De-Stress Tips Just In Time for Your Week by Meditation Expert Koya Webb
This is guaranteed to be a stressful week ahead. Whichever way the cookie crumbles we are promised a contentious and tricky time, starting with Saturday's full moon (on Halloween no less) through the election, and beyond. What we want for ourselves is to be healthy, calm, and resilient in the days ahead. Here is your playbook for how to manage stress in the coming week or anytime your anxiety boil over, from meditation expert Koya Webb.
Eating: What foods will help you de-stress
Koya Webb: Those who know me know that self-love is what I practice and the way I think about food is that it should help us love ourselves. My motto is “eat foods you love, that will love you back” – healthy foods that will fuel your body and mind in a way that makes you feel good about yourself. That may mean slightly different things to different people. For me, it means eating a vegan plant-based diet. While everything I choose to eat is plant-based, I do treat myself to a slice of vegan cake or what I call an “unguilty pleasure” every now and then when I feel like I want it, I allow myself to enjoy it. Don’t feel guilty about the choices you make even if they aren’t the best ones for you at that moment. It’s not about being perfect but maintaining balance and doing your best.
Sleep habits: How to fall asleep when you’re wired and anxious
KW: Let’s face it – there are nights when your mind simply can’t stop racing. A new survey from online retailer Zulily shows that nearly one-fourth of moms lay awake at night worrying about the world. When relaxation techniques won’t quiet the mind, put your thoughts in a notebook. Make a list of the things you’re worried about with the intention of freeing yourself of judgment. More often than not, a written down list will help you realize your to-do list may be smaller and more manageable than you thought. Then, finish by listing what you’re grateful for dinners with the family, your baby’s adorable laugh, those pictures you took of the family in matching PJs. By getting your thoughts out, you’ll hopefully turn your focus elsewhere – like sleep.
Meditative rituals: How to put the day on hold and get back to breathing
KW: Most of us don’t realize how deep, focused breathing can have an immediate calming effect – especially if you’re a mom. Moms spend their days racing around, likely taking short, shallow breaths and are most of the time unaware of this breathing pattern. Release the stress of the day by spending time focused on your breath. Inhale for at least 5 seconds, and exhale just as slowly. Bring your shoulders to ears on the next inhale to loosen up the tension building in your shoulders, and slowly bring them down on the exhale. Repeat for 2 – 3 minutes and you should be good to go! Also, look to add aromatherapy diffusers with calming scents or essential oils to help put yourself into that meditative mindset.
What to tell yourself when everything is not okay
KW: You may be experiencing what I often see as a holistic health coach: blocked or toxic energy. You might be more tired, angry, unmotivated, or anxious than usual. Your stomach may be manifesting this stress and it’s not the greatest feeling. By taking the 5, 10, 15 or even 20 minutes to consciously breathe and meditate, you can help re-energize your body, mind, and spirit – and align yourself with love and strength. It’s the most important part of self-care. The best part is, clearing blocked energy via meditation is something anyone can do – all you need is 5 minutes, your breath and telling yourself – “I. Got. This.”
How to move forward after overeating
KW: It happens – and it can be a challenge to break out of the “wrong food” cycle. Once we start eating foods that we know aren’t good for us, the easiest thing is to throw our hands up and keep at it, then we end up beating ourselves up over it. The trick to not feeling guilty is to try to change your mentality around food altogether. I find that we tend to spiral toward unhealthy foods when we become too restrictive about what we eat. Instead of prohibiting treats altogether, eat mindfully. That may mean eating a treat every once in a while, but do it with intention and allow yourself to enjoy it. If it’s not too much or too frequent, it allows us to maintain that balance of a healthy – and happy – mind and body. I like to choose indulgent foods that are still healthy for me.
For instance, I love pasta and pizza so instead of using pasta and pizza made out of bleached white flour and artificial ingredients, I use Banza pizza and pasta which is made out of chickpeas and has more protein and fiber per serving than wheat-based varieties so now I have a “healthy meal” that I don’t have to feel bad about.
Choose plant-based foods and know that “taking care of yourself now” is worth it and will pay back later
For me, I know eating a vegan plant-based diet is the best choice for me and for our planet – but that doesn’t mean it should be treated as a sacrifice. The best way to embrace a more plant-based diet and now and experience the long-term benefits years down the road is to take it slow and take it one day at a time. If you’re not ready to embrace a fully vegan diet, start by swapping a few meals a week for fully-plant-based meals. See how it makes you feel. You might start to feel more energized, and experience a more restful night’s sleep as your body doesn’t have to fight so hard at digestion. Once you start to notice the benefits, it makes it easier to continue with a plant-based diet.
Also – make it fun! Just because a diet is plant-based doesn’t mean it’s boring. I like to say “eat the rainbow” – look for fruits and vegetables in all colors and vary the way you eat them. Slice them up as snacks, make salads and smoothies and add plant-based supplements to help add variety to your weekly meal plans. By changing it up, it makes it easier to make healthy decisions now so we can stay focused on the long-term benefits.