Category: Blog

Routines Can Heal Your Heart (and Body)

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Routines are like mental butlers. Once you have a routine in place, then the mental processes that make the behavior happen take place automatically.

— Michael McCullough

I recently finished leading one of my six-week online courses. Happily, I achieved one of my personal health goals for the course — to become measurably less anxious.  I also lost a few pounds and reduced the chronic pain in my right knee and hip. My secret weapon in accomplishing all that was a powerful morning routine. Whenever I find something that works, I like to share. So, here is my morning routine and some tips to create (and stick to) one that works for you.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Special tip: I have an alarm set on my phone for 6am with the decorative emojis you see here – to remind me that these are fun things that I enjoy:

💕🌻Morning Routine🌞👏🏼

(Note – Lights out is 10pm for this to work. Sometimes I shift it all by an hour to get more sleep.)

6am Brush teeth, take supplements and drink water.

6:05 Listening partnership* by phone with good friend.

6:20 Shower and dress.

6:30 Yoga stretches.

6:40 Morning blessings/prayers.

6:45 Guided meditation (Using Kris Carr’s these days.)

6:55 Journal – finishing with appreciations & affirmations.

7:05 Have tea, play music & plan day by the hour with action list made night before.

7:30 Join family for breakfast, making lunches, juicing, laundry, catching up, etc

8:30 Drink green juice and start my work day.

HOW TO STICK TO IT?

Here are four tips to creating – and sticking to – your own morning routine:

  1. Make it something you look forward to. For years I followed conventional wisdom that the best way to ensure daily exercise is to do it first thing in the morning.  I am not naturally a morning person, however; and envisioning a couple miles on the treadmill only motivated me to roll back under the covers. Now that a conversation with a dear friend, a hot shower,  sweet guided meditations and a cup of tea are the first items on my morning routine, I’m much more likely to make it out of bed in the first place. What would you motivate you to get out of bed in the morning?
  2. Nurture your mind, body and soul.  If you include activities that nurture your different parts, you will come out of your morning routine refreshed and energized, ready to take on the day – and with a chunk of your To Dos done already.  Meditating and prayer opens my heart and soul. Doing a listening partnership and journaling clears my mind of emotional junk. A hot shower, supplements, water and yoga get my body oiled up and ready for a great day. What parts of you could use nurturing first thing in the morning?
  3. Create a path. It can be very hard to move from item to item in a morning routine; particularly if you struggle at all with ADHD or are just easily distracted like me. When I first started doing this, I would sometimes spend several minutes looking for my journal, prayer book or yoga strap; or wandering up and down the stairs to get my supplements, water bottle and phone.  Suddenly my 90-minute routine was two hours and a non-starter. Now, before I’ve moved my supplements to the bathroom and take a few minutes every night to make sure that everything I need is where it needs to be for a smooth routine the next morning. What items do you need and where do you need them to follow a great routine?
  4. Find a buddy. We don’t all have someone who is willing to check in with us first thing in the morning. But, you just might and you don’t know it yet. Think about your friends and family – are any of them trying to improve their health or get exercise, journaling or meditation into their morning routine? Having someone to check in with (by phone or in person) at the beginning or middle of your routine is a great way to make sure that you actually do it. Who could you ask?

WHY A MORNING ROUTINE?

I have struggled with anxiety my whole life. Running my own business has cranked it up a notch or two in the last couple of years.  Plus – although I am really healthy these days, I still have a tweaked immune system and some chronic hip and knee pain from scoliosis (a curved spine.) If I don’t take my supplements and do my stretches every morning, eventually I don’t feel so well.

So, starting each day off right with grounding practices that nurture my mind, body and soul  goes a long way towards reducing anxiety and making sure that I am taking care of myself as well as possible in the midst of the roller coaster ride that we call being a working parent.

The morning routine above has helped me get more sleep, take care of my weak knee and hip and deal effectively with the tough emotions that sometimes leave me anxiety-ridden. I have been happier, healthier and more productive since I started this over a month ago and am incredibly grateful.

If you don’t already have a morning routine you love, I hope this gives you some ideas. It’s had a fantastic influence on me in the last few weeks and I’d love to hear how it works out for you.

To your good health!
Janette

*Listening Partnerships are a powerful form of peer counseling.  You can learn more about them in Practice 5. Nurture Your Heart in my book Everyday Healing.

Categories: Blog

Sometimes It’s Better to Receive than to Give

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I have seen over and over again that having a team of people to help with the hard work of healing can mean the difference between a healthy future and years of suffering.

When I see people resist asking for or accepting help, I understand because I struggle with it too, but it breaks my heart.

With that in mind, I want to share a short story about how I accepted help – a lot of help – recently and how it is changing my life.

I Needed to Learn to Accept Help Again

If you’ve read my book, Everyday Healing, you already know how accepting help was essential to my healing process. After years of denying that I needed it, asking for and accepting help made it possible for me to heal.

Having someone to go to doctor’s appointments with me, visit me regularly to offer an non-judgmental ear or even help pay for extra help around the house gave me both the confidence and the logistical support I needed to take on the big diet and lifestyle changes that ultimately allowed me to recover.

How easily we forget. More specifically – how easily I forget!

I’m completely healthy now, but my new big challenge is to successfully spread my message of empowerment and connection to everyone with a health condition. Everyday Healing came out last July. A couple dozen friends and family told me they wanted to help promote the book. “Just tell me when to pull the trigger,” they said.

Did I immediately take them up on those offers to help spread the word? No. I did book talks and wrote some online PR pieces. But, I had a whole tribe of people who were offering to help get the word out and I wasn’t letting them.

A 50-50 Challenge

That changed in early January. First I accepted help from a brilliant friend of mine, Cathleen Miller.  She gave me a complementary 30-minute coaching session in which she challenged me to aim for a 50-50 balance, where I would receive as much as I give and ask for as much as I offer, specifically in the coming week.

I laughed out loud. I’m a mom; the giving-receiving ratio is not going to be in my favor for the foreseeable future. I’m also a health coach who spends most of my time helping other people address major life challenges. As a care-taker by nature and nurture; I have to consciously turn off an obnoxious impulse to help almost every person I meet.

Most importantly, deep down, I still don’t really believe that people will stick around if they are helping me as much as I am helping them. We could spend a long time on the analyst’s couch, but suffice to say, somewhere along the road I got the message that not only is it better to give than to receive, but you really shouldn’t receive much at all. It’s weak and people don’t like you if you do.

That’s a problem. It makes it hard to ask for help and can leave me  isolated.

A Successful Experiment

So, with Cathleen’s loving encouragement, I dove into asking for help the following week. I finally ran the book launch campaign that I had been meaning to do for months. I had to ask for help from over 250 people. Keep in mind, about 25 people had actually offered to help me. I jumped in and asked for help from ten times that many people.

It was terrifying. I felt sick to my stomach off and on for two weeks. But, in spite of being afraid that people would be annoyed, think me too “sales-y,” or otherwise think poorly of me, I asked for help in two big ways. First, I invited about 50 online marketing colleagues to help promote the book. Ten said “yes,” which was a great start.

Then, I sent a series of three emails to 200 family and friends, asking them and reminding them twice, not only to buy my book on January 19 on Amazon, but also to forward the email to their network and ask them to buy the book as well. It was way outside my comfort zone to be asking so many people for so much.

You know what? Some people did get a bit upset with me. Two people wrote back expressing that they would prefer not get such emails. I received many more emails, however; from people who said how happy they were to help and how inspired they were by my reaching out in that way.  I was in touch with people I hadn’t connected with in months or years.

In the end – hundreds more people got my book that day and it shot to #1 on Amazon for titles related to Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia and #5 in Women’s Health. The campaign was a huge success and I got to be in touch with many old friends and make a connection with new colleagues as a result.

It was extremely uncomfortable to put myself out there in that way, but I would not have that success under my belt, nor would I have re-connected with all those people if I hadn’t asked for and accepted all that help.

It was an incredible experience and I never could have or would have done it if Cathleen hadn’t challenged me to notice how much love, caring and assistance there is out there when I open myself up to it. (You can learn more about Cathleen here.)

What about you? What project are you working on now – with regards to your healing or something else? How could you give people an opportunity to help – and learn and grow with you?

To your health!
Janette

Categories: Blog

What are Your Big Rocks?

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The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.
—Stephen Covey

Step 1. Choose four “big rocks” (high priority action items) that you could put in your schedule on a regular basis to support your healing. Check out my previous post Take Charge Day 24: Put First Things First for examples and a detailed description of the brilliant “big rocks” time management metaphor made famous by Stephen Covey.

Step 2. Choose the one big rock that will be the least difficult to fit into your schedule, then note on your calendar when you can do it regularly, particularly this coming week. Maybe it’s exercising three mornings per week. Maybe it’s making a salad at home for lunch every day. Write it into your calendar as a fixed appointment. Let your family members and coworkers know, if necessary, to avoid being distracted.

Step 3. Tell someone who cares about your health that you are going to do this thing next week. Then, set a time to check in with him or her at the end of next week to report on how you did. Accountability is everything.

Step 4. Put another note in your calendar for two or three weeks from now, to add the next big rock into your calendar, and so on, until you’ve got all your big rocks in your schedule. Don’t get discouraged if you put a big rock in your calendar and it “falls out” several times. It takes lots of trial and error to readjust your routines. There are some great suggestions of how to do that in Practice 5, Create Order.


This is the 25th and last in a series of excerpts from the first section, Take Charge, of my new book, Everyday Healing. To start your journey on Day 1 and read the whole book: Everyday Healing: Stand Up, Take Charge and Get Your Health Back . . . One Day at a Time please visit Amazon, Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookstore to pick up your copy today.

As always, if you have any thoughts, feedback or questions, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below and let’s talk!

To your health,

Janette

Categories: Blog