What’s My Secret Weapon For a Good Night’s Sleep?

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Posted by Judy Moon

Magnesium oil. That’s right, magnesium oil.

First of all, I feel that sleep is underrated. I think we don’t really put enough emphasis on getting enough sleep, and the health benefits of good, quality, restful, restorative sleep. Webmd explains nine reasons to sleep more.

I personally don’t have a problem falling asleep, it’s staying asleep that was my problem. There are lots of reasons why this can happen for people.

So I have made going to bed a real ritual.

Herbal tea, no electronic screens after nine, my bedroom is a sleep sanctuary – no TV etc.,  I do my best to go to bed at the same time every night, I turn the lights in my home down in the evening and start sending the message to my brain – “hey, we’re going to sleep soon”, I use some lavender essential oil on my feet and at the suggestion of a health coach, I started using magnesium oil on my feet at night.

Pure magic! I now sleep like a rock.

Dr. Mark Hyman, refers to magnesium as the “relaxation mineral”, and here is a GREAT post about all of it’s benefits.

Ancient Minerals was the brand recommended to me. A drop of DoTerra lavender essential oil rubbed in to the bottom of my feet, 3 sprays of Magnesium Oil on each foot, socks, Bon Nuit!

I will warn you that the Magnesium oil is a little drying, so I make sure I am also treating my feet by exfoliating daily with a pumice and lathering them up with a rich moisturizer. I’d choose something with some rich Shea butter.

Good night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite!

Sweet Spring Songs

Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Have you heard the birdsongs lately? They have changed, just like the weather. Suddenly cardinal is singing louder and longer and earlier then a few weeks ago. I hear it in the mornings outside my window and in the garden too. All the birds sound brighter, as if they were announcing with joy that spring has arrived.

And it is getting on time to find a mate so that’s definitely something to sing about!

Hearing this change of sound is one of my favorite parts of spring. It always makes me stop and take notice. Slow down and really listen. And it also always makes me smile!

Soon mockingbird will be running through his repertoire and red winged black bird will arrive as well. But it’s those first brilliant sounds that I love best, the ones that remind me a new season is arriving and to pay attention!

Thanks birdies!

Two Words

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Posted by Judy Moon

Gwyn recently had a great post about list writing. I am a big fan of writing lists. I am especially fond of writing them on heart shaped post its and Hello Kitty notepads, (Dr. Seuss or glitter pencils optional.)  I make jokes that you must like Hello Kitty to be a massage therapist at Judy Moon & Associates.

It reminded me of a great practice that had fallen to the way side for me. I was once given some great advice from a woman I was seeing for Rubenfeld Synergy, an alternative treatment combining bodywork and talk therapy to help you deal with stresses in your life. Her advice to me after one of our sessions was so simple, but brilliant. She suggested at the top of my schedule/to do list everyday to write the words “nourish me”. Most of us have the habit of actually putting ourselves last if we are even on our own list. “Nourish me” is a simple reminder to the self to acknowledge itself and to become a priority.

I had been religiously writing that at the top of my schedule everyday. It felt good to do it. It was a very small step I could take every day to remind me to take care of me. It would make me smile sometimes looking at those words. Sometimes it reminded me to do something big – like make a doctor’s appointment, or call a friend that I had been missing or schedule some down time for myself. Sometimes it was just as simple as reminding me to take a few slow cleansing breaths. It would poke me to ask myself the question -“what are you going to do today to nourish you?”

It doesn’t always have to be epic. A full day at the spa is glorious! But so is an Epsom salt bath or sitting still for a few minutes with a cup of herbal tea or a big piece of dark chocolate is sometimes just the thing that you need. You just need to be asking yourself – what do I need, and then do it.

So I am back to writing Nourish Me at the top of my list and it feels great!

Honestly, is there anything more important than taking care of you? I think not.

Clearing the Clutter!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Today’s post is kind of a part two to the organization blog of a few weeks ago. As you may recall, the original inspiration for that blog came from a radio show. One of the other guests that day was Regina Leeds, professional organizer and author of “One Year to an Organized Life”.

She said many things that resonated with me, but one thing in particular made me sit up and take notice.

We all have stuff we don’t use or need anymore. And those piles of old papers, magazines, clothes and whatever else we keep shoved in the back of the closet or balanced tediously on top of the desk are really just “stacks of unmade decisions”. YIKES! And if I really consider this, all of that clutter does trap and keep our attention in the past, instead of allowing us to make a decision, move on and be present in the moment. It’s very difficult to feel organized with all of that “stuff” on your mind. (Full confession here, I have a lot of unmade decisions, it seems!)

Leeds also spoke eloquently about treating yourself kindly once you begin the process of organizing and decluttering. “Setting yourself up to win” by eating well, getting plenty of quality rest, hydrating, simple exercise and meditations to support you in making wise decisions and keep you focused on your task. Be nice to yourself! Don’t beat yourself up for creating those piles, just begin to sift through them. Sage advice, eh?!

The other thing Leeds focused on as a key to successful organizing and clutter clearing is keeping a calendar. Sounds silly I know, but again, getting it all down on paper gets it out of the brain and creates a little road map to plan your day, week or month. I already do that for my work schedule, but including the other things (important or trivial) that have to get done in my day or week has been very helpful. Even the no-brainers like “exercise” in the 7:30 a.m. slot gives my morning that structure and a reminder that I have often chosen to ignore in the past, to my own detriment.

Included in clutter clearing my space are all of the emails I get from groups I’m interested in but never end up reading. I recently “unsubscribed” from about 15 of them. If I want the information I can always find it again. That’s the magic of the internet! And it felt really good to make that decision. One down, woohoo!

While I’d love to be organized in a snap, this is a process and old habits die hard, but just shifting a little bit has already helped. And having some compassion for myself in the process is a bonus that carries into all aspects of my life.

Best wishes on your way to a clutter free mind!

Get Your Zzzz’s, Please!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

I just watched a new documentary about sleep (and you should too!) created by the National Institutes of Health and National Geographic.

Or should I say our insane LACK of sleep here in the United States! Wow! The numbers of folks getting 6 hours of sleep or less each night is staggering and frightening if we consider how many of them drive on our highways daily.

There are tons of facts to absorb in this documentary and I already know how important sleep is to our general health, but this was a real wake up call (oh, sorry for that pun…) to the negative health consequences that come from chronic lack of sleep.

According to the NIH, chronic sleep deprivation is linked to an increased risk of diabetes, unhealthy weight gain, heart conditions, cancer, hormone imbalances (especially those associated with blood sugar) and emotional and mental health instabilities. There is also ongoing research about the connection between Alzheimer’s disease and sleep’s restorative role in brain and overall health. Very interesting!

To paraphrase one of the documentaries many experts, a man associated with highway and traffic safety agencies; “Every aspect of human behavior is impaired and degraded by lack of sleep. Situational awareness, memory, communication, decision making and reaction time have all been shown to drop by 20-50%.” Chronic sleep loss also creates a 40% deficit in the capacity of the brain to make and hold on to new memories.

Again, wow.

I’m not trying to scare you but watching this documentary scared me a little bit. In a good way actually. I’ve started to take my sleep much more seriously. Now I’m not chronically sleep deprived in anyway, but I don’t sleep well on a regular basis. Most of that comes from having a very active and often anxious brain. Or from having a cup of caffeine at 4 in the afternoon, or that extra glass of wine with dinner. Or from staring at my computer screen right before I go to bed. All things I am aware of but have chosen not to take so seriously. Until now!

So I’ve begun to change some of these little things that will make a big difference in my sleep habits:

  • No computer 30 minutes or more before bed
  • No caffeine after noon
  • Less alcohol or none with dinner during the work week
  • Chamomile or other calming herbal tea 30 minutes before bed
  • Light, humorous reading or breathing & meditation in bed before lights out

I’ve noticed a difference! I am getting deeper and almost uninterrupted sleep. Getting more exercise during the week will help as well. One suggestion in the documentary that I haven’t tried yet is waking up at the same time every day regardless of when you go to sleep. This technique is often used for folks with insomnia but can be helpful for all of us to get us back in tune with our natural rhythms. Here’s to a good nights sleep!

Cheers! (with herbal tea!)

Here’s to Daydreaming!

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

Well, it’s finally happened. Science has proven that what I’ve been doing for most of my life is actually very important and beneficial to our brain health. I’m talking about daydreaming (Not to be confused with procrastinating, which I can take to Olympian levels, believe me!).

You know what I mean. Wandering around in the valleys and mountains of your mind. Building your dream garden or meditation space in your mind. Creating that spectacular clothing line in fabric that you designed or dyed yourself. Starring in that movie or novel you’ve been concocting for a few years now. Or just traveling around and embracing what ever shows up.

We all do it, but most of us stop ourselves and get back to being more “productive” as soon as possible. Daydreamers have gotten a bad reputation in the past but check out some of the benefits of daydreaming, excerpted from a cool article in the Huffington Post, How daydreaming can actually make you smarter:

These rewards include self- awareness, creative incubation, improvisation and evaluation, memory consolidation, autobiographical planning, goal driven thought, future planning, retrieval of deeply personal memories, reflective consideration of the meaning of events and experiences, simulating the perspective of another person, evaluating the implications of self and others’ emotional reactions, moral reasoning, and reflective compassion… From this personal perspective, it is much easier to understand why people are drawn to mind wandering and willing to invest nearly 50 percent of their waking hours engaged in it.

I say, get back to daydreaming, right away! You know you were going to….

Tell Me You Love Me

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Posted by Gwyn MacDonald

It’s short and sweet today folks, but very, very important.

As I’ve said before, all we have are moments and before we know it many moments have passed before we realize how long it’s been since we’ve seen a dear friend or called a distant relative or thanked someone for helping us when we needed it.

So!

Tell the people you love that you love them! Freely and Often!

And if you are with them, give them a hug too! Don’t think I need to add too much more here, do I?

With Love,
Gwyn