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wellness benefits Archives | Elizabeth Borelli

Posts Tagged ‘wellness benefits’

Maintaining Resilience in Covid Time

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Feeling frustrated with plans on hold or overturned? Even in normal time, everything takes so much longer than we expect it to. In this time of Covid, make it a double.

And depending on how you manage this time, waiting it out can make you feel like a failure.

I woke up this rainy Monday morning to a one-two punch. It all happened over email. First I learned I wasn’t going to get my $250 deposit back after having to cancel my family Thanksgiving plans, then I opened the results of my most recent e-newsletter to find 23 unsubscribes.

It was enough to trigger my go-to story of stuckness. “It’s taking so long to build my coaching practice. Maybe I’m just not good enough.”

I felt so defeated as I shared my story with my sister, the one about always losing money and never getting traction on my business. Finally after a few rebalancing practices, I began to put things into perspective.

As we navigate the long, messy middle of change, those emotional triggers will release your story of stuckness. The one where you’re unable to meet your goals or get your needs met. And now more than ever, the changes we’re enduring as a result of Covid suck us in.

Almost every client I work with shares this frustration. It comes in the form of;

Why isn’t my business growing?

Why don’t I have a job yet?

How can my body look no different when I’ve been working my ass off for the past month?

How is everyone else doing so well during this nightmare?

What’s wrong with me?

When you’re triggered by things either going wrong or going nowhere, it’s hard NOT to fall into the story trap. The one that gets your anxiety up.

The problem is, this script ultimately turns the normal time it takes for change to happen into a flaw in your personhood. Remember, everything takes longer than we think it will.

We’re hardwired to react to a triggering event with a fight, flight, freeze stress response, like I did this morning. So it’s from this high anxiety state that we interpret what happened and why. Unfortunately, this all plays out so quickly we have no time to stop that old story of self-blame and stuckness from unfolding like it did for me this morning.

1. Once I used some favorite stress management techniques, I was able to think of a different approach to my challenges. With the stress response de-activated, I could put things in perspective; although I have had some unfortunate short-term rental experiences I don’t frequently lose money. I’ll make sure to be more aware of the fine print next time.

And I’m shifting direction in my coaching and my newsletters to a more whole-person approach to transition. Some people are not interested in that approach, so of course they’ll unsubscribe.

2. I reviewed all the things I have accomplished. I have to remind myself weekly that this new shift takes time, and to remember to reward the effort and build my resilience to stay the course.

Studies show you can manage the release of a neurotransmitter known as dopamine when we anticipate a reward, which is how we stay motivated.

Yet in the face of long-term goals, you’re putting in the work but the reward is too out of sight to trigger this response. This is when it burnout happens and you’re tempted to give up entirely.

Fortunately, you can anticipate this challenge and use recognition and positive feedback to reward the process along the way instead of waiting for the outcome. Your goals may be very distant, but you can manage our dopamine levels to stay motivated over the long haul.

If you know it takes an average number of months or weeks to land a new job, drop a dress size, or get your business off the ground, give yourself double that time, not so you’ll slow down your efforts but so you’ll be able to stay the course. Reward your progress along the way by sharing it with others or treating yourself in a way that aligns with your goals.

Now more than ever, we need to build our resilience to stay the course. So use your tools, stay the course and you’ll emerge from this Covid time warp that much closer to your goals.

Finding an Upside to Post-Election Anxiety

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

In the spirit of coping with post-election anxiety I’ll share what I learned in 2004. I strongly disagreed with environmental policies of the Bush Administration and was devastated that Gore’s promise of a greener future hadn’t materialized.  So, in 2004 I poured my heart and soul into campaigning for the Democratic candidate, John Kerry, based on his environmental platform.

I was joined by a small team of people committed to the same political goals. The 8 of us spent most weekends selling raffle tickets to raise money for my Committee to Defeat George Bush initiative. We raised thousands of dollars, and then as a grand finale, held an art auction gala.

I was 6 months pregnant on the night of the big event, and excited to donate the more than $13,000 we’d raised to our candidate. And then election night came and we gathered to watch as the results rolled in. We were devastated.

After election night, I decided to pick myself up and redirect my energy. That money could have had a much bigger impact had we donated to an environmental non-profit directly. We were successful in raising the funds, why not just change our strategy and keep the momentum going?

I was excited to share my brilliant insight with the team. However, among the few people who answered my calls, one woman shared that her dad, who had been part of the team, had to go on Prozac to cope with the disappointment.

So in the end, the impact it had on this terrific group of caring people distressed me more than the election results. And it dawned on me that we were fighting the wrong battle.

Of course, in hindsight, the contentious (for then) 2004 election was a walk in the park compared to now. Which on the surface sounds bleak for our future. Fortunately, when we look back through history, we can see that change is never linear. In fact, some thought leaders and historians view this point as pendulum turnaround time.

In their new book, The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again, Robert Putnam and Shaylyn Romney Garrett argue that, though the U.S. suffered a similar confluence of political, economic, cultural, and social upheaval in the past, Americans were able to come together and organize to create change. And, these authors believe, we can do it again.

This article is a must-read for understanding our current national turmoil in the big-picture context and helping to stay our course, regardless of the uncertainty surrounding us.

The uncertainties and upheavals of 2020, the world-wide coronavirus pandemic, the very real awakening to the inequities of racial-social-economic injustice, the threat of catastrophic climate change, and the divisiveness in the fabric of American society, certainly challenge us all in understanding our place in our rapidly shifting world.

Yet the takeaway from my 2004 election lesson is that we can’t count on a broken political system to right these wrongs. Pouring countless hours and dollars into a political race is ultimately diluting your ability to make a real difference. It’s the causes themselves that need you. Advocacy groups like Green America offer opportunities to make a real difference to the issues that matter to you.

To be sure, this week will continue to challenge us, regardless of our political leanings. These practices to strengthen resilience will help you to weather the storm.

The reality is, in the days, weeks and probably years following the election life will go on mostly as usual. Both candidates have held the seat before. Our friends and relatives with opposing political opinions will hopefully remain our friends and relatives.

And we have the opportunity to, in the words of Margaret Mead, “be the change you want to see in the world”. Meaning we don’t have to take on the whole world in order to make a difference.

Breath to the Rescue, a 3-part strategy for finding calm in the midst of crisis

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

Several months ago, I wrote an article highlighting the morning meditation practice I’d established with my teenage daughter. It was a healthy way to reconnect and find calm amid uncertainty, as I shared in my post. 

New here we are just a few months later, my daughter’s half of the meditation practice long abandoned, and mom feeling silly for spreading fake news. Because as we all know, these days nothing is set in stone. Now as I look back, it’s also a good reminder that in these shaky times, the boat can flip at any moment. 

My latest boat flip was a doozy. It was a classic mother daughter clash ending with both of us in tears. Heavy sigh, followed by a long talk and big hugs. Back to square one.

Fortunately, as luck would have it, this was also the weekend I began my yoga teacher training. My enrollment was a last-minute decision based more on opportunity than career goals, but I took it. 

I embarked on the first of 8 weekend sessions beginning on Friday morning at 6:30 am and ending on Sunday evening at 5pm. I love yoga and have signed up for enough similarly scheduled weekend retreats to know what to expect.

But this time, instead of concentrating on yoga poses, we focused on what I came to know as the most powerful practice of all. The breath.

The schedule allocated 25 hours from Friday morning through Sunday evening for breathing practices. 

Find your seat

As someone who hates sitting still for too long, in the beginning I felt some serious resistance. “Do I really want to do this” I asked myself more and more frequently as the expectation became clearer. No poses, lots of sitting and breathing. How would I make it through?

Finally, I committed to staying with it, even when it felt hard, and do what I could, no promises, no pressure. I created a space where I could sit comfortably, in private, uninterrupted by my phone (this is key!)  To my surprise as the weekend progressed, I became increasingly committed. With the world on fire around me, I found a space to quiet my mind.

Quiet your mind

A quiet mind creates space to focus our awareness on the present. Away from whatever I wish was or wasn’t happening, which I couldn’t control. Thoughts that only makes me anxious.

According to happiness expert Dr. Christine Carter. The opposite of uncertainty is not certainty; it’s presence. Instead of imagining a scary and unknown future, we can bring our attention to our breath. From there, we can check in with ourselves.

Who knew this most accessible of practices could be so transforming? 

Maybe this sound woowoo to you – I could have just as easily checked out to Grey’s Anatomy reruns and made it through the smokey weekend entertained and equally unscathed. But here’s the difference. 

After the training session ended, when I woke up to another day of smoke choking out sunshine, I saw the option to make a choice. I could either get discouraged and shut down, or I could, despite the sucky circumstances, show up for myself. 

Breathe into calm

I chose to show up. Starting with breath work and meditation. And from there I kept going. I made a commitment to myself that I would practice every single day, even if I only have 10 minutes, even if I don’t feel like it. No matter how imperfectly, I would continue to show up.  

It’s hard to quantify the benefits this practice delivers. It gives me the focus and energy to stay on my game through numerous coaching calls and meetings, manage the kids and their friends and the dog and make dinner and do all the things we need to do to stay sane right now, because I set my course for the day with 20 minutes first thing in the morning.

It’s no instant fix, you won’t see results overnight. Instead it’s an investment. Training your brain to stay calm in the midst of uncertainty, including potentially threatening circumstances is like weight training.  Over time your capacity gets stronger. And a calm mind always outperforms an anxious one. 

There is so much turmoil in our world right now it’s almost impossible to avoid the ups and downs. But when stress and anxiety are high, deep breathing and meditation invite you to focus on the present moment. Learning to use the breath to regulate your emotions is a coping skill you can tap into whenever you need to find clarity in the face of uncertainty, one deep breath at a time. 

Are you ready to explore your options for changing your life for the better?  Contact me to schedule a free 20-minute breakthrough session today! 

How to Tap into the Simple Joy of Tea

BY ELIZABETH BORELLI

A daily loose-leaf tea habit keeps you healthy-hydrated with loads of wellness benefits: tea contains antioxidants, has been shown to strengthen your immune system, may help with weight loss, and soothes the digestive system. 

A cup of tea is associated with ceremony, positive energy and relaxation.  It’s inexpensive and delicious, a low calorie treat to enjoy hot or iced.  So why don’t more of us drink it? 

Years’ worth of conversations over 100’s of chai samples shared with passers-by wherever Tonic & Bloom was vending taught me a lot about the way most people think of tea.  People love the taste of it, they love the idea of it, but they haven’t made it a habit because they find the brewing process…cumbersome.

Sharing samples of anything during a pandemic is clearly off the table, but something else has changed relative to those bygone sampling days as well.  As a nation, we’ve been forced to slow down.  It’s hard to point out the positive without sounded naïve, there is no dismissing the harsh reality.  Yet where we can we, in spite of the chaos, create some space for new beginnings?

One of the most effective ways of changing unhelpful thought and belief patterns is through a daily mindfulness practice.

The simple act of making a cup of tea presents the perfect opportunity to create a mindful moment.  It’s a multi-sensory experience that requires a small amount of effort to prepare; the perfect opportunity to create a ritual, or reflective routine to embark on your day.  

People have harnessed the power of ritual, or reflective routine, to add meaning and intention to their lives since ancient times.

Ritual, or reflective routine, requires you to pay attention to the present moment.  It’s a time to listen to your inner voice, to reconnect with your values.  From there you can start the day from a place of intention, less likely to be swept away by worries and distractions. 

Study after study shows the benefit of incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine.  This time of forced slow down is also an opportunity to let go of negative thought patterns and reconnect with your inner voice.

If you’re a tea lover, or even liker, a morning tea ritual lets you tap into the simple joy of tea and set the course for your day with meaning and purpose.    

TAP INTO THE JOY OF TEA, A MORNING MEDITATION

  • Create your space

This could be any space, but dedicating it to the experience is essential.  Find a space that’s private and at least temporarily free from distractions.  Clear any clutter, turn off your phone.  If you enjoy background music, include it!  If you like to journal, be sure to have a notebook and pen handy to write down your reflections, gratitude list or an intention for your day. 

  • Find your Focus 

Remember, everything should be done with attention and intention.  Decide to focus on the present throughout your tea drinking meditation, clearing your mind, focusing on your breath and returning to the present whenever a distracting thought or worry seeps through.

Pay attention to your breath.  Practice diaphragmatic breathing; very deep breathing during which the belly expands as opposed to the chest.  Breathe through your nose if possible, in long counts of 5.

  • Brew your Tea

Choose high quality loose leaf tea that you enjoy drinking and cold, filtered water, if available.   

Find a mug that has meaning for you.  Boil your water on the stove or in a tea kettle.  Add 1/2-1 tablespoon of tea into an infuser or tea filter; place in your mug and add boiling water.  Let steep for 2-3 minutes per cup.  Add a touch of stevia or honey if you like a sweeter brew, and plant or dairy milk to taste if you prefer a latte.

Don’t rush the process. When you find yourself getting impatient while waiting for the boiling or brewing, return to the present and focus on your breath, the aroma of the tea, the quiet calming space.

  • Set your intention. 

This is your time – instead of rolling your eyes because your tea is still too hot to drink, use this time to set your intention.  Is there something you need to let go of?  A story you’re telling yourself that’s no longer serving you?  Is there something you need to step in to?  A new identity you’re hesitant to claim?

Decide, set your mind, make a commitment to harness this day to get one step closer to the outcome you’re seeking. 

  • Drink your tea. 

Finally, right?  The moment you’ve been waiting for, so savor it.  How many subtle scents and tastes can you notice? The tea has a lot to offer. Steep in this awareness and let the pleasure of the moment both fill you and ground you at the same time. 

  • Appreciate the journey

Consciously recognize your part and the external pieces at play to creating this simple time of joy and connection, which would not be possible without EACH of the other steps you took.  

If you have a journal handy, you may want to write down what you’re grateful for.  Like my teacher Kelly Blaser always says, “Gratitude to the self for the willingness”.  You may want to capture any reflections that come up, or write down your intention for your day.

When you’re ready to complete your meditation, return to your breath and ground yourself in this moment. Use this experience as a touchstone to embark on the rest of your day with joy, intention and purpose.

Learn more about the benefits of high quality, hand-crafted tea at www.tonicandbloom.com!