"Do we need to get away for awhile?" was what came out of my husband's mouth while our two children (ages 7 and 10) bounced across the family room furniture playing a game that melded the traditional "tag" with "don't step on the hot lava".
As much as a weekend stay with him at a Hampton Inn somewhere quiet and warm appealed to my every being, I knew it just wasn't in the cards for us. Living off of one income with one kid in hockey and another in choir tends to make you think about what is truly important in life...and I feel grateful for the challenge to live more simply.
"Hon, you and I both know that taking a plane someplace warm probably isn't the best choice of spending our money right now," I replied.
But then he responded with something amazing - something profound.
"I didn't mean jet ourselves to a remote beach, dear...
How about the two of us head out for a day hike?"
Now we all know how Minnesota winters can be so cruel with their whipped winds and frigid temperatures, but I've grown into my understanding of what smart layering means. This suggestion was more than enough to boost my spirits, and I happily accepted his invitation to "get away".
That hiking day turned out to be one of the best vacations I've ever been on with my husband of 13 years. We walked, we talked, and we soaked in the beauty of winter's gifts to nature. We relished in the silence and stillness of the woods, and heightened our senses to be more aware of the sights, sounds, and smells around us. It was a perfect escape to rediscover my peace and my partner all in one day.
And I'll tell you a little secret...by the end of it, we were ready to return to our littles and join them in a crazy game of ball tag - IN. THE. HOUSE.
People are becoming more and more aware of the importance of exercise and mobility when it comes to health. If you are like me, you want to find interesting ways to exercise. This might be my multitasking mindset talking but it is always good to challenge your brain at the same time you challenge your body. Keep those pathways between mind and body active! In my practice, I have heard many patients say, “I would rather lose the ability to use my body than lose the ability to use my brain”. You don’t have to lose either, just make sure you are exercising both. A great way to do this is by hiking!!!
Hiking is a great way to get out of the house/office and leave all of your stress behind. When you do this, there are a few things you should prep yourself with and keep in mind as you go:
The holiday weekend is fast approaching and we’re in the final days of preparation before we gather with families and loved ones to celebrate Christmas. For many of us, the past few weeks have likely been spent in some form of preparation, holiday shopping, cookie baking, holiday plays/concerts and various holiday parties with friends and co-workers.
But as we hit these final days of preparation, I’ve found myself in countless conversations with people talking about the holidays and it is clear the hustle and bustle is in full force. People are frantically trying to figure out what the best gift will be to give this year, what food they need to prepare for all the gatherings they have coming up, and when they will find the time to do it all in the midst of everything else going on during the holiday season.
At a time meant to share holiday cheer, a time to be grateful for the year we’ve had and a time to embrace the energy of the season, it is clear many of us need to get grounded in the reason for the season. We need to embrace the energy that is meant to be shared this time of year. The energy of giving and receiving love and light to those around us.
And the beauty of it is it’s just a mindset away.
So let’s challenge ourselves to be mindful this holiday season. Let’s focus less on the presents, and more on being present.
Let’s find the calm in the holiday shopping. The beauty in the holiday music being played or sung in the stores. The joy on children’s faces as they see Santa or find the gift at the store they have on their list.
Let’s find time to get outdoors and embrace the fresh air. It does the mind and the body wonders. Hiking, skating, ice fishing, curling, you name it – the winter months provide a fresh spin on outdoor activities for us to embrace.
Let’s find a way to give back to those in need this holiday season. Whether it be donations of gifts, money, or time, giving back to those in need is a sure way to help remind you how blessed you truly are.
I wish you all a beautiful holiday season with your loved ones both near and far. Wherever you are, and whatever your traditions include, remember to be present and enjoy the season.
The Grounded Gal
If you were to look up the word Mindfulness in the Oxford dictionary you would find the definition, “A mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.”
By being present in the moment and focusing mindfully at a task at hand, whatever it might be, it will help to slow down our thoughts, nervous system and stress responses. This is beneficial because it gives our emotional and physical bodies a chance to relax and recharge.
Research has shown that being out and connecting with nature, especially hiking, has many physical and emotional health benefits. When we are out in the woods or on the trail, we escape from the non-stop stimulants of everyday life. In this day-in-age we are constantly on or near our phones, computer, watching tv, being bombarded by stressful current events, long work days, daily expectations and to-do lists. As you can see, our minds barely have time to take a rest and are yearning for peace and solitude.
Hiking has been shown to be an effective outlet for people to find that peace and solitude. Many people can agree to feeling refreshed, recharged and gaining a new perspective on life after their “date” with mother nature. But what about those days or hikes where your mind is still racing and thinking about your to-do lists? Have no fear! Let us share some mindfulness techniques to practice while hiking or everyday life.
-When practicing these techniques, you will notice that your mind may wander. This is completely normal! Without frustration, simply honor the thought of feeling that comes up, and guide your attention back to your breath, sensation or nature.
-Start slow and take baby steps. This takes practice!
Remember, Mindfulness is the process of bringing your attention to experiences occurring in the present moment. Gift yourself the time to unplug from this fast paced and sometimes overwhelming world and allow yourself fully absorbed in the beauty of nature. Enjoy!