Exercise for your brain

Exercise for your brain. We’ve all heard the speech of how great it is for our health, mostly our physical health. I am a big fan of the physical effects, but I’m even more of a fan of the impact it has on my mental health.

I’m not a scientist nor am I a doctor or even a trainer. According to things I have seen and read exercise helps release endorphins that make us happy and it also raises our serotonin levels. Basically, exercise does a body, and a brain, good. Oxygenating the brain gives it the strength to fight the bad stuff. Like my yoga instructor says…inhale the good s$@% and exhale the bulls#$@.

Exercising is what kept me sane after going off medications for postpartum depression.

After our son, I did more of a HIT style training, and then after our daughter, I found yoga.

I don’t remember what made me want to try yoga because I was always of the mindset that if I didn’t sweat I wasn’t exercising. Then I found a place that did hot yoga. I went once, and I was hooked.

Yoga has become the place I go to for mental peace. I send a message to my husband to let him know I will be in yoga and shut out the world for 60-90 minutes. That is a big part of what makes exercise qualify as self-care for me, not just that it is good for my body but the fact that I found a way to be in that moment with no distractions.

It wasn’t easy for me because I did feel that I would miss something if I didn’t check my phone whenever it vibrated.

The problem was that between reminders and phone calls, I would have half my mind on the exercise and the other half on whatever else was going on outside those gym doors. Probably more on my phone than the workout.

Once I stopped taking my phone into yoga, I noticed how much more I would get from my work out. I could push myself further physically and would leave even more mentally ready to take on the world.

As far as what I do for exercise, I vary it a lot. Sometimes I go to the gym and lift weights, other times pilates or barre, and then there is my yoga. When I can, I even combine two excellent cup filling activities, exercising and spending time with friends. It all depends on how I am feeling, and what my body feels it needs. I have bad knees. I modify everything I need to, and don’t let my ego try to tell me that it makes me weaker than the person next to me.

Don’t worry about what anyone around you does, do what is best for you.

Think of it this way. I have seen bodybuilders and yogis lift the same amount of weight. One lifting that weight with barbells, and the other with their own body weight in a handstand. They are both equally as strong, it’s just a different kind of strength.

We don’t even need a gym. Count steps, take advantage of a sunny day and walk to lunch, or take the stairs instead of the elevator. My grandmother will lunge up the stairs or break out some sun salutations after Thanksgiving dinner because that is when she found the time to get her exercise done.

No matter what I do, I just try and do something. I don’t like to leave my exercise routine for too long, because when I do my brain starts to go back to its gloomy ways.

When I exercise I leave all the negativity behind. When I finish the rest of my day is just brighter. I burn away all the anxiety, irritability, and brain fog along with the calories. Not to mention that feeling of accomplishment adds an awesome confidence boost to my day.

Whatever you decide to do, just commit to doing something, for your physical health and especially for your mental health.

Spring Cleaning is Good for Your Soul

Spring cleaning is a great mood booster. I know it feels like adding more work to our day, and not fun at all. It takes me the whole year to pump myself up to do it, but once it’s done I feel amazing! The more my house is decluttered the more my brain is decluttered.

Spring cleaning can be applied to anything. From parting with your spring break t-shirt from college that helps you relive your glory days, to getting rid of the toxic people in your lives (for more on this check out my post about friendships).

I do accumulate a lot, and the more I accumulate the more overwhelmed I feel.

Keeping so many things I don’t need or use stresses me out. Based on how much it overwhelms me you would think I wouldn’t let it accumulate. Instead, I try and ignore it until I can’t anymore.

You can really do this all year round, but if you haven’t done so yet there is no better time to start than the present. I like to save this for spring because it’s the season I have the most time to do so. I don’t have any summer activities, back to school organization, or holiday prep to get in the way.

A great thing about Florida is that although we don’t have basements we have garages. Our garage has become our storage unit. Our house currently has a 2 car garage. There is no space for actual cars unless it’s hurricane season. Hurricane season really motivates you to clean out that garage very quickly.

I keep so much clutter. I go through my closet and say “I remember that shirt, I’ll keep it and wear it this year for sure.” Every year I inevitably do not. Sometimes there is that one pair of jeans that I keep saying I will fit back into. I either never end up fitting into them or don’t like how they look anymore once they do fit. My body is constantly changing, I have to accept that what looked good in college, might not look so good now.

The things I probably keep the most are the kid’s things.

When we moved to Florida we had already decided not to have any more kids. When we moved we cleaned out our storage unit and barely took anything from that storage unit because it was full of baby things.

We organized everything asked the bodyguards and housekeepers to choose anything they wanted to take home, donated what we could, and sold the rest. Moving is a great excuse to declutter! You would think with the number of times I have moved I would be living clutter-free, but no.

We have a 5 and 8-year-old and I still have 2 single strollers and 1 double. Why? No idea. We use 1 single when we go to theme parks…so max twice a year. This season I will be keeping only the lightest one for those trips and that’s it!

I do keep more of the kid’s clothes and accessories than anything else. I try to only put away things with sentimental value for my sister when she has kids or when my kids grow up and have kids of their own. Everyone decides what is sentimental to them so only you can decide what stays and what goes when it comes to that. You may even feel that one year it is sentimental and should stay, but the next year think it’s not and let it go. This is probably the hardest part because cleaning out kids stuff really makes me realize how big my “babies” are.

When it comes to my spring cleaning technique there are a couple things I always do.

The biggest thing that has helped me with spring cleaning is to break it into pieces. I decide what area to tackle. I do not tackle more than one area at a time. Spring cleaning can be overwhelming but it doesn’t have to be. Take it one area at a time. When I think about taking on the house as a whole makes me overwhelmed and end up just shutting the door and trying to ignore it. The problem is every time I open that door it’s there and getting bigger, and more overwhelming. So break it into pieces.

Once I decided what area to clean out I get to work. The second important part of my spring cleaning technique is my 2 piles. The “has got to go” pile, and a “maybe” pile. Once I have both piles I take a break, it can be a few hours or a day. Then I go through the maybe pile again and end up taking out a bunch more. Sometimes I go through the area again the next day. When I am in the zone, I am motivated to really look at everything with spring cleaning eyes and find some more things that have accomplished their purpose in my home.

As I go through and declutter my home I also declutter my mind.  Not only do I feel accomplished, but that overwhelmed feeling I have when I start is replaced with a feeling of peace when I am done. I can see and think clearly in everything else I do, and that feeling is a total cup filler!

Remember that letting go of the things doesn’t mean forgetting the moments that you had with them.

Spring into Happiness

Spring is almost here and for us Floridians that means… it’s pretty much just another day. Spring is great though because people all over the world can start to put away their parkas and dust off their t-shirts and flip-flops.

The sun is back and that means so is the best source of natural vitamin D! The cold gloomy mood we are feeling will soon be kicked to the curb and blown away by the warm breeze of Spring.The sun is an incredible mood lifter. So it’s time to get out and get happy!

Spring means it’s time for some natural vitamin D!

The springtime sunlight not only energizes the earth to bring it back to life, but it energizes us as well. One of the ways the sun energizes us is by bathing us in vitamin D.

Vitamin D is very important for so many things. It helps keep your bones strong and healthy, supports cell growth, and is highly beneficial for the immune system. These things are all amazing, but the benefit that I have found the most interesting is how it helps melt away those winter blues.

When we lived in Colombia it rained a lot. Sunny days were far and few between. So I found myself dragging a lot more living there, than I do now in living in the sunshine state. I am not saying everyone walks around depressed all day if the daily weather is gloomy. What I am saying is those of us who have a tendency to have one toe already dipped in the pool of depression may start to feel the urge to sink in deeper when skies are grey.

Being outside is a great way to fill your cup. Do whatever you can outside and absorb some rays, after applying sunscreen of course.

Do your workout outdoors instead of going to the gym. Take a jog around the neighborhood instead of getting on the treadmill. If it’s close enough, walk to Starbucks instead of taking the car. Sit outside at a restaurant for lunch, or have a picnic in the park with the fam.

You can hike, camp, go to the beach, pretty much anything. I am not a very outdoorsy person in the sense that I fear bugs, frogs, and snakes, but I try to get outside when I can to get some sunshine injected vitamin D.

I sit outside and absorb some rays while I watch the kids play in the yard and after a little while the trees are greener the sky is bluer and the world is an all-around better place. I’m also a huge fan of going for walks around the neighborhood with friends after we drop the kids at school. Good friends and vitamin D is a great 2-for-1 mood lifter!

What about when there is no way to go out and let the sun rays soak in?

As per the recommendation of my doctor I take a vitamin D supplement (it’s like a bottle of sunshine). Mine has k2 in it as well for better absorption (be sure to ask your doctor if that might help you as well). This was given to me after going off my postpartum depression medications.

While testing me for various things, the doctor noticed a vitamin D deficiency. My doctor proceeded to explain that a vitamin D deficiency can be one of the things that affects my mood. I am not saying a vitamin D deficiency causes depression, but it has been shown to be something that can influence your mood.

Before you take any supplements though be sure to ask your doctor.

Eating vitamin D rich foods can help. This food includes as wild-caught fatty fish like tuna, salmon or mackerel, beef or liver, egg yolks, and mushrooms to name a few. There are also dairy products and orange juices fortified with Vitamin D. Cod liver oil is packed with Vitamin D too, if you can stomach it.

As far as how much Vitamin D you need, again the best way to find out is to ask your doctor.

If any of this sounds like something you are going through, you might want to speak with your doctor about getting tested for a vitamin D deficiency. You never know it might be completely ok, but if you are vitamin D deficient fixing it might help put a spring in your step!

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