By Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD
March is said to “Come in like a lion, and go out like a lamb.” So, even though we may be anticipating the coming of Spring, after the Equinox on the 20st, we may find ourselves still confined by wind, rain, snow, and storms. We also may be experiencing the end of Winter blues, compounded by the long year of pandemic living. We may feel tired, sluggish, restless, bored, sad, and scared. All of this points to this season as being a good time for a Spring Clean.
First, let’s focus on our Primary Food areas from the IIN Circle of Life.
Some important areas of the Circle include:
- Home environment
Take a few moments and do a thoughtful life scan, reflecting on which of these areas you feel complete, and which areas you would like to gain more clarity, balance, energy, and satisfaction. Once you have identified areas of imbalance in your Primary Food, determine ways you can begin to create energy to bring about more balance and infuse joy and satisfaction into these areas of your life. It is a practice, a process, a journey and each day, each moment will be different.
Let’s focus on Health for both body and mind. To bring more balance and energy into our body and mind, we might begin with a Spring detox.
How to support our body’s detoxification
Fasting can be beneficial if done wisely and with caution, especially for those of us who may have health issues such as diabetes. Lemon water is an inexpensive and easy to prepare drink. Simply adding fresh lemon juice to a cup of water, or making a larger container ahead of time, brings Vitamin C and antioxidants to our bodies. Lemon drink promotes hydration, supports weight loss, aids digestion, improves skin quality, and can help prevent kidney stones. We can also add fresh mint and ginger to enhance the taste and overall benefit. I enjoy a warm lemon drink first thing in the morning. According to Ayurveda medicine, the lemon stimulates “agni,” or the fire in the digestive system. It does tend to get everything moving and helps support the body’s natural detoxification processes.
Hydrating with water is always important, and especially so after a long winter. We might not feel thirsty during the cold winter months, but our bodies continue to need hydrating. Even more so if we live in a dry climate. Being indoors with dry heat also contributes to dehydration. In addition to hydrating with lemon water, we can hydrate with soups. A soup rich with leafy greens, and other vegetables will offer extra hydration as well as nourishment. Sipping a cup of warm tea along with or after will also bring us not only hydration, but comfort too.
Detoxing our mind
Just as water is a powerful way to detoxify our bodies, through its cleansing action, so too can positive thoughts and emotions detoxify our minds. Words create Worlds, for ourselves and for others. Negative thoughts can lead to feelings of self-doubt, fear, anger, depression, and seeing the world through this lens can influence our actions. Positive emotions bring the opposite.
Researcher Barbara Frederickson studied the impact of positive emotions on people’s lives and found that when we do think positively, we “broaden and build” our capacity for seeing possibilities, for engaging with others, and for improving our own and other’s lives. Like the toxins that may build up in our bodies, so too negative emotions can build up in our minds, limiting our ability to adapt to change and to heal and transform our health, mental and physical. But, how do we shift from habitual negative self-talk to positive self-talk?
First, we become aware of when we are doing this. Byron Katie developed four questions that help us be aware, respond, and transform these negative thoughts towards more positive, effective ones. We begin by asking four simple questions about each belief that causes us pain or distress:
- Is it true?
- Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
- How do you react when you believe that thought?
- Who would you be without the thought?
Then after asking these questions, we reframe or ask the “turnaround” question. Reframing or re-stating the opposite of the negative thought frees the mind and allows space for insight and possibility to flourish. An easy way to “flip” negative self-talk is to replace should with could. Instead of “I should have done that” and taking on blame, shame, guilt, remorse, we can say “I could have done that” and open up possibilities for present and future actions. We broaden and build rather than shut down, limiting ourselves through deficit thinking.
Breathing also is a powerful way to shift our negative and stressful thoughts towards more positive, calming ones. Mind follows Breath. When we are stressed, we tend to breathe with shallow, quick breaths, in the upper chest, igniting the fight or flight response, which increases our stress. By slowing down our breathing, we shift towards Frederickson’s “broaden and build” mental frame, engaging our sympathetic nervous system, which signals the body and mind that everything is ok, we can relax, find solutions, see possibilities other than fighting, fleeing, or freezing. Diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, brings relief, and calm. And we can do this at any time, and anywhere. Our breath is always with us. Just breathe.
Try it with me.
Wherever you are, however you are, just now, Breathe in through your nose, mentally guiding your breath down into the belly, allowing the belly to expand. When you feel your breath reach its fullest, exhale and allow the belly to soften, relax. Repeat.
Notice any differences in your body, mind. You might find your heart rate slows, and notice a general sense of well-being. There are many variations on this simple belly breath, but for an expressway to relaxation, this is a good place to begin.
Yours in health,
Kristen Crusoe RN MN EdD, Health Coach, is a consultant with Elderwise Inc. From a health coach perspective, Kristen shares advice about holistic health and how we can live our fullest lives, now and into our preferred futures.