STRETCH & REST CARE for the wellness warrior
Even though I've worked in health care for over 30 years and know the importance of self-care, I didn't truly become proactive with my own rest "care" until I was introduced to Yoga Nidra in 2018.
At the time, I was struggling with the physical, emotional, and mental demands of being the primary caregiver for my father who had a stroke in 2015 that left him with memory and vision issues. He went from living on his own and Commander of the VFW in his retirement to living in an assisted living facility and needing help with everything.
I was managing his medical care and life.
After his stroke, he had multiple health conditions and cancer diagnoses that had to be addressed. Just when we got one area under control another would pop up. Before his last cancer surgery, we weren't sure if he could get strong enough for surgery or have to go into hospice.
For years I'd help patients and families through the similar situations, but when I got on the other side and became the caregiver for the "patient" I experienced a different level of exhaustion and stress.
I needed to ramp up my rest care toolbox for sure as my normal coping strategies and mind body practices weren't enough to ride out the waves of his medical crises while juggling a career at the same time.
I was at the peak of my caregiver fatigue after helping my dad through 3 cancer surgeries in a year when I was introduced to yoga nidra.
That ended up being a turning point in my own self-care journey.
It's when I truly started to prioritize rest.
It was simple so I could stick with it.
I just had to close my eyes and listen to a meditation for 15 minutes.
I would get the rest medicine I needed that day.
Nothing helped me feel as refreshed, re-energized, and back in balance than those nidra naps.
It quickly became a non-negotiable and daily practice for me.
Even though my caregiver journey with dad has ended since he passed away last year, I'm passionate about sharing the powerful rest tools I've found over the years with the helpers & healers of the world. They're some of the most high risk groups for exhaustion and burnout.
In a culture that values busyness and views rest as lazy, it takes courage and support to prioritize having a Rested Body & Lifestyle.
I recorded a podcast with Genevieve Richardson, a Speech Pathologist and owner of Life Speech Pathologies, to share a little bit of my rest story and burnout prevention strategies for caregivers. Genevieve works with and has the Listen For Life Aphasia Podcast for stroke survivors that have aphasia and their families.
We discussed Rest and Relaxation Practices to help manage the stress and fatigue associated with caregiving as well as how to set yourself up for success by shifting your mindset around rest, prepping for rest, and building a rest support team.
Anyone, not just caregivers, can benefit from the rest tips we shared on this podcast episode (episode 37).
The good news is it doesn't take hours and hours of resting or meditating all day to feel more energy, ease, & flow each day.
It's all about resets and reps when it comes to calming your nervous system & turning on your bodies healing powers.
Listen to the podcast to find which rest move you want to add to your rest toolbox today.
Please share with any of the nurturers, caregivers, or stroke survivors in your life.
To A Rested Body!
P.S. Want to experience yoga nidra with me? The wait list for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is open.
You know how much I love simple yet powerful moves to help our brain & body perform better.
Here are 2 moves to help you reset & have more energy in less than 2 minutes:
1. Brain Reset: Use this breathing exercise (a "physiological sigh") to reduce stress in the moment.
2. Body Reset: Follow the Head To Toe Posture Checklist to turn on your core stabilizers & reset your posture during the day, to prep for workouts, or after sitting long periods.
These tiny muscles need reminders and better posture helps light up your brain. This FIT Blog shows you a simple routine to find them.
Both of these moves are most powerful when you do them for a few reps each day.
Reps help your brain rewire for healthier thoughts & better movement patterns over time.
Stress & poor posture won't be as draining on your energy levels.
Set an alarm to remind you to practice throughout the day when you're first getting started.
Enjoy the energy boost!
P.S. The Waitlist for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is OPEN.
How’s the transition from all the Summer fun going?
Transitions like from Season to Season, vacation to work or school, work to being at home, or even as you go from being awake to lying down to sleep each night can be overwhelming.
As routines or responsibilities change, it can often trigger Monkey Mind.
Monkey Mind is when your mind is full and jumping from thought to thought sometimes leading to an anxiety spiral that you can’t seem to turn off.
3 SIMPLE MOVES TO CALM MONKEY MIND:
#3 is a new one I’ve found particularly helpful these past few weeks.
1. Move your Body- do some squats, planks, stairs, stretch, Yoga moves, or take a walk to help you calm your body and brain.
2. Do a Brain Dump- write down everything that is bothering, worrying, or nagging at you then tackle the #1 thing that is most bothersome (i.e. NUTS- Nagging Unfinished Tasks). I break down in detail how to tackle your NUTS in this FIT blog.
3. Mouth Move- this one blows my mind honestly with how effective and simple it is. The hardest part is remembering to use it when you need it. Making it part of your daily practices like breath work or body work will probably be the best way to implement it.
Here's how you do it:
Relax your jaw so your mouth is like ½ inch open. Not sure if your jaw is relaxed? Say “Emma” and keep the position your mouth ends in at the end of saying that name. This is neutral alignment and a relaxed position for your jaw.
Next gently press the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth. Bring your attention to your mind.
What do you notice? Did the chatter stop?
Every time I do this, it pauses the inner chatter going on in my brain.
That pause can help me reset and get out of anxious thought patterns.
So Freakin’ Fascinating- right?
Apparently, we use the same muscles and tongue movements for talking when we are just thinking thoughts (or maybe it’s that they are activated) but when you do this position with your jaw and tongue it interrupts that movement pattern- basically like we’re tongue tied- which helps stop the thoughts.
As I shared my excitement with Ender over how powerful and simple #3 is, I found out he uses it regularly to help him fall asleep or when meditating.
In all fairness, he thought I knew about it.
I’m like "What other calming exercises have you not shared with me these past 19 years?"
He gave me several more which got him out of the doghouse (for now). I’ll be sharing them with you soon.
So go ahead and add the Mouth Move to your insomnia toolbox.
I've also heard it can help with TMJ issues.
The next time you notice Monkey Mind creeping in, test out these 3 Moves to see which one creates more brain space and helps to calm your mind.
To More Peace & Ease!
P.S. Calling all Busy Bodies & Brains... the wait list for our NEW Rest Camp: SHINE™ is open.
It's T-I-M-E! We've opened the Waitlist for our NEW Rest Camp.
Calling all Busy Bodies & Brains...
Anyone on the Waitlist for SHINE™ will be the FIRST to know the details and special offers when we open up camp this Fall.
This online camp has my go to Daily Rest Moves & Tools for caregiver or clinician burnout prevention and recovery.
They've helped me survive these past few years as the primary caregiver for my dad (and our Senior Dogs) as well as being a healthcare professional during a pandemic.
It's the self-care program I wish I had learned about in physical therapy school.
If you're a caregiver or health professional that:
Come Rest & Shine with us!
Ready for some more simple moves to help you boost your Happy Hormones?
These healthy moves can be a great sugar substitute if you love sweets & snacks like me.
And no, I'm not talking about Stevia. I love it in my coffee or tea, but it doesn't give you that Dopamine hit we are going for.
Dopamine manages your brain's reward center. You get a boost of it when you do something pleasurable. It gives you a feeling of well-being, satisfaction and motivation.
Think of the way you feel when you eat chips, donuts, or even binge on Netflix.
Oh so good, but not so healthy and what happens next? You usually have to keep going to stay satisfied and before you know it you've gotten to the bottom of the bag of chips or finished a whole season to keep that feeling going. Haven't you?
Outsmart your brain with these 10 dopamine boosters instead:
3. Daily Sun
4. Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night
5. Eat a protein-rich diet
6. EAT chocolate (sorry but it's true just keep it in moderation & the darkest you can enjoy; great for PMS time of the month)
7. Listen to upbeat music
8. Tackle the NUTS in your life
9. Break tasks down into small bites so you can complete one task
10. Celebrate your wins
Bonus Move: Use the 3 Bite Dessert Rule- studies show it's just as satisfying for your brain to eat 3 bites vs the whole dessert.
Test & Track to see which ones work best for you.
You've got this!
P.S. Ready to Spring forward? Here are 2 strategies to help you adjust. Both are on the dopamine booster list!
Did you know we just had World Wildlife Day? For every camp sale this month, we're donating to one of our fav's. Sheldrick Wildlife Trust rescues & rehabs orphaned elephants, rhino’s & wildlife in Kenya to return them healthy to the wild as well as securing habitats for future generations, providing fresh water relief, vet rescue units and my favorite- their canine project using dogs to sniff out wildlife crime.
February is a great month to check in on your self-care routines. It's not only Heart Month but mid way through is Valentine's Day. Great reminders to find more ways to love on yourself so you experience more joy & ease each day.
Whether you’re a caregiver of little ones, old ones, sick ones, or furry ones, it’s so easy to neglect your own self-care (especially when those you nurture are vulnerable or ill).
Just like when the flight attendant says to “put on your oxygen mask first”, putting your self-care first is security that you’ll have enough “oxygen” (i.e. good health and energy) left in your tank to help those who need you the most.
It’s common among nurturers to get off track. The more simple you can make your practices, the less you’ll have to monitor yourself.
When you realize you’ve gotten off track, start back up right away without beating yourself up.
Your self-care doesn’t have to be a fancy spa appointment either. Something as simple as speaking more kindly to yourself is an act of self-love.
Here’s a beautiful way to start. Try it right now. Say the Lovingkindness Meditation out loud to yourself:
May I be happy.
May I be safe.
May I be free of physical pain and suffering.
May I be able to recognize and touch harmony and joy in myself.
May I nourish wholesome seeds in myself.
May I be healthy, peaceful, and strong.
How does that feel in your body? I find it calming. It relaxes and makes my body feel more open and supported.
Deep Breath, Ahhhhh. Doesn’t it feel good to say these words to yourself?
Pull it out anytime you’re beating yourself up about something, need a pick me up, or have monkey mind (overwhelmed with daily stressors and to do’s).
You can also try it the following ways…
Breathe With It: Close your eyes. Put your hand on your heart. Take 3 deep belly breaths. Say the Lovingkindness Meditation silently to yourself. Close with 3 more deep belly breaths. Sit and breathe as long as feels good to you.
Spice It Up: Say the Lovingkindness Meditation to yourself in the mirror while you get ready each morning. This might feel uncomfortable or intense at first. Just keep doing it. It’ll get easier as your self-love and acceptance grows.
Spread the Love: You can say it for other people you care about as well but only after you’ve said it for yourself first. You can even expand it to strangers or a larger community. When you say it for others, change the word “I” to the name of the person (or group) you would like to say it for. Example: May (name of loved one or group) be happy. May (he/she/they) be safe.
OK, no excuses, it's time to be kind to yourself. Do one thing that brings you joy before you move on with your day.
You're worth it!
P.S. If you're worn out, burned out, or just in need of a time out, our free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. Say Yes To Rest
How's the new year going so far?
Did you pick your one thing to focus on?
Or did you do like most people and overwhelm yourself with too many goals and give up?
It's normal to get off track when trying to change your habits.
It's also normal to have a hard time narrowing it down.
Here's a tool that can help you clear your head, tune in to what's most important, and get back on track any time of the year.
It helps you prioritize your day and also tap into your creative, intuitive side when you follow the directions closely.
A lot of artists and writers use it to start their day and turn on their creativity muscles.
It’s called Morning Pages.
How to do Morning Pages:
Pro Tip: Keep your notebook by your bed. Avoid looking at your phone before you do this exercise.
What if your “stuck” during your Morning Pages time? Here are some questions to get you in flow:
If you’ve tried working through these questions and still can’t get started on morning pages, you may be dealing with… major monkey mind!
Here’s a remedy and different tool to start with instead: Eliminate the NUTS in your life. NUTS are those nagging unfinished tasks that go round and round in your mind. I breakdown how to crack your NUTS in this blog post.
If your mind starts to resist or rebel after you’ve been doing morning pages for a while, keep going.
It’s a good sign. You’re on the verge of a breakthrough. Woohoo!!!
Writing this email has inspired me to do a month of Morning Pages. I hope you’ll join me. Every time I’ve done it in the past, I found it transformational and so freeing.
To Calm & Strong Creativity Muscles!
P.S. Still stuck & feeling restless? Our free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. Say Yes To Rest
Do you find it challenging to slow down to turn on your rest & relax mode?
If so, you might need to Make Space.
One way is to declutter. Do a quick check in.
Is there anything that you need to let go of or finish up that is draining you?
Is there something you’ve been thinking of doing or working on?
Yes? Go do it! It’ll free up some brain space or move some energy to help you relax and slow down today.
If you’re still struggling to slow down, here’s a podcast episode from my yoga nidra mentor, Karen Brody, that might help you overcome the resistance.
In her Daring To Rest podcast episode #71, Karen has a discussion with Caroline Dooner about her 2 year rest journey and new book “Tired as F*ck: Burnout at the Hands of Diet, Self-Help, and Hustle Culture.”
Gotta say I love that title 😊 but also the reminders of how many distractions there are that pull us away from connecting to our bodies and paying attention to those fatigue (warning) signals that when ignored lead to exhaustion and possibly burnout.
It’s only when we slow down that we can feel and hear them.
Also loved the reminder of how we get sucked into being “busy” to either numb out or fit in as it’s respected and rewarded in our society.
I truly believe hearing other people’s rest stories can help you move forward on your own rest adventure and help with letting go of the shame & guilt that can be associated with rest in a hustle culture.
You’re not lazy if you rest. And it doesn’t mean you have to sleep a million hours.
Remember it's about baby steps & resets. It all adds up.
Listen to the episode to do a rest checkup of your own life. It might help you identify some simple things you're doing that are draining the f*ck out of you (sorry- couldn't resist).
Slow down to tune into your body. It’ll tell you what it needs to feel more energy & ease.
Even though I’ve got my daily yoga nidra rest practice, I’m personally feeling the need to declutter before we take a long weekend to relax and celebrate our upcoming 18th wedding anniversary.
I’m making space to rest & relax. I’m also preparing my body to slow down because I’m coming off such a busy, emotional time dealing with my father’s passing this summer.
My body needs a variety of rest practices and more rest than I normally need right now.
What does yours need?
Do you know how to get your brain and body in flow?
In sports we call it being in the zone. When a baseball pitcher is throwing a no hitter, he’s in the zone or flow.
It’s that state where you are fully present, focused and at ease. There is no effort involved. You loose track of time.
Writers and artists are in that state when their creative juices are flowing.
As you get to know your body, you can do activities to help trigger a flow state.
Here are some ways to help you get in flow.
Do any of those pop out at you as a clue to how you can get into flow each day or before tasks you need to be at your most focused or creative self?
For me, it’s movement especially for writing tasks. I typically have to move my body before I can write. Sometimes journaling will get my creative juices flowing but I get my best ideas when or right after I move my body. You know I love stretching and Pilates, but dance has always been a part of my life as well.
Is there something you do to get in flow that isn’t on this list? I’d love for you to share it with me.
And if you have no idea what helps you get in flow, pick one and experiment for a few days and track how your mind and body feel. Then compare to a different one.
Have fun with it. The more you practice, the more you can get in flow. It’ll boost your mood, energy, and add more ease to your day.
Find Your Flow!
P.S. Download this Daily Planner for more mini moves to help you get in flow each day.
If you're worn out, burned out, or just in need of a time out, our free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. Say Yes To Rest!
It’s time… to give yourself the gift of rest. I know how foreign rest is to so many of us especially women, caregivers, and health professionals.
We've got a 3 Day Rest Adventure to share with you - it's free so no excuses!
It’s only been 3 years since I started my own rest adventure using the rest tool of Yoga Nidra.
I found it when I was completely worn out from helping my dad through his 3rd cancer surgery in a year while he lived 6 hours away from me.
A podcast during my last commute before I moved him back to my area caught my attention and that led me on a 40 day Yoga Nidra challenge.
One nidra nap and I was hooked.
I'll never forget the way it refreshed and energized my worn-out body (and soul).
I've stuck with it almost daily since then and when I find something that is this powerful for my mind and body I always want to share it with everyone which leads me to taking another certification (i.e. Pilates, Fascial Stretching, Trigger Point Therapy).
Ironically, I found myself doing my Yoga Nidra Daring To Rest™ facilitator training during the first few months of the pandemic.
I was rapidly approaching burnout due to having to coordinate care of my complex neuro patients (and my dad) in an upside down medical system while we all were dealing with the stressors of living through a global pandemic.
Having Yoga Nidra in my rest toolbox kept me from crashing into my typical burnout cycle. I saw the signs and added as much nidra rest when I needed it as best I could to get me through it.
What I love about Yoga Nidra is that it addresses 3 layers of exhaustion- physical, mental/emotional, and soul exhaustion. Most rest tools address physical or only one area but the deep rest of Yoga Nidra using the Daring To Rest™ method addresses all three.
The best part is you don’t have to do anything except lie down and listen to a recorded meditation. You’ll get the rest medicine you need at the time.
For me, the pandemic brought on intense mental/emotional exhaustion I had only felt on that level a few times in my life- after a divorce and the death of my mom. Lots of brain fog. I couldn’t even focus on reading books which I love to do. I definitely didn’t have any creative juices flowing until about the middle of 2021.
As much as I’ve wanted to share what I’d learned in my training with our community, I had to listen to my body. The message until recently was "not yet Mollie, just rest."
Honestly before I knew about this rest tool, I wouldn’t have listened. I would have pushed through to get it out there as I know how much it helps and is needed.
Even though the message I’m getting now is “let’s go” and the brain fog has lifted, the plan is to ease our way into sharing this new rest tool with you.
I’m inviting you on a 3 Day Yoga Nidra Rest Adventure. It’s free and only takes 15 minutes each day.
All you have to do is lie down and listen to a recorded Yoga Nidra meditation at a time that works best for you.
You’ll want to commit to the 3 days in a row to get the most benefit.
JOIN US ON A 3 DAY REST ADVENTURE
PREP WORK: MAKE SPACE FOR REST
Your homework is to tune into your body and figure out what time of day you want to block off to rest for 15 minutes for your 3 day adventure. This will help you actually do it.
It can be in the morning, midday when you have low energy, at the end of your workday before you transition to your evening home activities, or just before bed to help with sleep.
The time doesn’t really matter. What matters is you commit to 15 minutes of rest for the 3 days by picking a time and blocking it off on your calendar as soon as possible. You can then schedule other activities around it.
Trust that your mind and body will get what it needs no matter the time you pick.
It’s OK if you aren’t normally a napper. This is deep rest and relaxation for your nervous system. You might just have the most nourishing nap you've ever had. Be open to testing it out. You have to feel it in your body to truly understand the benefits.
It’s also OK if you're resisting because you’re telling yourself that you’re too busy. It’s normal for there to be resistance when trying something new and rest is not something that is encouraged by our society. Let the resistance pop up, notice it, but do it anyway. You deserve to rest no matter what your brain is telling you.
SIGN UP NOW FOR 3 DAYS OF REST
Say Yes To Rest!
P.S. If you’re worn out, burned out or just in need of a time out, the free 3 Day Rest Adventure is for you. All you have to do is lie down and listen for 15 minutes. And we’ll give you 2 simple prep steps to help you actually slow down enough to do it. We’ve got you so…
COME REST WITH US!
Mollie Miller, PT