Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Gratitude Made Easy

'Tis the season to practice gratitude.  But when times are hard, family and friends busy with other obligations, or life doesn't seem to be treating you fairly, mustering up some gratitude seems like another difficulty to overcome.  Even if you are in a funk or not feeling the gratitude of the season, there are simple ways you can cultivate gratitude in your life.  Try these easy steps to start feeling more grateful and relax into the season.  

Be present.  So much of what stresses us out or makes us feel unsatisfied is caused by the worry and anxiety in our head.  The "what ifs" or dwelling on comparing your circumstances to another's can take you into a whole world of misery.  But if you stop to breathe, look around, and connect with what is right in front of you in this moment, there is likely something to be grateful for.  Maybe it's as simple as a hot cup of coffee or the roof that you are sitting under.  It's there at this moment, right now, and you can feel gratitude in the present.  See if you can be present several times each day to see what you can feel gratitude for in the moment.

Walk the walk, talk the talk.  Being grateful is a way of being.  Smile when you meet others.  Say "thank you" often.  Talk about what you are fortunate for or abundant in ("I am so fortunate to have missed the traffic today," for example).  Look around and share your thoughts on your gifts and blessings for the day!  "What a gift the bright sun is."  Language and behavior are powerful.  Bring them into your life as tools for cultivating more gratitude.

Embrace the bad times.  Being grateful doesn't mean sweeping your troubles under the rug or burying the past.  Remembering the rough spots is a powerful way to cultivate a gratitude p in a challenging time, you can find those comparisons to bring up a sense of gratitude.  We all know the "every cloud has a silver lining" saying but that isn't always helpful in the moment but often more so in hindsight.  Instead, look at the moment you are in and see how it inspires its own gratitude for what it's not.

Cultivating a gratitude practice is just that - a practice.  It takes time and effort, but each time you work at it, you will see results!

Monday, November 17, 2014

10 Tips for Surviving the Holidays, Naturally

The holiday season is here, along with never-ending to-do lists, demands on your time and attention, and the stress that seems inherent in the festivities.  So how do we stay both well and sane, naturally, and truly enjoy the holidays?  Here are some of our favorite holistic suggestions! 

  1. Keep it simple.  Hosting a large crowd for the holidays?  No need for an elaborate eight-course gourmet feast.  Stick to simple basics and do them really well.  Real food doesn't need to be fancy to be good.  Impress your family with some easy but elegant food.  For example, try out these Bacon Wrapped Figs as a holiday appetizer or this Simple Spinach and Sausage Strata for a Christmas morning brunch.
  2. Take Care of Yourself and Your Family.  Stress can wreck havoc with your immune system.  Keep yourself and your family healthy with probiotics and other immune system boosters to try to ward off the season's bugs. 
  3. Make Time for You.  Holidays with kids can really shift your focus away from self-care.  Surviving the season means finding time to take care of yourself, too.  Enjoy some aromatherapy or an herbal bath to restore your mind, body, and spirt.
  4. Keep it Green.  Does a house full of useless plastic toys make your head spin?  Green up your holidays with gifts that are not only eco-conscious but that also inspire creativity and imagination. Try a themed Discovery Box for the kids on your list or some organic, sustainable treats for the men or women on your list!
  5. Be Ready for Curveballs.  In spite of the very best plans, life sometimes throws you a curveball.  One of the kids gets sick on a holiday eve or the stress of the season creates new challenges.  Be ready, both by stocking up on ways to care for yourself and cultivating your flexibility and patience.  Coughs, colds, or upset tummies may be on the horizon - find some natural remedies to have on hand so that you're ready.  Nursing a little one?  You might want to keep some helpers around in case your milk supply is less than usual due to the stress.  Be ready and then roll with what comes your way. 
  6. Stay Hydrated.  Gingerbread lattes and wine with your feast can do a real number on your hydration levels.  Hydration is critical for wellness - even a small decrease in your water intake can slow your coordination and decrease your concentration.  Drink plenty of pure water and even try a little flavoring for the season if it gets you to keep up your water intake!
  7. Indulge Better.  Okay, it IS the holidays, after all.  We look forward to so many special treats, from holiday cookies to some old-time favorites, like eggnog.  Indulge a little, but try to select healthier versions of your weaknesses, or make your own with organic and sustainable ingredients!
  8. Don't Stray Too Far.  Little indulgences happen, but try not to toss away all of your healthy practices for the season.  If you avoid toxins in your personal care products, stick with your favorite healthy and effective brands rather than over stressing your body.  Look into handy travel sizes so that you can bring them along and not compromise your standards.  Ditto for your diet.  If you have food sensitivities, don't let your guard down too much or you will suffer for it in the end.  There are great gluten-free, dairy-free options out there - make some of your own and bring them along so that you are not tempted to go overboard.
  9. Be present.  Staying in the moment is both the easiest and hardest thing that you can do to remain calm and enjoy all of the holiday festivities.  Being mindful can reduce stress, lower your blood  pressure, and improve your sleep.  With so much to do, though, it can also be a challenge.  Try practicing mindfulness each day by tuning into the sights, sounds, smells, and flavors of each moment and noticing them fully.  
  10. Make Connections.  The holiday season can be both joyous and difficult.  If you have lost loved ones or are facing a difficult time, the holidays can exacerbate your emotional challenges.  Make social connections and find a like-minded community to get you through the season with support and friendship.  Know that there are many others like you out there and few of us have picture-perfect holiday seasons.
A warm thank you to all the supporters, Sponsors, and friends of the Holistic Moms Network who provide us with so many holistic resources for the holidays and beyond!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Value of Community

The Holistic Moms Network was founded with one very simple idea in mind: the idea that community matters.

Community matters because community brings us together, face-to-face, in real life.

Community teaches us about authenticity, about empathy, and allows us to connect with one another.

Community matters because it creates a place of belonging – a place where we can begin to know and understand that there are others who share our journey.

Community adds value to our lives, improves our health, and  enriches our experience of happiness.

Community matters because it enables us to learn from one another, share our life experiences, and discover more about ourselves in the process.

Community helps us to develop a sense of place, an awareness of our surroundings, and an appreciation and gratitude for the people, places, and things in our lives.

As parents, community allows us to know that we are not on this journey alone.  That the challenges and struggles, as well as the joys and love that are part of our parenting are shared by many.

For those of us following a holistic path, community gives us a strong place of belonging and empowerment.  A space where we can be open about our desires to live more sustainably and more naturally, and where information and awareness strengthen our resolve.

Engaging in social interaction and being a member of a community has even been shown to improve our immune systems and our moods, reduce anxiety and even improve our memory. 

Community is good for us.

But today’s digital and virtual culture, combined with our fast paced lives, pull us in the opposite direction – into our self-contained spaces, far apart from one another.

Being together gives us an opportunity to learn, share, and connect in a way that virtual connections do not.  We believe in the power of community - for ourselves, our families, our neighborhoods, and our planet.  Do you?