Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Five

That’s a wrap! What an amazing month it has been! Our guests have blown us away with their insights, honesty, education, and openness, and the last week was no exception.

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Grace Goodwin Dwyer

Grace is a registered dietitian and lactation expert here in Nashville. She helps women to prioritize when it comes to nutrition.

On Intuitive Eating

She gave us some wonderful advice on how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine. Intuitive eating is based on the idea of eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full. Simple right? But in today’s culture of a million diets, intuitive eating promotes a healthy attitude towards food and body image. She gave us some wonderful advice on satiety and how to incorporate intuitive eating into our daily routine.When it came to wanting sweets after a meal, Grace had three suggestions:

  1. Ask yourself if you are still actually hungry and you need more of the meal that you just ate (remember eating slowly and with intention will help you decide this!)
  2. If the answer is no and you are satisfied, but still can’t get rid of that sweet tooth, then Grace suggests satisfying that craving in a manageable amount so that later on you don’t over do it because you denied yourself for so long.
  3. Move on sans guilt! (We love this)

On Mental Wellness

As with many of our other takeover guests have recommended, Grace recommended getting recommended getting that a daily dose of fresh air and moving your body in some way as a simple way to manage stress and boost your mental wellness each day..is important for mental wellness.

On What to Eat

Finally, Grace gave us some killer ideas for wholesome meals. Her key: eat food that makes your body and mind feel good. Here is one of our favorites, simply pick an item from each of the 3 categories and you have an easy, balanced and satisfying snack:

Category 1

  • dried apricots or figs
  • cherries, berries
  • sliced apples, pears, peaches, melon
  • cucumbers, broccoli, celery, pickles

Category 2

  • toasted bread
  • pita chips
  • seed crackers
  • tortilla chips
  • flatbread crisps

Category 3

  • nut butter
  • guacamole
  • yogurt dip
  • edamame
  • sliced meat (deli or leftover)
  • tofu cubes
  • nuts (almonds, cashews, pistachios, peanuts)
  • seeds (pumpkin, sunflower)
  • spreads (pesto, tapenade, hummus, babaganoush)

For more, visit Grace’s website.

 

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Amanda Bell

Amanda Bell is the owner and manager of Bend and Zen Hot Yoga Nashville. She shares why yoga has been so pivotal to helping her maintain mental wellness.

On the Ripple Effect of Yoga

Originally, Amanda was drawn to yoga for the physical benefits, but as her practice continued to develop, she began to notice a ripple effect. She started to gain mental endurance, learning non-reactiveness and resiliency, and taking those lessons and applying them “off the mat”. She learned how to use breathing techniques as a source to calm and realign herself with the present moment. And most importantly, she learned how to connect with her emotions.

On Movement and Emotions

Yoga has given her a safe space for her to experience and show her emotions. As a business owner, she had often felt that she needed to keep her emotions under lock and key. She has found that during her yoga practice, she is able to tap into emotions that she has been storing her body.. Sheshared these insights for deeper emotional connection:

  • By moving your body you are changing hormone levels. This endorphin release can help to bring about an improvement in mood.
  • One does not always need to maintain a  tough and strong persona. Allow yourself to show a softer and more vulnerable side in order to create depth in your emotional range. Doing this in a safe space is a great place to start.

On Where to Begin with Yoga

  • Studio hop! Explore each of the studios in town to find a place that feels like home.
  • Give yourself permission to let go of something that isn’t serving you, knowing that you can show up however you need to the class.
  • Show yourself some love and grace when starting your yoga practice.

On Meditation

  • Meditation doesn’t have to look a certain way – all you need is a quiet space.
  • Taking a moment to breathe can help you move forward from a place of anxiety.
  • It is not about not thinking, but controlling what you are thinking about, choose one single touchstone as your focal point.

Decide what takes real-estate in your head.

For more, visit Amanda at Bend and Zen.

 

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Ali Schaffer

Ali Schaffer is a licensed clinical social worker who specializes in reframing and helping clients find a new perspective. Reframing is not about simply putting a positive spin on situations, because we’d miss the lessons from big emotions and difficult conversations by doing that. Reframing is about creating a new view or experience of something so that we can arrive at new solutions that we might not have seen before. Remember, some situations don’t end in a solution, but a new ability to exist in an elevated level of understanding.

On Big Emotions

Ali reminded us that big or heavy emotions have value. The ability to experience these emotions improves the depth and the richness of our human experience. In fact, trying to avoid, run away, or diminish heavy emotions could be taking more of a toll on us than we realize.

On Comparative Suffering

Comparative suffering can be explained as “This isn’t as bad as someone else’s situation, so I am not justified to feel this way”. When we experience emotions through comparative suffering we:

  • Set ourselves up to discount or diminish what we are experiencing, creating an unhealthy view of the emotion or experience.
  • Put a value or judgement on the emotion.
  • Set ourselves up in a place where we can’t move forward.

Instead, Ali suggests taking a “both/and” approach

  • Both aware of your own experience and acknowledge the experience of the other person/people.

On How to Approach Therapy

  • Think about what you are looking for? What is going on in your life, can you name it? If you don’t know the answers specifically– that is ok!
  • Schedule an intake phone call. This is a great opportunity to have a conversation with a therapist to see if they are the right fit for you.
  • Go to a session!
    • You don’t have to be an expert at “going to therapy”.
    • You can let the therapist know that you need help navigating the experience.
    • Virtual sessions are making going to sessions even easier.
    • Try out a few sessions, the first few might feel a little awkward, but you are learning about yourself and the process.
    • If it is not a good fit, most therapists will help you connect with someone who is a better fit for you.

For more, find Ali on Instagram.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Three

We’re more than halfway through Mental Health Month and our brilliant guests keep bringing the wisdom! Here’s the recap, you might want to get a pen and paper to take some notes. 😉

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Kenya Raymer

Kenya blew us away with her outlook on the connection between mental health and spirituality. Kenya is a spiritual guide with a masters in social work, a combination that allows her to deliver a unique service called Spiritual Therapeutic Sessions, which are spiritual readings that incorporate therapeutic theories. This interview was filled with so much wisdom and light, that we really don’t know if we’ll do it justice here. But, you can check the recording out for yourself here.

On Spirituality

The spiritual journey is two-fold. The first part requires you to connect with yourself and your gifts (btw “gifts” don’t have to be something supernatural. Think about what you’re good at and what comes naturally to you). This is where the deep dive into your self-awareness comes in, and this part of the journey brings you meaning. The second part of the journey is to connect with Spirit and use your gifts for the collective. This part of the journey brings you purpose.

The way Kenya defined spirituality had us levitating, it was so inspiring. She defines spirituality as “getting to know myself at the most authentic level, so that as my awareness of self deepens, my ability to experience the world expands.”

On Embracing Discomfort

As Kenya says, “you can’t Love + Light your way through healing or to wholeness. You MUST do shadow work/ego work/inner child work.” If you don’t get honest with yourself about what’s bugging you, you’ll always be out of alignment, regardless of what positive mantras you have. You must address the root of the problem and sit in the discomfort of those feelings before you can truly move through to be your highest version of yourself. Pro tip: never go to bed out of alignment.

On Going to Therapy

Kenya talks about therapy as an investment into your life, and something that everyone should do at some point. Obvi we couldn’t agree more. In her spiritual work, she helps bring people into awareness of past traumas or issues through which they need to dive more deeply. When you intentionally avoid those traumas and issues, it stays in your body as energy, and talking through these things help move the energy around and release it, so you can move past what’s bringing you down. Preach.

If you’re not ready to pull the trigger on therapy or readings yet, grab a journal and start to get curious. Here are some questions to get you started: “Who am I?”  “Who am I without a connection to other people?” “What is freedom?” and “What is my truth right now?”. Those might keep you busy for a while.

On Balance

Do away with it. It’s not realistic to be 100% in all areas of your life at all times. It’s so important to carve out dedicated personal time to check in with yourself and understand what you need. Honoring what you need in the moment is critical. When you set boundaries and organize your day/week/month into different areas – me-time, family time, work time – you can be more present in each of these areas vs trying to be all things at all times. Understand when you are spreading yourself too thin, and above all, give yourself grace. “Seek to pass all words, actions and thoughts through Unconditional Love, Universal Compassion for all, Grace for yourself and others, and your Truth.”

On Truth

You are the absolute authority on yourself, so “don’t seek externally for something that only exists internally.” Know that your truth can change. When you get to know yourself more deeply, your awareness expands and allows you to experience the world differently, thus what we know to be true evolves with us.

“Be more like the moon. She only shines once a month. The rest of her time is spent resting and evolving. Cycles are necessary for alignment.” 

Continue to follow along with Kenya’s story on Instagram.


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Paul Nyhart

Speaking of truth, Paul Nyhart spoke to us about finding purpose with a refreshingly honest and passionate insight. Paul is many things – an author, producer, Podcast & TV host, and marketing pro – but his most precious moments have been advocating for communities who can feel unheard and ignored. Paul’s latest project, a podcast called “The Story of Bao,” highlights the experiences of individuals defining the moment in their lives when they realized what was precious to them.

On Telling Your Story

In general, people undervalue themselves. As a society, people have been trained not to share their truths, and because of it, we often don’t even realize that we’ve gone through life changing, and often inspiring, experiences. Telling your story is so important, regardless of the audience – you could share your story with the world or simply share it with a friend – you’d be surprised who you might inspire with your words. Plus, it’s a super helpful way to process your experiences.

On Finding Yourself

It can be so easy to bury the interesting things that are going on around you right now because it’s hard to be present in the moment. We’re not trained to think in moments, but rather, we tend to think in vague chunks of time, like “past” and “future.” Without even realizing it, we miss out on the joy that’s right in front of us.

But, what if you don’t know what brings you joy? Start by trying five new things, dive into them, and actively think about which of those really click with you. For example, through his work as a TV and Podcast host, Paul found that what made him tick wasn’t the idea of being behind the microphone, but rather from hearing other people’s stories – those who have typically been ignored in the past. This led him to continue this outside of the studio – advocating for the homeless and mentoring the incarcerated. It was through these experiences that Paul found happiness, purpose, and a deeper understanding of himself.

Finding joy is a journey, so don’t shame yourself if it feels like you don’t know! Similar to “Part 1” of the spiritual journey that Kenya discussed, Paul believes that “happiness is discovering who you are.” Anyone else have the chills?

What’s Precious To You?

Well, what is it? This is Paul’s signature question to help people dive into their self-awareness and ultimately happiness. We turned the question back on Paul, and his answer was all about connection with others and finding inspiration from unlikely places. This reminds him that people are inherently good and strong, which inspires him to do the same.

“If you can connect with a person, that makes you precious to them. By being who you are, you can inspire someone that you don’t even know. Both the beauty and the curse of life is that you’ll never know who you are inspiring.”

For more, visit storyofbao.com.

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week Two

Two weeks into celebrating Mental Health Month and we’re more excited than ever! Not only have our guests been dropping truth bomb after truth bomb on us, but we’ve been so inspired that we’ve incorporated some of their mental wellness tips and practices into our day-to-day. If you missed any of this week’s content, not to fear, here comes your weekly recap…

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Rachel Beauregard

Rachel is a musician and yogi, and we couldn’t wait to learn how she cultivated her wonderful sense of confidence and comfort in her own skin. It all started with a really positive and supportive upbringing, but Rachel noted that at some point you take your mental state into your own hands, and have to do the work to start understanding your tendencies and values.

On Loving her Body

When it comes to having a positive body image, it’s important to remember it’s a daily practice of figuring out how to be your own friend, instead of your enemy. Rachel also finds strength in the affirmations: “You HAVE a body, you are not your body.” She also noted that it’s important to recognize that you will have bad days, and no book or mantra will bring you out of it. At that point it’s important to acknowledge and be honest about your thoughts and your feelings, so you can eventually move on. Remember, “You HAVE thoughts but you are not your thoughts.”

On Acceptance of Change and Cultivating Grace

Rachel’s confidence and ability to go with the flow comes down to putting in the work:

  • Create a Routine
    • Makes you accountable to yourself
    • Allows you to start your day with presence
  • When Things get Tough
    • Have a check-in buddy, so that you don’t feel the need to hold it all in
    • Talk to a therapist
  • Start with Humility
    • Acknowledge that you can’t do it all, and that’s okay
    • Understand that what you can manage can look different from day-to-day
    • Make small changes, without beating yourself up for missteps
    • Be accountable and don’t make up excuses, but accept that you can make mistakes

On Pregnancy

  • Find a community, or person that you can reach out to that won’t shame you for your feelings
  • Understand that you can be SO grateful for the gift of a child, but that your hardships are still valid. You are allowed to complain
  • Ask for what you need

“Feelings are truth, but they are not you as a person, they are not your character.”

Follow Rachel on Instagram


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Kathy Thomas

Kathy is a photographer, mother and the owner of Collective 615, the first women-owned coworking space for women in Nashville.

On Mental Health

As Kathy has grown wiser over the years, she allowed her own experiences, and the experiences of those closest to her, pique her curiosity about mental health. She began slowing down and peeling back the layers of her twenties and thirties, where she admittedly didn’t prioritize things like spiritual and mental health; and instead focused on who she is as a person.

“You cannot move forward until you truly face yourself.”

On Career Change

After working in corporate America, Kathy decided that she wanted to own her time, but found working from home alone isolating. She began looking into it and saw that women who worked from home saw an increase in depression. From experience, Kathy felt like her home was no longer her home, but her job. She had trouble with boundaries, with work infiltrating her personal and family time, and infiltrating a space that she wanted to feel sacred.

This inspired Kathy to open up her heart and eyes for what makes people work, and led to creating Collective 615. She knew she wanted to focus on a sense of support and energy of community.

On Being Role Model to New Business Owners

  • Give yourself a lot of grace.
  • Find a core group who supports you when you’re flat on your face. Your community doesn’t have to look a certain way, it needs to FEEL a certain way.
  • Don’t force relationships that have run their course. Sometimes with growth, you’ll outgrow certain friends. If a relationship brings you down or makes you feel bad, then let it go.
  • Asking for help can sometimes be the hardest thing, especially when help is one-sided. You may not be able to reciprocate right now, but don’t let that stop you asking for the help you need.

For more, visit Collective 615


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Alli Mills Lindsey

A Certified Holistic Coach, Alli has a way of blowing your mind with profound nuggets of wisdom, wrapped up in the most accessible delivery. After years of teaching yoga, she looked into coaching as a way to help people become more present mentally and physically.

On Being Present

Our culture is so focused on go go go, and we’re so focused on the future that we can become disconnected from our present. It can take a lot of courage to acknowledge fearful parts of our lives, in fact our minds are programmed to move away from things that cause us fear. If left unchecked, this can lead to stress, lack of sleep, emotional distress and even physical pain.

On Grounding

Use your breath to check in with yourself at least once a day. What you notice will be different from hour to hour, day to day. But, by checking in, you can become aware of your feelings and needs, and your thoughts will remain fluid.

  • Close your eyes and notice your breath. Breath is a really powerful link to our life.
  • Take your breath into your physical body.
  • Take your breath into thoughts. Are they in the future? Are they in the past?
  • Take your breath into your emotions.

On Cultivating Mental Wellness in Young Women

In Alli’s work with young women from all backgrounds, she noticed a common thread: they were all stressed out, and what they needed most was a safe space to be quiet, present, and loved. Giving them space to let go and be themselves was huge.

Her advice to mothers and mother figures wanting to connect with their daughters is to have an easy presence, allowing them to come to you. If you make sure they feel seen, and you give them the space to just be, they’ll be more receptive on the occasions that you do need to tell them what to do.

Another big thing is teaching them grounding breathwork, and to listen to their inner wisdom. During the transition from child to adult, they begin to explore who they are, and can also often feel pressured to be someone else. Parents need to recognize and respect when girls are listening to themselves.

On Getting Unstuck

Patience is key here, it’s a process. Small turns can lead you away from your life’s purpose.

  • First things first, find out where you are. If you think of your life like a map; to get to where you’re going, you first need to understand where you are. Otherwise, no matter how good a map you have, you’ll likely remain lost. Be patient with yourself as you begin this inquiry.
  • Become more present. Focus on your breath – get grounded.
  • Take that first step, no matter how small it is. We often get so distracted by the end goal, that it feels insurmountable. The universe will respond, but you have to take that first step.
  • Think about your purpose. Think about where your path changed – what led you that way? Start to notice the things you do that make you feel like you have purpose.
  • Come into your power. Finding your authenticity and living an authentic life is powerful. That’s not to say there won’t be bumps in the road, but it will give you a better ability to return back to who you are.

“If you make enough right steps, you will eventually get home.”

For more, visit Alli’s website


Koula Callahan

Yogi, Koula Callahan, took over our stories to give us a peek into a day-in-the-life and how she uses mindful movement to set herself up for success.

Koula typically starts her day with a yoga class, whether or not she’s teaching. A key to her mental wellbeing, is a rule she sets for herself – no looking at the phone until after class. This mindful movement helps her to start her day from a place of physical presence, working out any tensions and resistance she might be carrying. It also helps her to start her day from a centered and calm space, keeping her in her limbic brain for longer, and building her up before the stresses of the day weigh her down.

On the Importance of Mindful Movement

Mindful movement helps to develop the mind-body connection, and helps us work through structures in the body that are keeping us stuck. It also increases the activation of your prefrontal cortex, and helps to develop self awareness and self compassion.

People with a mindful movement practice:

  • Experience less stress and anxiety
  • Are less likely to develop cognitive disabilities
  • Sleep better
  • Are less likely to get sick
  • Have an improved mood

On the Brain

The limbic brain is where you process emotions, creativity, and the subconscious self. The prefrontal cortex is where you process higher thought patterns, problem solving, and is essentially the part of the brain activated throughout your workday.

By spending time in your limbic brain before you activate your prefrontal cortex, you help develop your emotional intelligence and process your thoughts through the unconscious thoughts that could be keeping you stuck. This is why it’s key to spend your mornings doing something mindful, (think: movement, walking, or writing) before checking email and moving into the ‘higher thinking’ part of your brain.

“With practice, you can become more integrated with yourself, your emotions, and your physical self.”

Follow Koula on Instagram

Happiness Hacks: Mental Health Month – Week One

We’re celebrating Mental Health Month with a group of incredible folks who are sharing their unique perspectives on Mental Health with us through a series of Instagram Live interviews and account takeovers. Each week, we’ll be sharing a recap of our favorite insights and tips from each of our experts, so without further ado let’s dive into week one!

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Liz Devaughn

We kicked off Mental Health Month with a bang, and a really fun and informative interview with Licensed Professional Counselor, Elizabeth Devaughn of Woman Emerging. A little background: Liz grew up in an environment of trauma and addiction, which sparked her interest in mental health for herself, but also a passion for helping others to heal their emotional wounds.

On Fear

Our fear lives in our lower or reptile brain. This lower brain activity is meant as a survival mechanism, which is great if you’re being attacked by a bear. It becomes less beneficial when the fear and stress are less immediate and more constant (hello modern lifestyles!).

You can identify if you’re stuck in a pattern of fear if you are engaging in lower brain activities, like constantly scrolling through your phone, constantly watching the news, and focusing on things out of your control. If you find yourself having more arguments with loved ones than usual, that could be part of the fear cycle too. When you are getting into that lower brain, practice self soothing, such as breathwork.

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Your trauma can empower you if you integrate it into your story and grow through it. Here are Liz’s top tips to empower yourself in times of fear:

Watch your language!

  • The brain takes language as truth, so constant negative language or language that makes you feel guilt can actually wire your brain into a negative state.  Pay attention to how often you say the words ‘can’t’ and ‘should’. Remove them from your vocabulary!

Empower yourself:

  • Use “I” language. Start saying ‘I can’. Remember that “the brain that fires together wires together”. Wire your brain into believing that you are capable, and it will automatically start to recognize and maintain a sense of calm.
  • Break your problems down and focus on the things that you can control (Hint: you can control you).
  • Set small, digestible goals.

On Relationships

Liz has a great conflict cheat sheet – she even uses it as a guide when having difficult conversations with her husband!

  • Ask permission. Be aware of others’ boundaries, they might not be able to have a big conversation right this minute. If they can’t talk now, schedule a time when they can give you their undivided attention.
  • State your intention. Explain why this conversation is important to you, and express that you don’t want to lose them by having this conversation.
  • Use eye contact.
  • Speak from a place of ‘I’. “I feel really hurt when xyz happens” vs. “You did xyz.”
  • Take breaks to self soothe through the senses – bringing you back to your upper brain: If either of you feel that you’re getting reactive, ask to take a time out. More is at risk when you’re having a difficult conversation with those closest to you, because there’s more to lose. That’s why it’s so important to take a break before the lower brain kicks in and starts an argument.
    • Put  your hands on your belly or chest and apply gentle, firm pressure while taking a few deep, intentional breaths.
    • Smell essential oils, put your bare feet in the grass, hold a crystal or touchstone.

Check out Woman Emerging’s website for more.


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Kim Breese

Next up we spoke to Healing Touch Certified Practitioner, Kim Breese. Kim’s journey started with a successful career in corporate America, that left her body and mind feeling unhappy. She began to take a more holistic approach to her health which led her to Healing Touch, and at once she knew she’d found her calling.

On Healing Touch and Energy Therapy

Energy therapy helps to regulate and move energy throughout the body. It can support anxiety, depression, physical pain, fatigue and spiritual connection. We’re so used to being told by everyone else what we should feel and what we need, and energy therapy allows us to connect with ourselves and tap into our own calling.

Healing Touch is a type of integrative medicine therapy where practitioners use gentle touch or a hovering of hands for a general relaxation and calming effect. The effect can be so relaxing, that practitioners are able to “go into” the body to release things we’ve been holding onto. Think of it like talk therapy for the body – as Kim says, “We hold our issues in our tissues.” The body can often speak louder than our thoughts can, and Healing Touch gives you the space to lean in to that, and peel back the layers.

On Grounding

Kim seems to radiate calm, so we asked her how she stays grounded:

  • Listen to your body.
  • Meditation. Don’t be intimidated by it! It’s okay if thoughts come up while meditating. Meditation also doesn’t have to be sitting still, if you get lost in something, that can also be meditative.
  • Spend time in nature.
  • Get enough rest. Take naps if you need them.
  • Reach out to friends.
  • Having a cup of tea. Or any act of taking care of myself that feels good to me at the time.
  • Talk therapy. Sometimes you just need someone to ask the right questions to help you to tune in to yourself.

“Stop and ask yourself: What’s going to help you continue to feel good today? Part of the healing process can be really uncomfortable, but the other side is so worth it.”

On Spirituality

To Kim, spirituality can be found in anything that brings you joy. She believes that we are greater than our physical bodies, and that there is something larger than us that is stringing us together and along. Spirituality is the ability to rely on that feeling/notion when times are tough.

Kim is a spiritual guide, in that when she is working with someone, she will have an image in her mind, or may start a conversation or bring back a memory for the other person. The message she receives is simply a jumping off point. Much like other therapies, it’s up to you to then take that message and act on it, in order to tap into your deeper self.

She encourages you to lean in to trust and faith. There are things out there that support us in ways that we can’t understand.

“You are doing the work. You are going to have days that are really bad, but there’s something better coming along that you just have to trust.”

For more, visit Kim’s website.


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Jessica Smith

A familiar face at The Happy Hour’s workshops and on our Instagram, Licensed Professional Counselor, Jessica Smith took over our stories to give us a peek into what self-care looks like for her while sheltering in place.

On Routine

In times of uncertainty and disruption, we need to create our own stability and consistency. To do this, Jessica suggests keeping a routine. If there’s something you want to make time for each day, write it on a Post It and stick it up somewhere you can see it. Jessica’s Post It says: “Daily Work: Motivation, Movement, Meditation.”

Other top tips for keeping a healthy routine:

  • Start your day by fueling your body with a nourishing meal, just as though you were going out. Take the time to make you meals with love.
  • Create a workspace that feels comfortable.
  • Go for walks in familiar places.

On Motivation

Staying motivated isn’t always easy, that’s actually where a routine can come in handy, because habits tend to be stronger than motivation, especially on those days where you’re feeling particularly “meh”. That being said, creating a motivating environment can help lift your mood and get closer to your goals.

Jessica’s tips for staying motivated:

  • Get an accountability buddy and do virtual workouts together. Keep each other motivated!
  • Make time to catch up with your loved ones to keep your spirits high. FaceTiming with her niece is the highlight of Jessica’s day – and we’d venture a guess that it’s a highlight for her niece too!
  • Fill your space with things that make you happy. This could be photographs of loved ones, candles, flowers – anything goes!

On Movement

Movement is key for both health and mood. Find a way to move every single day. This could look like walking, going for a run, yoga, or a combination of things. Find something you enjoy and you’re more likely to stick with it.

On Meditation

We’re all suffering from anxiety and uncertainty, so it’s key to find ways to control our thoughts, and bring us back into the right here, right now, where we’re safe, and know that everything is going to be okay.

Here are Jessica’s favorite tips to help calm your mind and bring yourself to the present:

  • Create your own calm. Jessica’s favorite affirmation for meditation is “I am peaceful, protected and secure.”
  • Practice gratitude. Ask yourself what you’re grateful for each day.
  • Manage your thoughts by writing them down. Journaling is a great tool for gaining clarity.
  • Let your mind escape into a book.
  • Use scented candles, or essential oils to help ground you.

“Be still. Focus on what you can control. Know and believe that you are okay.”

For more about Jessica, visit her website.

Ditch the Resolutions and Crush Your Goals

The start of a new year, and especially a new decade, is a natural point of reflection. Chances are you’ve gone through some old photos in the last week and thought, “Wow! A lot has changed in the last decade. I’ve achieved so much more than I thought.”

Often following this kind of reflection, you’ll feel excited about how much more you could achieve in the next decade. If you’re going to achieve all those lofty goals, you’d better get cracking immediately, right? And that’s where the dreaded New Year’s resolutions come into play.

A quick Google search will show you some dismal statistics about New Year’s resolutions. According to Forbes, only 25% of us who make resolutions stayed committed longer than 30 days, and only 8% actually accomplish what we set out to do. So if you set resolutions for 2020 and have already hit a bump in the road, you’re not alone.

That’s why we say, ditch the resolutions! Resolutions are like diets: restrictive, boring, and unrealistic. You don’t need to suddenly become a “new you” to create a life you love (even more). The old you has accomplished so much. Give that person a little more credit, because they’re totally going to crush 2020, and they’re going to do it by thoughtfully setting goals and intentions.

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Instead of setting vague, yet rigid, resolutions, like “land my dream job”, or “lose weight”, take some time to think about your goals, and don’t be afraid to dig below the surface.

Get really specific and write your goals down in your journal:

  • What is the goal?
  • Why is this goal important to you?
  • What would your life look like if you achieved it?
  • What obstacles could make achieving the goal challenging?
  • How could you plan to avoid them, or at least lessen the effect those obstacles would have on your progress? This includes the effect that being set back would have on your emotional triggers.

So why does writing down specific goals work, when resolutions don’t? For a start, goals include planning for flexibility and imperfection (a.k.a. life) to happen, as opposed to the all-or-nothing resolution approach. You’ll also have dug into the “why” behind the goal, which is often far more motivating than the goal itself.

Neuroscience has also shown that writing things down helps keeps your goals front of mind because of “external storage” and “encoding”. External storage is pretty self-explanatory: by storing your goals in a journal, you’re able to revisit them – and you should! – as they remind you of the motivation behind them on the days when you want to throw in the towel.

Encoding is a biological process, that allows things we can experience with our senses to travel to the brain’s hippocampus. This is the part of the brain that decides what gets stored in our long term memory. The physical act of writing, and then seeing your words written down enforces the encoding process, making it much more likely that your goals and their motivation will be remembered. This process makes you up to 1.4 times more likely to achieve your goal.

Setting an intention for the year – and writing it down – is just as important as defining your goals. Unexpected circumstances could mean that one of your goals needs to be adjusted, or even be put on the back burner for a while. Having an intention to guide you will make that process easier to navigate. Think of your intention for the year as the compass that will keep you heading in the right direction, even if life takes you on a different path than you’d planned for. Your intention can turn feeling lost into “the scenic route”, which we can all agree is a much better outcome!

Want to learn more about how to set an intention for 2020? We’re hosting an intention setting workshop this Sunday!

Learn More About Intention Setting

Last Minute Gift Guide

If you you’re feeling stumped about those last minute gifts – or even if you just feel like treating yo’self (after all, you’ve achieved a lot this year) – we’ve got you covered! “But what about shipping deadlines”, you ask? All the gifts here are either digital and can be delivered instantly, or they’re available in-store in the Nashville area. Let’s get shopping!

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The Commune Collection by Wooden Spoon Herbs – For the Friend Who Has Everything

The latest range of tonics created by clinical herbalist, Lauren Haynes, is designed for everyday wellness, helping to leave you feeling energized, uplifted and balanced. Available individually or as a set. The broad range of benefits makes this a great gift for anyone in your life – even the person who has everything, because even if they already have these tonics, you’ll bet they’ll want a backup for when they run out!

Available online, or locally at Lemon Laine in Nashville.

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Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, by Lori Gottlieb – For the Bookworm in your Life

Topping just about every book list, this book is a must-read. According to Shondaland, Psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb’s memoir is “a funny behind-the-scenes look at what happens when people – even shrinks themselves – ‘break open’ with the help of a therapist”.

Heartwarming and insightful, this book reminds us that so many of our problems are universal, and it might even inspire some self-exploration.

Available online, or locally at Parnassus Books in Nashville.

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A Reflexology Gift Card – For the Hard Working Caregiver who Needs a Little TLC

We all know someone who is either a caregiver by profession, or gives so much of themselves to their loved ones you’d think it was their profession! Why not treat them to something a little more therapeutic than the standard pedi, with a relaxing reflexology session?

Available online and locally at Salt and Soles in Nashville.

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A Ticket to a New Year Intention Setting Workshop – For the Go-Getter who’s Looking to Crush their Resolutions

Ok, we’re guilty of a shameless plug on this one, but this really is a fantastic gift for anyone (including you!) who loves self-improvement, yoga, or who is looking to start the new year on the right foot. Through a combination of yoga and group discussion led by a licensed counselor, you will hone in on one intention to live by in the new year, helping you to gain the clarity you need to create a life you love.

The workshop will be held at Inner Light Yoga on Sunday, January 12th from 5-7pm. More info here.

Tickets available online.

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The Gift of Quality Time – For Any Person You’d Like to See More Of in 2020

We’re taking the idea of a personal gift card to the next level with this one by being really specific – no IOUs for a vague dinner sometime in the next year. Pick an activity and a date and get it on the calendar. Instead of getting your arty friend a book from the museum gift-shop, why not buy a set of tickets to the next exhibit and schedule a day of art and quality time together? If you and your mother are always talking about taking a cooking class together, now’s your chance to make that happen! Have you and a friend talked about completing a specific hike? Buy the guide book and start planning that trip together. The beauty of these gifts is that aside from putting a smile on your loved-one’s face, they’ll also nurture your relationship, leaving you both with happy memories for years to come.

Happy Holidays!

Holistic Happiness Series: Simple Steps Toward a Happier You

Welcome to the second installment of our Holistic Happiness Series! We hope this series helps you discover some tools to help you become your happiest self. Read on for some more takeaways from our first pop up, Self-Care Saturday!


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The Self Care Myth

Self-Care doesn’t have to be expensive or time consuming. The only “right way” is to find several tools that work for your personality, lifestyle and budget, that alsomake you feel uplifted. This can be as simple as taking a few minutes to do something for yourself – a bath, a meditation, a few 1-minute workouts –  or something as big as getting a massage. Ask yourself what you hope to get out of these activities – if you’re just adding another stressful expectation or task to your life, ditch it!

Essential Oils

Essential oils are an effective, natural, and super easy tool to help reduce stress and lift your spirits. If you’ve got a diffuser, put a few drops in and let the aroma run in the background, or just take a few sniffs straight from the bottle for instant relief (close your eyes because these puppies can be strong). EOs can react differently to different folks, so try a few and see which do the trick for you. Some of our favorite calm-inducing EOs include: bergamot, lavender and chamomile.

Counseling or Coaching

Whether you’ve got a specific challenge or are simply feeling frazzled, talking to a professional will teach you the tools to be your best, happiest self. There are lots of options out there, and our therapists from Self-Care Saturday are a great place to start. If you’d prefer to go the coaching route, we suggest using the International Coach Federation as a resource. It’s so important to make mental wellbeing a part of your wellness routine. Feeling good starts with your feelings, right?


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One Minute Workouts

Don’t have time for a “real” workout? Don’t stress! You’ll see more physical and mental results by incorporating quick, consistent workouts into your schedule than you will by doing one high intensity workout on the weekend. Pick a few one-minute exercises and create an effective workout, no matter how time-strapped you are (we squeeze it in while playing with our kids). Visit trainer Matt Royka’s instagram for one-minute workouts that can be done anywhere. Consistency is key! 

Drop us a line if you’ve tried any of the happiness hacks shared at Self-Care Saturday – we’d love to hear how they worked for you!

Kicking off our Holistic Happiness Series

“Don’t let yourself go unrecognized for the work you are doing, because the work you do on yourself is the work you do for the world.”

– Emmy Singer, Inner Light Yoga


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We had some serious wisdom dropped on us at Self-Care Saturday by some incredibly talented folks, and we can’t keep it to ourselves. So, we’re kicking off a weekly series in which we’ll provide you with some of our favorite new happiness tips.


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Yoga

Throughout your practice, in yoga and in life, remember to thank yourself. Share love and gratitude towards your body for being strong, and remember to honor what your individual body needs. Take 30-seconds every day to set your intention. Carry your intention and your gratitude with you throughout the day. Taking the time to care for yourself is a bold, brave and beautiful thing.

Nutrition and Mental Health

There is no single diet, workout, or therapy session that will fix everything, as all 3 are linked. In order to optimize your total health you should incorporate a wide variety of nutrient dense foods. Elimination diets can have an adverse effect on your digestion and can convince your mind that it’s in withdrawal, thus increasing anxiety, and wreaking havoc on your overall health. Bottom line: incorporate as much variety as possible, while still caring for yourself.

Herbs for Stress and Anxiety

Herbs are a powerful support system for your stress and anxiety, but they affect everyone differently. Expert Herbalist, Lauren Haynes, says to familiarize yourself with 3 herbs and make teas out of each (or buy them if you’re not into DIY). Get into a zen space, and see how you feel after each sip of tea, where you feel it in your body, and if the feeling increases after additional sips. Lauren’s faves for anxiety are: skullcap, motherwort, milky oats, and chamomile.  

Sound Bath Meditation

This practice is about deep listening and paying attention to yourself. Take a few moments to check in with yourself, identify how you’re feeling, and try to understand it. How? Go to a quiet space, close your eyes, and breathe in and out to a count that feels good (try the Insight Timer app for 👌 guided meditation). We’re constantly bombarded with information, and this practice will help you slow your mind and become more present and effective. 


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The main takeaway is that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to self-care. We hope these tips help you to discover what works best for you!