” Temple Powder
Fermented Grape Powder
Ashwagandha is an Ayurvedic herb that I love as it helps to reduce the effects of stress on the nervous system, which cuts back on the adrenaline, ‘fight or flight,’ response, leaving us with more energy.
Vitamin C is a must as it allows the body to quickly clear out cortisol, a primary stress hormone that increases sugars in the bloodstream.
Fermented Grape Powder is my fav as it is super effective at reducing stress and inflammation in the brain, boosting memory and potentially preventing some of the damage associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Curcumin Extract is the bioactive compound in turmeric that can treat depression, anxiety, brain aging. It is incredible how it can lift your mood, tame stress and protect your brain against aging and neurodegenerative disease.
I blended my “Let the SunShine In” Temple Powder with a juice I made from carrots, ginger, pear and oranges. Carrots are amazing for boosting your serotonin production and ginger is such a potent food, helping address symptoms of anxiety and overwhelming levels of stress.
This blend tastes gorgeous as well as being highly beneficial, acting as a potent antioxidant, stress buster and fantastic for the whole family to keep colds away.
My custom made temple powders will be launching end of April. If you would like to find out more please email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Day 4. Combine Exercise with what you love
I don’t jump at the chance to exercise, but then again who does! I struggle to get myself to yoga classes as I have to admit, I don’t love it, but I do LOVE how it makes me feel afterwards. So in order to get my sorry arse moving I had to find something that I would enjoy that I would not deem as exercise. I do enjoy Zumba but still something was not quite cutting it, maybe it was all the fluro and one trouser leg up one down fashion thing that Zumba lovers seem to favor.
Finally after years of searching I have found it with Ballet Barre, but not just any old class a big part of it is my instructor Christopher Olwage. He is not only the most gorgeous creature to look at with a greek god like physique he is so incredibly entertaining. I am always left wanting more, that is more of course of the wonderful ballet moves he has choreographed that leave you feel like you have had such a fantastic workout for your arms, legs and butt. Not only do my legs feel sore post workout so does my face as I have smiled and laughed so much and my happy endorphins go into overdrive. Chris is also involved in the Black Swan Project that goes to the streets of South Africa, spreading awareness, challenging norms, and brightening peoples day.
My husband, after years of playing golf realised it produced in him the worst of moods has found his happy exercise in stand-up paddle boarding. Maybe for you it might be visual so find a place with the most beautiful walk and do that as often as you can. It could be Trapeze if you are a bit of a thrill seeker – how much fun would that be! Or if you have trouble getting out of the house if you look after young ones or have little funds buy a $10 hoola hoop, put on your favourite music turned up loud and hoola hoop for half an hour. Amazing exercise and so much fun! Whatever you do it is important to love it so you do it more!
Day 5. Abhyanga (pronounced ab-hee-un-ga)
This Ayurvedic practice is a powerful anti-aging self massage with incredible health benefits.
It is believed to help with circulation and detoxification, relieve fatigue, provide stamina, enhance sleep and soothe your nervous system. According to Ayurveda, the power of touch can strongly and positively impact your nervous system, helping to get rid of stress that we all know leads to inflammation and visible aging. But unlike going to a beauty therapist it’s free and so simple to do.
How to do Abhyanga
- Pour about two tablespoons of oil into a smaller glass or BPA-free container. I recommend a mix of half sesame oil and half Girl Undiscovered Stars Aligning elixir oil (or your favourite elixir) – as I like to put the oil on my face I find the sesame on its own too oily.
- To avoid slipping, sit on the floor or a chair near your shower. Apply some of the warmed oil to your hands and massage your entire body for five to 10 minutes, applying even pressure. Apply lighter pressure to sensitive areas such as your upper torso, breasts, heart, and abdominal area. Use circular motions over rounded areas such as your feet and scalp, and straight, longer strokes on your limbs.
- Special tummy time: Start on the right side and then make a circular motion up, across, and down the left side of your abdomen, repeating a few times. This is believed to help to aid digestion too.
- Next massage your face not forgetting about your ears, and neck. Then massage the soles of your feet and the palms of your hands.
- Massage your scalp. Ayurveda teaches that the feet and scalp are the most important areas to stimulate with touch—so even if, like me, you only wash your hair once or twice a week, don’t skip this step! Wash your hands off first and then massage your head, sans oil.
- When you’re done, make sure you’ve rubbed the oil in as much as possible. Make sure you take off excess oil off your feet so you don’t slip in the shower! Ideally, wait at least 10 minutes. You can brush your teeth, do a little dance, or do what I do and pluck my brows.
- Next, take a hot shower. The heat will help the oil to sink in keeping your skin supple. Don’t use soap unless certain areas need a little wash. Don’t towel off too rigorously as it is great to leave a thin film of oil to help you stay moisturized and protected.
Although it is recommended to do this in the morning, I do it at night as I sleep so well afterwards. If you are short for time, just massage your face, working on your temples and in between your eyebrows. Being botox free I need to work extra hard at my frown lines so hopefully getting double benefits!
I do a mini version of this massage on my mother. In the afternoon when I put her into bed to take the pressure off her backside I give her face, back, bottom and legs a massage. It helps to keep the circulation moving and is very calming.
I would love you to try at least try one of these suggestions to help fight stress for a Beautiful Mind, or if you only have just one minute, do a headstand – against a wall or if you can free stand. This posture is extremely helpful if you are having anxiety, stress, fear or otherwise worrisome thoughts. Combine a headstand with long, slow breathing and you have a recipe for stress relief plus it makes a great party trick!