How do you release stress?

I recently experienced some stress-related symptoms which forced me to slow down and pause. I had an opportunity to practice several different stress management techniques that I usually teach my clients. It was nice to have multiple tools to use. I wonder what stress management tools are most popular and which tools tend to be used less often by my friends and readers.

I need your help. Would you take a moment to respond to the survey below? What technique do you prefer to release stress in your life?

Stress Release Survey

Are there stress management techniques that you prefer to use at work or at home? Are there tools that you use that are not listed in the survey? My interest is to see which techniques are most popular and which techniques may need more education when I introduce these tools with my clients.

Happy Spring! May you be well!

BRC Neck Stretch
From the BeWell Decks at




What if you held the key to your own health?

For years I have felt a sense of dis-ease within myself. I struggled with weight gain, dissatisfaction with my body image and discomfort with hormonal changes. Keeping up with my peers in yoga class was difficult, so just stopped going. I felt tired or restless most of the time, but couldn’t sleep well at night. There was no energy for creativity or self care with the demands of raising children, working and other responsibilities. I was emotionally exhausted, physically limited and spiritually drained.

I wanted to reboot my body, mind and spirit but wasn’t sure where to start.

I turned to self-help books on wellness, therapy and bodywork. I met with a fitness trainer, a spiritual director and a nutritionist. There were too many experts sharing advice on how to be healthy, but most of those ideas did not seem to work for me on a long term basis. During a six week unplanned sabbatical following surgery, I finally had a chance to slow down and listen to my inner wisdom. I began to trust that I could make wise choices with the tools I collected over the years, but this time, I listened to how my body, mind and spirit responded to the combination of those tools. I made a commitment to self care based on my own inner wisdom. I began the slow healing journey back to optimal health and well-being.

Self Care begins with an awareness of what you need for your own well-being.

Self care is a commitment to YOU first. That is the most important step on your wellness journey. Self care means paying attention to your body, mind and spirit on a regular basis and trusting that you know on some deep level what you need for your own well-being.

Most of us have tried a variety of approaches to wellness. When one area of our life gets in balance, another area seems to fall apart. That’s because we focus only on one area at a time, such as our physical body or our emotional response or a spiritual practice. We forget to look at the whole picture of wellness. Your body, mind and spirit are interconnected and need to be addressed as a whole. You can take charge of your own health and find simple ways to start on the road to better health by addressing all these areas simultaneously. Everything is connected. You have choices. It’s time to bring your whole self back into balance and listen to your inner wisdom.

As I work with clients on their overall wellness, I have found that there are a variety of resources to balance the body, mind and spirit. I want to share some of these self care techniques with you on a regular basis through my wellness newsletter and blog. You get to choose the ones that work best for where you are right now in your quest for wellness. The important thing is to start with the easy things that can help you take those first few steps towards health and wellness.

Balance cards spread

I created two unique decks of wellness resources with my top 64 self care tips, called Balance Resource Cards. These cards are designed to be tangible ways to balance your body, mind and spirit. The two decks of 36 cards each (32 wellness tips and 4 instructional cards) come in a folded envelope tied in a gold or platinum elastic bow. This allows for an abundant supply of tips that you can choose from each day as personal wellness practices. Each card is designed to provide practical self care tips related to health and wellness.

The cards are simple enough that most people can use the resources to bring balance to their body, mind and spirit. They range from simple breathing techniques to restorative yoga poses to spiritual practices such as gratitude and forgiveness. The cards can help you create your own unique plan to small-step your way to healthy living. You can simply choose a card at random from the deck or pull several cards to practice for the week. If something doesn’t work for you that day, put it back in the deck and pull another card. Keep a deck at home and the second deck at work or beside your computer. Display the cards in a decorative bowl or business card holder where you see them regularly as self accountability. You have choices and can create the perfect wellness routine that works for you.

For those of you who already have a set of my Balance Resource Cards, I hope you are using the cards regularly. If you like the cards, I would love it if you could do me a favor and share this post with two friends who could use a self care boost in their life. If you do not have a set of the wellness cards, then I encourage you to give yourself a gift as an early holiday present.

That’s the beauty of this gift of balance. There are many choices that you can do right now to improve your health and wellness. The cards can complement the things you are already doing or provide some new opportunities for healing. Listen to your inner wisdom as you use these resources and discover what works best in order to heal your body mind and spirit. You hold the key to your healing process.

Are you ready to choose the gift of balance? If you sign up for my newsletter, you will receive a special gift before the end of 2015 as a special thank you.

I choose to balance my

body, mind & spirit.

Creating space to breathe

I have a confession. I still don’t have all the clean clothes and swimming suits put away from my vacation a few weeks ago. My husband’s birthday presents from his co-workers are sitting in a pile, waiting to find new homes. Today I tackled a month’s worth of mail, hoping there were no late bills. I held my breath until the last envelope was opened. Whew, I just made it under the wire.

Sometimes the clutter of life starts to pile up, limiting the space I normally have available to live life fully. It makes it hard to have breathing room for new things. When I finally get in the mood to “straighten up” the house, as Grandma used to say, I can find things quicker. I feel happier and energized with a clean, spacious living space. I breathe easier.

My physical body is like my house. I let it get cluttered with muscle tension and cramped for space to breathe. Some days I find myself hunched over my Zero Balancing table or my computer desk. You know the posture … shoulders slightly elevated, rolled forward and curled inward. This position makes deep breathing very difficult. Sometimes this posture becomes my “normal” posture for a few days, and eventually pain and discomfort appear in my neck, shoulder blades and chest. When I do pause to stretch or correct my posture, I find it difficult to stand up straight or take a deep breath. Eventually, I decide it’s time to “straighten up” my posture. I find my body feels happier and I can breathe deeply. My body becomes more spacious.

So how do I create this breathing space in my home and my body?

One idea that seems to work for me for decluttering my living space is to spend a few minutes each evening, picking up things from the day and putting them back where they belong. When I take time for this small task, I spend less time looking for lost papers the next day. I feel happier when I can see the bottom of my dining room table. I enjoy the spaciousness of my space. I feel like I can breathe.

One way to create breathing space in my body is to stretch the tight muscles in my chest area (the pectoral muscles) and learn to breathe deeply in this corrected postural pattern. I have to create that breathing space by stretching out the tight muscles and releasing the restrictions that clutter my body. Here is a video that describes using a towel roll behind your spine, to open up the chest cavity while doing some simple breathing. When I do this simple Chest Stretch with towel roll, (click here) I create space to breathe deeply in my chest cavity. I feel happier and more relaxed. My body feels more spacious.

Whenever I “straighten up” and create open space in my living area or my body, I find I can breathe easier and move with greater ease. I feel good. A few moments each day can make a big difference in my breathing space.

What do you do to create breathing space in both your life and your body?

Moving on to Plan B, C and D

I started to write a book in my mind several years ago. The material came from various retreats I’ve led on spiritual practices. I wanted to get this material into a format that would be accessible to others. I decided 2015 was the year to start writing.

My life coach helped me through the beginning hurdles of starting this daunting project. I wanted to keep all my options open and didn’t know where to start. At her suggestion, I made mind maps and graphs so that I could visually see how the chapters fit together. Those visual images became the outline I needed to start rough drafts of the chapters. I started writing the easiest chapters first, to gain confidence and momentum. I quickly had seven of the twelve chapters started and began fleshing three of those out in more detail.

I shared a few of the chapters with my women’s writing group for feedback. Asking for feedback is a great exercise in vulnerability. Vulnerability is hard work but it pays off in the end. Their honest feedback has been invaluable as I figure out the format and voice I want to use in my writing. Through this writing process, I’m discovering my voice.

Another friend who is an editor gave detailed feedback that helped clarify how to share the material. I spent several days reworking two chapters. It was exciting to see the material emerge in this new format.

I was careful to put my working files in Dropbox, so they could be accessed from multiple computers. This allowed me to work from several settings. I hit the “save” button frequently when writing, to make sure I didn’t lose anything. I also made a “backup” copy of the files on my desktop, just in case something happened.

Something happened.

Imagine my disappointment this week when my desktop crashed a few days before leaving for a writer’s retreat. It had been very slow all week and was not connecting easily to the internet. The computer guy gave us the bad news, that we would need a new computer. He would try his best to recover the files sometime the following week.

I figured I still had the files saved somewhere out there in cyberspace, so took my laptop with me on retreat, prepared to write for three days. Surprise! The versions of files in Dropbox were not up to date. Somehow my desktop computer had not updated the two working files to the cyberspace files. I lost several days’ worth of work and had no way to access the files from my desktop until the computer guy was free to help next week. I still don’t know if I will be able to salvage them.

Plan Backup didn’t work. Plan Cry helped release some of the disappointment and tension for the moment. Moving on to Plan Delay, I wrote this blog post instead. In a few days, I’ll be ready to tackle the material again. I think I’ll skip forward to Plan I-can-do-this.

Here is a poem I thankfully saved, and will not have to re-write. It is a sample of a nested meditation. Kevin Anderson describes this practice in his book Divinity in Disguise: Nested Meditations to Delight the Mind and Awaken the Soul (Center for Life Balance, 2003.) Each stanza adds a new phrase to the previous sentence. Changes in punctuation create new sentences with surprising meanings and themes that loop and nest around each other.

I yearn to write beautiful words.

I yearn to write. Beautiful words, flowing freely on the page, are jumbled.

I yearn to write beautiful words, flowing freely on the page. Are jumbled inner thoughts the beginning?

I yearn to write beautiful words. Flowing freely on the page are jumbled inner thoughts, the beginning of my heart’s song.

I yearn to write beautiful words. Flowing freely on the page are jumbled inner thoughts. The beginning of my heart’s song emerges like a phoenix from the ashes.

I yearn to write. Beautiful words flowing freely on the page are jumbled inner thoughts. The beginning of my heart’s song emerges. Like a phoenix from the ashes, the words sing a new song.

This nested meditation was a big encouragement for me today. Like a phoenix from the ashes, my book chapters will emerge again to sing a new song. I’m ready to write again. This time I’m saving my work on a flash drive.

When life throws you surprises, how do you move forward? Where do you find encouragement? Have you had a “phoenix rising from the ashes” story in your life?